THE DOMINION MATERIALS

















                                                Ronald E. Manahan













                        Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements

                                for the degree of Doctor of Theology in

                                          Grace Theological Seminary

                                                          May 1982




Author:           Ronald E. Manahan               

Degree:          Doctor of Theology             

Date:               May, 1982                 

Advisers:        James Eisenbraun,   D. Wayne Knife, and David Turner


            Frequently correlation is made between the cultural mandate, that activity

of doing and making given to man at his creation whereby he is to glorify his

Creator, and the dominion materials (Gen 1:26-28; 9:1, 7; Ps 8:6-10; Heb 2:5-9;

Jas 3:7). Understanding the nature of this correlation and its subsequent

implications is best aided by working with a carefully defined field of terms, by

isolating what alternative views of the correlation have been expressed throughout

the church's history, and by engaging in a thorough examination of the background

and interpretive field of the dominion passages.

The conclusion resulting from the isolation of the several views on

dominion material is that each view gives indication of having been influenced by

the cultural milieu of the interpreter and by perceptions of culture in general. The

interpreter continually interacts between his constantly changing, dynamic cultural

milieu and the Biblical text.

The context within which this study is conducted includes the realization

that man is contextualized and is an integral part of the creation in which he was

placed by his Creator. Man stands in a dependent relationship with God, who has

placed him within an order. From this placement man sees that he is suspended in

a threefold, concurrent relationship: (1) to God, (2) to others, and (3) to the world.

The terms "cultus" and "culture" indicate the full range of human activities where

man acts out this threefold relationship. "Culture" refers to both the activity and

the context of human shapers and formers. So defined, culture must be done.

            Through analysis of the Old Testament dominion material in the light of

royal ideology, apocalyptic ideas, and societal hierarchical structuring this study

concludes that the dominionizing activity (formative activity) has been given

and not rescinded. But this activity may be done in loyalty or disloyalty toward

man's sovereign Creator. When done in loyalty, Mlw exists. However, when done

in disloyalty, the formative activity struggles with the cosmos. This struggle

produces a feeling of frailty within man.

            The New Testament dominion material by individualizing the use to which

it puts Psalm 8 points to Jesus Christ as the resolution to the clashing tenets of

man's frailty and incomparable position.

            Major conclusions reached are that the dominion given man refers to

shaping activity. Shaping activity done with respect to concrete things is not

optional. Man is given a mandate. But only in Jesus Christ, who was fully loyal, is

there any hope of beneficent shaping activity, an activity which will glorify the














Accepted by the Faculty of Grace Theological Seminary

in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree

Doctor of Theology



Adviser:          James E. Eisenbraun

Adviser:          D. Wayne Knife

Adviser:          David L. Turner





Copyright © 1982 by Ronald E. Manahan





Digitally prepared and posted on the web by Ted Hildebrandt (2004)

with permission.

       Please report any errors to:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu 





LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS             .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                vi

PREFACE         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                viii


INTRODUCTION        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                   1

Reasons for This Study           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    2

Glossary            .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                      5

Culture               .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                     6

Cultural Mandate         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    7

Dominion Materials   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    9

Re-examination    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                   10

Form of the Study       .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  11



OF DOMINION MATERIALS            .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 13

Ancient Interpretations            .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 14

   Rule Over Creation as a Present Possession  .  .  .  .  .  .               15

Selected sources           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                15

Commentary    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  20

   God's Rule--Man's Rule        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                26

Selected sources  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                27

Commentary    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  28

   Promise-Fulfillment Debate    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 30

Selected sources         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 30

Commentary   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 33

    Rule as Lost or Diminished           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              36

Selected sources    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .               36

Commentary     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                39

    Rule in an Eschatological Figure  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               43

Selected sources         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              43

Commentary  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 45

    Rule as Cultural Expression            .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              47

Selected sources         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              47

Commentary   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               49

    Summary     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                51

Medieval Interpretations         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              52

    Augustine     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               53

Context of interpretation         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          53

Interpretation of dominion materials  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         58

    Aquinas         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          61

Context of interpretation        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       63

Interpretation of dominion materials          .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .      65




Summary   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    .  .  .  .  .  .                         68

Modern Interpretations           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  68

      Martin Luther   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    69

Context of interpretation         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 69

Interpretation of dominion materials    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 71

    John Calvin   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    75

Context of interpretation   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 75

Interpretation of dominion materials   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               78

    The Anabaptists   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                   81

Context of interpretation    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                81

Interpretation of dominion materials    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              84

    Summary   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  85

Recent Interpretations    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .                86

     Karl Barth   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  86

     Dietrich Bonhoeffer .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  88

     Emil Brunner .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  90

     Paul Tillich .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                  92

     Summary .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                   94

Concluding Assessment       .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 94

II. A PHILOSOPHIC PERSPECTIVE         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              97

Man's Life in an Order          .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              98

   Man as Contextualized .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                    98

Man is dependent      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              99

Within a whole          .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              99

Within an "ordered" whole  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             101

Within a law-structured whole     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            102

Man is in a continuum           .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            108

A contemporary appraisal      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           108

A rebuttal     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               109

A suggestion .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              111

Man as Relational      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             116

In relation to God .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             117

In relation to others .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            122

In relation to the world  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            127

Cultus and Culture      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             132

Cultus .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              133    

Culture .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .              134    

A Proposal      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             140


The Extent of Dominion Materials  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              142

Hermeneutical Realities .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              143

               Royal Ideology   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               143

Egyptian royal ideology .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            145

Mesopotamian royal ideology .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          154

Israelite royal ideology   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          166

Historiographic literature   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         168

Hymnic literature .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          172


Prophetical literature .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             176

Summary .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               179

Apocalyptic Imagery . . . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              180

Societal Hierarchical Structuring .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           188

Summary Evaluation .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              194

Explicit Dominion Materials .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            196

Genesis 1:26-28 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           197

Textual variants .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              198

Literary context .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             200

Examination of dominion material .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            207

   The expression vntnmdk vnmlcb .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           207

                                        hdr and wbk.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             220

Interpretive field .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           229

Genesis 9:1, 7 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            231

Textual variants .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           231

Literary context .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          233

Examination of dominion material and

interpretive field .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        236

Psalm 8:6-10 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .          238

Textual variants .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           238

Literary context .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           240

Examination of dominion material .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         242

Interpretive field .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           245

Summary .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            247

Implicit Dominion Materials .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            247


Explicit Dominion Material .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           251

Hebrews 2:5-9 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .           252

Textual variants .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           252

Literary context .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          258

Examination of dominion material .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         266

Interpretive field .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           270

James 3:7 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .             275

Summary .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               279

Implicit Dominion Materials .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            280

A Suggestion .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .  .  .            280

An Example .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .             283


V. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               289

The Christian and Culture .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .            293

The Christian and Education .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .              298

The Christian and Theology .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               303


BIBLIOGRAPHY .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               308




AB                   The Anchor Bible

ABL                 Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters

AGNT Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament

ANEP              Pritchard, ed., The Ancient Near East in Pictures

Relating to the Old Testament

ANET              Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Relating to the Old Testament

ANF                The Ante-Nicene Fathers

AnOr               Analecta Orientalia

BAGD Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek-English

Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early

Christian Literature, 2nd edition

BASOR           Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental


BHK                Kittel, eds., Biblica Hebraica

BHS                Elliger and Rudolph, eds., Biblica Hebraica


Bib                  Biblica

BSac               Bibliotheca Sacra

BJRL               Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library

of Manchester

BR                   Biblical Research

BSP                 Walton, eds., Biblia Sacra Polyglotta

BZ                   Biblische Zeitschrift

BZAW            Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche


CAD                Gelb et al., eds., The Assyrian Dictionary of the

Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago

CBQ                Catholic Biblical Quarterly

CKRS              Raines, The Cosmic Kingdom in the Rise of the

Christian Interpretation of the State: A Study

of the Interaction of Religious and Political

Mythology from Hebraic Prophetism through John Calvin

CTM                Concordia Theological Monthly

EvQ                 The Evangelical Quarterly

ExpTim           The Expository Times

GCES              Nelson, The Groaning of Creation: An Exegetical

Study of Romans 8:18-27

GRHI              Eareckson, The Glory to be Revealed Hereafter: The

Interpretation of Romans 8:18-25 and its Place in

Pauline Theology

HPS                von Gall, Der hebraische Pentateuch der Samaritaner

HTR                Harvard Theological Review

HUCA             Hebrew Union College Annual



ICC                 The International Critical Commentary

INST                Baillie, McNeill, and Van Dusen, The Library of Christian Classics,

vols. 20 and 21: Calvin:Institutes of the Christian Religion

Int                   Interpretation

IOTT               Jobling, "And Have Dominion . . ." The Interpretation of Old

Testament Texts Concerning Man's

Rule Over the Creation (Genesis 1:26, 28, 9:1-2, Psalm 8:7-9) from

200 B.C. to the Time of the Council of Nicea

ITQ                  The Irish Theological Quarterly

JAOS              Journal of the American Oriental Society

JBL                 Journal of Biblical Literature

JCS                 Journal of Cuneiform Studies

JETS               Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

JNES               Journal of Near Eastern Studies

JNSL               Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages

JSOT               Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

JTS                  The Journal of Theological Studies

KMCO            Lowe, The King As Mediator of the Cosmic Order

LW                  Pelikan and Lehmann, Luther's Works

LXX                Rahlfs, ed., Septuaginta

MQR               The Mennonite Quarterly Review

Neot                Neotestamentica

NGTT              Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif

NICNT            The New International Commentary on the New Testament

NIV                  New International Version

NPNF             The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series

NovT               Novum Testamentum

NTS                 New Testament Studies

PA                   Winston, Philo of Alexandria

PEQ                Palestinian Exploration Quarterly

Poet                Poetica

Sal                  Salesianum

SEA                 Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok

SJT                  Scottish Journal of Theology

SSU                 Rainey, The Social Stratification of Ugarit

STH                 Aquinas, Summa Theologica

Th                    Theology

TNTC              The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

TZ                    Theologische Zeitschrift

UF                   Ugarit-Forschungen

UOTH Reid, The Use of the Old Testament in the Epistle to the Hebrews

USQR             Union Seminary Quarterly Review

VT                   Vetus Testamentum

VTSup Supplements to Vetus Testamentum

ZA                   Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie, Neue Folge

ZAW                Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

ZNW                Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft



The work of this dissertation could not have been

carried forward without the help of several individuals.

In particular these are the members of the dissertation com-

mittee, Professors Eisenbraun (chairman), Knife, and Turner

and Mr. Ibach and Mr. Votaw, librarians at Grace Theological

Seminary. All of these have contributed in significant ways

to my thought and research work in preparation for the writ-

ing of this dissertation.

Especially to be thanked, however, are the members

of this writer's family, my wife, Barbara, and children,

Kelly and Nathan. Each of these has contributed to a home

in which such work as is reflected in this dissertation is

thought to be a worthwhile and noble human enterprise. For

this reason they, each in their own way, gave their encour-

aging support. To them I am most thankful. They with me

believe that such work as this is part of our stewardship

owed to the Lord who has redeemed the members of this home

and because of whose grace such work is made possible and

thought worthwhile. Ultimately our family's thanks belongs

to Him who is the true dominionizer, the King of Kings.
































Through an examination of the dominion passages of

Scripture this dissertation seeks to re-think the concept of

the cultural mandate. This general aim is attended by three

purposes. The first is to determine what might be an appro-

priate correlation between the dominion passages (materials)

and the cultural mandate. This purpose brings with it sev-

eral problems. Definition of terms and concepts is obvi-

ously one of the initial difficulties. What is "dominion"?

What is "culture"? Another problem is that of "appropriate

correlation." The available options for interpretation must

be known before the appropriate one is selected. To know

this requires some familiarity with past interpretations

and, when those interpretations differ, to account for the


Purposes two and three are by-products of the first.

The second purpose is to address indirectly the whole Christ-

culture complex.1 Varied reasons have caused people to


1 In recent years there has been increased interest in

this complex subject. Generally what is meant by the Christ-

culture complex is that set of interpretive problems encoun-

tered when one attempts a correlation between the implica-

tions found in Christ and his teachings for the totality of

the cosmos. The results of encountering this complex are a

description of Christian man's legitimate activity within the

cosmic kingdom of Christ. As a recent example of attempting

to define this complex see Robert E. Webber, The Secular

Saint (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979),

pp. 14-19.



venture into this difficult area of inquiry.1 A host of

books have treated the problem of exactly what the Chris-

tian's place in culture is (Christian in the broadest sense

of the term).2 The third purpose is that through these

findings something of a prolegomenon to a theology of cul-

ture can be suggested. This suggestion certainly could not

hope to be exhaustive. But it ought to be informative and


Reasons for This Study

Several reasons have led to the formulation of this


1 What has motivated, this increased interest is not

always the same. For Richard Kroner, Culture and Faith

(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951), p. viii,

the catastrophe in 1933 in Germany forced him "to reconsider

the relation between thought and faith, between reason and

revelation, between culture and religion." For others it

may have been "The Chicago Declaration"; cf. Ronald J. Sider,

ed., The Chicago Declaration (Carol Stream, IL: Creation

House, 1974). However, by the evidence not many were moved

to action by "The Chicago Declaration."

2 While certainly not exhaustive the following works

indicate something of the more recent breadth of interest:

L. Wm. Countryman, The Rich Christian in the Church of the

Early Empire: Contradictions and Accommodations (New York:

The Edwin Mellen Press, 1980); Thomas M. McFadden, ed.,

Theology Confronts A Changing World, The Annual Publication

of the College Theology Society (West Mystic, CT: Twenty-

Third Publications, 1977); William M. Newman, The Social

Meanings of Religion (Chicago: Rand McNally College Pub-

lishing Company, 1974); William J. Richardson, Social Action

vs. Evangelism: An Essay on the Contemporary Crisis (South

Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1977); Ronald J. Sider,

Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Downers Grove, IL:

Intervarsity Press, 1977); Donald Eugene Smith, Religion,

Politics, and Social Change in the Third World (New York:

The Free Press, 1971); and Peter DeVos et al., Earth-Keeping:

Christian Stewardship of Natural Resources, ed. Loren Wilkin-

son (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980).



research. Among these is, first, the correlation that is

often made between culture and the dominion materials. An

example of this type of correlation is that of Lynn White,

who argued that abuse of nature in our technological world

finds its origin in the dominion materials.1 Another is that

suggested by Woolsey in his somewhat humorous assessment:


Such a course [i.e., use of political action to achieve

social ends] would be consistent with a "cultural man-

date" view held by some evangelicals. The cultural man-

date people assert that the Christian today is obligated

to two "commissions." The first of these is the Great

Commission . . . The second commission, as they see it,

is what they call the "cultural mandate," which they find

in Genesis 1:28. It involves "subduing" and "having

dominion." Expressed in terms of today's world, it means

the Christianization of society. We fundamentalists have

rejected this idea. Because of our dispensational ap-

proach to Biblical interpretation, we understand that

society in the "last days" will be unreformable.2


These brief examples show that interpreters persist in


1 Lynn White, Jr., "The Historical Roots of our Eco-

logical Crisis," Science 155 (10 March 1967): 1205 says:

"Finally, God had created Adam and, as an afterthought, Eve

to keep man from being lonely. Man named all the animals,

thus establishing his dominance over them. God planned all

of this explicitly for man's benefit and rule: no item in

the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man's

purposes. . . . Christianity . . . insisted that it is God's

will that man exploit nature for his proper ends." One

should also compare the interesting article by Margaret Rowe,

"Genesis and the Natural Order," Cross and Crown 23 (1971):

272-82 in which she argues: "God, says Genesis, gave man

dominion over all living things; and Western man has found

therein a justification for wholesale spoliation of earth's

natural resources. It is our reading of Genesis that should

be challenged here, and a more helpful interpretation could

lead us to solving the present environmental crisis" (277).

2 G. Arthur Woolsey, "Perspective," Baptist Bulletin

46 (February 1981): 15. The words within brackets are

supplied by this writer from the context.


correlating the cultural mandate with the dominion mate-

rials.1 The question clearly is: Do the dominion materials

teach a cultural mandate, or any general cultural perspec-

tive? This investigation seeks an answer.

