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Ryan Peterson, Ph.D. 2010

Ryan Peterson, Ph.D. 2010

Recipient of the Mina Marie Johnson Fellowship

Assistant Professor of Theology
Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA

My dissertation, titled “The Imago Dei as Human Identity: A Theological Interpretation,” was supervised by Professor Henri Blocher. Considering the range of theological and exegetical difficulties faced by common interpretations of the imago Dei offered in contemporary theological literature, I argue that a canonical re-reading of Genesis 1:26-30 is required. Rather than identifying one aspect of humanity (e.g., substance, functions, or relations) as the imago Dei, I argue that humanity as a whole is the image of God in creation; the imago Dei is human identity. I offer a theological interpretation of the imago Dei for the people of God that implies the vocation of imitating God holistically and analogically. I argue that this “identity interpretation” is dogmatically coherent, faithful to the range of relevant canonical texts, and accommodating of the formative theological insights of the Christian tradition.

My experience in the Ph.D. program at Wheaton College was wonderful. I had an excellent experience with Wheaton’s faculty, who set a compelling example of Christian scholarship and virtue. They were generous with their time and gave consistently wise advice. The program also fostered collegiality among students, providing an environment where those working across the biblical and theological disciplines learn and grow with one another. I have developed friendships with fellow students that will last long after graduation. I am very thankful for the tuition scholarship and fellowship stipend, which allowed me to study full-time. I am also grateful for the many ways that my Wheaton education prepared me for, and helped open the door to, the vocational position where I am serving.