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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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MAN. The Bible is concerned with man only from the religious standpoint, with his relation to God. This article will deal only with the religious estimate of man, as other matters which might have been included will be found in other articles (Creation, Eschatology, Fall, Sin, Psychology). Man’s dignity, as made by special resolve and distinct act of God in God’s image and likeness (synonymous terms), with dominion over the other creatures, and for communion with God, as asserted in the double account of his Creation in Genesis 1:1-31 ; Genesis 2:1-25 , and man’s degradation by his own choice of evil, as presented figuratively in the story of his Fall in Genesis 3:1-24 , are the two aspects of man that are everywhere met with. The first is explicitly affirmed in Psalms 8:1-9 , an echo of Genesis 1:1-31 ; the second, without any explicit reference to the story in Genesis 3:1-24 , is taken for granted in the OT (see esp. Psalms 51:1-19 ), and is still more emphasized in the NT, with distinct allusion to the Fall and its consequences (see esp. Romans 5:12-21 ; Romans 7:7-25 ). While the OT recognizes man’s relation to the world around him, his materiality and frailty as ‘flesh’ (wh. see), and describes him as ‘dust and ashes’ in comparison with God ( Genesis 2:7 ; Genesis 3:19 ; Genesis 18:27 ), yet as made in God’s image it endows him with reason, conscience, affection, free will. Adam is capable of recognizing the qualities of, and so of naming, the living creatures ( Genesis 2:19 ), cannot find a help meet among them ( Genesis 2:20 ), is innocent ( Genesis 2:25 ), and capable of moral obedience ( Genesis 2:16-17 ) and religious communion ( Genesis 3:9-10 ). The Spirit of God is in man not only as life, but also as wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, skill and courage (see Inspiration). The Divine immanence in man as the Divine providence for man is affirmed ( Proverbs 20:27 ).

In the NT man’s dignity is represented as Divine sonship. In St. Luke’s Gospel Adam is described as ‘son of God’ (Luke 3:38 ). St. Paul speaks of man as ‘the image and glory of God’ ( 1 Corinthians 11:7 ), approves the poet’s words, ‘we also are his offspring,’ asserts the unity of the race, and God’s guidance in its history ( Acts 17:26-28 ). In his argument in Romans regarding universal sinfulness, he assumes that even the Gentiles have the law of God written in their hearts, and thus can exercise moral judgment on themselves and others ( Romans 2:15 ). Jesus’ testimony to the Fatherhood of God, including the care and bounty in Providence as well as the grace in Redemption, has as its counterpart His estimate of the absolute worth of the human soul (see Matthew 10:30 ; Matthew 16:26 , Luke 10:20 ; Luke 10:15 ). While God’s care and bounty are unlimited, yet Jesus does seem to limit the title ‘child or son of God’ to those who have religious fellowship and seek moral kinship with God (see Matthew 5:9 ; Matthew 5:45 ; cf. John 1:12 ). St. Paul’s doctrine of man’s adoption by faith in God’s grace does not contradict the teaching of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews sees the promise of man’s dominion in Psalms 8:1-9 fulfilled only in Christ ( Hebrews 2:8-9 ). Man’s history, according to the Fourth Evangelist, is consummated in the Incarnation ( John 1:14 ).

The Bible estimate of man’s value is shown in its anticipation of his destiny not merely continued existence, but a future life of weal or woe according to the moral quality, the relation to God, of the present life (see Eschatology). The Biblical analysis of the nature of man is discussed in detail in art. Psychology.

Alfred E. Garvie.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Man'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Man of Sin
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