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Fall 2016 · Vol. 45 No. 2 · pp. 136–148 

Toward a Theological Anthropology: A Study of Genesis 1–3

Laura Schmidt Roberts

1 When my daughters were three and four years of age, we encountered a pair of fun house mirrors while exiting the pediatrician’s office. These curved mirrors have convex and concave sections, and as a result reflect a disproportionate image of the person standing in front of them, with some body parts stretched while others are shrunk dramatically or blurred beyond recognition. My girls stood silently in front of those mirrors for a long moment. And then one of them burst into tears and turned away while the other raised first an arm and then a leg, playing with the changing image. Both girls knew the image they saw in the mirror was different than the one viewed in the mirror at home that morning. One assumed it was a true reflection of who she actually was, and she became afraid. The other assumed it could not be, and set about figuring out how the distortion worked.

The Genesis narratives are clear: the embodied nature of human existence is part of creation, not a result of the Fall.

The anecdote provides one way of thinking about the work of theological anthropology—the work of clarifying the truth of who we are as {137} human beings, as created and as redeemed, the undistorted reflection of humanity created in the image of God. While that task is far too great for a single article, what follows sketches aspects of a biblical theological anthropology meant to be useful for framing conversation around human sexuality. Human sexuality is a central component of being human, but not its sum total. The wider space of theological anthropology can help avoid a distorted image, where one aspect is out of proportion, like in those fun house mirrors.

CREATION

As Christians, our theological anthropology—our faith-informed understanding of what it means to be human—must to be rooted in the biblical witness. But we need to remember that the biblical writers don’t generally set out to answer this question directly. As one scholar explains, “the Bible is about God, first and foremost, and only derivatively about us,” making a biblical theological anthropology also “a derivative inquiry.” 2 The biblical writers’ engagement around questions of human nature is more often implicit. 3 Rich resources exist in the biblical texts, but they require some unpacking.

The other thing to say at the outset is this: where we start in the Bible makes all the difference. Sometimes we start with the reality most familiar to us—the reality of human existence post-sin, post-Fall. We start in Genesis 3, trying to makes sense of how the choice for sin was even possible and who was most responsible for the choice. We start with the tragic consequences of the Genesis 3 narrative and the stories that follow. These narratives trace the cycle of sin as it seems to pick up speed, increasing in violence and brokenness, demonstrating that an inclination toward evil becomes part of the human condition. Which is to say, we start with texts related to the reality we know best—our need for redemption and for ongoing transformation. But the biblical witness starts not with Fall but with Creation. Genesis 1–2 are the first glimpse we get of human being. Grounding our exploration in how and why we were created is essential to a healthy, biblical understanding of humanity. <Η4>Humankind is like the rest of creation

One way to think about the portrait of humanity in Genesis 1–2 is along the lines of continuity and differences. 4 How is humanity like the rest of creation? How are we different?

Two things especially stand out as we look at what human beings share with the rest of creation in Genesis 1–2, our “creatureliness.” First is our relationship to God as created and brought to life by God. We share with the rest of creation dependence on God—for life, for {138} provision, and for our true identity. 5 The Genesis narratives, each in a different way, make clear that all of creation finds its place in relation to God as Creator. In fact, New Testament scholar Joel Green observes that “understanding of the human person always in relation to God” is a common motif in biblical anthropology generally. 6 All creation, including humankind is distinct from but related to the Creator. And all of creation is itself interconnected, including the human “living beings” (Gen 2:7 NRSV, passim), whose existence is depicted as inextricably linked to the rest. As created beings, we understand ourselves and our world best when we understand it all in relation to God, as the one who made and sustains all creation, of which we are a part.

The second thing that stands out as we look at human creatureliness in Genesis is that it is embodied existence. 7 Genesis 1 and 2, again each in their own way, emphasize the physical, material nature of human existence. A physical environment and food to eat are central concerns. For example, in Genesis 2, God plants a garden for the man he has formed with his own hands (Gen 2:8), taking the man and placing him in it (Gen 2:8, 15), with instruction to cultivate and eat (Gen 2:15–16). Material, bodily existence is central to humans as created. We have (or really, we are) bodies, by design. 8