Moreover, another reason for this study is an appar-

ent lack of a theology of culture upon which a broad spectrum

of Christians can agree. This lack has been heightened by

the concurrent existence of a supposedly catholic church and

a multiplicity of cultural models. How does the one church

mesh with this divergency of cultural models? The models

are divergent because a given "culture which man builds is

experienced not as a system but as an actual reality which

dominates his life and in which he participates by his con-

duct and attitude through active contribution and creativ-

ity."2 That is, there is reciprocation between the catholic

church and a given culture. So Leon Morris agrees; church

and culture reciprocate so that, while Christianity, it could

be argued, stands above culture, this in no way means it

stands outside of culture.3  But still there is the question:

What program should a theology of culture follow? This

1 For an example of a more positive correlation of

the cultural mandate and the dominion material see Webber,

Saint, pp. 35-41.

2 This is the assessment of Kroner, Culture and Faith, p. 71.

3 Leon Morris, "The Religion That Stands Above Cul-

ture," Christianity Today, 6 June 1980: 55-56. Probably, one

is more correct in saying that Christianity is trans-

cultural, rather than that it stands above culture.


dissertation seeks a solution, resulting from the inter-

facing of the cultural mandate and the dominion materials.

A further reason for encouraging this inquiry is

this writer's personal interest, generated originally when

an undergraduate student. This undergraduate influence

shifted from an Anabaptistic approach to culture in the ear-

lier years to a thoroughgoing Calvinistic approach in the

later years. These two approaches were also entertained

during graduate study; sometimes they raised more questions

than they provided solutions. Therefore, there is in this

present work a personal goal to be achieved, a goal to dis-

cover to what degree the dominion materials do or do not

teach about the relative validity of these approaches.1


What the evaluation of the purposes of and reasons

for this study indicates is the need to define with some

exactness particularly important terms, namely those made

important by the title of this study. These are "culture,"

"cultural mandate," "dominion materials," and "re-examina-

tion." Here the goal is merely to supply a glossary of terms

to aid in fixing the direction of this study. In the later

stages of this study the complexity of these terms will

become clearer.


1 The suggestion is not being made that this study

proceeds in objectivity. To the contrary, no interpreter

can lay claim to this supposed utopia of research.




As Laura Thompson remarks, "the concept of culture

is not a simple one."1 The term "culture" stems from the

Latin term colere, meaning "to cultivate, till, tend," thus

the feminine cultura meaning "tilling, culture, cultivation."2

From this the term "culture" has come to refer generally to

what is civilized or refined, perhaps even educated. This

meaning is implied in the German kultur.

However, the exact content to which culture refers

is another matter. Culture has been interpreted to mean

anything from an aggregate of discrete items associated by

historical chance to a mechanical system whose worn parts

need either revitalization or replacement.3 Exactly what is

culture? Thompson defines it as "a human group's self-

selected and self-tailored problem-solving tool."4 Her def-

inition highlights two important elements, "self-selected"

and "problem-solving." The first emphasizes that the members

of the given culture actively participate in what is included

in that culture. The second suggests that the incorporation

of items into a culture is founded on problems needing and

capable of solution. Of course, some cultures are broader


1 Laura Thompson, The Secret of Culture, consulting

ed. Anthony F. C. Wallace (New York: Random House, 1969),

p. 4.

2 D. P. Simpson, Cassell's New Latin Dictionary

York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968), pp. 116 and 160.

3 Thompson, The Secret of Culture, pp. 4-5.

4 Ibid., p. 219.


than others. That is, some are more elaborate.

What governs the elaboration of a culture? Honigmann

concludes that "the size of a culture's inventory depends on

the number of windows on the world that a social system has

open."1 In other words the broader the contacts with the

world and with the past, the more elaboration there will be.

Briefly put, culture is a human group's elaboration, corre-

sponding to the number of its contacts, of its problem-

solving schema. This definition is overly simplified. For

instance, it does not address the important matter of a

group's perception of or perspective on its needs, its prob-

lems. But this general definition allows one a starting

point for beginning to elaborate on the cultural mandate as

analyzed through the study of the dominion materials.2


Cultural Mandate

To speak of a cultural mandate is to elicit several

implications from the above definition of culture. The nega-

tive implications are these. The definition offered for cul-

ture does not imply that culture is necessarily the antith-

esis of Christianity. Indeed it is not. Nor does the

definition, on the other hand, imply that culture is


1 John J. Honigmann, Understanding Culture (New York:

Harper & Row, 1963), p. 309.

2 For a further elaboration on defining culture, cf.

Fred W. Voget, "History of Cultural Anthropology," in Hand-

book of Social and Cultural Anthropology, ed. John J.

Honigmann (Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company,

1973), pp. 2-3.


therefore neutral. This could not be because man as moral

agent is the one doing the selecting and eliminating. His

selecting and eliminating is conditioned by his moral being.

Therefore cultural activity is a moral, not an amoral, mat-

ter. And because it is, it cannot necessarily be the an-

tithesis of Christianity. A second negative implication of

the definition offered for culture is that culture is not

the achievement of this or that culture. Culture has a

dynamic because it is founded on doing, making, acting. And

this activity goes on in both more primitive and more

civilized groups of people.

Now from these negative remarks several positive ones

are implied. Cultural activity may be done morally or immor-

ally. Upon initial analysis what is moral or immoral would

appear to be conditioned by a given group's definition of

morality. But a closer analysis is needful. The definition

of morality given by a group is never without context. This

context is at least twofold. Members of the group live in a

law-structured order, a divine order. Further, they bear

some relationship to this order and to this order's Creator.

One may speak of this relationship as religious because it is

conditioned by man's relationship to his Creator. In sum-

mary, the group which defines morality is in fact comprised

of individuals who sustain a religious relationship to their

Creator. Out of this religious depth the definition of

morality comes. Each member of the group makes his contribu-

tion, but the contribution is not amoral. It springs from


his religious relationship. Therefore, the cultural activity

is done either in positive or negative relationship toward

God; it is either for or against Him.

The second positive implication about this definition

of culture is that culture is activity. One does culture in

the context of the relationships he sustains. This context

will be more fully developed in chapter two of this work.

In general this relationship is threefold, relationship to

the Creator, others, and the cosmos.

At this point the meaning of a cultural mandate is

more obvious. Such a mandate would be from man's Creator.

He would mandate cultural activity from the beginning.

Therefore, the cultural mandate as used in this work is de-

fined as that cultural activity given to man at his creation

whereby he is to glorify his Creator.1 The second chapter

of this work will cover these matters in considerably more


Dominion Materials

Though chapters three and four of this work will de-

fine in detail what are the dominion materials, a brief defi-

nition here at the beginning will prove helpful. A distinc-

tion should be made between dominion materials and dominion


            1 For further discussion of the definition of the cul-

tural mandate, cf. Webber, Saint, pp. 35-71; Henry R. Van Til,

The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (Philadelphia: The Pres-

byterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1971), pp. 15-36;

and the somewhat popularized treatment of W. Harold Mare,

"The Cultural Mandate and the New Testament Gospel Impera-

tive," JETS 16 (Summer 1973): 139-47.



allusions or images. This study understands the word "mate-

rials" to refer to those passages where a dominion or ruler-

ship is actually stated. Passages of this sort are very

few. There are what might be called explicit dominion pas-

sages. These passages are Genesis 1:26-28; 9:1, 7 (included

because of the Septuagint tradition); Psalm 8:6-10; Hebrews

2:5-9; and James 3:7. In these passages there is direct

reference to man's rule over the creation or at least refer-

ence to the imagery of Genesis 1:26-28. Most of the effort

of this study will be spent on these few materials. To be

sure, there may be distant allusions to general rulership

ideology in other passages, but the relationship of these

passages to the fountainhead of Genesis 1:26-28 is so uncer-

tain as to render them inappropriate for inclusion in this



By this term is meant that the relationship between

the dominion materials and the cultural mandate will be


1 Some individuals find an abundance of dominion mate-

rials, though not for good reason; cf. the general thought of

J. Jervell, Imago Dei (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,

1960), pp. 218ff. Among verses that some think allude

(though there is great uncertainty) to dominion as it is

found in Gen 1:26-28 are: Lev 26:6; Ps 91:13; Isa 11:6-9 (a

more important one of this group); Dan 7:13; Matt 7:29;

9:6-8; 10:1; 21:23-27; 28:18; Luke 10:10; John 17:2; Rom 1:23;

5:17; 8:37-39; 1 Cor 3:21-23; 6:2; 15:24-28 (another impor-

tant one in this group); 2 Cor 10:5; Eph 1:22-23; Phil 2:6-11;

3:21; Col 1:20; 2 Tim 2:12; 1 Pet 3:22; and Rev 2:26-27.

However, the judgment of this writer, after considering

these, is that the evidence is uncertain enough to warrant

not including them in this work.


examined. In order to re-examine this relationship several

other factors will require scrutiny. The whole relationship

between interpretation and the given cultural context within

which the interpreter stands must be watched. One must be

sensitive to the reciprocation between culture and interpre-

tation. Such re-examination will require analysis of not

only the explicit dominion materials. Those other passages,

upon which the examination of the explicit dominion materials

may cast light, must be surveyed (such as Rom 8:18-25).


Form of the Study

In order to carry forward this project the work de-

velops along the following lines. Chapter one gives a brief

survey of the history of the interpretation of dominion mate-

rials. Throughout this survey special attention is given to

that complex of influences which were a part of the inter-

preter's world (especially in the ancient historical period)

and to the interpreter's general view of culture (especially

in the medieval, modern, and recent historical periods).

Chapter two establishes the general perspective for

this study. There concentration falls on man's life as being

lived in an order. Living in this order is seen to have

major implications for the very way one distinguishes and

correlates cultus and culture. It is argued that culture is

not optional for man; it is required in the very nature of

his creatureliness. With chapters one and two as background,

chapters three and four provide a detailed study of the


Biblical dominion materials, chapter three Old Testament and

chapter four New Testament.

Finally, in chapter five important findings of this,

study are synthesized. Using these findings as a foundation,

this writer makes a series of proposals for the contemporary

Christian understanding of culture (something of a prolegom-

enon to a theology of culture), the Christian educational

enterprise, and the discipline of Biblical-theological

studies in general.

Unless otherwise indicated, citations from the

English Bible are taken from the New International Version






                        DOMINION MATERIALS


Discussion here assumes the legitimacy of the pre-

record.1 These materials have a long history of interpreta-

tion in the church. Review of this varied hermeneutical

record serves several purposes. It indicates that very early

there was breadth of opinion on the explicit and implicit

meaning of the material. Certainly it indicates multiple

exegetical options for the modern interpreter. Just as

surely this hermeneutical record will make clear that most

modern exegetical opinions on these dominion materials have

ancient antecedents. And these antecedents must be taken

into account in modern interpretation.2 Legitimate contem-

porary exegetical work does not operate in isolation from the


1 See pp. 9-10.

2 Cf. David Jobling, "And Have Dominion . . ." The

Interpretation of Old Testament Texts Concerninq Man's Rule

Over the Creation (Genesis 1:26, 28, 9:1-2, Psalm 8:7-9) from

200 B.C. to the Time of the Council of Nicea (Th.D. disserta-

tion, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York,

1972; Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International,

72:22,:911, 1972), pp. 3-6 and 325-31 (hereafter cited as

IOTT). Jobling's analysis of ancient interpretation is




canon's history of interpretation.

This survey will best serve present purposes if it is

divided into the convenient categories of ancient, medieval,

modern, and recent interpretations.


Ancient Interpretations

The discussion here follows Jobling's analysis that

one finds in this period five general opinions on the domin-

ion materials.1 The first of Jobling's categories might best

be subdivided into two, thus furnishing the following six

general categories of interpretation: (1) Rule over creation

as a present position, (2) God's rule--man's rule, (3)

Promise-fulfillment debate, (4) Rule as lost or diminished,

(5) Rule in an eschatological figure, and (6) Rule as

cultural expression.2


1 IOTT, pp. 54ff. For further discussion of a histor-

ical analysis of the interpretation of Biblical material which

is tangent to the dominion idea (at least in the Genesis mate-

rial) see David A. Yegerlehner "Be Fruitful and Multiply, and

Fill the Earth . . .": A History of the Interpretation of

Genesis 1:28a and Related Texts in Selected Periods (Ph.D.

dissertation, Boston University Graduate School, 1974; Ann

Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International, 75-12, 270,

1981). This work also has value as a historical hermeneutical

survey for modern interpretive work. For a survey of the

history of interpretation on another passage attendant to the

dominion materials see James M. Childs, Jr., The Imago Dei

and Eschatology: The Ethical Implications of a Reconsidera-

tion of the Image of God in Man Within the Framework of an

Eschatological Theology (S.T.D. dissertation, Lutheran School

of Theology at Chicago, 1974; Ann Arbor, MI: University

Microfilms International, 75-18, 208, 1981), especially

pp. 9-167.

2 As a point of comparison note the several categories

of opinion about the Christ-culture correlation given by

H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper and

Row, 1956) and Webber, Saint, p. 204, who analyzes his


Because these ancient interpretations are founda-

tional for purposes of this work, considerable attention will

be given to this period. In keeping with this design, ex-

tensive quotations will be made from the primary source

materials that help elucidate ancient interpretation of the

dominion materials.

Rule Over Creation as a Present Possession

Though the ancient period furnishes no extensive tes-

timony for understanding the dominion materials as implying a

present possession, there are a number of brief references to

such an idea. Though the following citations are not exhaus-

tive, they are representative of those who understood the

dominion materials as indicating a present possession.


Selected sources

The testimony of those who understood dominion to

refer to a present possession is fairly broad in terms of

chronology and literary type. The following list is arranged


categories with those of Niebuhr as follows: "Niebuhr lists

five categories of Christ and culture--Christ against culture;

Christ of culture; Christ above culture; Christ and culture

in paradox; Christ the transformer of culture. While these

are helpful categories, they are somewhat confusing because

they do not allow for the vast differences that exist under

each category. I have therefore delineated three general

categories, each of which has a large variety of expression."

For Webber these three categories are the separational model,

the identificational model, and the transformal model (pp. 75-

165). Though Webber (and Niebuhr) speaks more of modern cate-

gories of opinion (and not directly about dominion passages),

the categories he suggests have great similarity with those

of the ancient church period. This fact suggests that modern

opinion has antecedents.



generally in chronological order, beginning with the earli-

est.1 The dates suggested are those that may be tentatively

accepted for purposes of this study.

The Epistle to Diognetius, x (ca. A.D. 130):

If you also desire [to possess] this faith, you likewise

shall receive first of all the knowledge of the Father.

For God has loved mankind, on whose account He made the

world, to whom He rendered subject all the things that

are in it, to whom He gave reason and understanding, to

whom alone He imparted the privilege of looking upwards

to Himself, whom He formed after His own image, to whom

He sent His only-begotten Son, to whom He has promised

a kingdom in heaven, and will give it to those who have

loved Him.2


Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 115-181), Theophilus to Autolycus, II, 10:

And first, they taught us with one consent that God made

all things out of nothing; for nothing was coeval with


1 As with any historical study built upon manuscript

transmission, there are, of course, some uncertainties about

chronology. For discussion of these uncertainties the reader

is referred in a rudimentary way to the introductory bio-

graphical remarks about individual authors and titles scat-

tered throughout Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds.,

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vols. I-VIII, American Reprint of

the Edinburgh Edition (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub-

lishing Company, 1979), hereafter cited as ANF, and Philip

Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., The Nicene and Post-Nicene

Fathers, Vols. I-XIV, Second Series Reprint (Grand Rapids:

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), hereafter cited

as NPNF.

2 This translation is taken from ANF, 1:29. Subsequent

translations within this section on ancient interpretations

are taken from this same series on the fathers. The transla-

tions are adequate and readable and offer to the English

reader easy access to lengthy translations for comparative

purposes. There are, of course, other translations and edi-

tions such as J.-P. Migne, ed., Patroloqiae Cursus Completus,

series latina, 221 vols. (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1844-55).

