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God’s Many-Splendored Image
by Nonna Verna Harrison
Baker, 207 pages, $22.99

Genesis 1:27 declares that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Early Christian theologians from Irenaeus in the second century to Maximus the Confessor in the seventh sought to understand what this verse taught about the nature of human beings, as well as the ways in which it sheds light on the humanity of the Word made flesh. The nature of human beings remains as pressing an issue as ever. Nonna Verna Harrison, a noted scholar of Greek Patristics, has done a superb job introducing us to the many and various ways early Christians (as well as voices from the medieval and contemporary world) understood how human being were created in God’s image and likeness.

Harrison does what far too few academics do: introduce her subject to a wide audience in a rigorous manner with a personal, indeed prayerful, tone. With chapters on freedom, God and Christ, the virtues, the created world, arts and sciences, and human community among others, Harrison allows the great voices of the Church to offer their answers to our questions. Her book encourages readers to read more deeply in the seminal theologians of the Christian tradition and the Scripture they interpret, and in so doing to become more deeply united to the triune God, the vision of whom, as Irenaeus teaches, makes human beings fully alive.

Scott D. Moringiello is the Arthur J. Ennis Postdoctoral Fellow at Villanova University.