An Anthropology of Gaudium et Spes, Part 2

Elohim (God) Creating Adam, William Blake (c. 1805).

If God freely made us in His image and likeness, then his Word is indispensible to our self-understanding; indeed, “man, male and female” (cf. Gn 1 27), makes “visible” the unfathomable mystery of the Blessed Trinity.


In Part II of this work (Part I is here), there is a continuation of the dialogue with Gaudium et Spes and, subsequently, an increasingly necessary turn to the first chapters of Genesis. It is almost as if, then, the words of Christ are prophetic for our times: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female” (Mt 19: 8); indeed, the words of Christ are prophetic for understanding who we are in the light of who God is.


On the one hand, the structure of human nature and the characteristics of human experience are ordered to the humanity of Christ, as his humanity is, as it were, made in the image of God as the new Adam (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). But on the other hand, being divine, entails that the humanity of Christ is intrinsically ordered to the mystery of Christ as a divine person. Thus, the Fathers are affirming the intelligibility of the existence of a Creator-God in whom the whole truth concerning man finds its coherent origin and end; indeed, as the document says later: ‘When God is forgotten, however, the creature itself grows unintelligible’ (Gaudium et Spes, 36). In a word, then, if our existence, in the full range of our lived experience, is coherent and intelligible in the light of reason and of Revelation,1 then creation as a communication of the Creator becomes clearer and, if clearer, more obviously in the nature of a created gift communicating the uncreated Gift of God. Thus, this “consciousness of creation”2 is a key to grasping the perception of created reality of a gift of love: “Creation is God’s first advance towards man, the first outflow of his love with a view to giving himself to man and establish{ing} communion with him.”3

Finally, although this essay will not directly pursue the question further, it is noticeable that the Fathers of the Council, having established the “being” of man, male and female, between the two poles of natural and supernatural truth, then go on to specify Chapter Three in the following way: “Man’s Activity in the Universe.” In other words, the structuring principle in the order of these Chapters, particularly 1-3, is philosophical: being manifests activity.4

But then, having addressed the characteristic activities of man, male and female, the Fathers then address the interaction of the Church and the World in Chapter 4, culminating with a return to Christ at the end of it: a return to Christ which also announces the Second Coming of Christ and, thus, reinserts us in the eschatological anthropology which is, as it were, constitutive of the very coming of Christ (Gaudium et Spes, 45). It is only after these steps that progressively structure our participation in the progress of man in the history of salvation that we come to the particular question of marriage and, as it were, the restoration of the language of the covenant: the original act of God which differentiates salvation history (Part II of Gaudium et Spes, 48). Thus, there is a brief account of the historical situation in which men and women live (Gaudium et Spes, 47); but then, also, there is a recovery or, better, a realization of the interrelationship between “covenant” and “sacrament.” In other words, there is a renewal of the language of marriage in the light of the history of God’s salvation of the human race.

Taking account, then, of an observation of St. John Paul II, there also emerges a clear sense that Christ and the Blessed Trinity are the answer to an existential account and analysis of man’s situation in the world, both as an individual and as a social being.5 An account, however, that is not just doctrinal but is, as it were, inviting us to find the life of Christ “lived” in the liturgical life of the Church, the living help that modern man needs.

IIIii. The Church’s “consciousness of creation” begets a new beginning

This “consciousness of creation” is itself a fruit of the “enrichment of faith” which proceeds from the Church’s reflection on the creed 6: “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” (CCC, 197). She has expressed her consciousness of creation in a number of documents, beginning with Lumen Gentium: “The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design … created the whole universe, and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life …” (2). In the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, she emphasizes how God “freely creates” and “graciously calls us to share in his life and glory” (2). At the beginning of Gaudium et Spes, the Church again takes up the theme: “the world … has been created and is sustained by the love of its maker.” (2)

It is this “consciousness of creation,” then, which has begotten a new beginning in the thought of St. John Paul II: a new beginning which shows itself in the many ways that he returns to the beginning for an orientation on the question of man. In 1979, in the first catechesis on the nature of marriage, St. John Paul II turned to the words which Christ used in answer to the Pharisees’ question about divorce: “from the beginning” (Mt 19: 5, 8).7 Thus, we, too, are taken up in a timeless way by the Son of God, addressing us in our times, such that we, too, need to look to the beginning to begin to understand again the original intention of the Creator in making man, male and female. In 1981, this time in Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II expounds the whole relationship of creation-as-gift, from the God who is love, in terms of man, male and female, “embodying” the vocation to love (cf. 11). In other words, fundamental to a Christian anthropology is the “translation” into the flesh of man, male and female, of the mystery of the fact that “God is love.” (1 Jn 4: 8)