Note also Johannes Quasten, Walter J. Burghardt, and Thomas

C. Lawler, eds., Ancient Christian Writers, 40 vols. (New

York: Newman Press, 1946-75) and Ludwig Schopp, ed. dir.,

The Fathers of the Church, 68 vols. (Washington, DC: The

Catholic University Press of America, 1947-79).


God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing,

and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom

He might be known; for him, therefore He prepared the


II, 17:

For when man transgressed, they [i.e. the animals] also

transgressed with him. For as, if the master of the

house himself acts rightly, the domestics also of neces-

sity conduct themselves well; but if the master sins, the

servants also sin with him; so in like manner it came to

pass, that in the case of man's sin, he being master, all

that was subject to him sinned with him. When, there-

fore, man again shall have made his way back to his nat-

ural condition, and no longer does evil, those also shall

be restored to their original gentleness.2

II, 18:

And when He had made and blessed him, that he might in-

crease and replenish the earth, He put all things under

his dominion, and at his, service; and He appointed from

the first that he should find nutriment from the fruits

of the earth, and from seeds, and herbs, and acorns,

having at the same time appointed that the animals be of

habits similar to man's, that they also might eat of all

the seeds of the earth.3


Athenagoras, The Resurrection of the Dead (ca. A.D. 180), XII:


The argument from the cause will appear, if we consider

whether man was made at random and in vain, or for some

purpose; and if for some purpose, whether simply that he

might live and continue in the natural condition in which

he was created, or for the use of another; and if with a

view to use, whether for that of the Creator Himself, or

of some one of the beings who belong to him, and are by

Him deemed worthy of greater care . . . and irrational

beings are by nature in a state of subjection, and per-

form those services for men for which each of them was

intended, but are not intended in their own turn to make

use of men: for it neither was nor is right to lower

that which rules and takes the lead to the use of the


1 Ibid., 2:97-98.

2 Ibid., 2:101. The material within brackets is sup-

plied from the context of the quotation by this writer.

3 Ibid., 2:101-2.


inferior, or to subject the rational to the irrational,

which is not suited to rule.1


Tertullian (A.D. 145-220), On the Resurrection of the Flesh,


For the creatures which were made were inferior to him

for whom they were made; and they were made for man, to

whom they were afterwards made subject to God. Rightly,

therefore, had the creatures which were thus intended for

subjection, come forth into being at the bidding and com-

mand and sole power of the divine voice; whilst man, on

the contrary, destined to be their Lord, was formed by

God himself, to the intent that he might be able to

exercise his mastery, being created by the Master the

Lord Himself.2


Origen (A.D. 185-254), Origen Against Celsus, IV, 23:

            And in his [i.e., Celsus'] fictitious representation, he

compares us [i.e., Christians] to "worms which assert

that there is a God, and that immediately after him, we

who are made by him are altogether like unto God, and

that all things have been made subject to us,--earth, and

water, and air, and stars,--and that all things exist for

our sake, and are ordained to be subject to us."3


The Clementine Homilies (ca. A.D. 230-250), X, 3:

"God having fo wed the heaven and the earth, and having

made all things in them, as the true Prophet has said to

us, man, being made after the image and likeness of God,

was appointed to be ruler and lord of things, I say, air

and earth and water, as may be known from the very fact

that by his intelligence he brings down the creatures that

are in the air, and brings up those that are in the deep,

hunts those that are on the earth, and that although they

are much greater in strength than he . . ."4


1 Ibid., 2:154-55.

2 Ibid., 3:549. The underlining indicates italicized

words within the quotation.

3 Ibid., 4:506. The words within brackets are sup-

plied by this writer from the context of this quotation.

4 Ibid., 8:280.


XI, 23:

"For on thy account, 0 man, God commanded the water to

retire upon the face of the earth, that the earth might

be able to bring forth fruits for thee . . . For is it

not for thee that the winds blow, and rains fall, and

the seasons change for the production of fruits? More-

over, it is for thee that the sun and moon, with the

other heavenly bodies, accomplish their risings and set-

tings; land rivers and pools, with all fountains, serve



Lactantius (A.D. 260-330), The Divine Institutes, VII, 4:

It is evident, therefore, that the world was constructed

for the sake of living beings, since living beings enjoy

those things of which it consists . . . Again, that the

other living beings were made for the sake of man, is

plain from this, that they are subservient to man, and

were given for his protection and service . . .2


VII, 5:

. . . therefore, God did not make the world for His own

sake, because He does not stand in need of its advan-

tages, but for the sake of man . . 3


VII, 7:

The Stoics say that the world, and all things which are

in it, were made for the sake of men: the sacred writ-

ings teach us the same things. Therefore Democritus was

in error, who thought that they were poured forth from

the earth like worms, without any author or plan.4


Lactantius, A Treatise on the Anger of God, XIII:

If any one considers the whole government of the world,

he will certainly understand how true is the opinion of

the Stoics, who say that the world was made on our ac-

count. For all the things of which the world is composed,


1 Ibid., 8:289.

2 Ibid., 7:198.

3 Ibid., 7:199.

4 Ibid., 7:204.


and which it produces from itself, are adapted to the use

of man.1

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, (ca. A.D. 325-360), VII,

2, xxxiv:

And at the conclusion of the creation Thou gavest direc-

tion to Thy Wisdom . . . saying, "Let us make man after

our image, and after our likeness"; and hast exhibited

him as the ornament of the world . . .2


Gregory of Nyssa (A.D. 335-395), On the Making of Man, II, 2:

For this reason man was brought into the world last after

the creation, not being rejected to the last as worth-

less, but as one whom it behoved to be king over his

subjects at his very birth.3



From these several citations may be drawn a composite

assessment of the dominion materials. Of course, the general

picture is that these sources express the understanding that

dominion is a present possession. However, in assessing the

selected sources more carefully the following details are


Man's superiority

Jobling has already noted that in this ancient period

ontological superiority of man is linked with the understand-

ing of the dominion as a present possession.4 That is,


            1 Ibid., 7:269. In the discussion following this quo-

tation man is said to use fire, springs, rivers, earth, and

sea for his purposes. For yet further discussion by Lactan-

tius on the nature of man's dominion see On the Workmanship

of God, II in Ibid., 7:282-83.

2 Ibid., 7:473.

3 NPNF, 5:390.

4 IOTT, p. 54.


through asserting man's ontological status the fathers were

able to maintain dominion as a present possession. The rea-

sons for this superiority are variously assigned in these

selected sources. Perhaps most prominent is the idea that

man's rational capacity makes him superior. By his intelli-

gence man is able to control those things made subject to him

by the Creator. Another reason for man's superiority is his

upward look, enabling him to give his loyalties to his Maker.

In addition the distinctive creative activity surrounding

man's creation helps distinguish him as superior to other

creatures. Thus man's superiority ontologically character-

izes him as an ornament in his environment.

Creation for man's sake

Again Jobling's analysis is correct.1 These ancient

church sources exhibit the notion of anthropocentric tele-

ology. The idea that creation was for man's sake is espe-

cially prominent as a means of explaining dominion as a pres-

ent possession. A recurring assertion is that all was made

for man's sake and that God ordained that all things should be

subject to man. Therefore, through divine appointment man is

stationed as king, as ruler and lord. In this way the things

of the world are at man's service. Even when man fell his


            1 Ibid. Thus Jobling says that study of these ancient

church testimonies indicates that the idea of man's rule is

often--linked "with two other ideas. These are man's onto-

logical superiority, the idea that man is superior to the

rest of creation, and anthropocentric teleology, the idea

that the creation was made and exists for man's sake."



subjects fell with him. Thus, the general view is that the

rest of creation was in every sense prepared for man's ap-

pearance to fulfill his regal position.


Tradition influences

The assessments above are easily seen. What is not

so evident, however, is that complex of influences extant in

the ancient world which may have suggested to the church

fathers this particular view of the dominion materials. Lac-

tantius declares his familiarity with at least a part of that

complex of influences, namely Stoicism.1

Stoicism is most often associated with Zeno, though

without the work of Chrysippus Stoicism would not have been

fully developed.2 For Stoicism the goal of life is cast in

Panaetius' formula, "to live according to the starting-points

given us by nature."3 Nature is here for the purpose of man's


1 Cf. The Divine Institutes, VII, 7 in ANF, 7:204 and

A Treatise on the Anger of God, XIII in ibid., 7:269.

2 Cf. the succinct discussion on this point by F. I.

Finley, gen. ed., Ancient Culture and Society, 11 vols. (New

York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975), vol. 11: The

Stoics, by F. H. Sandbach, pp. 11-19. For further discussion

on Stoicism see Emile Brehier, The History of Philosophy,

vol. 2: The Hellenistic and Roman Age, trans. Wade Baskin

(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1965), pp. 23-65;

W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, 5 vols.

(London: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 2:80-100; Werner

Jaeger, The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers (London:

The Clarendon Press, 1947; Oxford Paperbacks, 1967); Fred-

erick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. I:  Greece and

Rome, The Bellarmine Series, no. 9 (London: Burns and Oates

Limited, 1966), pp. 385-400, 421-437.

3 Finley, Stoics, p. 58. The point of the formula is

simply that man is to live consistently with nature's

manifest laws.


living. Jobling has pointed out that in two dialogues of

Socrates, as reported by Xenophon, the point is expressed

that man is superior to animals and that everything is here

"for man's sake."1 This Stoic influence left its impress on

the church fathers.2 They seem to have followed Stoic in-

terest in understanding creation as being here for man's

sake.3 Other influences from Stoicism and other Greek philo-

sophic thought may be traced.  But undoubtedly the ancient

church view that dominion materials were to be understood as

a present possession was influenced by Stoicism.4

There were, of course, other influences besides

philosophy which conjoined to forge a complex that shaped to


1 Cf. Xenophon's Memorabilia, I, 4:14; IV, 3:llff. as

given in R. D. C. Robbins, Xenophon's Memorabilia of Socrates

(New York: D. Appleston and Company, 1856), pp. 28-29 and 145-

47. For Jobling's discussion on this point see IOTT, pp.


2 Cf. ibid.

3 This influence on the fathers should not be surpris-

ing since the Middle and Later Stoa were active in the first

centuries of the church; cf. Finley, Stoics, p. 16: "In the

Greek world of the first two centuries of our era Stoicism

clearly remained a lively influence." Note also Copleston,

History, pp. 421-37, where the widespread influence is also


4 For additional discussion on the influences of Greek

thought see Thorlief Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with

Greek, trans. J. L. Moreau, The Library of History and Doc-

trine (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), pp. 90-

97; G. J. deVries, "Christianity and Classical Culture," Free

University Quarterly 2 (October 1953): 251-60; M. Foster,

"Greek and Christian Ideas of Nature," Free University Quar-

terly 6 (May 1959): 122-27; Morton Smith, "The Image of God:

Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism," BJRL 40 (1958): 473-

512; M. Akita, "A Study on Greek and Hebrew Thinkings About

Man," Christianity and Culture 1 (1964): 7-26.


one degree or another the interpretive thought of the church

fathers. There is the intriguing remark by Ovid (43 B.C.-

A.D. 18) in Metamorphoses, I, 7.6ff.:

A living creature of finer stuff than these, more capable

of lofty thought was lacking yet. Then man was born:

whether the god who made all else, designing a more per-

fect world, made man of his own divine substance, or

whether the new earth, but lately drawn away from heaven-

ly ether, retained still some elements of its kindred sky

--that earth which the son of Iapetus mixed with fresh

running water and moulded into the form of the all-con-

trolling gods. And, though all other animals are prone,

and fix their gaze upon the earth, he gave to man an up-

lifted face and bade him stand erect and turn his eyes

to heaven. So, then, the earth, which had but lately

been a rough and formless thing, was changed and clothed

itself with forms of men before unknown.1


While one certainly would not want to argue that Ovid's

thought was directly passed on to the ancient church, the

above citation does indicate that viewing man's dominion as

a present possession was a rather common belief.

Further, in 2 Baruch 14:18 a similar view is ex-

pressed: "And thou didst say that Thou wouldst make for Thy

world man as the administrator of Thy works, that it might be

known that he was by no means made on account of the world,

but the world on account of him."2 And a corresponding view


1 The translation is that of Frank J. Miller, Ovid:

Metamorphoses, 2 vols., The Loeb Classical Library (London:

William Heinemann, 1928), 1:7-8.

2 Cf. R.. H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepiq-

rapha of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Oxford: The Clarendon

Press, 1913), 2:491.

3 Ibid., 2:596. For further discussion on the way in


Last, there is the sketchy testimony of Jewish sour-

ces. Only brief citation is necessary to indicate that Jew-

ish commentary provided a part of the influence on the church.

The Targums of Onkelos, Jonathan Ben Uzziel, and Jerusalem

generally correlate with the tradition of wording found in

BHK.1 Talmudic sources understand man as ontologically supe-

rior by the very fact that "man, in God's image, has the

capacity to reflect and to criticize.   All an animal can do

is act and respond."2 Genesis Rabba, 8 gives the midrashic


which Jewish nationalism assimilated the idea that God cre-

ated the world for man's sake see C. W. Emmet, "The Fourth

Book of Esdras and St. Paul," ExpTim 27 (1916): 551-56,

especially 552.

1 Cf. J. W. Etheridge, The Tarqums of Onkelos and Jona-

than Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch with Fraqments of the Jeru-

salem Targum from the Chaldee (New York: KTAV Publishing

House, Inc., 1968), pp. 37, 160-61. As one would expect the

Targum of Onkelos "restricts itself more to the simple ren-

dering of the Hebrew Text" (ibid., p. 8). The Palestinian

Targum, however, being more inclined to Derush rabbinic inter-

pretation ("illustration, traditio-historical, anecdotal, or

allegorical"), is freer in its renderings (ibid., p. 9). For

an illustration of this note the interesting interpretation

by the Palestinian Targum of the account of man's creation:

"In the image of the Lord He created him, with two hundred

and forty and eight members, with three hundred and sixty

and five nerves, and over laid them with skin, and filled

it with flesh and blood" (ibid., p. 160).

2 Jacob Neusner, Invitation to the Talmud (New York:

Harper & Row, 1973), p. 231. This difference between man and

animal can be accounted for at least partially because God

has placed an ethical drive within man, the Yetzer tob, the

good inclination, and the Yetzer ha-ra, the inclination to

evil (cf. Mishna Berachoth IX, 5: fr rcybv bvF rcyb jyrcy ynwb).

For discussion of this point see Moses Mielziner, Introduc-

tion to the Talmud, 4th ed. (New York: Bloch Publishing

Company, 1968), pp. 269-70. On this same point see also

the brief discussion of Ben Zion Bokser, The Wisdom of the

Talmud (New York: Philosophical Library, 1951), pp. 92-93.


opinion that the creation of man indicates that, in addition

to man being a product of earth, he is also gifted with rea-

son, intellect, and understanding.1 A last brief citation

from the mishnaic source, Sanhedrin, 59, 2, indicates a

similar attempt to underscore man's dominion as a present


In the course of a discussion whether Adam was allowed

to slay animals for food or not, the question is raised:

Does not his dominion over the fish imply, that he was

allowed to eat them? No; it means only that he should

employ them in his service.2


In general even the Jewish influences, of whatever

degree, might have been in the direction of understanding Old

Testament dominion materials as indicating a present posses-

sion by man.3

God's Rule--Man's Rule

When the church fathers were faced with the interpre-

tation that man's rule is a present possession, they some-

times hastened to emphasize that distinctions were to be made

between the rule of God and the rule of man. Man's rule was


1 Samuel Rapaport, A Treasury of the Midrash (New York:

KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 1968), p. 62.

2 Paul I. Hershon, Genesis: With a Talmudic Commen-

tary, trans. M. Wolkenberg (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons,

1883), p. 67. There was even some discussion in Mishnaic

sources over the singularity or plurality of "subdue" (hwbk).

This debate is seen in the exchange between Rav Ilaa and Rav

Ytzchak (ibid.).

3 There is, however, a word of caution. Jacob Neusner,

"Scriptural, Essenic, and Mishnaic Approaches to Civil Law

and Government: Some Comparative Remarks," HTR 73 (July-

October 1980) : 419-34, especially 429, cautions (in another

context of discussion) that Jewish influences were more mar-

ginally felt by the Christian community.


a subordinate rule, a delegated position.1 The focus of this

understanding was on the dominion as a delegated rulership.

