Male and Female: The Visible Image of Christ, God’s Firstborn Son Genesis 1:1, 27; 5:1-3; Coloss

Male and Female: The Visible Image of Christ, God’s Firstborn Son
Genesis 1:1, 27; 5:1-3; Colossians 1:15-16

The first two words of the Torah, the collocation בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א, shows an example of triple consonantal alliteration. While it is the most salient literary feature of Genesis 1:1, it has been overlooked and cries out for explanation. Utilizing consonance and phonology, the writer signals that the act of creating is linked in a special manner to בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית.

What would be the motivation for drawing together the noun בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית and the act of creating? An answer can be found in Genesis 1:27 where the same verb, subject, direct object marker and preposition is repeated. The noun בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית in 1:1 is replaced by בְּצֶ֥לֶם (image) in 1:27. The writer’s explanation for image in 1:27 is found in Genesis 5:3, the only other place where “image” and “likeness” are found together. Adam also has an image. The image and likeness of Adam is his visible son Seth.

Who, then, constitutes God’s image in 1:27, the prototype for humanity? An answer can be found by re-examining בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית in 1:1. The primary use of רֵאשִׁ֖ית (reshit) in the TaNaKh and the Torah is the firstborn son or first-fruits, either of produce or progeny (23 out of 51 cases; Reuben, Gen 49:3, Ps 105:36; 78:51; Deut 21:17; cf. Prov 30:4). The image of God in 1:27 is the Firstborn Son of 1:1, as the image of Adam is his third-born son, Seth.

This thesis provides a cogent explanation for the most salient literary feature in 1:1, בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א, a triple consonantal alliteration. The first word in the Bible declares that the creation of the organized universe was accomplished through a joint effort in God, with the Firstborn Son being the main agent.

Paul, reading off Gen 1:1 and 1:27, identifies Christ explicitly as the creator of the universe, and the image of God, the reshit (רֵאשִׁ֖ית) in Col 1:15-18. He uses both “firstborn” in 1:15 and “beginning” in 1:18 to translate reshit (רֵאשִׁ֖ית). Humanity, male and female, then, is created according to the image of God, his Firstborn Son (Rom 8:39; 2 Cor 4:3-4; Col 1:15-16; 3:10; John 1:1-3; Heb 1:1-2, 5-6; 12:22-23; Luke 2:7).

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