Peter Leithart on divine and human creativity

I am writing a conference paper on Solomon (in 1 Kings 3–4) and have been rereading the wonderful commentary on 1 and 2 Kings by Peter Leithart. In his discussion of Solomon’s achievements, Leithart eloquently explores a point that I make in my Jesus Monotheism Volume 1 (p. 146) about the relationship between the Creator and the human calling:

“Humans are created in the image of a God who creates, and humans are therefore created to be subcreators. Human making and creativity are not secular concerns in Scripture, but central to humanity’s imaging of the transcendent God. … Made in God’s image, the human is homo creator, and just as the Father is never without eternal “art,” so human artifacts are not a secondary reality grafted onto a more basic “natural” existence but fully equiprimordial with humanity itself (Milbank 1991, 22).[1] Since human making reflects the eternal trinitarian nature and the continually creative work of God, however, it is not secular or neutral but a reaching for transcendence and an imitation of and participation in the ongoing creative action of God. Reflecting the divine making, human art even partakes of the ex nihilo of the original divine creation. Though the original creation is unique, it implies that the essence of created existence is ongoing origination, a continual bringing-into-existence of new things and new states of affairs. A table is not “rearranged lumber”; it is an ontologically new thing, which did not exist before being built. Human invention brings into being entire new classes of things—lightbulbs, books, and computer terminals.”[2]

This understanding of the foundational matter of what it means to be human has far reaching implications for our theology, for life and our understanding of the human Jesus of Nazareth. In his discussion of 1 Kings 3–4 Leithart ably demonstrates its basis in the biblical text.

[1] J. Milbank, The Religious Dimension in the Thought of Giambattista Vico, 1668-1744, Part 1: The Early Metaphysics (Studies in the History of Philosophy 23. Lewiston NY: Mellen, 1991).

[2] P. J. Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings (Brazos theological commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006), 73–74.

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