Such an interpretation is still positive, but casts man's

present rulership in the light of God's superior rulership.

The previous interpretation of the dominion materials empha-

sized man's superiority over the rest of creation. The pres-

ent interpretation calls attention to God's rulership over

man, while still allowing man delegated rulership.

Selected sources

The selections included here are few in number, but

may be taken as adequately implying the essence of this

interpretation of the dominion materials.2

Origen (A.D. 185-254), Origen Against Celsus, IV, 27:

"The Sun and Night are to mortals slaves." . . . Day and

night, then, are subject to mortals, being created for

the sake of rational beings. And if ants and flies,

which labour by day and rest by night, have, besides, the

benefit of those things which were created for the sake

of men, we must not say that day and night were brought

into being for the sake of ants and flies, nor must we

suppose that they were created for the sake of nothing,

but, agreeably to the design of Providence, were formed

for the sake of man.3


1 Cf. Jobling's discussion in IOTT, pp. 97ff.

2 Generally speaking the sources to draw upon tend to

be sketchy. Only the more clear have been included. The

less clear are those such as Tertullian Against Marcion, IV,

24 where mention is made that man's power over the animals is

a delegated power: ". . . the Creator has promised . . . to

give this power even to little children, of putting their

hand in the cockatrice den and on the hole of the young asps

without at all receiving hurt" (cf. ANF, 3:388).

3 Ibid., 4:532. The opening line of this citation is

taken from Euripides (480-406 B.C.), The Phoenician Maidens,

546: ei@q ]  h!lioj  men  nu<c  te  douleu<ei  brotoi?j, cf. Arthur S.

Way, Euripides, 4 vols., The Loeb Classical Library (London:

William Heinemann, 1919), 3:386.


The Clementine Homilies (ca. A.D. 230-250), III, 26-27:

And, moreover, who is lord over the creatures, so far as

it is possible? Is it not man . . . Wherefore, before

all things, consider that no one shares His rule, no one

has a name in common with Him--that is, is called God.

For He alone is both called and is God.1


Lactantius (A.D. 260-330), The Divine Institutes, II, 9:

In short, when God revealed the truth to man, He wished

us only to know those things which it concerned man to

know for the attainment of life; but as to the things

which related to a profane and eager curiosity He was

silent, that they might be secret.2


Lactantius, A Treatise on the Anger of God, XIV:

It follows that I show for what purpose God made man

himself. As He contrived the world for the sake of man,

so He formed man himself on His own account, as it were

a priest of a divine temple, a spectator of His works

and of heavenly objects. For he is the only being who,

since he is intelligent and capable of reason, is able

to understand God, to admire His works, and perceive His

energy and power; for on this account he is furnished

with judgment, intelligence, and prudence. On this ac-

count he alone, beyond the other living creatures, has

been made with an upright body and attitude, so that he

seems to have been raised up for the contemplation of

his Parent. On this account he alone has received lan-

guage, and a tongue the interpreter of his thought, that

he may be able to declare the majesty of his Lord. Last-

ly, for this cause all things were placed under his con-

trol, that he himself might be under the control of God,

their Maker and Creator.3



The central focus of these citations is that man's


1 ANF, 8:245.

2 Ibid., 7:56. This quotation follows Lactantius'

citation from Ovid, Metamorphoses, I, 76ff.: "A living crea-

ture of finer stuff than these, more capable of lofty

thought, one who could have dominion over all the rest, was

lacking yet. Then man was born . . ." (cf. Miller, Ovid, 2:7).

3 ANF, 7:271.


dominion is assigned to him. Whatever is his, he is assured

that it came to him according to the design of Providence.

Thus he is given control and in that place of authority is

to be under the dominion of his creator. Man's rulership is

vast, extending to the inclusion of planets as part of his

kingdom. But this man never shares God's rule; he is under

it. In two ways the rulership of God over man is seen.

God's dominion over man

Man clearly is in subjection to God because God has

told man only those things he wishes man to know. There re-

mains a series of things hidden from man, hidden in the mys-

teries of God's own knowledge. With equal clarity one under-

stands that man is made to worship, to serve his Creator. He

owes allegiance to the one whose authority and rulership is

superior. Thus God's superiority of rule becomes seen

through man's limited knowledge and his obligation to give

his allegiances to his Creator.


Tradition influences

Jobling has clearly pointed out that this particular

view of the dominion material may have been influenced by

traditions outside the church.1 Philo, De opificio mundi, 88

maintained that man's place within creation was that of a

pilot or a u!parxoj, a subordinate commander, a lieutenant.2


1 Cf. IOTT, pp. 97ff.

2 Cf. Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott, compilers, A

Greek-English Lexicon, 2 vols., revised and augmented through-


Another earlier tradition is that of Sirach 17:2, ". . , and

gave them authority over all things on the earth."1 Clearly

this brief citation asserts at once man's dominion and its

having been delegated to him.

Thus, outside the church fathers there is a tradition

consistent with the view of the dominion materials which

focuses attention on the delegated nature of man's dominion.2


Promise-Fulfillment Debate

The previous two interpretations of the dominion

material emphasized that man's rule is a present possession,

though these interpretations focus on man's superiority and

man's subordination respectively. Consideration is now given

to that interpretation which estimates that, though the

dominion materials indicate a promised rule, the fulfillment

of that rule is only partial. That is, the fulfillment is

not the possession of every man. This perspective is

evidenced in the following citations.

Selected sources

Because the partial fulfillment of the dominion prom-


out by Henry S. Jones with the assistance of Roderick McKen-

zie et al., with a supplement (Oxford: The Clarendon Press,

1968), 2:1853. For discussion of this material in Philo see

IOTT, p. 101.

1 Charles, Apocrypha, 1:375.

2 Of interest is the fact that at Qumran there is a rela-

tive lack of interest in these dominion materials. Cf. IOTT,

pp. 114-15. Also of interest in passing is the possible con-

tribution of Stoic and neo-Platonist thought to the view of

man's rule being subordinate to God's rule, ibid., p. 117.


ise is variously assigned, the following sources will not

seem homogeneous upon first glance.

Aristides, The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, (ca.

A.D. 125), I:

I say, however, concerning this mover of the world, that

he is God of all, who made all things for the sake of

mankind. And it seems to me that this is reasonable,

that one should fear God and should not oppress man.1


Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165), The Second Apology, IV:

We have been taught that God did not make the world aim-

lessly, but for the sake of the human race; and we have

before stated that He takes pleasure in those who imitate

His properties, and is displeased with those that em-

brace what is worthless either in word or deed.2


The Pastor of Hermas (A.D. 160), IV:

". . . do you not perceive how great is the glory of

God, and how strong and marvelous, in that He created

the world for the sake of man, and subjected all creation

to him, and gave him power to rule over everything under

heaven? If, then, man is lord of the creatures of God,

and rules over all, is he not able to be lord also of

these commandments? For," says he, "the man who has the

Lord in his heart can also be lord: of all, and of every

one of these commandments. But to those who have the

Lord only on their lips . . . the commandments are hard

and difficult."3


1 This translation is from the Syriac, cf. ANF, 10:263.

The Greek version omits this citation, reading only: "The

self-same being, then, who first established and now controls

the universe--him do I affirm to be God . . ." (ibid.).

2 Ibid., 1:189. In light of the context of this quo-

tation Justin claims that pleasing God (giving of instruction

in the divine doctrines as a faithful witness) is how we

achieve God's purpose in making creation for the sake of the

human race. This dominionizing of creation would therefore

be achieved only by the righteous as they pursue the practice

of instructing in divine doctrines.

3 Ibid., 2:29. This expresses the view that man's rule

over created things is conditioned by the nature of his re-

sponse toward God. Those who are righteous may expect to

rule as God promised they would.


Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 153-217), The Instructor, II, 1:

Some men, in truth, live that they may eat, as the irra-

tional creatures, "whose life is their belly, and nothing

else." But the Instructor enjoins us to eat that we may

live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure

our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which

the Word is training up to immortality. . . . For God,

when He created man, said, "All things shall be to you

for meat."1


Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, IV, 3:

And what, I ask, is it in which man differs from beasts,

and the angels of God, on the other hand, are wiser than

he? "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels."

For some do not interpret this Scripture of the Lord, al-

though He also bore flesh, but of the perfect man and the

gnostic, inferior in comparison with the angels in time,

and by reason of the vesture [of the body]. . . . For if

there is one function belonging to the peculiar nature of

each creature, . . . what shall we say is the peculiar

function of man? . . . the body tills the ground, and

hastes to it; but the soul is raised to God: trained in

the true philosophy, it speeds to its kindred above, turn-

ing away from the lusts of the body, and besides these,

from toil and fear . . . The severance, therefore, of the

soul from the body, made a life-long study, produces in

the philosopher gnostic alacrity, so that he is easily

able to bear natural death which is the dissolution of

the chains which bind the soul to the body.2


The Clementine Homilies (ca. A.D. 230-250), X, 25:

“. . . it is not right to call the elements gods, by which

good things are supplied; but only Him who ordereth them,

to accomplish all things for our use, and who commandeth

them to be serviceable to man,--Him alone we call God in


1 Ibid., 2:237-41. While the ellipsis represents a

considerable omission, the conjoining of material in this

citation appears to give a correct sense to Clement's thought.

In this section of The Instructor he uses a dominion passage,

Gen 9:lff., to develop ethical conclusions against gluttony.

2 Ibid., 2:410-11. Clement's thinking understands the

work of the righteous to be the divesting of the body (IV, 4

goes on to praise martyrdom). This divestiture he explains

in light of the dominion passage in Ps 8, which passage some,

he says, interpret as referring to the perfect man.


propriety of speech, whose beneficence you do not per-

ceive, but permit those elements to rule over you which

have been assigned to you as your servants.1


Lactantius (A.D. 260-330), On the Workmanship of God, VIII:

When, therefore, God had determined of all the animals

to make man alone heavenly, and all the rest earthly, He

raised him erect to the contemplation of the heaven, . . .

but He depressed the others to the earth, that . . . they

might be subservient to their appetite and food. And

thus the right reason and elevated position of man alone,

and his countenance, shared with and closely resembling

God his Father, bespeak his origin and Maker. His mind,

nearly divine, because it has obtained the rule not only

over the animals which are on the earth, but over his own

body, . . . looks out upon and observes all things.2



What is especially striking about these sources is

their uniform judgment that the promise of the dominion mate-

rials finds fulfillment in the righteous, not in all persons.

Undoubtedly these authors could not "read these texts without

a sense of their being unfulfilled; we may call it a sense of

loss."3 But they saw at least partial fulfillment in the life

of the righteous. However, the obvious question still is:

How does dominion express itself in the life of the righteous?


1 Ibid., 8:284. Here is explained the belief that the

dominion granted man is brought to ruination by one's fall

into idolatry. The result of idolatry is to turn the ruler

into the ruled.

2 This passage, found in ibid., 7:288-89, indicates

that dominion is exercised by the righteous through self-

control. For comparison of a similar expression see Basil,

The Hexaemeron, IX, 6 in NPNF, 8:105-7.

3 IOTT, p. 130. Jobling notes that "in Sir 17:1-4 the

reference to man's rule seems to be there to counteract a

sense of loss which has turned to cynicism, in 16:17" (ibid.).


The solutions to this question are varied.


Solutions to the debate

One resolution to the promise-fulfillment debate was

to apply the dominion promise to ethical matters. Clement of

Alexandria, The Instructor, II, 1, understood the righteous

person to have dominion when he kept himself from gluttony.

In so doing he had ruled over foods, put them to the proper

use of sustaining life, not become ruled by them. Aristides,

The Apoloqy of Aristides the Philosopher, I, understood that

the dominion promise was at least partially fulfilled in free-

dom from the oppression of rulers. Justin Martyr, The Second

Apology, IV, believed dominion was exercised by the righteous

as they had freedom to give instruction in divine doctrines.1

A second solution, which flows naturally out of the

first, is to understand the promised dominion as being ful-

filled in the righteous person's mastery of self. Such domin-

ion extends not only over the animals but over one's very own

body (Lactantius, On the Workmanship of God, VIII). Basil in

The Hexaemeron, IX, 6, argued the same point.

A third solution to the debate was to explain the

dominion in negative terms, indicating why the promise was not

fulfilled. Primarily the lack of fulfillment may be blamed

on man's fall into sin. The Clementine Homilies, X, 25, ex-

plain this fall as a turning to idolatry. The practice of

idolatry results not only in loss of rule but in being ruled


1 Cf. p. 31, n. 2.


by those very elements over which the Creator assigned man

as ruler.


Tradition influences

Here, as earlier, there are a number of tradition in-

fluences at work which might be understood as antecedents of

this solution to the debate. The Stoics, in keeping with

rather common Greek thought, understood the sage, "the man of

reason who is also the good man," as a ruler.1 This is remi-

niscent of Plato's philosopher-kings. Plato's notion reminds

one of the rabbinic tradition which had grown up around Sol-

omon. Genesis Rabba 34:12 "thinks of the dominion lost by

Adam as returning in the person of Solomon."2 This tradition

is understandable in light of the vastness of Solomon's

domain referred to by the following:

I have eaten no food and drunk no water, in order to fly

about in the whole world and see whether there is a

domain anywhere which is not subject to my lord the



These influences show that the assigning of rulership to one

or several persons, possessed of goodly moral qualities, was


            1 See IOTT, p. 140 and his discussion which follows.

2 Ibid., p. 145.

3 Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 7 vols.

(Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America,

1968), 4:143; cf. also 1:177-78. These Jewish legends about

the dominion of Solomon bothered the ancient church: "The

Church Fathers are at pains to contradict this assertion of

the Jewish legend, not out of dislike for Solomon, but for

polemical reasons, maintaining that the scriptural passages

speaking of man's dominion over the entire creation can only

refer to Jesus. See Justin Martyr, Dialogue, 34; Tertullian,

Adversus Judaeos, 7" (ibid., 6:289).


a part of the tradition influence existing prior to the inter-

pretive work of the church fathers.

There is also some evidence that there existed a tra-

dition connecting the loss of dominion with the fall. This

correlation is reflected in a negative way by the following

Jewish legend about the creation of man:


. . .God said to Gabriel: "Go and fetch Me dust from

the four corners of the earth, and I will create man

therewith." Gabriel went forth to do the bidding of the

Lord, but the earth drove him away, and refused to let

him gather up dust from it. Gabriel remonstrated: "Why,

O Earth, dost thou not hearken unto the voice of the Lord

. . . ?" The earth replied, and said: "I am destined to

become a curse, and to be cursed through man . . ."1


Rule as Lost or Diminished

The sources mentioned just above already opened the

possibility that dominion materials might have been inter-

preted as a rule lost or diminished. Thus the sources here

will indicate an extension of thought already introduced. If

the rule promised has a fulfillment which is open to debate,

interpretation of the dominion material would sooner or later

suggest that the rule might have been lost or diminished.

The following select sources suggest this.

Selected sources

These sources have in common the idea that the rule

assigned was in some sense altered.2 The exact nature of this


1 Ginzberg, Legends, 1:54.

2 For extended discussion of this idea see IOTT, p.



alteration is variously understood, but its fact is under-


Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202), Irenaeus Against Heresies, XXIII, 2-3:

But inasmuch as man is saved, it is fitting that he who

was created the original man should be saved. . . . imme-

diately after Adam had transgressed, as the Scripture re-

lates, He pronounced no curse against Adam personally,

but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a

certain person among the ancients has observed: "God did

indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not

remain in man." But man received, as the punishment of

his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth,

and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return

to the dust from whence he was taken.2


Tertullian (A.D. 145-220), Tertullian Against Marcion, II,


As, therefore, God designed for man a condition of life,

so man brought on himself a state of death . . . No doubt

it was an angel who was the seducer; but then the victim

of that seduction was free, and master of himself and as

being the image and likeness of God, was stronger than

any angel . . . He would not have made all things subject

to man, if he had been too weak for the dominion, and in-

ferior to the angels, to whom He assigned no such subjects.