Therefore, man, male and female, is not just an “incarnation” of the “idea” of being a person: but being a person, male and female, is an incarnation of the “idea” that love “translates” into the being-of-a-male-person, and the being-of-a-female person. In 1994, in his Letter to Families, the Pope takes his commentary on the relationship between image and likeness, and the Creator, a step further: “Before creating man, the Creator withdraws as it were into himself, in order to seek the pattern and inspiration in the mystery of his Being, which is already here disclosed as the divine ‘We'”(6).

So, we approach, more and more, the theme that the fundamental gift that man apprehends in himself, as man, male and female, is that man and woman are an expression of the mystery that love is “embodied” in a gendered person: love is manifest in man, male and femaleas if love does not exist except as a “type” of person. The vocation to love, then, can be expressed in terms of the principle: love as a male-person and love as a female-person. In other words, let the way man loves, as male and female, follow on the fact of being made male and female. There is a trace of this kind of thinking in the early work of St. John Paul II when, as Bishop, he wrote about taking account of the different ways that the bodily-person of man, male and female, communicate in the marital act.8 Similarly, around the time that Love and Responsibility was first written, he led a retreat for male-students and female-students and spoke of a man as expressing the Gospel-as-idea and women as expressing love “with the whole of their sensitivity.”9 The thought of St. John Paul II matured in many documents, particularly in his Letter to Women, where he says: “Perhaps, more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts” (12).

Lest, however, it be construed that there is a “too close” relationship between the “identity” of God and the “identity” of man, male and female, let us not forget there is an incredible “a-symmetry” that arises out of the very fact that God is the Blessed Trinity; and, while it is possible to draw upon this “discrepancy,” the very fact that it exists helps us to recall the “dissimilitude” between man and God in the context of a singular “similitude” (CCC, 43). At the same time, dwelling on the greatness of God impels us to recognize the profundity of the gift of being brought into a relationship with him.10

IIIiii. The Original Gift of being a communion personarum: a kind of “permeable” personhood

If, then, being man, male and female, is a bodily-gendered expression of “love-is-a-person,” then it follows that the whole relationship which follows on their being a manifestation of “love-is-a-person” is a kind of “imitation” in the “visibility” of the flesh of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. The dynamic, therefore, of man, male and female, is a dynamic of personhood being inseparable from communion: physical, psychological, and spiritual. In other words, the reciprocal gift of self (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 24) manifests in the flesh a kind of permeability of personhood:11 that personhood is not “separable” from interpersonal relationships. Thus, as Ackermann says: “the personal understanding of the Church is nothing other than the ecclesiological concretization of the words of Jesus: ‘that they may all be one even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world might believe that thou hast sent me’” (Jn 17: 21).12  Therefore, just as we come into existence “through” the reality of the intersection of “heaven and earth” in the marital act, so we are born to exist in the interpersonal “space” of being a “being-in-relationship”.

IV. It is necessary, then, to consider the biblical text to which the Second Vatican Council turns for its anthropological foundation (Gaudium et Spes, 12): Gn 1: 26-27 13

IVi. Is there a connection between the “image of God and sexual difference”?

In turning to the text of Genesis, however, one is turning to it in view of a particular difficulty raised by Cardinal Scola: Can the “connection between the image of God and sexual difference (male-female) be sustained on solid exegetical and dogmatic bases?” As Scola unfolds his exposition of the current problem, he is clearly sympathetic to the case that “sexual difference” is integral to man, male and female, in the image of God (Gn 1: 26-27); indeed, he draws on Balthasar, among others, in support of his view: for the fathers “the difference of the sexes belonged beyond a shadow of a doubt to God’s original intention in creating man.”14 Although not exactly explicit on this, yet St. Irenaeus says: “man, and not {merely} a part of man, was made in the likeness of God…”15 It may benefit the issue of the relationship of the Scriptural text that man, male and female, is integral to man being made in the image and likeness of God, to draw upon the Hebrew text. The Hebrew text is full of “naturally” employed gendered terms. Furthermore, the very process of doing this may illuminate the whole question of man, male and female, being a gift that manifests the interrelationship between gendered personhood and the vocation to love.

