Identity and Idolatry

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“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Genesis 1:26-27 has served as the locus of most theological anthropologies in the central Christian tradition. However, Richard Lints observes that too rarely have these verses been understood as conceptually interwoven with the whole of the prologue materials of Genesis 1. The construction of the cosmic temple strongly hints that the “image of God” language serves liturgical functions.

Lints argues that “idol” language in the Bible is a conceptual inversion of the “image” language of Genesis 1. These constructs illuminate each other, and clarify the canon’s central anthropological concerns. The question of human identity is distinct, though not separate, from the question of human nature; the latter has far too frequently been read into the biblical use of ‘image’.

Lints shows how the “narrative” of human identity runs from creation (imago Dei) to fall (the golden calf/idol, Exodus 32) to redemption (Christ as perfect image, Colossians 1:15-20). The biblical-theological use of image/idol is a thread through the canon that highlights the movements of redemptive history.

In the concluding chapters of this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume, Lints interprets the use of idolatry as it emerges in the secular prophets of the nineteenth century, and examines the recent renaissance of interest in idolatry with its conceptual power to explain the “culture of desire.”


Series Preface
Author’s Preface

1. Living inside the text: canon and creation

2. A strange bridge: connecting the image and the idol
Getting started on the wrong foot: creation and image
Human identity and human nature

3. The liturgy of creation in the cosmic temple
The first stable as prologue
The liturgy of creation
The house that God built

4. The image of God on the temple walls
Image and original
Signs of reflection
A reflected relationship
The first table background: kings and representatives
After the first table: sonship and sacredness
Prelude to idolatry

5. Turning the imago dei upside down: idolatry and the prophetic stance
After creation—whence is the image?
Divine fidelity and the image
The Decalogue and the diatribe against idolatry
The golden calf—the ‘great sin’ of idolatry
Covenantal identity and idolatry across the Old Testament
Idolatry and adultery

6. Inverting the inversion: idols and the perfect image
Turning the story upside down
Setting the context
Idolatry and the Gentile mission
Theologies of idols: Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 10
Narratives of idolatry: Acts 7 and 17
The perfect image
Being in the image of the image

7. The rise of suspicion: the religious criticism of religion
Idolatry as ideological criticism: the stage is set
Idolatry as psychological projection
Idolatry as alienation and oppression
Idolatry and the origin of religion
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

8. Significance and security in a new key
The crisis of identity and the idolatries of consumption
Christian identity and plastic narratives
An eternal story told across time

Index of authors
Index of Scripture references

Additional information

Weight 350 g

Lints, Richard, (Author)

Publication Summary

Inter-Varsity Press (2015), 192 pages

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