Dr. David Novak will deliver the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning’s 11th annual John Paul II Lecture in Christian-Jewish Relations: “Humans as the Image of God: The Bible and John Paul II.”
The Bible states that God said “let us make humans [adam] in our image according to our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). It seems there are two aspects of created human nature. Let us, therefore, distinguish between a “human being” and a “human person.” All human persons are human beings, but not all human beings are human persons. A human being is made in the image of God, meaning every human, from conception to death in this world, is the object of the special concern God has for His image [tselem]. As such, she or he is to be treated with utmost concern by her or his fellow humans, even when unable to actively reciprocate this commanded treatment. Human persons are those rationally active human beings who are the subjects of God’s commandments, especially to act like God as God’s active likeness [demut], meaning what is called imitatio Dei. Human beings who are not rationally active persons (for example, infants and the mentally challenged) are not, therefore, the subjects of God’s commandments. This lecture will draw upon some of the profound insights of the late Pope John Paul II regarding human nature as biblically conceived.
David Novak is the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor Emeritus of Religion, Philosophy and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, where he has been a faculty member since 1997, and where he is currently a Fellow of St. Michael’s College. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and Consulting Scholar of Princeton University’s James Madison Program. Novak is a founder and now president of the Union for Traditional Judaism, and is vice president of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation. He is the author of 19 books, among them “The Sanctity of Human Life” (2007), “In Defense of Religious Liberty” (2009), “Jewish Justice” (2017), “Athens and Jerusalem: God, Humans, and Nature” (2019).
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