IVii. The Hebrew names for God in Gn 1-2 are gendered: male and female

As noted earlier, the first account of creation begins with this marvelous literary device: “In the beginning” or, as it seems possible to translate it: “In beginning …”16 The latter really bringing to light a dynamic creation: a creation intended for development. But, it could be that we are not just meant to read these opening words as a beginning so much as a statement that all that exists as begun retains its relationship to God; and, what is more, that God is, as it were, the origin that “stands behind” the creation of man, male and female. Thus, God, as Elohiim (Gn 1: 1), constitutes an almost explicit “third” to the dyadic creation of man, male and female, created later (Gn 1: 27). Therefore, there is a kind of symmetry, in a sense, that will emerge: within God there is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and, on creation, man and woman will unite and bring a child into existence (cf. Gn 4: 1). But “in between,” man, male and female, stand to God, who created them, as the Son and the Spirit to God, the Father. In other words, there is an incredible “dynamism” to the way that man, male and female, are not just created but, as it were, “rooted” in the God who created them; and, just as creation is beginning and ordered to development, so the interrelationship between the being of God, and the being of man, male and female, is dynamically ordered to the development of man. In other words, it is almost as if the creation of man, male and female, originate and proceed, as it were, as a kind of “image” and “likeness” of the very “dynamism” of the missions of the Spirit, and the Son, from the Father.17

The main point of this brief examination of the Hebrew gender, then, is to bring to light that man, male and female, is prepared for in the Hebrew text by various “pointers.” Moreover, the Hebrew pointers lead, not only to a subtle indication of the Blessed Trinity but also, as it were, to the interrelationship between man and God that “mirrors” the mystery of man in the mystery of God. Thus, God, Elohiim, is a masculine plural treated as a masculine singular noun. This is significant in a variety of ways: firstly, the concept of God is complex, both in the whole structure of the text, and also when it says “Let us” (Gn 1: 26). Secondly, when God creates man it is God, Elohiim, who creates man, Aadaam; and, just as Elohiim had a complexity to it, so does Aadaam. Thus, Aadaam is also a masculine plural treated as a masculine singular noun. The complexity of Adam, as Aadaam, becomes clear when later the author says “Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them man (Aadaam) when they were created” (Gn 5: 2).

The treatment of God is also complex in the text because Elohiim is used in three ways. When Elohiim is used on its own, it is treated as a masculine singular, taking the third person masculine singular of the verb to create, baaraa. Then, in the second verse of Genesis, Elohiim is used in conjunction with Spirit, Ruach, which is a feminine noun. In this combination, however, the femininity of Ruach predominates and, therefore, Ruach Elohiim takes a feminine participle and means, altogether: “the Spirit of God was moving” (RSV, Gn 1: 2) or, alternatively, hovering. Thirdly, Elohiim is used in conjunction with Yehovah Elohiim when Adam is formed from the ground. In the case of Yehovah Elohiim, the verb to form is a third person masculine singular, thus indicating the masculine outcome of the combination of Hebrew names for God.

Let us now consider some of the structural characteristics of the text in the sense that the opening chapters of Genesis express a particularly significant account of the contrast between creation as whole, and the creation of man, male and female, in particular.

IViii. The “gender” evident in the text leading up to and surrounding man, male and female 

When it comes to the creation of man, male and female, the author treats the subject in a completely different way. Instead of giving an account of how the word of God has caused the creation of man, male and female, from other things, as with the plants (Gn 1: 9), and the sea creatures (Gn 1: 20), and animals (Gn 1: 24), the author addresses the conceptual origin of man, male and female, in terms of a comparison with God (Gn 1: 26-27). Thus, on the one hand, the author has established a kind of complex biblical gender to the nature of God, which is then implicitly involved in the comparison between man, male and female, and God. On the other hand, however, the author has developed a series of “paired” terms which are, as it were, already setting up a kind of whole which is constituted out of a complementary diversity. Therefore, the first pair of gendered, complementary terms, is that which proceeds from the summary and first instant of the creative act of God: “the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1: 1). “{T}he heavens,” hashaamayim, is a plural, dyadic, masculine noun and “the earth,” haaaretz, is a feminine singular noun. Each of which, as “heaven” and as “earth” undergoes a kind of development according to its kind.18

