Gen 1:26 on "Let 'us' make man in our own image"


#1

I've always wondered who "us" meant in Genesis 1:26, 3:22. First, I thought it may have meant talking to the Trinity, or to the angels. I digged in further. I'm curious what you think on these notes, and seeing if the author used what they thought in the time with mysticism and assimilated it to the real God, Yahweh, to teach theology.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.
a. “us” – ancient mysticism of the gods deciding the fate of man, but what’s different in the bible is God decides for himself.
b. New Jerome Commentary: The bible accepts a divine assembly (of gods deciding): “Let us make a human”. In ancient near Eastern literature, the gods decided the fate of humankind. The bible accepts the picture of the assembly, but Yahweh alone makes the decision. (Gen 11:3,7; Deut 32:8-9, 1 Kgs 22:19-22, Isa 6; 40:1-11; Job 1-2).

Genesis 3:22
Then the Lord God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” 23 The LORD God therefore banished him from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.
a. “Us” – Used again of an assembly, but God acts on his own.

Genesis 3:24
When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.
a. Cherubim
b. A continuance of mysticism references.


#2

It's the Holy Trinity. In Christianity we believe in one God in three persons. Therefore, when God refers to Himself as "us" there's no one else it can be since we only believe in one God. Jesus (God the Son) gave us the Church if we have any questions about this. And the Church has answered the question long ago.

"that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places."

(Ephesians 3:10)

.


#3

I fully believe in the Trinity, but I’m wondering what “us” really means. On first look, yeah, I would agree it’s the trinity that was understood later with the teachings of Christ. But as the New Jerome Commentary explains above, there’s more than one explanation on “us,” so I’m curious if anyone has any deeper insight on that. It could very well mean both explanations. Thanks!


#4

I too would say the trinity.

Another evidence of this is in the "knowing the difference of good and evil". For creatures, good and evil is objective while for God it is subjective.

This is why in the garden....Satan says you will be like Gods "knowing the difference between good and evil".

This is why when we humans sins..... we are pretty much in thought,word, deed, action or inaction calling evil good and good evil with whatever sin we choose to do and try like satan to make ourselves Gods.


#5

Lastly in the “creation scene”…we see only 3 major characters… God the creator (father)…the word (Christ) and a mighty wind (the spirit).


#6

Modern bible commentaries are often wrong. Modern bible commentators can only speculate. But they weren’t there, and they aren’t infallible on such matters as the Catholic Church is. There’s no reason why someone would deny that it’s the Holy Trinity unless they don’t believe in it.


#7

I thought it would be accurate since it is a Catholic commentary ;) But yeah, I think later theology saw it as the trinity then with Christ's teachings. Thanks.


#8

There are Pro-Abortion politicians who describe themselves as “a Catholic in good standing”. So just the fact that something calls itself “Catholic” doesn’t really mean anything. The real question for an idea which presents itself in a publication calling itself Catholic is does it accurately reflect the mind of the Magisterium? I found this on the subject of Gen 1:26 which might be of help:

The Mystery Of The Trinity In The Old Testament

The mystery of the Trinity is obscurely expressed in the Old Testament. We give here certain passages that have a meaning more clearly understood after the revelation of the New Testament.

  1. A certain plurality in the one God is indicated, sometimes in the words of God and again in the theophanies.

God’s words seem to express a council between several persons in Gen. 1:26,“let us make man to our image and likeness.” It might be said that this is the plural of majesty, but this interpretation seems to be excluded by God’s words to Adam after the Fall," behold Adam is become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22). The expression “one of us” indicates more than the plural of majesty. We may also cite God’s words, provoked by the pride of the builders of the tower of Babel, “come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue” (Gen. 11:7).

Source


#9

I say it’s the Trinity too. That’s all it could mean. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and these three are one. God said “Let us make man in our image.” That’s the Trinity. Period. :slight_smile:


#10

Psalm 89 says that "The world and all it contains, you have founded them." Immediately prior to this verse the question is asked "For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord, who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord".

