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Persons in the Image of God

Persons in the Image of God

(p.44) Chapter 2 Persons in the Image of God
Human Nature & Jewish Thought
Alan L. Mittleman
Princeton University Press

Using the motif of the image of God as an organizing principle, this chapter shows how Jewish sources address such issues as mind/body dualism, body and soul, the relation of human nature to animal nature, sexuality, birth and death, vulnerability and dependence, and violence and evil as well as selfhood and the relations among rationality, emotion, desire, and imagination. Classical Jewish thought assumes and propagates dichotomies: human beings are bodies and souls, male and female; a little lower than the angels, but not much higher than the animals; descended from a common father and mother, yet divided into nations and races; biologically the same, though unique in their individuality; and a part of nature, yet possessing a power to remake both nature and themselves. Underlying the dichotomies is a basic Jewish commitment. Human beings are made in the image of God, and therefore possess intrinsic and undeniable worth. The idea of an image of God has an ethical function. It integrates human nature into personhood and gives persons an ethical orientation.

Keywords:   God, human nature, Jewish philosophy, dichotomy, personhood, ethical orientation

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