Between the first pair of gendered terms, “the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1: 1) and the second pair of gendered terms, “image” and “likeness” (Gn 1: 26), there is the whole implication that each created, living creature, exists and lives according “to its kind” (Gn 1: 11 and 12). Thus, at the creation of each “creature that moves, with which the waters swarm” and “every winged bird according to its kind” (Gn 1: 21), there is clearly an implication of these creatures being able to reproduce according to their kind. The animal kingdom, then, are given the same power of reproduction as the plant kingdom (cf. Gn 1: 11-12). The presence of a reproductory power is confirmed, as it were, by the new development that each kind of living creature is blessed by God, and commanded to multiply (Gn 1: 22). Thus the implicit reference to gender as implying the power to reproduce is now being made explicit. There is, then, the reference to the living creatures brought forth from the earth, “according to their kinds,” which culminates with what God made “upon the ground according to its kind” (Gn 1: 25). And, finally, “God saw that it was good” (Gn 1: 25).

The sexed personhood of man, male and female, becomes explicit.

Now, we come to the second pair of gendered, complementary terms, which is where God makes man in “our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1: 26): “image,” tzelem, is a masculine noun, and “likeness,” demuth, is a feminine noun.19 Again, however, there is totality being created; and, as with the “heavens and the earth” (Gn 1: 1) now with man, “male and female he created them” (Gn 1: 27). Furthermore, the reproductive power which had been implied and blessed in the course of the creation account up to this point is now, for the first time, made explicit; but this reproductive power is not just made explicit in some general way, it is made explicit in reference to the creation of man, male (zaakaar) and female (nekeivaar). Consider, too, that there is no further reference to any creature being male and female until two of every sort is brought into the ark; and, therefore, to “keep them alive,” the “two of every sort” are “male {zaakaar} and female {ou-nekeivaar}”20 of each kind (Gn 6: 19). Thus, when it finally comes to man being created, male and female, there is not only a first, explicit reference to a sexed creature, but there is also a threefold use of the verb to create. The obvious comparison to the single use of the verb to create, baaraa (Gn 1: 1), earlier, highlights that the author is making a profound comment on this act of creation; indeed, not only is there the triple use of the word, baaraa, there is almost an emphatic return to the beginning with the emphasis on the first act of creation. In other words, in the context of the whole account, the creation of man, male and female, is linked by a “triple cord” to God.

Therefore, at the creation of man, male and female, there is an amazingly rich, complex, and profoundly divine-human significance to the triple root of man in the creative act of God. On the one hand, the author has linked the sexed expression of human personhood to God’s act of creation; but on the one hand, he has followed the creation of man, male and female, with the blessing-command: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply'”(Gn 1: 28). In other words, there is the unavoidable implication of a kind of “replication” in man, male female, of the creativity of the Blessed Trinity; but, also, because man, male and female, is rooted in the “origin without origin,” it is as if “human procreation” is a kind of “multiplication through God himself” of the divine creativity.

Furthermore, just at the point that the text of chapter one of Genesis would have treated of how man and woman were formed, we are compelled to contemplate an almost “triple” act of God which makes God and man, male and female, “reflective,” as it were, of each other’s reality (Gn 1: 26-27). The account, then, of the creation of man and woman that would be like the account of the plants, winged and finned creatures, and animals, being formed from something else, is delayed until chapter two of Genesis. Thus, the author has given a deep significance to the fact that the origin of Adam-man is different to the origin of woman-man. In other words, the author, manifesting a complex perception of the nature of Adam-man and woman-man, has “conceived” their being as implying a “different” origin: a kind of “type of origin” for each “type of person.” On the one hand, an origin of formation from the ground, almost a generation, for the man, Adam. On the other hand, there is a different type of origin for the woman, Eve, almost a “procession” from and through the “persons” of God and Adam. There is, then, a complex of literary elements which draw attention to gender as applied to man made in the image and likeness of God. In contrast to Gregory of Nyssa, who holds that “nothing corresponds in the divine archetype {to the division of man into male and female},”21 it is clear that there is a “dialogue” in the Hebrew text between the nature of creation as a whole, and the creation of man in particular, man, male and female.

V. A reflection on various aspects of Gift, Christian Anthropology, and vocation, as it were, in the wings of our study as a whole

 “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1:26) and “So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn 1:27).

In the first place, it is clear from the biblical text that man, male and female, is not an accidental part of creation; rather, one could argue, gender is fundamental to the gift of creation as a whole. If gender is fundamental to the gift of creation as a whole, then man, male and female, takes on a “complete” and, as it were, a perfect significance: a significance that pertains to the “relationship” between God and man.