God declares this embodied nature “very good,” along with rest of the physical creation (Gen 1:31). This affirmation must center our theological exploration of what it means to be human, including human sexuality as an aspect of our embodied reality. Bodily existence after Genesis 3 is marked by sin, yes. But sometimes in the church we talk about that in ways that associate sin with the body in contrast to some other “part” of human being that we describe as a soul or a spirit. We do see body and soul or body, soul, and spirit language in the Bible. But thinking of these as two or three identifiable, separable “parts” of what it means to be human moves in a different direction than Genesis. The idea that human being can be divided up into several parts is totally absent from Genesis 1, 2 and 3: It is “living beings” that describe human existence in Genesis—a single entity, formed and enlivened by the very breath of God: “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). The living being depicted here emphasizes the embodied nature of human existence as a single entity, marked by a shared creatureliness with the rest of creation. Church historian and theologian Justo L. González:

The Bible does not speak of human beings as divided into two ‘parts’ or ‘substances.’ It speaks rather of a single entity that is properly understood neither in purely materialistic terms nor in {139} purely spiritual terms. The entire human being is body, and the same human being is soul . . . If to be human is to be embodied soul and ensouled body, true human life must include a balance of the two. 9

This holistic understanding of embodied, integrated human being provides an essential framework within which to understand human sexuality. Viewing humans as made up of separable “parts” (body, soul, spirit) has often led to viewing these “parts” in opposition, producing a negative view of the bodily “part” (which includes our sexuality) as associated with sin. 10 Of course our embodied existence is marked by sin (more on that to follow). My point is that our whole existence—as “embodied souls” or “ensouled bodies” bears this mark, not that sin attaches to the bodily as opposed to the soulish or spiritual. We cannot make that separation—our nature is as an integrated whole.

Our experience of being present when another person dies makes this quite clear. When the last breath is taken, the body is still there but somehow the person is not. The body is not a living body, and not just because the monitor shows a flat line. Somehow, as a person they are no longer in the room. One can see and sense that what remains is only a body. We know in this moment that we are more than our bodies—human being cannot be reduced to the material only. But the opposite is also true: human being cannot be disconnected from the material either. Being human is not reducible to being a soul or spirit only, as if the body were some alien shell we cart around, from which we long to be free. The Genesis narratives are clear: the embodied nature of human existence is part of creation, not a result of the Fall. Embodied human being is declared “very good” (Gen 1.31). In fact, it’s declared capable of imaging God in the world. The future hope, made possible by and manifest first in the person of Jesus, is of resurrected bodies. Because a free-floating disembodied soul is no more a human being than a dead body is. We are a unified whole, not separable parts; living bodies, ensouled bodies, embodied souls. This is how we were made, how we are redeemed, and how we will be fully transformed in the end. “I believe in the resurrection of the body and in the life everlasting.”

So embodiment marks part of our similarity to the rest of creation—we are creaturely. The Genesis narratives depict an interdependent, harmonious, interconnected material creation, all of which God declares to be “very good” as made, and all of which finds its place and identity in relation to God as Creator. {140}

Humankind is unlike the rest of creation

While discussion of humanity’s uniqueness most often encompasses philosophical and ontological topics such as the soul, higher reasoning, moral capacity, agency, and self-transcendence, the Genesis narratives present this uniqueness in fundamentally relational terms. As created, unique relationships to the rest of creation and to God characterize human existence. 11

First, humanity has a unique relationship to the rest of creation. As part of creation our existence and well-being are indissolubly linked to the world in which we were created and placed. And yet the Genesis narratives both identify a different role, with special responsibilities, for human creation: to fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion in Genesis 1, and, in the Genesis 2 depiction, to till or cultivate and keep the garden. Especially in the current context of growing environmental concerns, much careful thought must be given to the understanding of this description of human uniqueness. The focus of this article (framing human sexuality in a theological anthropology) limits my comments to two. First, the Genesis narratives press us to think of humanity’s unique relationship to the rest of creation as a relationship versus simply as tasks or a role. It’s not just a job, it’s a relationship. Exercising dominion, now more commonly construed as stewardship, or care, or even advocacy, should be understood as a unique part of human relationship to the rest of creation. Second, Genesis 1 tells us that unique relationship is governed by humankind’s creation in God’s image. Which is to say it’s not just a job, it’s a way of being. What does it mean to reflect God’s image in the way we fulfill our vocation as stewards of creation?

