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Products>Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion (New Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 36 | NSBT)

Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion (New Studies in Biblical Theology, vol. 36 | NSBT)

, 2015
ISBN: 9780830826360

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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 (34 vols.) 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.”

Don't forget the other volumes in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (34 vols.) series.

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Key Features

  • Examines Genesis 1:26–27 from theological-anthropological standpoint
  • Contructs anthropological identity within creation juxtposed against the “culture of desire”
  • Argues that biblical “idol” language is the inversion of biblical “image” language, especially imago dei


  • Living Inside the Text: Canon and Creation
  • A Strange Bridge: Connecting the Image and the Idol
    • Getting Started on the Wrong Foot: Creation and Image
    • Human Identity and Human Nature
  • The Liturgy of Creation in the Cosmic Temple
    • The First Stable as Prologue
    • The Liturgy of Creation
    • The House that God Built
  • The Image of God on the Temple Walls
    • Introduction
    • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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

Top Highlights

“The issues of the canon are predominantly questions of human identity rather than of human nature” (Page 35)

“The irony of identity is that by looking away from ourselves we are more likely to discover our identity.” (Page 11)

“‘Image’ or ‘likeness’ language argues for a dependence upon an original.11 Whatever else may be said of an image, it must be clear that the image depends upon whatever it is an image of for its meaning.” (Page 59)

“The methodological point simply amounts to this—a mirror reflects. A distorted or broken mirror also reflects, but in a distorted or broken fashion.” (Page 22)

“Believing something false about God is dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as worshipping something other than him” (Page 38)

Praise for the Print Edition

Begin with the imago dei. . . . Work that out across the canon, and you discover that light shines on many topics, not least the nature of idolatry. This book manages to blend some elements of systematic theology with careful biblical theology to produce a study that is wonderfully evocative.

D. A. Carson, editor, New Studies in Biblical Theology series

In Identity and Idolatry, Richard Lints shows himself to be an exceptional thinker who combines the sensitivities of a theologian with that of a philosopher and interpreter of the Bible. He not only speaks of ideas in the abstract but shows how these ideas forge the way we think and act. I recommend this book to all thoughtful Christians.

Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

  • Title: Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion
  • Author: Richard Lints
  • Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology
  • Volume: 36
  • Publishers: Apollos, IVP
  • Print Publication Date: 2015
  • Logos Release Date: 2015
  • Pages: 192
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Image of God; Idolatry; Identification (Religion); Identity (Psychology) › Religious aspects--Christianity; Theological anthropology › Christianity
  • ISBNs: 9780830826360, 9780830898497, 9781783593064, 083082636X, 0830898492, 1783593067
  • Resource ID: LLS:NSBT36
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T01:54:10Z

Dr. Lints has overlapping interests in systematic theology, Biblical theology, philosophy and cultural studies. He has authored the Fabric of Theology, co-authored 101 Terms in Philosophy for Theology Students, edited the collection of essays, Personal Identity in Theological Perspective, and has a forthcoming work entitled, Radical Ironies: Religion, the 1960s and the Dawn of the Postmodern World. Dr Lints joined the Gordon-Conwell faculty in 1986. He has also taught at Trinity College (Bristol, UK) Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Gordon College. Dr. Lints is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He has been a church planter and served in a variety of other pastoral positions in churches. He and his wife, Ann, reside in Boxborough, Massachusetts, and have three children, Catherine, Sarah and Lucas.

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Digital list price: $24.99
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