Peter Martyr Vermigli on the Imago Dei – Part 2 – Women and the Image of God

A couple of years ago I posted an excerpt from Peter Martyr Vermigli on the image of God. My research at the time was focused on what “view” various reformers held to. I was interested in exposing that the standard textbook answer that the reformers held to a “relational” view was severely undernuanced. In fact, Vermigli gravitates toward something like a functional view combined with a substantive view.

What I copied for the blog post was enough to make that view pretty clear. However, because of a twitter interaction I went back to look at what he had to say about the image of God in women. It’s still related to a functional view. Regrettably he uses the functional motif to argue that women have the image of God in a relative manner.

Here is the section on women, you can read the rest in my previous blog post.

Common Places 1.13.26

But perhaps you will argue, that after this manner a woman also is the image of God. We say, that if you compare her with the rest of creatures she is the image of God; for she has dominion over them, and has the [?] of them. But in this place you must compare her unto man, and then is she not said to be the image of God, because she does not bear rule over man, but rather obeys him. Wherefore Augustine in the 13th chapter of his book, De Trinitate said: If it be understood of man and woman in respect that they be imbued with mind and reason, it is meet that they should be according to the image of God: but the woman being compared to man, as touching the actions and affairs of his life, she is not the image of God, because she was created to be a helper of man. And in the same place he has another exposition, but the same allegorical. He says, that we be called men, seeing we contemplate God; and that we are of good right bare headed, because we must there reprove ourselves with incessant endeavor: for unsearchable is the end of divine things. But we are called women (says he) when we descend with our cogitations unto the care of earthly things. There it is meet to have the head covered, because a measure must be held and we must take heed, that we be not too much plunged into worldly things. Now be it we must not lean unto allegorical interpretations. The exposition which we alleged before is plain.

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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