“Image of God” (imago Dei) identifies the second characteristic, humanity’s unique relationship to God (though the above demonstrates its centrality to the shape of our unique relationship with the rest of creation as well). What does being made in the likeness and image of God mean? It means in ourselves, in who we are and what we do and in the way we do it, we should reflect who God is. We—humans, uniquely—were made to do and be this. Green states: “The nature of humanity derives from the human family’s relatedness to God. The concept of imago Dei, then, is fundamentally relational, or covenantal, and takes as its ground and focus the graciousness of God’s own covenantal relations with humanity and the rest of creation.” 12 Another way of saying this is that who human beings are, our nature, should reflect a close family resemblance to God’s way of being. By way of example, my father and one of his brothers looked significantly alike. On more than one occasion, my father preached in congregations near where his brother lived only to have this brother receive many words of appreciation for the fine message he {141} delivered. The way the stories are told in the family, this occurred both in the foyer immediately after a service my uncle had attended as well as in the weeks after. As distinctive as my father’s voice, stature and personality were, the family resemblance between the two brothers was so strong that some in the congregation couldn’t distinguish one brother from the other up close. Family resemblance means sometimes you can tell, just by looking, who belongs together. This is true not just of biological traits but facial expressions, mannerisms, patterns of speech, all kinds of characteristics. Our families, whether constituted biologically or otherwise, mark and shape us. The resemblance is visible. This is how it should be for us—a visible family resemblance to God, whose image we bear.

Remembering that our God is a Trinity—a tri-unity of Father, Son, Spirit; of Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer—helps us make sense of what the image the family resemblance should look like. God’s being is as one who is also three, one whose nature is a community of relationships, a mutuality between three persons. They are different persons than the kind of persons humans are, to be sure—not created, not with physical bodies except as the Son becomes incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. As Trinity, God in God’s very self is a community. In Genesis 1, the creation of humankind in God’s image is as male and female—as two, not one—bearing God’s image as persons in relationship. Of this creation of two persons together in relationship instead of just one person, God says it is “very good” (Gen 1:31). The narrative counterpart to this in Genesis 2 starts with God’s assertion that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18), a statement that must be heard in contrast to the declaration of the goodness of humankind as created in Genesis 1 where God creates “them” plural, not just “him.” And so, in Genesis 2, a suitable partner must be made for the man, “a helper as his partner” (Gen 2:18, 20). The sense of the phrase here is of one who functions as a counterpart versus a subordinate. 13 Like the relationships within the Trinity, this human relationship should image mutual partnership between persons. As created, we’re intended for companionship, for intimacy even. While Genesis 2 ends with a union of the two in marriage, the broader biblical witness makes clear the need for intimate relationships is not only or fully addressed by marriage.

In some sense, because of how we’re made, we’re only fully humans in community, in relationships. 14 But not in just any relationships. 1 John 4:7–16 tells us that the community of the Trinity is marked by a self-giving love—that God is love. Here, then, is the fullness of the image, the “family resemblance.” As created, we are relational to the core, as God is. We fully image God as intended when our relationships with {142} each other (and with God, and presumably with creation) are marked by loving fellowship. 15 The authors of Gracious Christianity explain: “The trinity tells us that part of the perfection of Christian living is mutual, self-giving love. Just as the members of the trinity are bound together in love for one another, so we are called to love those around us in the same unreserved and uncalculating way. Especially within the church, where we share life in the Spirit, we are called to a mutuality of love.” 16 This “family resemblance” should be visible in the way we are in the world—in who and how we are as God’s image.

Returning to questions of human sexuality in light of the foregoing biblical-theological exploration raises many questions about relationships, relational intimacy, gender, and sexuality as part of what we bring to a core relationality. How do we reflect God’s image in the full range of relationships and intimacy we have with each other? Starting with Genesis 1–2 helps us reclaim an integrated view of embodied existence whose basic characteristic is relatedness (to God and to others). It centers a theological anthropology that can provide a healthy framework for talking about human sexuality.

