This is the eighth volume to appear in the American edition of Professor Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics. Like its predecessors, it stands independently of the series as well as being a part of a larger theological whole. Like the other books, too, this study in theological anthropology, or the Biblical doctrine of man, is a fine example of Reformed theology being defended and developed through interaction with a wide range of both past and present theologies and theologians, and through a fresh look at the Biblical message.
The subject of the book-the nature of man-“is today, more than at any time,” writes Dr. Berkouwer, “at the center of theological and philosophical concern. The number of studies that have taken this problem as their theme is almost innumerable.” But “this almost irresistible problem appears to many a mind not to have found a clear and obviously irrefutable answer…Indeed, there is scarcely another theme dealt with by human consciousness which has aroused so much controversy as this theme-the nature of man.”
“Man cannot truly know himself if he ignores the light of God’s revelation, which falls over his life, and which unveils the true nature of man, of actual, concrete man.” (Page 21)
“The Bible often calls to our attention examples of illusory and unsubstantial self-portraits. Thus, Isaiah ridicules the king of Babylon, the morning-star, the son of the dawn, who said, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the most High’ (Isa. 14:13–14). On the contrary! So Isaiah pricks the conceit of this self-‘knowledge’ and exposes its unreality and perversity, which are so blatant as to approach the ludicrous and invite judgment.” (Page 19)
“This dualism between body and soul played a not unimportant role in the delimitation of the image of God. In this connection, we are always struck by a remark of Calvin’s. He acknowledges that the image lies primarily in the understanding or in the heart, in the soul and its powers; but there is nevertheless ‘no part of man, not even his body, which is not adorned with some rays of its glory.’ But Calvin is really concerned here more with a general reflection of God’s majesty in all the works of His hand than with the image of God as including man’s body specifically.” (Page 76)
“Both terms, obviously, refer to a relation between man and his Creator; a ‘likeness’ between man and God, with no explanation given as to exactly what this likeness consists of or implies.” (Page 69)