Secondly, by drawing man, male and female, together in this almost trinitarian relationship of man, woman and God, it is clear that God is not “outside” the relationship of man, male and female; rather, as Eve declares later, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (RSV, Gn 4:1). In other words, the text communicates an intimate relationship between man, male and female, and God: an intimacy that almost “interrelates” their reality and opens it up so that it is, in effect, a divine-human interrelationship which is being expressed. It seems, then, that man, male and female, are so ordered to each other, and to God, that God acts as a “third” in the “triune” account of the creation of Adam and Eve. Thus, the dynamic that man, male and female, are “living” out of a living relationship to God is established from the beginning. Therefore, the history of salvation which follows the fall, is more about how God “bears” the fall as a rupture in the life of his relationship of origin to us, than the “fall” is a kind of external outcome of the “existential” decision of man to sin.

Thirdly, the cumulative significance of man, male and female, is that gender takes on a universal significance and, in particular, the female gender. The first indication of the latter lies in the fact that it is the earth, haa,aaretz, which is feminine and, in a way, the “recipient” in a particular way of the act of creation (Gn 1: 2). The impression that proceeds, then, in the text is that it is the earth that is developed by the subsequent commands, beginning with “And God said, ‘Let there be light'” (Gn 1: 3). Thus, the “heavens,” hashshaamayim, which is a masculine plural, remains relatively undeveloped by complementary contrast to the program of commands which develop the earth. Furthermore, at a certain point, “Heaven” appears in the singular and singles out, therefore, “Heaven” (Gn 1: 8) as a dimension of the earth, and not as a distinct reality. Therefore, the “heavens” remains, as it were, an unexplained, but complex, reality.

Fourthly, just as “image” is masculine and leads from Adam to Christ, so “likeness” is feminine and leads from Eve to Mary (cf. also Gn 3: 15). Mary, however, takes up and fulfills the “being of woman” in such a way that she is an integral expression of both being a woman and “being” the Church. Thus, just as the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” (cf. Lk 1: 35) Mary at the conception of Christ, implying also a unique relationship to her, so also the Holy Spirit dwells in the Church like the soul animates the body (Lumen Gentium, 7). In terms, then, of the opening thesis of this essay, that God established man, male and female, in a unique relationship to himself as to “their” origin, the uniquely Trinitarian expression of the Incarnation of Christ22 seems to recapitulate, from the beginning, the unrepeatable mystery of the timeless being born in time. Thus, the Word become flesh is a kind of fulfilment of God as “origin” of both the Blessed Trinity and man, male and female.

Finally, then, when it comes to reflections on reality as a whole, particularly on man, male and female, the “woman” and the “man” take on an eschatological significance which grows with the historical reality in which “The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum, 8). Thus, St. John Paul II speaks of an iconic character to the role of man and woman in the Church (cf. Letter to Women, 11); however, owing to the mystery of Mary, as expressed in the document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Mary is now perceived as integral to the mystery of the Church. Therefore, there is a growing reflection on the woman as expressing a characteristic of all creation which is that, before God, creation is feminine. 23 In other words, the “gift” of creation has a certain identity before God and, in a sense, that gift is expressed in a uniquely Christian anthropology which, in the end, points us to a universal vocation of “Marian receptivity”: of rejoicing” (cf. Lk 1: 46-55): of a Marian type of love expressed in the liturgical life of the Church.


There is an indication, then, that human, spousal, procreative love is emerging as a mysteriously illuminated and “transfigured” reality: pointing, ultimately, to the “transfiguring gift” of the bride and bridegroomChrist and His Church. In other words, the ultimate explanation of man, male and female, is that the mystery of man is a created expression and participation in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We are brought to wonder, then, at the “originality” of God expressed in the originality of creation. Finally, just as we began with Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and the spouse of St. Joseph, so we can conclude with her words: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1: 46-47).


At some point in the not too distant future, a longer version of this two part essay may form a chapter in a forthcoming, two to three volume collection, possibly entitled, Faith is Married Reason, to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publications.