. . . And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the

same human being, the same substance of his soul, the

same condition as Adam's, is made conqueror over the same


1 This understanding of alteration stands in contrast

to the view that even at his creation man served as a slave.

The rule as lost or diminished emphasizes that man was ini-

tially a ruler. Cf. the statement of the gnostic The Apoca-

lypse of Adam (V, 5): "Then we recognized the God who had

created us. For we were not strangers to his powers. And we

served him in fear and slavery. And after these (events) we

became darkened in our heart(s)." The reference of these

words is evidently to Adam's and Eve's loss of glory and knowl-

edge and their coming under the enslaving power of the lowly

creator. See James M. Robinson, director, The Nag Hammadi

Library, trans. members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project

of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity (San Fran-

cisco: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 257.

2 Cf. ANF, 1:456.


devil by the self-same liberty and power of his will,

when it moves in obedience to the laws of God.1

Tertullian, On Repentance, II:

For God--after so many and so great sins of human temer-

ity, begun by the first of the race, Adam, after the con-

demnation of man, together with the dowry of the world,

after his ejection from paradise and subjection to death

--when He had hasted back to His own mercy, did from that

time onward inaugurate repentance in His own self, by

rescinding the sentence of His first wrath, engaging to

great pardon to His own work and image.2

Tertullian, On Prayer, V:

. . . if the manifestation of the Lord's kingdom pertains

unto the will of God and unto our anxious expectation,

how do some pray for some protraction of the age, when

the kingdom of God, which we pray may arrive, tends unto

the consummation of the age? Our wish is, that our reign

be hastened, not our servitude protracted.3


Recognitions of Clement (ca. A.D. 230-250), V, II:

At first, therefore, while he was still righteous, he was

superior to all disorders and all frailty; but when he

sinned, as we taught you yesterday, and became the ser-

vants of sin, he became at the same time liable to frail-

ty. This therefore is written, that men may know that,

as by impiety they have been made liable to suffer, so by

piety they may be made free from suffering; and not only

free from suffering, but by even a little faith in God be

able to cure the sufferings of others.4


The Clementine Homilies (ca. A.D. 230-250), I, IV:

While, therefore, he was righteous, he was also superior

to all sufferings, as being unable by his immortal body

to have any experience of pain; but when he sinned, as I

showed you yesterday and the day before, becoming as it


1 Ibid., 3:303-4.

2 Ibid., 3:657. The expression "the dowry of the

world" must include the dominion granted to man by God.

3 Ibid., 3:683. This citation is in the context of an

explanation of the expression, "Thy kingdom come."

4 Cf. ibid., 8:143. This citation is preceded by a

reference to the dominion material in Gen 1:26-28.


were the servant of sin, he became subject to all suffer-

ings, being by a righteous judgment deprived of all

excellent things.1


Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (ca. A.D. 325-360), VIII,


But when he neglected that command, and tasted of the

forbidden fruit, by the seduction of the serpent and

the counsel of his wife, Thou didst justly cast him

out of paradise. Yet of Thy goodness Thou didst not

overlook him, nor suffer him to perish utterly, for he

was Thy creature; but Thou didst subject the whole cre-

ation to him, and didst grant him liberty to procure

himself food by his own sweat and labours, whilst Thou

didst cause all the fruits of the earth to spring up,

to grow, and to ripen.2



Clearly these sources indicate that whatever was in-

cluded in the original dominion (Gen 1:26-28) has been at

least altered, perhaps lost. This view is, therefore con-

siderably more pessimistic than previous views. Though this

pessimism is present, it does not contract the concurrent

assertion that the dominion may be at least partially realized.


Realization of dominion

The dominion that was lost has cast man in the role of

servant. How long will this servitude last? The question may

be answered along two lines. The first concerns what initi-


1 The context of this citation, cf. ibid., 8:280, is

a discussion of man's dominion as given by the creator, The

Clementine Homilies, X, 3.

2 ANF, 7:487-88. The context prior to this citation

concerns a discussion of the dominion God gave man. There-

fore, the word "he" in the opening line has the first man as

its antecedent.


ated the loss of dominion. Predominantly, the view expressed

by the sources is that the fall, especially as described by

the words of Genesis 3:17-19, is the event which initiates

this loss of dominion.1 But what this loss means is not clear.

The second line of analysis concerns the time when the

dominion is restored, at least partially. One answer is, of

course, that the dominion's restoration awaits the coming of

the Lord's kingdom (Tertullian, On Prayer, V). Another an-

swer is that dominion partially returns when piety is prac-

ticed. Such obedience brings about dominion over present

sufferings (Recognitions of Clement, V, 2). Moreover, domin-

ion is also explained as being partially man's because man is

able to procure food from the earth for himself (Constitutions

of the Holy Apostles, VIII, 12). Or, the partial return of

dominion may be explained as the power over the devil as one

moves in obedience to God's laws (Tertullian Against Marcion,

II, 8).2 These sources indicate that though dominion was

lost, there is a partial realization of it.


1 Cf. the discussion of IOTT, p. 184, and the article

he cites on history of the exegesis of the fall, H.-G. Leder,

"Sundenfallerzahlung and Versuchsgeschichte," ZNW 54 (1963):


2 Power regained over the devil introduces the some-

what common theme of a struggle between two worlds, a notion

so much a part of gnostic literature. The fighting of the

worlds of good and evil here finds implementation in the do-

minion materials. Cf. the Jewish legend in which God spoke to

the serpent: "I created thee to be king over all animals,

cattle: and the beasts of the field alike; but thou wast not

satisfied. Therefore thou shalt be cursed above all cattle

and above every beast of the field" (Ginzberg, Legends, 1:78).



Tradition influences

            There are several potential sources of influence that

may have helped shape this view of the dominion materials.

The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha contain several helpful sour-

ces. The Apocalypse Mosis, XXIV, 4 associates the loss of

dominion with the fall: "The beasts over whom thou didst

rule, shall rise up in rebellion against thee, for thou hast

not kept my commandment."1 In this same piece of literature

(XI, 1 and 2) the fall is understood to produce changes in the

nature of the beasts which were in subjection prior to the



It is not our concern, Eve, thy greed and thy wailing,

but thine own; for (it is) from thee that the rule of

the beasts hath arisen. How was thy mouth opened to eat

of the tree concerning which God enjoined thee not to

eat of it? On this account, our nature also hath been



The audacity of the animals is the more startling since the

first man, Adam, had such remarkable glory that he was able to

name them all (Jub. 3:1-2).2 Enoch 58:1-3 recounts this same

past glory.3 But the glory, that noble rule, was lost. The

Wisdom of Solomon offers a more complete understanding by


1 Charles, Apocrypha, 2:147.

2 Ibid., 2:143. This quotation recounts the words spo-

ken by a wild beast in response to a reprimand by Eve. This

reprimand occurred as Eve and Seth went toward paradise, and

the wild beast assails Seth. In Eve's reprimand are these

words: "Thou wicked beast, fearest thou not to fight with the

image of God? . . . How didst thou not call to mind thy subjec-

tion? For long ago wast thou made subject to the image of

God" (X, 3).

3 Ibid., 2:464.



recounting not only that original dominion of man (9:2) but

connecting that to moral uprightness (9:3).1 Being so re-

lated, the loss of moral uprightness through Adam's trans-

gression altered his dominion, but wisdom "gave him strength

to get dominion over all things" again (10:1-2).2

Philo in several of his writings expresses similar

notions (Legum allegoriae, II, 9ff. and Quaestiones et sol

tiones in Genesim, I, 22).3 But Philo in a remarkable passage

acknowledges that the past glory of Adam has diminished (De

opificio mundi, 148):


. . . seeing that God had fashioned him with the utmost

care and deemed him worthy of the second place, making him

His own viceroy and Lord of all others. For men born many

generations later, when, owing to the lapse of ages, the

race had lost its vigour, are none the less still masters

of the creatures that are without reason, keeping safe a

torch (as it were) of sovereignty and dominion passed

down from the first man.4


1 Ibid., 1:549.

2 Ibid., 1:550-1.

3 Cf. the brief discussion in IOTT, pp. 182-83.

4 As quoted by ibid., p. 178. In another portion of

this same work Philo (De opificio mundi, 140-41) describes a

similar evaluation of a loss of past glory. David Winston, ed.

and trans., Philo of Alexandria, The Classics of Western Spir-

ituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), pp. 103-4 (here-

after cited as PA) gives this translation: "Such, I think,

was the first man created in body and soul, excelling all the

men that now are, and all who have preceded us. For our ori-

gin is from men, whereas God created him, and the more excel-

lent the maker, that much better the work. For as that which

is in its prime is always better than that whose prime is past,

whether animal or plant or fruit or anything else in nature,

so the man first fashioned was likely the flower of our entire

race, while those who came after no longer attained a like

prime, inasmuch as subsequent generations have taken on forms

and faculties ever fainter. . . . Generation by generation the

powers and qualities both of body and of soul that men receive

are feebler."



Last for consideration are two Jewish traditions.

One concerns a restoration or dominion to Noah as had been

enjoyed by Adam, based upon 'Aseret ha-Dibrot 63, MHG

(tywxrb rps . . . ldgh wrdm) I, 26 and Raziel 27d.1  Another

concerns the refusal of animals to propagate unless rewarded

for their work, indicating a radical alteration in man-

animal existence.2 Together these two legends underscore

the loss of an original dominion and in one case its restora-

tion (the Noah legend).


Rule in an Eschatological Figure

This view of the dominion material is supported by

fewer sources, perhaps because the fathers had before them an

abundance of other passages of Scripture which functioned as

eschatological texts.3 These few sources, however, do indi-

cate a clear interest in eschatological interpretation of the

dominion materials.


Selected sources

These few sources have various methods of attributing

the idea of dominion to Christ or through Christ to his com-

munity. There are several indirect applications of assumed

dominion material to Christ, as in Irenaeus (Irenaeus Against


1 Ginzberg, Legends, 5:18, n. 53.

2 Ibid., 5:54, n. 174.

3 Cf. IOTT, p. 200.



Heresies, IV, 34, ii).1 However, the following represent

sources of a more explicit nature.


The Epistle of Barnabas (A.D. 100), VI:

Since, therefore, having renewed us by the remission of

our sins, He hath made us after another pattern, [it is

His purpose] that we should possess the soul of children,

inasmuch as He has created us anew by His Spirit. For

the Scripture says concerning us, while He speaks to the

Son, "Let us make man after our image, and after Our like-

ness; and let them have dominion over the beasts of the

earth, and the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the

sea." . . . These things [were spoken] to the Son.    . . .

But He said above, "Let them increase, and rule over the

fishes." Who then is able to govern the beasts, or the

fishes, or the fowls of heaven? For we ought to perceive

that to govern implies authority, so that one should com-

mand and rule. If, therefore, this does not exist at

present, yet still He has promised it to us. When? When

we ourselves also have been made perfect [so as] to be-

come heirs of the covenant of the Lord.2


Tertullian (A.D. 145-220), An Answer to the Jews, XIV:

We affirm two characters of the Christ demonstrated by

the prophets, and as many advents of His forenoted: . . .

"made a little lower" by Him "than angels" . . . Which

evidences of ignobility suit the First Advent, just as

those of sublimity do the Second . . . the Father withal

afterwards, after making Him somewhat lower than angels,

"crowned Him with glory and honour and subjected all

things beneath His feet.3


Tertullian Aqainst Marcion, II, 27:

. . . making Him [i.e., Christ] a little lower than the

angels, as it is written in David.4


1 Cf. ANF, 1:511.

2 Ibid., 1:140-41. The words within brackets are

supplied by the translator of this passage.

3 Ibid., 3:172. Words underlined in this citation

indicate italicized words within the quotation.

4 Ibid., 3:318. Words within brackets are supplied

by this writer from the context.



Against Praxeas, IX:

For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a

derivation and portion of the whole, as He himself ac-

knowledges: "My Father is greater than I." In the Psalm

His inferiority is described as being "a little lower

than the angels."1


Against Praxeas, XXIII:

            This heaven the Father willed to be His own throne; while

He made the Son to be "a little lower than the angels,"

by sending Him down to the earth, but meaning at the same

time to "crown Him with glory and honour," even by taking

Him back to heaven.2



The ideas which these sources evidence are rather

clear. The dominion materials, especially the Psalm 8-Hebrews

complex, are consistently applied to Christ. Christ's

rulership means his followers shall become perfect as He is

perfect (cf. The Epistle of Barnabas). In this way the

Genesis 1:26-28 account can be understood as speaking "con-

cerning us, while" speaking "to the Son" (cf. The Epistle

of Barnabas).

But there is equally clear evidence in these sources

that even when applied to Christ, the dominion materials

raised the promise-fulfillment debate. This problem was re-

solved by appeal to the two advents (cf. Tertullian, An

Answer to the Jews). In this way the two advents became a

map for charting the historical movement of the promise-

fulfillment complex of the dominion materials.


1 Ibid., 3:603-4.

2 Ibid., 3:619.



Restoration of rule

By following this map the restoration of rulership

is clearly implied, first in the person of Christ and then,

in the community of his followers. For this restoration to

happen to his followers they must have supplied to them their

deficiency of what their Lord possessed in full measure, per-

fection. Such restoration of Christ's community was there-

fore eschatological, since this perfection was not expected

by the community until the end.1


Tradition influences

By the very nature of this view one would most expect

to find its development in the context of the Judeo-Christian

tradition, not elsewhere.2 One source that ought to be cited


1 This interest in seeing the dominion materials as

applying both to Christ and, through Him, to His community

may have been occasioned by the exegetical questions raised

by the Heb 2 citation of Ps 8. For discussion in an intro-

ductory way see IOTT, pp. 207-9; Simon Kistemaker, The Psalm

Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Amsterdam: Wed. G.

van Soest N.V., 1961), especially pp. 102ff. [cf. the brief

synopsis of this dissertation in "News About the University:

Dissertations," Free University Quarterly 8 (April 1962):

133-341; and numerous articles such as Kenneth J. Thomas,

"The Old Testament Citations in Hebrews," NTS 11 (1964):


2 Though mention has not been made of the point, there

is some evidence in the fathers of an Adam-Christ typology,

the notion that the dominion lost in Adam is regained in

Christ; cf. Irenaeus, Irenaeus Against Heresies Iv, 34. For

more full discussion of this point see IOTT, pp. 209-11.

Added to these remarks should be those of Robert L. Wilkin,

Judaism and the Early Christian Mind (New Haven: Yale Univer-

sity Press, 1971), pp. 108ff., where is discussed Cyril of

Alexandria's explanation of John 1:14; in commenting on this

Adam-Christ typology Cyril says: "We became diseased through

the disobedience of the first Adam and his curse, but we have

become rich through the obedience of the second and his bless-



is 4 Ezra 6:59.1 The context of this remark argues "that for

our sakes thou hast created this world" (6:55). The antece-

dent of "our" is the elect nation. Therefore, the question

is raised, "if the world has indeed been created for our

sakes, why do we not enter into possession of our world (59)?"

This lack of entering into possession is in stark contrast to

the lordship first granted Adam (54). Other apocalyptic

influences will be discussed later in chapter three.


Rule as Cultural Expression

This interpretation of the dominion materials under-

stands them as referring to cultural activity, defining such

activity as one's relationship to the multiple aspects of

creation. The more important question is: Over what aspects

does man rule? Various answers are given. Each answer,

though, locates the original man in a state of cosmic har-

mony, as some call chronological primitivism.2 The question

is whether, and if so, to what degree, man has moved from

that original state of harmony.


Selected sources

The question raised above is answered in various ways

as the following few sources indicate. In some cases man is


ing" (p. 109); cf. also ibid., p. 113. And these same points

are made by Cyril when he says that in Christ there is an

a]nakefalai<wsij (recapitulation) of the things in heaven and

earth (p. 115).

