Chapter 6 -
The image of the Trinitarian God
1. The image and the prototype
«Then God said, “Let us
make humankind according to
Our image and according to
likeness, and let them
(man and woman)
rule the fish of the sea and
the birds of the sky and the
cattle and all the earth and
all the creeping things that
creep upon the earth.” And
God made humankind;
according to divine image He
made it; male and female He
(Gen.1:26-27. Cmp Gen.5:1,
9:6, Wisd.Solomon 2:23)
Man, therefore, was
created according to the image of the Trinitarian God ("in the image of").
This means that in order to actually know what man is - in his own nature -
we need to know about God Himself, Who is man's prototype. This signifies
that man is not the prototype; he is an image of the prototype.
The more that man
delves into the life of the Trinitarian God and the more he responds with
his life to the life of the Holy Trinity, the more he will respond better to
his human nature, which is an image of God.
In the opposite case, when we are at a distance from God, we do not live
according to our nature, but instead, contrary to it. That is what
"man's fall" is: the deterioration of God's image - the death of man.
«But even if you say
to me: 'show me your God', I will also say to you: ' show me your man and I
will show you my God', said Saint Theophilos to the idolater Autolykos.
As another Abba of the "Gerontikon"(*)
adds: «if you have seen your brother, you have seen your God».
2. The image of the Omniscient and Omnipotent God
Man is an image of
the Trinitarian God. This means that deep down inside him, within the image
of God, he can sense and discern the presence of God Himself. In this way,
man hides within him immense potentials. and his place within Creation is
The narration of the
Old Testament underlines this truth. It presents God as calling upon
man to become the centre of all of Creation; the master of nature, of
plants, of animals, of the universe (Gen.1:28-30, 9:1-2):
«And God blessed them, saying,
“Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule the
fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and all the cattle and all the
earth and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth......”
«And God blessed Noe and his sons and
said to them, “Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.
And the trembling and fear of you shall be on all the animals of the earth
and on all the birds of the sky and on all the things that move on the earth
and on all the fish of the sea; I have given them under authority to you..."
«He gave them days in number and a
fixed time, and He gave them authority over the things upon it. He clothed
them in a strength like Himself, and in His image He made them. He placed
the fear of Him upon all flesh, even to have dominion over beasts and birds »
(Wisdom of Sirach, 17:2-4. Cmp. Wisdom of Solomon 10:2)
This dominance of
man does not merely relate to creations catering to their needs, but also to
a more spiritual level. Man receives an instruction from God: to give to
each animal - that is, to each of God's creations - a suitable name:
«And out of the earth God furthermore
formed all the animals of the field and all the birds of the sky and brought
them to Adam to see what he would call them, and anything, whatever Adam
called it as living creature, this was its name. And Adam gave names to
all the cattle and to all the birds of the sky and to all the animals of the
field, but for Adam there was not found a helper like him.»
This action does not
constitute a simple and insignificant episode. For one to give a
certain animal or thing its name, signified to the Jews a definition of the
purpose to which he is called, to fulfil it within the harmony of the world.
With this instruction, therefore, God calls upon man to determine the
particular purpose of each animal, by giving it an appropriate name. In
other words, he was called upon to continue the work of God's Creation - to
become a co-creator in a world that was "very good"; that is, full of beauty
3. And He gave to mankind science
All of the above
reveal that man - as the image of the all-wise and omniscient God - received
tremendous potentials to develop civilization and science in every field.
For example, in
order for man to give a suitable name that would reflect the particular
characteristics of each animal, he had to previously develop all those
abilities that God had given him for obtaining a true knowledge of those
animals. After all, that was God's instruction, when He led the
animals before Adam «to see what
he would call them» (Gen. 2:19).
The deep knowledge
of the wonders of God's Creation is also presupposed by God's other
commandment, to fill the earth: «and
Wisdom of Sirach 17:2-4. Wisdom of Solomon 10:2).