  1. Douglas Bushman, “Pope John Paul II and the Christ-centred Anthropology of Gaudium et Spes”, (2008), pp. 3-4, 10/05/2011
  2. Bushman is quoting from Karol Wojtyla Sources of Renewal.
  3. Bushman, “Pope John Paul II and the Christ-centred Anthropology of Gaudium et Spes”, p. 7; and cf. Léonie Caldecott, “Sincere gift: The pope’s “new Feminism”’, Communio, 23 (Spring, 1996), p. 65.
  4. A scholastic maxim.
  5. Wojtyla, now St. John Paul II, Sources of Renewal, e.g., pp. 74-75.
  6. Wojtyla, now St. John Paul II, Sources of Renewal, p. 52.
  7. September 5, 1979, 1-2.
  8. Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility, p. 275.
  9. Wojtyla, The Way to Christ: Spiritual Exercises, pp. 53 and 36.
  10. St. Thomas, Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 93: “The end or term of the production of man” 19/05/11: Article 1, I answer that “Now it is manifest that in man there is some likeness to God, copied from God as from an exemplar; yet this likeness is not one of equality, for such an exemplar infinitely excels its copy.”
  11.  Cf. Stephan Ackerman, “The Church as Person in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar”, translated by Emily Rielley, Communio, 29 (Spring, 2002), p. 238, 248.
  12. Ackerman, “The Church as Person in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar”, pp. 248-249.
  13.  Cf. also St. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 6.
  14. Cardinal Angelo Scola, The Nuptial Mystery, translated by Michelle K. Borras, Cambridge: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005, p. 50, quoting Balthasar, Theo-Drama II, 369.
  15. St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus), Book V, Chapter 6,  19/05/11.
  16. The background to this study was a period of instruction on Biblical Hebrew under Professor Gordon Wenham and Professor Gordon McConville, for which I thank them and God, at the University of Gloucestershire. The main resources made use of here are Brown et al, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament and Bible Works 6. There are some studies on the use of gender, such as St. Pope John Paul II ish and isshah, etc., but it is not possible to go into this extensively here. In general, however, any mistakes in the attribution of gender or drawing conclusions from the text are clearly mine.
  17. Cf. an emphasis on the missions of the Son and the Spirit in the life of the Church, p. 58 of Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal.
  18. It would take us too far from our subject to discuss the difference between the “heavens,” plural (Gn 1:1) and “heaven,” singular, (Gn 1:8). Suffice it to say here that the opening line of Genesis (Gn 1: 1) functions as a kind of opening conclusion and embraces the totality of creation, both the ‘heavens and the earth’; and, therefore, the plural ‘heavens’, allows for that differentiation between the sky and the heaven as the “place” of God.
  19. It is not possible to discuss the implications of the discrepancy between the first mention of “our image, after our likeness” (at Gn 1: 26) and the fact that the account which proceeds with the actual creation of man, male and female, only refers to “image,” although it does so twice (Gn 1: 27).
  20. The pre-fix “ou” is a type of the conjunction “and.” Thus, it would literally read “male and-female.”
  21. On the Formation of Man, ch. 16 (P.G. xliv, 181-5), p. 230 of Henri de Lubac’s Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, translated by L.C. Sheppard 1950, London: Burns and Oates, 1962.
  22. Cf. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mary for Today, translated by Robert Nowell, Slough: St. Paul Publications, reprinted 1989, p. 35.
  23. Cf. Hans Urs von Balthasar, “The Marian Principle,” reprinted with permission from the chapter of the same title, originally in Elucidations (London: S.P.C.K., 1975), Communio, 15 (Spring, 1988), pp. 122-130.
Francis Etheredge About Francis Etheredge

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven. He is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word and a trilogy, From Truth and Truth (Cambridge Scholars Publishing); The Human Person: A Bioethical Word (En Route Books & Media, 2017), with forewords from eight writers; The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads Through Dead Ends (2018); and Conception: An Icon of the Beginning, with contributions from ten other authors, as well as The Prayerful Kiss (2019); Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration (2020); Honest Rust and Gold: A Second Collection of Prose and Poetry (2020), Within Reach of You: A Book of Prose and Prayers (2021), Unfolding a Post-Roe World (2022), Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics (2022), Human Nature: Moral Norm, Lord, Do You Mean Me? A Father-Catechist! (2023), A Word in your Heart: Youth, Mental Health, and the Word of God (2023), and An Unlikely Gardener: Prose and Poems.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. A radio interview can be heard here.

He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction). He is a collaborator of the Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life.


  1. […] Part I of this essay (Part II is here), there is an examination of the various ways that “gift” expresses the radical originality of […]