Volume 23, Issue 1, February 2010
1 Corinthians 11:1-16 has long been a contentious text with regard to gender relationships and the imago Dei. For women in particular, Augustine’s and Barth’s interpretations of this text fail to establish embodied identity, while feminist anthropomorphisms are no cure for this lack. This article argues that, with regard to gender and human identity, the imago Dei is best understood in terms of relations between male and female at three “levels”: divine, divine-human and human. Human gendered identity is derived from the Trinitarian pattern of relations, as well as from the reversal of female and male, noted at the human level in 1 Cor 11:11-12 and applicable to the relation of Mary and Christ. Notwithstanding the masculine bias of Augustine’s interpretation of the text, his recognition of the Son as the Father’s Word, known also as Wisdom, not only supplies the source of women’s generic identity but also reveals a non-remote cosmological first cause, presented as feminine in relation to the Father while masculine in relation to redeemed humanity.
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