This authority of
man, and his dominant place opposite the rest of Creation, was placed
inside the full beauty and harmony of the world (Genesis 1:31), and not
outside it. That is, it had to be exercised not only in accordance with the
particular characteristics of each creation, but also in harmony with the
the will of God (cmp. Gen. 3:3). It is also obvious that the fulfilment of
this instruction by God presupposes scientific research and a deep knowledge
science therefore fully respond to God's creative plan. He is the One
teaches man knowledge» (Psalms 93:10). «And it was He that
gave skill to human beings in order to be glorified in His marvelous deeds»
(Wisdom of Sirach 38:6).
It is for this
reason that man is "blessed": «Happy is the person who has found
wisdom, and the mortal who perceived prudence» (Proverbs 3:13).
to me, child, (says the wise Sirach) and learn knowledge, and
to my words apply your heart. I will disclose instruction by fixed standard,
and with accuracy I will declare knowledge.»
(Wisdom of Sirach
not only does not go contrary to scientific progress; it actually places
theological and anthropological prerequisites for unlimited human research
and human science.
Man should utilize
all his potentials in order to improve the conditions of his life. Indeed,
during the course of human history we see him discover tools, with which he
treats wood, stone, iron, the metals; we see him subjugating steam,
electricity, atomic power, constructing factories, eliminating distances.
This is a truth that
we today are able to perceive even more than previous generations, because
we are living in an era of human science and techniques.
Many people wonder
in our day and age just how much man's arrival on the Moon has shaken his
faith in the Holy Bible. The answer to this question can be found in one of
Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Your name in all the earth, because Your
magnificence was raised beyond the heavens. Out of mouths of infants and
nurslings You furnished praise for Yourself, for the sake of Your enemies,
to put down enemy and avenger, because I will observe the heavens, works of
Your fingers— moon and stars—things You alone founded. What is man, that You
are mindful of him or son of man that You attend to him? You diminished him
a little in comparison with angels; with glory and honor You crowned him.
And You set him over the works of your hands; You subjected all under his
feet, sheep and cattle, all together, and further the beasts of the plain,
the birds of the air and the fish of the sea —the things that pass through
paths of seas. O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Your name in all the earth!» (Psalms 8:1-10).
The Creator Himself
has therefore crowned man with "glory and honour" and destined him to become
the "master" of all "the works of His hands", to subdue "beneath his feet"
not only the earth, but all of Creation, "the heavens, the moon and the
4. The image of the God of love
Man's authority in
the potentials and the powers of the world were not arbitrary ones; as such,
man could not possibly exercise that authority in a selfish manner. It
was an authority that pertained to a responsibility for God's entire
the Lord God planted an orchard in Edem toward the east, and there he put
the man whom he had formed [...] And the Lord God took the man whom He had
formed and put him in the orchard to till and keep it.» (Gen. 2:8-15).
Man's role in
Paradise was a creative one, not an arbitrary and destructive one. He
had to be a faithful and caring guard and protector of God's entire
usage of the world on the part of man was not in a selfish manner, but
always in accordance with the will of the Creator. This is made clear in
shall eat for food of every tree that is in the orchard, but of the tree for
knowing good and evil, of it you shall not eat; on the day that you eat of
it, you shall die by death".»(Gen. 2:16-17.
cmp. Romans 6:23).
In Paradise there
were no differences between the thoughts and decisions of man or the
deliberations and the actions of man and the will of God. Without any
coercion, man related his own will to God's will, and he let God be the
centre of his life. This was very natural for man in Paradise, as he was
created in accordance with the image of the Trinitarian God and he lived a
life according to his prototype - that is, a life that was in accordance
with the life of the Holy Trinity: a life of inner unity, love and
harmony - with himself, with his fellow-man, with the rest of Creation.
The centre of this unity was
always God, to Whom man voluntarily offered himself, his achievements and
all of Creation. Thus, everything was harmoniously united; everything
was "very good".