So the heavenly host cannot compare to the LORD who founded all that the world contains.

I don't think angels had anything to do with the creation of man nor his image as this would detract from the name and power and might that should only be ascribed to God. This is I believe what the Psalmist is saying.


#11

Judaism provides at least three reasons, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One is the plurality of majesty with which it is appropriate for G-d to speak. The Hebrew word Elohim often indicates this kind of plurality. At the same time, the verse is indicative of G-d’s humility since He is addressing His angels and incorporating them in His act of creating man rather than taking sole credit. This is typical of other verses in which the angels are being addressed. The third explanation is that G-d is incorporating the earth since we know that man’s body was first fashioned from the earth in physical terms before the soul of life was breathed into his nostrils. Note that in the very next verse G-d is referenced in singular form.


#12

There are two explanations of this:

1) It is a reference to the Trinity, but seeing as this was written before the extent of the Trinity was revealed, I tend to doubt this.

2) (which I find more likely) is the use of the royal plural, using 'we' and 'us' in place of 'me' and 'I'. Think of a queen or king having said "We are pleased". They are not referring to a plurality of people, but instead they refer to themselves.


#13

The Trinitarian dogma was not defined until long after Genesis was written. The truth is, monotheism was not completely accepted in the beginning. The Jewish people were likely in bondage when Genesis was written. No doubt they were influenced by the other near eastern cultures that preached a theology of polytheism.

Also, consider that those who lived in that part of the world were agrarian. There was no irrigation systems and they depended on god’s like Baal, the god of fertility including rain.

I can assure you that the Scripture writers had no knowledge of the Trinity. Remember, the fullness of revelation is still not complete, but the greatest of revelation surrounds Jesus of Nazareth. The writers of Genesis had not the benefit of this revelation.


#14

Since the Jews didn’t believe in the Trinity back then (obviously), writing “us” implied something else then. I think it goes back to what the New Jerome Commentary suggested: there was an ancient tradition of belief in mysticism (like other parts in the bible) that are written. The two “us” verses, cherubim, “you’ll be like gods”, etc. The “us” would mean a divine assembly then, and tradition was that of several gods who were in this assembly to decide the fate. However, what’s powerful about Genesis and its theology the first 11 chapters is it puts only one God (Yahweh) as the decider.

When Christ revealed the trinity, it made us see Genesis in a new way. Let “us” would have been later considered a trinity reference. The intentions for writing “us” as the author did had no knowledge of the trinity, so I tend to think it’s a matter of assimilation of old mysticism and taught how God acts alone.

There was a book that the early Christians read called Enoch. It had a lot of mysticism in it too but told the story of God. It had to do with giants, etc. So, there was an assimilation of old mysticism, as with the “us” verses, and the later understanding of the trinity because God did not reveal it to them yet. I do agree we as Christians can interpret the old testament with better understanding now which did show references to the trinity. So I don’t think the commentary contradicts church teaching on the trinity, but rather gives a background understanding.

I do find it interesting how scripture refers to the book of Enoch since the early Christians had this writing, but it’s not in the bible. I guess that’s another topic :slight_smile:


#15

[quote="bzkoss236, post:12, topic:333452"]
There are two explanations of this:

1) It is a reference to the Trinity, but seeing as this was written before the extent of the Trinity was revealed, I tend to doubt this.

[/quote]

There are indirect hints about the Blessed Trinity all through the Old Testament though not one that directly identifies the Holy Trinity. This verse is consistent with those early indirect hints about the Blessed Trinity which would be revealed fully later through Jesus and the Church.

[quote="bzkoss236, post:12, topic:333452"]
2) (which I find more likely) is the use of the royal plural, using 'we' and 'us' in place of 'me' and 'I'. Think of a queen or king having said "We are pleased". They are not referring to a plurality of people, but instead they refer to themselves.

