Of Meat and Men: How Food Informs Theological Anthropology

In this paper, I argue that the scriptural proximity, consistency, and analogy between food and humanity informs a healthy theological anthropology that safeguards against harmful misconceptions of human nature. Starting from food’s close proximity to the imago Dei in Genesis 1:26-29 and 9:1-6, I trace food’s consistent connection to humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Humanity not only falls through food (cf. Gen. 3), but God marks each of humanity’s redemptive milestones with a meal: the Passover and Lord’s Supper (cf. Ex. 12:1-30; Matt. 26:17-30). Food also envisions humanity’s multiethnic inclusion in God’s salvation (cf. Acts 10:9-15), and humanity’s final restoration finds expression through food in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and fruit from the Tree of Life (cf. Rev. 19:7-9; 22:2). Food even becomes an analogy to Christ, who unites the imago Dei and food in himself by being both God’s perfect Image and the bread of life (cf. Col. 1:15; John 6:35, 48, 51).

Given this close connection between food and humanity, I draw out weighty implications for humanity as God’s image, suggesting that food informs human nature as dependent, embodied, creaturely, Christotelic, and communal. These implications then help to avoid misconceptions of human nature as autonomous, disembodied, nihilistic, and parochial. I then raise and answer four objections to my claim that food informs the imago Dei.

My research interacts with Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (2019); Andrew Davison’s Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphysics (2020); Marc Cortez’s Resourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ (2017); Joshua Farris’s Introduction to Theological Anthropology (2020); Joel B. Green’s Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (2008); Kevin J. Corcoran’s Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Soul (2006); and Ephraim Radner’s A Time to Keep: Theology, Mortality, and the Shape of a Human Life (2016).

4 thoughts on “Of Meat and Men: How Food Informs Theological Anthropology”

  1. Flawed Reverse Engineering?
    Build a theological principle around an illustration? What is accomplished by going from an illustration to a principle? Is this a valid thesis or a stretch to find something unique?

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