FALL

While I intentionally began not with the Fall but with Creation, our sin is a reality which compromises our ability to image God as intended in our relationships with God, each other and with the rest of creation. The Bible depicts sin in many different ways—as a predator stalking humanity, as a master enslaving humanity, as a power, as a disposition, as a climate or shaping force, and so forth. Discussion here is limited to an exploration of Genesis 3, especially for how it helps us understand sin in light of human uniqueness as bearing the relational image of our Trinitarian God. 17

Genesis 3 tells the story of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. I have already observed that the stories of creation in Genesis 1–2 show that humanity’s position relative to God is one of distinction from God and dependence on God. While humans as a “likeness” of God are supposed to bear a family resemblance, we are not God but are limited and finite. And we depend on God, for life, vocation, and provision. This dependence entails obedience: “you may freely eat . . .” (Gen 2:16) and “you shall not eat . . .” (Gen 2:17). The obedience itself requires trust that God is good, that creation as God has made and ordered it is good and sufficient—that this dependency is appropriate to our nature and our “place” in God’s creation. 18

What the serpent does in Genesis 3 is distort all this by presenting a false view of God’s loving provision (“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat {143} from any tree in the garden’?” [Gen 3:1]) and a false view of humankind’s “place,” limits, role, and purpose. 19 The serpent obscures human imaging of God by arguing for a different kind of family resemblance—proposing they should be “like God” in a different way than the likeness they already bear according to Genesis 1. Although God has provided for them by giving them both sustenance and purpose, the serpent raises questions, raises doubts, about the truth of that version of events. And Eve and Adam exchange the truth for a lie—a lie about who God is as loving, sustaining creator and about who they are in relation to God (dependent likeness with a particular place and vocation). The lie of sin distorts their perception and ordering of the world and their place in it. 20 It’s the view in the fun house mirror: distorted, out of proportion. This view puts them out of touch with how things really are (as created, as intended) because it draws them away from the true source of their being. 21 And the consequences follow in Genesis 3:14–19.

If embodiment is a central feature of human existence and relationality centers human being as it reflects God’s image, of course these aspects demonstrate most visibly the rupture resulting from sin. 22 The man and the woman become ashamed of their naked bodies, and they cover themselves. Bodily existence itself becomes painful and difficult. The specific tasks given them in Genesis 1–2—to be fruitful and multiply, to exercise dominion and to cultivate the garden—become fraught with difficulty and with pain. There is pain in child birth, toil and struggle to cultivate the land for the provision that was simply given in the garden. The unique relationship and responsibility humankind has to the rest of creation becomes marred, as does the mutual partnership that should characterize their relationships with each other, replaced instead by a “ruling over.” 23

In other words, sin means humankind does not reflect the image of God as intended in our relational core. It means we (as individuals, as groups, even in our systems and as institutions) “neglect, deny, and refuse simply to be human—that is, to embrace and live out our vocation as creatures made in the image of God.” 24 The family resemblance is obscured, with the result that we are unable to be who and how we are supposed to be. The stories that follow (in Genesis and our own stories) show humankind isolated, separated, out of place in relation to the harmonious whole depicted in creation. Forgetting that our identity must be rooted in our Creator to become fully who we are meant to be, we center it instead in ourselves, or in other things. 25

Sin means we are unable to fully image God as we were created to—the reflected image is distorted or blurred. We remain relational to the core, but our relationships are broken, distorted. We’re unable to {144} live out our vocation of imaging God in our very “way of being” in the world. We don’t reflect the God whose very nature is love. Much could be said about what this looks like. We become controlling, or manipulative, even abusive. We treat others as objects. Instead of mutual partnership, we think only of ourselves—always taking, never giving. Or we think not enough of ourselves, losing ourselves, our self-respect, in lop-sided relationships.

The flaw in our mirror feeds into and is fed by distorted understandings of what loving relationships look like. Nowhere is this truer than in notions of human sexuality and sexual relationships. Some popular notions of sexual relationships don’t do justice to humans as integrated, living beings (embodied souls, ensouled bodies). In a way, they either make too little or too much of sex and sexuality. The “friends with benefits” view or “hook-up” culture sees sex as no big deal. This view seems to disconnect the physical from the rest of what it means to be human (emotional, psychological, spiritual). Sexual intimacy or sexual relationships aren’t relationships so much as acts that meet a recreational or biological need, like eating or sleeping.

On the other hand, some parts of popular culture treat sexual expression and activity as the goal or purpose of life. In this view, you’re not really living if you’re not sexually active. Here one aspect of what it means to be human is the only one in focus, the only one that matters. In the fun house mirror, in this view, sexual activity or expression stretches nearly top to bottom, with hardly anything else of human life even in view. As Christians I fear we often repeat this error of placing sexual expression/activity/acts at the center of what it means to be human—we just place it in the center of what not to do. Sometimes we do this by placing it at the center of what not to talk about, a marked contrast from the sex-saturated culture surrounding us.

