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A Substantive (Soul) Model of the Imago Dei: A Rich Property View

by Joshua R. Farris

Learn more about this Routledge Research Companion to Theological Anthropology and this chapter contribution!

The psalmist raises a profound question, “What is humankind that you are mindful of them?” One aspect of this question is, “what is it that composes humankind?” Are humans bodies, brains, soul-body units or something else? Another aspect of the first question is, “why are we images of God?” and “what does it mean to be an image of God?” Surely the second question has something to do with the first.

As images, humans reflect and represent God. In order to answer the second question, we must say something in reply to the first question. In the present chapter, I endorse a substance dualism model of personal ontology as a satisfying way to make sense of the imago Dei (i.e., the image of God) by contrasting it with one sophisticated view advanced by Kathryn Tanner.

For further study:

  • What models of personal ontology coherently account for the Scriptural data on human beings?
  • What are the distinctions between various models of personal ontology as constructive accountings of a substantive image?
  • Does substance dualism have the resources to account for a robust biblical portrayal of embodied human nature?
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