In considering Pauline anthropology, one passage that brought out a range of interpretations was 1 Corinthians 11:7-10, as sixteenth-century exegetes sought to understand Paul’s statement that man is the image and glory of God, but woman the glory of man. Some argue that men and women share the image equally, others that women do not share the image, or that women share the image only in a diminished sense.

Reflecting their early modern context, however, there is general agreement that whether or not spiritual equality is granted, women were created to be in some sense subordinate to men. The interpretation of this passage by Martin Luther (1483-1546) gives but one example of how the various issues were handled.

Men Are Like the Sun, Women Are Like the Moon

In order not to give the impression that he was excluding the woman from all the glory of the future life, Moses [in Genesis 1] includes each of the two sexes; for the woman appears to be a somewhat different being from the man,Moses puts the two sexes together and says that God created male and female in order to indicate that Eve, too, was made by God as a partaker of the divine image and of the divine similitude, likewise of the rule over everything. having different members and a much weaker nature. Although Eve was a most extraordinary creature—similar to Adam so far as the image of God is concerned, that is, in justice, wisdom, and happiness—she was nevertheless a woman. For as the sun is more excellent than the moon (although the moon, too, is a very excellent body), so that woman, although she was a most beautiful work of God, nevertheless was not the equal of the male in glory and prestige.

However, here [in Genesis 1] Moses puts the two sexes together and says that God created male and female in order to indicate that Eve, too, was made by God as a partaker of the divine image and of the divine similitude, likewise of the rule over everything. Thus even today the woman is the partaker of the future life, just as Peter says that they are joint heirs of the same grace (1 Pet. 3:7). In the household the wife is a partner in the management and has a common interest in the children and the property, and yet there is a great difference between the sexes. The male is like the sun in heaven, the female like the moon, the animals like the stars, over which sun and moon have dominion. In the first place, therefore, let us note from this passage that it was written that this sex may not be excluded from any glory of the human creature, although it is inferior to the male sex.

Lecture on Genesis 1:27.

1 Corinthians, ed. Scott M. Manetsch, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT vol. IXA, p. 234.

 

RCS Series: Pauline Anthropology


Martin Bucer | The Inexpubgable Notio Dei Implanted by God

Huldrych Zwingli | Image Bearers of the First and Second Adam

John Davenant | The Natural Image and the Redeemed Image

Johannes Brenz | A Wolf, a Serpent, and Forgiveness in Spite of the Old Nature

Johann Wild | Spiritual Sacrifices of the Spiritual Priesthood

Martin Luther | There Is No Such Thing as Free Will

Peter Martyr Vermigli | The Whole Person Affected by Original Sin

Martin Luther | Men Are Like the Sun, Women Are Like the Moon

Johannes Bugenhagen | What Human Reason Is Good For