[/quote]

God's words seem to express a council between several persons in Gen. 1:26,"let us make man to our image and likeness." It might be said that this is the plural of majesty, but this interpretation seems to be excluded by God's words to Adam after the Fall," behold Adam is become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22). The expression "one of us" indicates more than the plural of majesty.

(Source)


#16

Well, this was weird. Looks like there was a Greek version of Genesis which threw in mysticism, at least for Gen 3:24. My NAB commentary says this:
Gen 3:24, "The above rendering is based on the ancient Greek version; that of the current Hebrew is, When he expelled the man, he settled, east of the garden of Eden, the cherubim.

But when a bible says it was translated from the original texts, I’m surprised they still have Greek influences in Genesis (NAB), aka “When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

At least the commentator in the NAB is sharing what it really says in the ancient languages. So far it’s been pretty good on that.


#17

[quote="philv, post:14, topic:333452"]
Since the Jews didn't believe in the Trinity back then (obviously), writing "us" implied something else then.

[/quote]

The Jewish leaders had a poor understanding of the Scriptures just as they didn't seem to understand that the Messiah was to come first as the Suffering Servant. They expected the Messiah to be someone who would conquer their enemies for them. Jesus will come as the Judge, but that's when he returns at the end of time.


#18

[quote="philv, post:16, topic:333452"]
Well, this was weird. Looks like there was a Greek version of Genesis which threw in mysticism, at least for Gen 3:24. My NAB commentary says this:
Gen 3:24, "The above rendering is based on the ancient Greek version; that of the current Hebrew is, When he expelled the man, he settled, east of the garden of Eden, the cherubim.

But when a bible says it was translated from the original texts, I'm surprised they still have Greek influences in Genesis (NAB), aka "When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life."

At least the commentator in the NAB is sharing what it really says in the ancient languages. So far it's been pretty good on that.

[/quote]

The NAB translation of the scripture verses is passable, but the NAB commentary borders on heretical at times. An example is how in the NAB the Blessed Virgin Mary is conspicuously omitted from the commentary about the woman of Revelation 12 even though the woman of Revelation 12 was specifically referenced as Our Lady by Pope Pius XII in his infallible apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus (Defining the Dogma of the Assumption).


#19

If it’s a hint to the trinity, then… why? Why a hint? What is the purpose of dropping a hint? Is God the Riddler from Batman or something? What do we gain from that? What does He gain from playing that game? What kind of ridiculous, petty behavior is that?

Further, how would this hint writing even work in the first place? I mean, you’ve got a human author writing this, yes? So what, he knows about the trinity, but he isn’t going to tell us? Or he doesn’t know about the trinity, but he doesn’t notice how terrible his grammar is? No one was confused when they kept transcribing these words? No one thought to adjust “Us” to “My”?

The answer is hit-you-on-the-head obvious: the authors were polytheistic.

I’m not a linguist, so I don’t know about the royal we stuff, but unless a bunch of credible linguists intervene, then I’m going to have to assume that’s just a way to retroactively edit the text.


#20

[quote="cargau, post:13, topic:333452"]
The Trinitarian dogma was not defined until long after Genesis was written. The truth is, monotheism was not completely accepted in the beginning. The Jewish people were likely in bondage when Genesis was written. No doubt they were influenced by the other near eastern cultures that preached a theology of polytheism.

Also, consider that those who lived in that part of the world were agrarian. There was no irrigation systems and they depended on god's like Baal, the god of fertility including rain.

I can assure you that the Scripture writers had no knowledge of the Trinity. Remember, the fullness of revelation is still not complete, but the greatest of revelation surrounds Jesus of Nazareth. The writers of Genesis had not the benefit of this revelation.

[/quote]

God inspired the writers of Genesis to use "us" and "our" even though at the time they did not know why. You are forgetting that the written word was inspired by God.


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