Scholars have wrestled for many years to try to explain the familiar expression ‘the image of God’. From the middle of the last century, for example, Near-Eastern studies drew heavily on Mesopotamian parallels in which Babylonian kings were commonly described as God’s ‘image’. As a result Biblical studies gravitated – not always helpfully as we shall see – towards an interpretation of Genesis 1 in terms of ‘status’ rather than ‘structure’. Human beings, it was argued, are God’s representatives on earth like the Mesopotamian kings. They are God’s image because they are delegated rulers.
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