1 Charles, Apocrypha, 2:579.

2 PA, pp. 339-40, n. 103.


depicted as ruling over the domesticated animals, in others

over a more world-wide domain.1

Tertullian (A.D. 145-200), A Treatise on the Soul, XXXIII:

Now all creatures are the servants of man; all are his

subjects, all his dependents.2


The Clementine Homilies (ca. A.D. 230-250), III, 36:

And, moreover, who is lord over the creatures, so far as

is possible? Is it not man, who has received wisdom to

till the earth, to sail the sea; to make fishes, birds,

and beasts his prey; to investigate the course of the

stars, to mine the earth, to sail the sea; to build

cities, to define kingdoms, to ordain laws, to execute

justice, to know the invisible God, to be cognizant of

the names of angels, to drive away demons, to endeavour

to cure diseases by medicines, to find charms against

poison-darting serpents, to understand antipathies?3


Lactantius (A.D. 260-330), A Treatise on the Anger of God,


For all the things of which the world is composed, and

which it produces from itself, are adapted to the use of

man. Man, accordingly, uses fire for the purpose of

warmth and light, and of softening his food, and for the

working of iron; he uses springs for drinking, and for

baths; he uses rivers for irrigating the fields, and

assigning boundaries to countries; he uses the earth for

receiving a variety of fruits, the hills for planting

vineyards, the mountains for the use of trees and fire-

wood, the plains for crops of grain; he uses the sea not

only for commerce, and for receiving supplies from distant

countries, but also for abundance of every kind of fish.

But if he makes use of these elements to which he is

nearest, there is no doubt that he uses the heaven also,

since the offices even of heavenly things are regulated

for the fertility of the earth from which we live. The


1 For further discussion on these points see the anal-

ysis of IOTT, pp. 227ff. The discussion is a very fine treat-

ment of a host of complex problems.

2 ANF, 3:214.

3 Ibid., 8:245.



            sun. . . . The moon. . . . . The other heavenly bodies




These few sources associate the dominion material

with cultural activity but not always in the same way. Fur-

ther, the sources underscore these cultural activities as man's

relationship to the immediacies of his environment, those

very relationships which man utilizes for his sustenance.

Cultural activities

Tertullian seems to assign the cultural activity to

animal management (cf. A Treatise on the Soul). But his ref-

erence is not fully clear and certainly contrasts with the

more complete understanding of cultural activity as described

by The Clementine Homilies and Lactantius, A Treatise on the

Anger of God. In these two documents man's dominion is under-

stood as far-reaching. He hunts for sustenance, builds

cities, codifies laws, applies medical skills, and puts to

new and creative uses the elements of his environment. These

passages were selected because they clearly show a very



Tradition influences

Such cultural activity was known in the tradition in-

fluences surrounding the fathers. An appropriate place to

begin is with opposing attitudes on the development of man


1 Ibid., 7:269-70.



in Greek literature.1  One perspective understands man as be-

ginning in a state of bliss and harmony and degenerating. The

other (the antipodal view) "holds that man once lived like a

wild beast, and only by a gradual ascent with the aid of the

arts achieved a more humane and abundant life."2 Given these

two options Philo seems to follow the former,3 whereas Plato

follows the latter (by assigning "the Golden Age to another

cosmic era").4 The Stoics seem to have followed the per-

spective assumed by Philo, for Sextus, Against the Physicists,

I (Adversus Mathematicos IX), 28:

And some of the later Stoics declare that the first men,

the sons of Earth, greatly surpassed the men of to-day in

intelligence (as one may, learn from a comparison of our-

selves with men of the past), and that those ancient

heroes possessed, as it were, in the keenness of their

intellect, an extra organ of sense and apprehended the 

divine nature and discerned certain powers of the Gods.5


Given the perspective as outlined above, Philo, none-

theless, sought to balance the loss of the original state of

bliss with the yet evident superiorities of man. Man seems

still to bear within himself "endowments of nature that corre-


1 For discussion of these points see PA, pp. 339-40;

IOTT, pp. 248ff.; and the more complete collection of texts

in A. O. Lovejoy and G. Boas, Primitivism and Related Ideas

in Antiquity as cited by both of the above sources.

2 PA, p. 339.

3 See p. 42, n. 4 above for elucidation of this


4 Cf. PA, pp. 339-40.

5 As translated by R. G. Bury, trans., Sextus Empiri-

cus, 4 vols., The Loeb Classical Library (London: William

Heinemann Ltd., 1934), 3:17.



spond to the constellations. He has capacities for science

and art, for knowledge, and for the noble lore of the several

virtues" (cf. De opificio mundi, 82).1

Philo's understanding is that man still possesses a

remnant of resources to serve him in the arts and sciences,

i.e., his cultural pursuits. These sentiments about man's

cultural activity may be those intended by Sirach 17:1ff.

God created man out of dust, and turned him back there-

unto. He granted them a [fixed] number of days, and gave

them authority over all things on the earth. He clothed

them with strength like unto Himself, and made them ac-

cording to His own image. He put the fear of them upon

all flesh, and caused them to have power over beasts and

birds. With insight and understanding He filled their

heart, and taught them good and evil. He created for them

tongue, and eyes and ears, and he gave them a heart to

understand . . .2



What this survey of dominion material opinion in the

ancient period indicates is that many major interpretive op-

tions were entertained early in the church's history. Later

eras build on these perspectives as these were communicated

to later church generations through written traditions. The


1 As translated by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker,

Philo, 10 vols. and 2 supplementary volumes, The Loeb Classi-

cal Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962),


2 Charles, Apocrypha, 1:375. For further study on the

matter of tradition influences see Donald E. Gowan, When Man

Becomes God: Humanism and Hybris in the Old Testament, Pitts-

burgh Theological Monograph Series, no. 6 (Pittsburgh: The

Pickwick Press, 1975), pp. 12ff.; Jean Danielou, A History of

Early Christian Doctrine Before the Council of Nicaea, 3 vols.,

trans. and ed. John A. Baker (London: Darton, Longman & Todd,

1964-77), 1:107ff., 2:107ff.



following analyses of dominion material interpretation will

not attempt to be as broad as the above summaries. Rather,

those major figures of church thought will be discussed, es-

pecially where these individuals forward in a new way the

perception of the dominion materials and their attendant ap-

plication. Further, increasing attention will be paid to the

perception of the human agent as he operates in culture. This

transition will enable a clearer understanding of the place

occupied by the dominion materials within the context of the

debate over the cultural mandate.


Medieval Interpretations

The purpose here is not to trace each opinion regis-

tered during the medieval period; rather, it is to focus at-

tention on two primary individuals, Augustine and Aquinas,

whose ideas permeated the medieval period. In particular

these two made seismological analyses about cultural activi-

ties for the community of the church and within the context

of these analyses interpreted the dominion materials.1


1 Some might question the appropriateness of Augustine's

inclusion in the medieval period. To be sure there is debate

about the inclusion, cf. M. C. D'Arcy et al., Saint Augustine

(reprinted; New York: Meridian Books, Inc., 1958), p. 15:

"St. Augustine has often been regarded as standing outside his

own age--as the inaugurator of a new world and the first medi-

aeval man, while others, on the contrary, have seen in him

rather the heir of the old classical culture and one of the

last representatives of antiquity. There is an element of

truth in both these views, but for all that he belongs neither

to the mediaeval nor to the classical world. He is essential-

ly a man of his own age . . ." But, while cautioned by this

remark, the discussion will include Augustine in the medieval

period because his views on culture are forward-looking,

pointing toward the medieval configurations of culture.




Evaluation of Augustine1 must begin with the momentous

events surrounding the fall of Rome. In this general context

his remarks on the dominion material can be understood.

Context of interpretation

The fall of Rome signaled the "break-down of city-

state culture."2 This calamity was the historical setting

for Augustine's The City of God. Cyprian years before had

predicted the demise of the existing city-state culture in

his To Demetrian 3:

. . . the world has grown old, does not enjoy that

strength which it had formerly enjoyed, and does not

flourish with the same vigor and strength with which it

formerly prevailed. . . . In the winter the supply of rain

is not so plentiful for the nourishment of seeds; there is

not the accustomed heat in the summer for ripening the

harvest. . . . To a less extent are slabs of marble dug

out of the disembowelled and wearied mountains. . . . The

farmer is vanishing and disappearing in the fields . . .

Do you think that there can be as much substance in an

aging thing, as there would have flourished formerly, when

it was still young and vigorous with youth? . . . This

sentence has been passed upon the world; this is the law

of God; that all things which have come into existence

die; and that those which have increased grow old; and

that the strong be weakened; and that the large be dimin-

ished; and that when they have been weakened and diminished

they come to an end.3


1 For an excellent biographical treatment see Peter

Brown, Augustine of Hippo (reprinted; Berkeley: University

of California Press, 1975).

2 John C. Raines, The Cosmic Kingdom in the Rise of the

Christian Interpretation of the State: A Study of the Inter-

action of Religious and Political Mythology from Hebraic

Prophetism through John Calvin (Th.D. dissertation, Union The-

ological Seminary in the City of New York, 1967; Ann Arbor,

MI: University Microfilms International, 67-12, 176, 1981),

p. 127 (hereafter cited as CKRS).

3 Schopp, Fathers, 36:169-70.



Cyprian, writing one and one-half centuries in advance of

Augustine, clearly anticipated the reality of the latter's

day, the changing cultural configuration. But how could one

account for this change?

The accounting of Rome's fall that Augustine gave

based itself upon a polarity, a dramatic contrast so well-

liked by one interested in rhetoric.1 This polarity in his

understanding led him to construct pairs. In his analysis of

culture he saw a pair, culture's end and order.2 The fall of

Rome gave assured evidence of culture's end. But just as

surely this end was but part of a larger order.

This same polarity is evidenced in Augustine's two

cities, civitas dei and civitas terrena.  Mankind itself (De

vera reliqione, XXVII, 50) was of two genera corresponding to

"'the crowd of the impious who bear the image of the earthly

man,' and 'the succession of men dedicated to the one God.'"3

These two groups of people form two societies, and each of

these societies "loves a common end which all its members are

associated together to obtain."4 This point is illustrated


1 Cf. the discussion on this point by R. A. Markus,

Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augus-

tine (Cambridge: The University Press, 1970), pp. 45ff.

2 Cf. the discussion of CKRS, p. 128.

3 For this citation see Markus, Saeculum, p. 45.

            4 Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint

Augustine, trans. L. E. M. Lynch (New York: Random House,

1960), p. 173. Augustine's own words are (The City of God,

XIV, 28): ".       . two societies have issued from two kinds of

love. Worldly society has flowered from a selfish love which

dared to despise even God, whereas the communion of saints is



by Augustine (The City of God, IV, 3):      

Let us imagine two individuals--for each man, like a

letter in a word, is an integral part of a city or of   a

kingdom, however, extensive. Of these two men, let us   

suppose that one is poor, or, better, in moderate cir-

            cumstances; the other extremely wealthy. But, our          

wealthy man is haunted by fear, heavy with cares, fever-

ish with greed, never secure, always restless, breathless

from endless quarrels with his enemies. By these miser-

ies, he adds to his possessions beyond measure, but he

also piles up for himself a mountain of distressing wor-

ries. The man of modest means is content with a small

and compact patrimony. He is loved by his own, enjoys

the sweetness of peace in his relations with kindred,

neighbors, and friends, is religious and pious, of kindly

disposition, healthy in body, self-restrained, chaste in

morals, and at peace with his conscience. I wonder if

there is anyone so senseless as to hesitate over which

of the two to prefer. What is true of these two indi-

viduals is likewise true of two families, two nations,

two kingdoms; the analogy holds in both cases.1


What bonds society together for Augustine is love.

Therefore, "if we give the name 'city' to any group of men

united by a common love for some object, we say that there

are as many cities as there are collective loves."2 Thus

man's love unites him with others whose love is of the same

object. These all pursue common societal goals. And for

Augustine there are but two loves. In the case of the civitas

dei one is uncertain whether the Church is this city.3 With


rooted in a love of God that is ready to trample on self. In

a word, this latter relies on the Lord, whereas the other boasts

that it can get along by itself" (cf. Schopp, Fathers, 14:410).

1 For this translation see ibid., 8:193-94.

2 Gilson, Augustine, p. 172.

3 For discussion of this problem see CKRS, pp. 151ff.

On balance the better view seems to be that the visible insti-

tutional church is not co-extensive with the civitas dei. And

this is not surprising since "society" and "church" are not




respect to the civitas terrena it seems best not to define

it as the State.1 Therefore, the two loves bond together

two societies, not Church and State.2

But if these two societies through their two loves

are so distinct, do they in fact share anything in common?

At first glance it might appear that there is no common

level. But as Gilson points out, these two societies find

their common ground at the level of earthly life:

Here below, inhabitants of the city of God seem to be

identified with those who dwell only in the earthly city.

How, indeed, could they help this? They are men like the

others: their bodies need their share of the material

goods for which the earthly city has been organized. They

share, then, in its order and peace and, along with other

men, benefit from the advantages that city provides and

bear the burdens it imposes. And yet, in spite of an ap-

parently common life, the two peoples dwelling together in

the same earthly city never really mix. Citizens of the

heavenly city live with the others but not like them.

Even though they perform actions which are outwardly the

same, they do them in a different spirit. Those who live

only the life of the old man look upon the goods of the

earthly city as ends to be enjoyed; for those in the same

city who lead the life of the new man born of grace, these

same goods are merely means which they use and refer to

their true end.3


1 Ibid., pp. 150ff. For further extended discussion

of the civitas terrena see Markus, Saeculum, pp. 45-71.

2 Thus with respect to the civitas dei "Augustine had

sketched the outline of the ideal form of human society, con-

sisting in the concord and peace of righteous men living in union

among themselves under God and in God's presence. What need

was there to expound the precise status of the many imperfect

forms of human association which, in all their variety, in-

evitably failed to measure up to this ideal?" (ibid., p. 65).

3 Gilson, Augustine, p. 176. Gilson's expanded illus-

trative statement reflects Augustine's succinct remark in The

City of God, I, 35: "On earth, these two cities are linked

and fused together, only to be separated at the Last Judgment"

(Schopp, Fathers, 8:72).



The final question to be raised about the interpretive

context of Augustine's analysis of dominion materials is this:

If these two societies co-exist on earth in this way, what

achievements may the civitas dei expect? Answers to this

question vary.1 Generally speaking, Augustine's answer is

after the sentiments expressed in The City of God, XIX, 17:

The heavenly city, meanwhile--or, rather, that part that

is on pilgrimage in mortal life and lives by faith--must

use this earthly peace until such time as our mortality

which needs such peace has passed away. As a conse-

quence, so long as her life in the earthly city is that

of a captive and an alien (although she has the promise

of ultimate delivery and the gift of the Spirit as a

pledge), she has no hesitation about keeping in step with

the civil law which governs matters pertaining to our

existence here below.2


Equally clear is the intent of The City of God, XV, 1:

For, the true City of the saints is in heaven, though here

on earth it produces citizens in whom it wanders as on a

pilgrimage through time looking for the kingdom of eter-

nity. When that day comes it will gather together all

those who, rising in their bodies, shall have that king-

dom given to them in which, along with their Prince, the

King of Eternity, they shall reign for ever and ever.3


The interpretation flowing out of these citations

operates against the conversionist or transformation motif

usually associated with Augustine.4 Augustine here again


1 For discussion cf. CKRS, pp. 157-60. J. N. Figgis,

The Political Aspects of St. Augustine's 'City of God' (Lon-

don: Longmans & Green, 1921), p. 80, stresses the view that

Augustine entertained development of a Christian Empire, thus

correlating the civitas dei with a christianized Church-State.

2 Schopp, Fathers, 24:226-27.

3 Ibid., 14:415.

4 For discussion on the transformational interpretation

of Augustine see Niebuhr, Christ, pp. 207ff.: "Nevertheless,

the interpretation of Augustine as the theologian of cultural



posits his polarity, now and then, the present community of

believers waits for the future appearance of its kingdom.

Augustine thus maintains a consistent antithesis.  For him

the individual believer exerts cultural influence through

law-abiding. But the corporate redeemed community finds its

home in the coming kingdom. Van Til's assessment, therefore,

is judicious:  "In Augustine we never find an antagonism to

culture as such, but he takes the offensive when confronted

by an antagonistic culture whose triumph would imply the

liquidation of Christianity."1


Interpretation of dominion materials

The following selected sources are to be interpreted

in light of this evident polarity of Autustine's thought. Al-

though the above analysis is certainly not the only contrib-

uting influence in his evaluation of dominion materials

(others would be his allegorical hermeneutic and his monas-

tical perspective), the polarity of his thought is a

significant influence.