In the midst of our own discomfort, our own fears, our own struggles, confusion, temptations, how do we talk about, and develop, and model loving relationships in this arena, as sexual beings? How do we counsel and journey with others as they seek to do the same? Especially our young people, whom we want so desperately to protect from loss of innocence and poor choices? In truth, we neither encounter nor develop in the world alone, but in relationships, as parts of communities. In a real way this means that the aspects of human being we are unwilling to address as a community of faith do not remain unformed. Rather they are shaped by some other set of interpersonal experiences, by some other community’s view. This is as true of the understanding of human sexuality and sexual expression as anything else. The church needs to actually function as a community of formation, an impossibility if we are {145} unwilling to even talk openly about what for many are difficult and uncomfortable topics related to human sexuality. A theology of holistic, integrated human being can provide a place to (re)start the conversation. 26

Sin means the life of the fun house mirror, a distorted view of who God is and who we are created to be. Sin distorts our perception and ordering of the world, and our place in it. The family resemblance to our loving Trinitarian God is barely visible, at best a blurred image. But sin does not have the last word in the biblical narrative.

JESUS, THE IMAGE OF GOD

The good news of the New Testament is that Creator God becomes one of us, incarnate in the “living being” who is Jesus of Nazareth, the fullest manifestation of God and of what it means to be human. Jesus as the image of God means, of course, Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us (Matt 1:23). As the very presence of God, Jesus not only shows but also is the God whose nature is a community of self-giving love. This is the good news of what God has done and is doing through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—loving us, saving us from the distortions of sin, delivering us into new life now marked by the future hope, when in Christ we will be raised bodily, and God will be all in all (1 Cor 15). Jesus reconciles us to God, making right our relationship with our Creator, making possible right relationships with each other and the rest of creation. Jesus, the truth of who God is, the fullness of the image of God, our salvation.

But we must also hear that phrase “image of God” in relation to the fullness of humanity revealed in Jesus as well. The man Jesus shows us what a human life actually reflecting the image of God looks like. Jesus images God, without distortion or blur, in a human life lived as intended at creation—a life fulfilling the vocation first given in Genesis 1. In Jesus the family resemblance is fully visible—self-giving loving relationship. Creation and redemption are linked. The full humanity of Jesus as we encounter him in the Gospel narratives is thus essential to our being reshaped by the vision of new life in Christ. Jesus as the image of God means: “First, that Jesus represents God to the creation in the way that the first human beings were called, but failed to do; and second that he enables other human beings to achieve the directedness to God of which their fallenness had deprived them.” 27 In Jesus, humanity as reflecting the image of God is restored. To conform to the “image of Christ” is thus to reflect God’s likeness as humans were created to do in Genesis 1. Again, creation and redemption are linked. 28 Jesus’s command to love God and love others (Matt 22:36–40) drives us back toward Genesis 1–2, to the relationships basic to human existence at creation and to our {146} dependence on God. And it drives us back to Genesis 3, to sin and its consequences (broken relationships) which make the command necessary. As Jacobson and Sawatsky note,

At its core, personal salvation is the process through which we internalize God’s love for us so that we can, in turn, externalize that love to others. When we enter the path of salvation, we are taken up into God’s great work of love and re-creation, and we are given the opportunity to become active agents in the process of reclaiming and reforming the world. 29

In Jesus we come full circle; we see what it means to be human. We see a human life—a living bodily life—marked by dependence on God, making visible the family resemblance to the Father. Though sin distorts our understanding of the truth of who God is and who we are made to be, in Jesus we see the truth, about God and about ourselves.

Jesus both makes visible and makes possible the human vocation of imaging God in the world. After the reality of sin and incarnation that imaging includes the ministry of reconciliation. As created and as redeemed, followers of Jesus are to make visible this understanding of what it means to be human, reflecting the family resemblance Jesus shows so clearly, of our relational, loving, reconciling God.