Selected sources

Augustine's writings are voluminous. Only these few


transformation by Christ is in accord with his foundational

theory of creation, fall, and regeneration, with his own career

as pagan and Christian, and with the kind of influence he has

exercised on Christianity" (p. 208). Niebuhr's interpretation

may be overly optimistic! And Webber, Saint, pp. 138-44 has

seemingly followed Niebuhr's lead. Note in this connection

the more mediating position of Van Til, Culture, pp. 87-88.

And last, note the alternate view expressed by CKRS, pp. 160ff.

1 Van Til, Culture, pp. 87-88.



citations are offered as a somewhat normative expression of

his handling of dominion materials.


The City of God XII, 24:

When God made man according to His own image, He gave him

a soul so endowed with reason and intelligence that it

ranks man higher than all the other creatures of the

earth, the sea, the air, because they lack intelligence.1


Confessions, XIII, 23:

Now, that "he judges all things,"--that means that he has

dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl that fly

in the heavens, and all domestic and wild animals, and

every part of the earth, and all creeping creatures that

move upon the earth. This he exercises by virtue of the

understanding of his mind, through which he "perceives

the things that are of the Spirit of God." Otherwise,

"man when he was in honor did not understand; he has been

compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them." . . .

Thus, man, though now spiritual and "renewed unto the

knowledge of God, according to the image of his Creator,"

should be a "doer of the law" not a judge. Nor does he

judge concerning that differentiation, namely, of spiri-

tual and carnal men, who are known to Thine eyes, our God,

and have not yet appeared to us in any works, that we

might know them from their fruits. . . . Therefore, man,

whom thou hast made in Thy image, has not received domin-

ion over the lights of the heavens, or over that hidden

heaven, or over day and night, . . . or over the gathering

of the water which is in the sea; but he has received do-

minion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl that fly in

the heavens, and all beasts, and every part of the earth,

and all creeping things which creep over the earth . . .

The spiritual man judges, then, by approving what he finds

wrong, in the works and behavior of the faithful, in their

almsgiving, which is like the earth yielding its fruit;

and he judges the living soul when its affections have

been made meek in chastity, in fastings, and in holy cog-

nitations upon those things which are perceived through

the bodily senses. He is now said to judge concerning

those things over which he holds the power of correction.2


1 Schopp, Fathers, 14:290. Though the citation does

not explicitly mention "dominion" wording, it certainly calls

to mind the Gen 1:26-28 complex.

2 The reason for this extensive quotation is that it

so nicely joins together major elements in Augustine's inter-

pretations of dominion materials: his allegorical hermeneu-


Discourse On Psalm 8, 12:1

Thou has subjected all things under his feet. In saying

all things the Psalmist excepts nothing. And for fear

there might be room for understanding him otherwise, the

Apostle commands us to believe it in this sense, saying:

He is excepted who put all things under Him. To the He-

brews also he adduces the testimony of this very Psalm,

wishing it to be understood that all things are so sub-

            jected to our Lord Jesus Christ that nothing is excluded.2



            Much contained within these citations is self-evident.

Very self-evident is Augustine's implementation of the alle-

gorical hermeneutic. This leads him to make imaginative, if

not profound, remarks about dominion passages. But especially,

this hermeneutic allows him to understand dominion terminology

in keeping with the polarity of his thought. For Augustine

(Confessions) dominion is exercised by the spiritual man as he

approves the right and disapproves the wrong. This rule is

understood to be a power wielded over those things of which

man has the power of correction. This procedure for ruling is

in keeping with the social-religious practices of the members


tic, his interpretation of "image" as man's rational capaci-

ties, and his application of seemingly divergent materials to

the polarity of his thought. For this translation see ibid.,

21:437-49. For a more expansive treatment of "image" see

Augustine's The Trinity, XIV 1-19 in ibid., 45:411-49.

1 Although no inclusions are given from Augustine's dis-

courses on Genesis (this remark on Ps 8 and Heb 2 is suffi-

cient), for further elucidation see Augustine, De Genesi ad lit-

teram libri duodecim, trans. into French with notes by Paul

Agahesse and A. Solignac, 2 vols. (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer,


2 For this translation see Quasten, Burghardt, and

Lawler, Writers, 29:105. The underlined words indicate ital-

icized words within this quotation. What follows in Augus-

tine's commentary on Ps 8 gives further indication of his

allegorical hermeneutic.


of civitas dei as they co-exist on earth with members of the

other city. Albrecht Dihle sees in Origen a similar assess-

ment; "the church has to bear witness to the existence of

perfect and divine justice in the night, that is to say, when

injustice and struggle still dominate the earth."1 The church

possesses not the power to establish a universal rule of God's

justice. The task of the members of civitas dei is to live in

keeping with God's norms, showing the results of those norms

in society on earth, but always living with the realization

that no christianized State-Church on earth is possible.2

A further point of commentary concerns Augustine's

interpretation of the Psalm 8-Hebrews 2 dominion complex.

Clearly (cf. his Discourse on Psalm 8) he interprets the ma-

terial christologically, not anthropologically.3 But by use

of an allegorical hermeneutic no particular interpretive

problems are created, because, in assembling the Genesis 1-

Psalm 8-Hebrews 2 materials, the shift from man to Christ is

entirely legitimate.


The movement from Augustine to Aquinas must be ac-

counted for, covering as it does so many centuries. Custom-


1 Wilhelm Wuellner, ed., The Center for Hermeneutical

Studies (Berkeley: The Center for Hermeneutical Studies in

Hellenistic and Modern Culture, 1974), Colloquy X: Greek and

Christian Concepts of Justice, by Albrecht Dihle, p. 25.

2 Cf. the excellent discussion of ibid., pp. 25-28.

3 Cf. the discussion of IOTT, pp. 207-9.



arily, Aquinas' view of culture is interpreted in a way oppo-

site that of Augustine. So Niebuhr says that "Aquinas, who

is probably the greatest of all the synthesists in Christian

history, represents a Christianity that has achieved or ac-

cepted full social responsibility for all the great institu-

tions."1 This contrast between these two thinkers may be

explained by a brief outline of transitional figures whose

thought represents the movement from Augustine to Aquinas.

The first of these, Pope Gelasius I toward the end

of the fifth century "in a letter to the Eastern Emperor

speaks of the 'potestas duplex'—the one power with two as-

pects--which rules the unum corpus of society."2 This effec-

tively placed within one body two jurisdictions.  His opinion

is in some respects like the sanction issued in 554 by Jus-

tinian in which restoration of civil order was obtained

through the church hierarchy:

§ 12. The bishops and chief men shall elect officials

for each province who shall be qualified and able to

administer its government, etc.3


The second of these transitional individuals is Stephen of

Tournai who applies the meaning of Augustine's "two cities"

in a new way.  Stephen says the two cities or

. . . peoples are the two orders in the church, the clergy

and laity. The two ways of life are the spiritual and the


1 Niebuhr, Christ, p. 128.

2 CKRS, pp. 169-70.

3 Cf. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar H. McNeal, A Source

Book for Medieval History (New York: n.p., 1905; reprint ed.,

New York: AMS Press, 1971), p. 87.


secular, the two authorities are the priesthood and the

kingship, the two jurisdictions are the divine and human

laws (canon and civil law). Give each its due and all

things will agree.1


And the third of these transitional individuals is Otto of

Freisingen who frankly admits that he has

            composed the history no longer of two cities, but almost

            entirely of one—which I call the Church (Ecclesia).  For

            I should not, as before (i.e., in Augustine), speak of

            these two cities as two (since the elect and reprobate

            are now in one home), but strictly as one. . . 2


In these three persons one is able to trace the conceptual

movement from Augustine to Aquinas.


Context of interpretation

To understand the immediate context within which

Aquinas interpreted dominion material several general analy-

ses are necessary. Initially it is important to see that

society and State are neutral institutions, since they are

founded in the very nature of man. Man "is by nature a so-

cial or political being, born to live in community with his

fellows."3 Thus, because society is founded in man's nature


1 As quoted by CKRS, p. 171.

2 As quoted by ibid., p. 172.

3 The assessment about Aquinas by Copleston, History,

2:413. This opinion is in keeping with De regimine principum,

I, 1: "It is natural for man to be a political and social

animal, to live in a group. . . . For all other animals na-

ture has prepared food, hair as covering, teeth, claws. . . .

Man, on the other hand, was created without any natural pro-

vision for these things . . . one man alone is not able to

procure them for himself for one man could not sufficiently

provide life, unassisted. It is, therefore, natural that

man should live in company with his fellows" (as quoted by

CKRS, p. 200).


as God created him, society must be willed by God.  This is,

of course, also true of government.  Therefore, society and

government are not the result of sin's entrance so much as

they are the result of the very nature God gave man in


Further, the State has a God-given common good at

which it aims: peace, unified direction of citizens' activi-

ties, and provisions for the sustenance of its citizenry.1

In De reqimine principum the common good is summarized as a

virtuous life.2  But this is not the final end of man. That

"end is entrusted to Christ and His Church, so that under the

new Covenant of Christ kings, must be subject to priests."3

The final end of man is to attain unto divine enjoyment. The

State cannot achieve this final end, but through its provi-

sions for virtuous living the State does not impede, rather

enhances, achievement of the final end. Therefore, the State

facilitates the final end, which end is the Church's work.

In this way the Church has indirect power over the State.4

Finally a word must be said about oriqinalis justitia

in Aquinas. In Summa Theoloqica, Ia. 95, 1 Aquinas defines

this original justice: "For this rightness was a matter of

the reason being submissive to God, the lower powers to the


1 Copleston, History, 2:415.

2 Ibid., 2:416.

3 Ibid.

4 Cf. the entire discussion of ibid., 2:412-22.


reason, the body to the soul."1 This original justice was

altered by the fall (Summa Theologica, Ia2ae. 85, 3):

Through the gift of original justice the spiritual part,

in man had perfect hold over the inferior powers of soul,

while it itself was perfected by God as being subjected

to him. As has been said, original justice was taken

away by the sin of the first parents. As a result all

the powers of the soul are in a sense lacking the order

proper to them, their natural order to virtue, and the

deprivation is called the "wounding of nature."2


Divine grace is understood to address and correct this



Interpretation of dominion materials

As will be seen, the citations taken from Summa Theo-

logica are interpreted by Aquinas in ways consistent with his

beliefs: (1) that man by nature is born to be in community,

an organized community of persons; (2) that the Church, with

a supportive, subservient role played by the State, serves

man's final end; and (3) that the entrance of sin produces a

lacking in the original justice whereby things naturally sub-

ject to man began to withstand him.


Selected sources

The one work of Aquinas dealing with the concept of

dominion in some detail is Summa Theologica, Ia. 96, 1-4. The

following selections from this source are given in the order

of their appearance in articles 1-4.


1 As translated in Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theoloqica,

60 vols. (New York: Blackfriars in conjunction with McGraw-

Hill Book Company, 1963), 13:109 (hereafter cited as STH).

2 Ibid., 26:89-91.



Article 1: Did man hold sway1 over the animals in the

state of innocence?

. . . there is what Genesis says of man: "Let him rule

the fishes of the sea, and the birds of the sky and the

beasts of the earth," . . . As we have seen, things that

ought to be subject to man started disobeying him as a

punishment on him for his own disobedience to God. And

so in the state of innocence before this first disobedi-

ence nothing that should naturally be subject to him with-

stood him. Now all the animals are naturally subject to

man . . . since man is above the other animals, as one

made to God's image, other animals are properly subjected

to his government. , . . All animals have a certain share

of shrewdness and reason in proportion to their connatural

power of assessing things; it is in virtue of this that

cranes and wild geese follow their leader, and bees obey

their queen. And thus all animals would of their own

accord have obeyed man then in the same way that some

domestic animals do now.2


Article 2: Did he hold sway over every creature?

In some way or another all things are in man, and there-

fore in the measure that he holds sway over what is in

himself, in the same measure it falls to him to hold sway

over other things. . . . Now it is reason in man that

holds the sway, and is not subject to it. So man did not

hold sway over the angels in the original state, and by

"every creature"' we must understand everything not made

in God's image.3


Article 3: Would all men have been equal in the state of


. . . in the original state, which would have been su-

premely well ordered, you would have found disparity.

. . . , disparity of sex . . . disparity of age . . . men-

tal and moral differences . . . disparity in physical qualities . . .4


Article 4: Would men have held sway over men in that state?

. . .  it is not derogatory to the state of innocence that

man should lord over man. . . . lording it can be taken as

relative to any sort of subjection in general, and in this


            1 The term "sway" translates the Latin dominium, mean-

ing "control" or perhaps "ownership" (cf. ibid., 13:221).

2 Ibid., 13:123-27.

3 Ibid., 13:127-29.

4 Ibid., 13:129-33.


sense even the man who has the office of governing and

directing free men can be called a lord. . . . man is

naturally a social animal, and so men in the state of

innocence would have lived in social groups. But many

people cannot live a social life together unless some-

one is in charge to look after the common good.l



In these citations a predictable pattern of interpre-

tation of the dominion ideas emerges. Aquinas understood

creation to have order.  This exact ordering develops from

the very nature God gave his objects of creation. Man by his

nature holds dominion over animals by reason of rational capa-

city. And God made animals with a nature in concord with


But there is equally impressive evidence that dominion

in the state of innocence includes dominion of man over man.

This dominion is a part of the very nature of what God has

given. Hence, the state of innocence and any restorative

work of grace following the fall is consistent with dominion

of certain men over other men. Therefore, Aquinas interprets

these dominion materials consistently with his understanding

of the divine ordering of State and Church to achieve the

final end. Thus, after the fall, the work of grace through

the Church is able to restore both the lack of "original jus-

tice" and the establishment of dominion by some over others

to achieve the final end God intends. These facts being so,

Aquinas views the dominion materials as allowing for a soci-

etal, cultural structuring to achieve divine ends. To be


1 Ibid., 13:133-35.


sure, he does not argue that the dominion account in Genesis

1:26-28 exegetically demands this view.



The medieval interpretations of dominion materials

yield two contrasting patterns. The one (Augustine) empha-

sizes a witness of redemptive light against the darkness of

human culture. The other (Aquinas) asserts the dominion over

culture to achieve the final end which God intends. These

two interpretations are not entirely new; in fact their ante-

cedents are found in the ancient period of interpretation.

What is new is the heightened sense of disparity between two

potential views of the dominion materials as they relate to

culture.  What does not seem so divergent in the ancient

period is very disparate in the medieval.


Modern Interpretations

The previous analyses have spent considerable time in

analyzing the interpretive context out of which dominion mate-

rials were studied. The purpose of this section is to survey

what appear to be three interpretive streams concerning domin-

ion materials. These streams are associated with elements

working concurrently in the Reformation era in the persons of

Martin Luther, John Calvin, and leaders of the Anabaptist

movement.1 These three streams of interpretation represent


1 Webber, Saint, pp. 75-165, refers to these three

streams as three models for correlating Christ and culture:

separational, identificational, and transformational. These

three models correspond roughly to the Anabaptists, Luther,

and Calvin respectively.


general movements finding expression in the twentieth century.

Again, the method employed here will be to treat primary

sources but in a more cursory way. As well, less space will

be given to the interpretive context, although in each case

that will be accounted for in a summary way.


Martin Luther

Luther's works are so expansive as to make one fear

saying anything definitive about him. Added to this is the

problem of the occasional and explosive nature of his writ-

ings wherein he wrote as the occasion demanded.1 Undoubtedly

this reality has been the occasion of finding either seemingly

contrary material in Luther2 or at least differing schools of

interpretation on a given idea within Luther's thought.3 The

following summary analysis of Luther's thought is fully aware

of these implicit dangers in reading Luther.


Context of Interpretation

Central to understanding Luther's interpretive context

is his idea of the "two kingdoms."4 Luther himself says:


1 Cf. the discussion of CKRS, pp. 235-37.

2 Cf. such a view as expressed by Niebuhr, Christ,

p. 170.

3 Cf. the listing of interpreters who take opposing

views of Luther's view of social ethics in CKRS, p. 237.

4 For more extensive treatment of Luther's thought see

the following rather divergent treatments: Paul Althaus, The

Ethics of Martin Luther, trans. Robert C. Schultz (Philadel-

phia: Fortress Press, 1972); Heinrich Bornkamm, Luther and

the Old Testament, trans. Eric W. and Ruth C. Gritsch (Phil-

adelphia: Fortress Press, 1969); Gerhard Ebeling, Luther:



. . . we must divide the children of Adam and all mankind

into two classes, the first belonging to the kingdom of

God, the second to the kingdom of the world. Those who

belong to the kingdom of God are all true believers who

are in Christ and under Christ . . . All who are not

Christians belong to the kingdom of the world and are

under the law. For this reason God has provided for them

a different government beyond the Christian estate and

kingdom of God. He has subjected them to the sword so

that, even though they would like to, they are unable to

practice their wickedness, and if they do practice it

they cannot do so without fear or with success and



Luther understood these two kingdoms as two God-ordained

governments. "Both," argued Luther, "must be permitted to

remain; the one to produce righteousness, the other to bring

about external peace and prevent evil deeds."2

If, then, there are two kingdoms, how are these

joined? Or more precisely, what is the Christian's rela-

tionship to the State? Luther's answer is that one submits

to government for the sake of his neighbor. Therefore,


An Introduction to His Thought, trans. R. A. Wilson (London:

William Collins Sons & Co., 1970; Fontana Library of Theology

& Philosophy, 1972); Kenneth Hagen, A Theology of Testament

in the Young Luther: The Lectures on Hebrews, Studies in

Medieval and Reformation Thought, vol. 12 (Leiden: E. J.

Brill, 1974); William A. Mueller, Church and State in Luther

and Calvin (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1954; New York: An-

chor Books, 1965). Two further sources on Luther's thought

as it more directly applies to the present discussion are

CKRS, pp. 235-322 and Webber, Saint, pp. 113-27.

1 From Luther's Temporal Authority: To What Extent it

Should be Obeyed,, 1523, as translated in Jaroslav Pelikan and

Helmut T. Lehmann, gen. eds., Luther's Works, 55 vols. (Phila-

delphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1959-67), 45:88-90 (hereafter

cited as LW). In An Open Letter on the Harsh Book Against

the Peasants Luther even marvels that some do not understand

the concept of his two kingdoms: "I have written this so

often that I am surprised that there is anyone who does not

know it or remember it" (cf. ibid., 46:69).

2 Ibid., 45:92.


. . . the Christian submits most willingly to the rule

of the sword, pays his taxes, honors those in authority,

serves, helps, and does all he can to assist the govern-

ing authority; that it may continue to function and be

held in honor and fear.1


The result is for the benefit of one's neighbor.  Thus

. . . he performs all other works of love which he him-

self does not need . . . he serves the governing author-

ity not because he needs it but for the sake of others,

that they may be protected and that the wicked may not

be worse.2


Therefore, the Christian's role is this. "In society the

believer functions under the rule of God immediately by obey-

ing the laws of creation and mediately by living in submis-

sion to God's appointed rulers in the land."3 The two

kingdoms are in reality two aspects of the same existence.

To conclude, when Luther emphasizes the two kingdoms,

he means that, while there are two spheres with respective

domains of influence, the Christian "must affirm both in a

single act of obedience to the one God. . . .”4


Interpretation of dominion materials

Predictably Luther interprets the dominion materials

in light of his "two kingdoms" concept. This point is es-

pecially clear in the first of the selected sources.


1 Ibid., 45:94. In An Open Letter on the Harsh Book

Against the Peasants Luther describes this kingdom of the

world as "a kingdom of wrath and severity. In it there is

only punishment, repression, judgment, and condemnation to

restrain the wicked and protect the good" (cf. LW, 46:69-70).

2 Ibid.

3 The appropriate summary of Webber, Saint, p. 117.

4 Niebuhr, Christ, p. 172.


Selected sources

Luther's interpretation of the dominion materials is

far less allegorical than his predecessors, especially Augus-

tine. "Luther's greatest achievement in the history of bib-

lical interpretation is his mistrust of the allegorical

method.1 However, Luther was not above employment of alle-

gory in explaining Scripture.2 Both the allegorical and non-

allegorical are evidenced in these sources. Both types of

hermeneutic are employed within the context of the "two



Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed:

. . . over what is on earth and belongs to the temporal,

earthly kingdom, man has authority from God; but whatever

belongs to heaven and to the eternal kingdom is exclusive-

ly under the Lord of heaven. Neither did Moses forget

this when he said in Genesis 1 [:26], "God said, 'Let us

make man to have dominion over the beasts of the earth,

the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air."' There

only external dominion is ascribed to man. In short,

this is the meaning as St. Peter says in Acts 4 [5:29],

"We must obey God rather than men."3


Lectures on Genesis (1:26):

Here the rule is assigned to the most beautiful creature,

who knows God and is the image of God, in whom the simil-

itude of the divine nature shines forth through his en-

lightened reason, through his justice and his wisdom.

Adam and Eve become rulers of the earth, the sea, and the

air. But this dominion is given to them not only by way

of advice but also by express command. . . . Therefore the

naked human being . . . was given the rule over all birds,

wild beasts, and fish. Even this small part of the divine

image we have lost. . . . Among the saints there is evident

in this life some knowledge of God. Its source is the


1 Bornkamm, Luther, p. 249.

2 Cf. ibid., pp. 247-60.

3 LW, 45:111.



Word and the Holy Spirit. But the knowledge of nature--

that we should know all the qualities of trees and herbs,

and the dispositions of all the beasts--is utterly beyond

repair in this life. . . . What we achieve in life, how-

ever, is brought about, not by the dominion which Adam

had but through industry and skill. Thus we see the

birds and the fish caught by cunning and deceit; and by

skill the beasts are tamed. . . . even now, by the kind-

ness of God, this leprous body has some appearance of the

dominion over the other creatures. But it is extremely

small and far inferior to that first dominion. . . .

Therefore we retain the name and word "dominion" as a

bare title, but the substance itself has been almost en-

tirely lost. Yet it is a good thing to know these facts

and to ponder them, so that we may have a longing for

that coming Day when that which we lost in Paradise

through sin will be restored to us.1


Lectures on Hebrews, 2:7:

A great number of teachers, especially Jerome and, at

different times, Augustine, Ambrose, and Chrysostom, seem

to understand it as referring to mankind alone. But we

state briefly that though it is possible to understand

this verse in an improper sense as referring to man, .. .

yet in the proper sense this verse can be understood only

as referring to Christ.. . . Therefore the meaning is

this: Thou madest Him to be forsaken and deserted by God

or the angels, and not for a long time but for a little

while, yes, less than a little while, that is, for a very

short time, namely, for three days, because Thou didst

deliver Him over into the hands of sinners.2



What these sources yield about Luther's understanding

of the dominion materials may be conveniently grouped about

three ideas: his interpretive matrix, his definition of "do-

minion," and his diachronic treatment of dominion materials.


1 Ibid., 1:66-67. A bit more allegorical treatment

of Psalm 8 is given by Luther in First Psalm Lectures, cf.

LW, 10:89-90.

2 Ibid., 29:125-27. For further discussion on this

subject of Luther's interpretation of Heb 2:7 see Hagen,

Lectures on Hebrews, pp. 93-96.


The first of these concerns the "two kingdoms" concept which

allows Luther to assign "dominion" to the work of the tem-

poral, earthly kingdom. Within this kingdom the fall affected

man's dominion; in this case, therefore, the restorative grace

of God finds future application.

The second of these ideas, his definition of "domin-

ion," is best summarized by the word "rule." This rule was

granted by divine fiat, and therefore, as a consequence of

the fall, the dominion is removed by divine fiat. Further,

this "rule" springs from man's being made in God's image, and

a part of that image is man's rational capacity. This being

so, if man loses dominion, Luther must be understood to say

that the fall had noetic effects. More precisely this rule

of man, by virtue of his rational capacity, Luther understood

to be man's ability to know the nature of animals. He lost

this capacity along with ability to control them.

A third idea about Luther's view is his diachronic

treatment of the dominion materials themselves. The origin

of dominion is divine fiat; the loss of dominion is a conse-

quence of the fall. Therefore, dominion presently is more a

title than a substance. The rule is almost entirely lost,

only in a faint way resembling the original dominion. If at

the present man appears to have dominion, it must be attri-

buted more to man's industry and skill than to his dominion.

In the future, however, dominion will be restored to man be-

cause Christ will. restore all things lost in Paradise.

In light of this summary Luther's contribution to the


interpretive history of the dominion materials is twofold:

his emphasis on the noetic implications of the fall for under-

standing dominion and his diachronic treatment of the dominion

materials themselves. This latter point is a most important


John Calvin

The biographical details of Calvin's life are well

known. However, the nature of his thought is not as well

known, due, no doubt, to its complexity.1 For purposes of

this study the general nature of Calvin's thought may be

developed along three lines.2


Context of interpretation

The first formative element of his thought is his

attention to order. He developed sensitivity to the collapse

of corpus Christianum. In his mind confusion and reformation

were mutually exclusive.3 Calvin in his commentary on John

12:31 alludes to this conception:

Now we know that out of Christ there is nothing but con-

fusion in the world. And though Christ had already begun

to erect the kingdom of God, yet His death was the com-


1 A similar sentiment is expressed by Webber, Saint,

p. 145.

2 I am indebted here to the very helpful analysis of

CKRS, pp. 323-94. Note an alternate appraisal which none-

theless draws similar conclusions in Webber, Saint, pp. 144-

48. Cf. also the discussion, though not as helpful, of

Niebuhr, Christ, pp. 217-18.

3 CKRS, pp. 323-28.


mencement of a well-regulated condition and the full

restoration of the world.1


At Geneva this conception of order as issuing from ordo salu-

tis was implemented in a re-forming of life's totality. John

Knox in a letter to his wife, dated Dec. 9, 1556, shows that

the Scottish reformer was duly impressed by this ordering of

society in Geneva.2 Calvin understood that all of life (reli-

gion and culture) stood subject to the ordinance of salvation.

The second element is Calvin's understanding of "in-

different things," to use an expression employed by Duns

Scotus and taken from the Stoics.3 These a]dia<foroi are to be

used to God's glory as his revealed will indicates. This use

of the cosmos is in keeping with the utilitarian purpose of

creation.4 All of creation is to be used for the purpose of

God's glory.5 Thus, the world is open for investigation, and


1 John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, 22 vols., trans.

John King et al. (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1843;

reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 18:36.

The underlined words indicate italicized words within the


2 In the letter Knox wrote to his wife that Geneva was

a "place, whair I nether feir nor eschame to say is the most

perfect schoole of Chryst that ever was in the earth since the

dayis of the Apostillis. In uther places, I confess Chryst to

be trewlie preachit; but manneris and religioun so sinceirlie

reformat, I have not yit sene in any uther place . . ." For

this account see the letter in David Laing, ed., The Works of

John Knox, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895; Los Angeles:

Images Enterprises, n.d.), 4:240.

3 CKRS, p. 363.

4 For discussion of Calvin's understanding of this point

see T. F.Torrance, Calvin's Doctrine of Man, new ed.(Grand

Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), pp. 24-25.

5 So Calvin argues in Institutes of the Christian Re-

ligion I.V.6: "Let us therefore remember, whenever each of us


it must be shaped by the order of ultimate priority, God's


            A third line of Calvin's thought concerns the congru-

ity he finds between Lex Dei and Lex naturae. These two laws

form Calvin's "two swords" doctrine in which the laws of God

and nature conjoin.2 What forges this conjoining is common

responsibility to the Word of God.3 Calvin, therefore, says:

. . . civil government has as its appointed end, so long

as we live among men, to cherish and protect the outward

worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the

position of the church, to adjust our life to the society

of men, to form our social behavior to civil righteous-

ness, to reconcile us with one another, and to promote

general peace and tranquility.4


contemplates his own nature, that there is one God who so

governs all natures that he would have us look unto him, di-

rect our faith to him, and worship and call upon him." Cf.

this translation in John Baillie, John T. McNeill, and Henry

P. Van Dusen, gen. eds., The Library of Christian Classics,

26 vols. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), vols.

20 and 21: Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion,

by John Calvin, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 20:58 (hereafter

cited as INST),

1 CKRS, p. 365. So Calvin says in Institutes of the

Christian Religion III.X.l: ". . . but inasmuch as Scripture

gives general rules for lawful use, we ought surely to limit

our use in accordance with them" (INST, 20:720).

2 CKRS, p. 377.

3 So August Lang, "The Reformation and Natural Law,"

Calvin and the Reformation, ed. William P. Armstrong (Prince-

ton: The Princeton Theological Review Association, 1909; re-

print ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), p. 70 says:

if. . . for the state and for law as well as for other things,

despite all accidental differences, still the eternal norm is

to be found in the rightly understood revelation of the divine

will in Scripture."

4 See Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated

in INST, 21:1487.


And, of course, the church is directed by the normative pre-

cepts of Scripture.1


Interpretation of dominion materials

The context within which Calvin interprets the domin-

ion materials is that of the order established by ordo salu-

tis, the doctrine of "indifferent things," and the doctrine

of "two swords."


Selected sources

Numerous passages on dominion material interpretation

could be cited from Calvin's works. Those that follow are

selected to indicate something of the breadth of his under-

standing of dominion. These selections on their very surface

indicate Calvin's grammatical exegesis.


I hear that some triflers say that the image of God refers

to the dominion which was given to man over the brutes,

and that in this respect man has some resemblance to God

whose dominion is over all. . . . But Scripture does not

allow its meaning to be thus evaded.2


Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.XIV.22:

. . . from Moses we hear that, through His liberality, all

things on earth are subject to us [Gen. 1:28; 9:2]. It

is certain that He did not do this to mock us with the


1 Cf. John Calvin, "The Word Our Only Rule," The Mys-

tery of Godliness and Other Selected Sermons (New York: S. &

D. A. Forbes, 1830; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerd-

mans Publishing Company, 1950), pp. 67-80.

2 John Calvin, Calvin's Tracts and Treatises, 3 vols.,

trans. Henry Beverridge (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Soci-

ety, 1851; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub-

lishing Company, 1958), 3:423.



empty title to a gift. Therefore nothing that is needful

for our welfare will ever be lacking to us.1


Commentaries Upon the First Book of Moses (1:26):

And let them have dominion. Here he commemorates that

part of dignity with which he decreed to honour man,

namely, that he should have authority over all living

creatures. He appointed man, it is true, lord of the

world; but he expressly subjects the animals to him, be-

cause they, having an inclination or instinct of their

own, seem to be less under authority from without. The

use of the plural number intimates that this authority

was not given to Adam only, but to all his posterity as

well as to him. And hence we infer what was the end for

which all things were created; namely, that none of the

conveniences and necessaries of life might be wanting to

men. . . . Yet, that he often keeps his hand as if closed

is to be imputed to our sins.2


Commentary upon the Book of Psalms (8:6):

The only thing which now remains to be considered is, how

far this declaration extends--that all things are sub-

jected to men. Now, there is no doubt, that if there is

any thing in heaven or on earth which is opposed to men,

the beautiful order which God had established in the

world at the beginning is now thrown into confusion. The

consequence of this is, that mankind, after they were

ruined by the fall of Adam, were not only deprived of so

distinguished and honourable an estate, and dispossessed

of their former dominion, but are also held captive under

a degrading and ignominious bondage. Christ, it is true,

is the lawful heir of heaven and earth, by whom the faith-

ful recover what they had lost in Adam; but he has not as

yet actually entered upon the full possession of his em-

pire and dominion. Whence the apostle concludes, that

what is here said by David will not be perfectly accom-

plished until death be abolished.3


1 INST, 20:182.

2 Calvin Calvin's Commentaries, 1:96.

            3 Ibid., 4:106. For a helpful discussion of Calvin's

messianic interpretation of the Psalms (though not directly

Ps 8) see S. H.. Russell, "Calvin a