NOTES

  1. This article originated as the invited plenary address, “A Theological Anthropology,” presented at the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches Study Conference, “God, Sex, Church,” October 22, 2015. The task set for that plenary was to present an accessible, biblically-based theological anthropology; a theology of sexuality was the focus of a different plenary and many other presentations and discussions. As a minimally edited version of that plenary, this article begins to sketch aspects of human being broadly construed, as a framework within which topics touching on human “creatureliness” (including human sexuality) might be explored.
  2. Joel Green, Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 3.
  3. Ibid., 46. Green identifies the implicit nature of the biblical evidence as one of the obstacles to its resourcing a theological anthropology: “The books of the OT and NT only very rarely turn to anthropology per se . . . At times, they [biblical writers] assume a view of the human person; at other times, they counter the views of others; and, at still other times, they project an anthropology in their portraits of renewed humanity.” Ibid. Other obstacles, according to Green, include Cartesian-shaped interpretive assumptions and an array of methodological issues. Ibid., 46–61.
  4. These categories are drawn from Green, Body, Soul, and Human Life, which informs much of what follows. {147}
  5. “The breath of life” given to birds, beasts, and creeping things in Genesis 1:30 and to the man in Genesis 2:7. Genesis 1:29–30; 2:8–9, 15–16 indicate the provision of a shared setting and vegetarian diet.
  6. Green, 14.
  7. Ibid., 107; Justo L. Gonzáles, Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1990), 125–31.
  8. Kent A. Van Til, The Moral Disciple: An Introduction to Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 34.
  9. Gonzáles, 127, 129. Gonzáles follows Barth here: “We best keep ourselves from prejudice, abstraction and one-sidedness if we proceed from the concrete reality in which man neither lacks the inner differentiation of soul and body, nor is mere soul or mere body, nor merely a combination and association of the two, but wholly and simultaneously both body and soul, always and in every relation soulful, and always and in every relation bodily. We cannot cease to see both and therefore these two; for the unity of soul and body does not consist in their identity or in the interchangeability of soul and bodily [sic].] But again we cannot cease to see both, and therefore the two together; for the unity of soul and body does not consist in the union of two parts which can always be seen and described separately.” Church Dogmatics, III/2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1936), 372.
  10. González notes that this hierarchical dualism contributes to hierarchicalization in society and church, leading to devaluation and oppression those associated with the “lower” of the pair—women, racial-ethnic minorities, the earth, 128–31.
  11. Green, 63–65.
  12. Ibid., 63.
  13. González explains that the Genesis 2:18 term translated “helper” is most often used to refer to God as the “help” of Israel, while the term translated “partner” here implies a mirror image or counterpart. He contrasts (p. 132) the unfitness of animals as partners compared to the man’s reaction to the woman as genuine counterpart (Gen 2:23).
  14. Ted Grimsrud, God’s Healing Strategy, revised ed. (Telford, PA: Cascadia, 2011), 34.
  15. Douglas Jacobsen and Rodney J. Sawatsky, Gracious Christianity: Living the Love We Profess (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 44.
  16. Ibid., 36.
  17. Green provides a helpful examination of several New Testament texts in an attempt to broaden consideration of biblical characterizations of sin beyond the discussion of free will in light of current neuroscience, see 72–105.
  18. Grimsrud, 35. My thanks to Mark Baker for comments and conversation that helped clarify my thinking on this point and several others in this section.
  19. Ibid., 35–36.
  20. Ibid., 36–37; Green, 102.
  21. Jacobsen and Sawatsky, 47.
  22. “Sin marks a rupture in the divine-human relationship, but it also manifests itself in human relations and in relations between humanity and the material creation. Sin in this broad sense can never be understood as something private or individualistic, for it always manifests itself in relation to others and the cosmos.” Green, 102. {148}
  23. González, Mañana, 133.
  24. Green, 69.
  25. Jacobsen and Sawatsky, 47.
  26. For Green’s discussion of the role of communities of formation see “Freedom and Sin: Three New Testament Coordinates,” 87–105 and “Luke-Acts and ‘Embodied Conversion,’ ” 122–39, both in Body, Soul, and Human Life.
  27. Colin Gunton, Christ and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 100.
  28. Romans 8:29, 1 Corinthians 15:49, 2 Corinthians 3:18; Green, Body, Soul, and Human Life, 69.
  29. Jacobsen and Sawatsky, Gracious Christianity, 64.
Laura Schmidt Roberts is Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Fresno Pacific University (Fresno, California), where she teaches an array of theology courses. She holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California). Current scholarly projects focus on theological methodology and eco-theology, both from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

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