[b-hebrew] Divine body parts, was: Doctorates (PhD or ThD?)
peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Sep 6 11:21:36 EDT 2005
On 06/09/2005 14:52, Kevin Graham wrote:
>> Well, the ancient theological tradition is that the "image of God"
>> was not physical but moral and spiritual.
> But this is not true. The ANE evidence demonstrates that the "image of
> God" conveyed no message of man's "morality." You´re referring to a
> much later innovated explanation that dominated Christian apologia.
> The problem with this is that Genesis was written in an ANE cultural
> context, not later hellenization/Christian period, from whence this
> explanation originated.
Well, for a different interpretation of the ANE evidence, I looked at
the article "Form, Image" by Raymond C. Van Leeuwen in "The New
International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis" by
VanGemeren et al (vol.4 p.643ff). Here I read, in reference to Egyptian
> The nonphyisical resemblance of image and object represented should be
> kept in mind. ANE modes of representation are highly metaphoric and
> symbolic. Thus, the same Egyptian god can appear as a human figure, in
> the form of a hieroglyph, or as an animal, and queen Hatsepsut can be
> the image of a male deity (cf. Clines, 72-73). Thus, the image of the
> god is not a matter of physical resemblance, but of power and
> prerogative, often connected with expressions like "under the feet"
> (Lichtheim, AEL 2:36-37; cf. Ps 8:6b).
Van Leeuwen also mentions Isaiah 40:18: "The implicit answer is that no
creature or human creation can represent the Creator (40:12-17)."
> According to Clines, however, since God has no form, humankind is not
> made /in/ God's image, but rather /as/ God's image; thus, humanity is
> his representative and agent here on earth. The expression "likeness"
> guarantees that humans will be a faithful and adequate representative
> of God on earth. Humans, thus, embody "God's lordship over the lower
> orders of creation" (Clines, 101).
And Clines can hardly be rejected as a fringe scholar - the specific
article referred to is "The Image of God in Man", TynBul 19, 1968, 53-103.
>> It is hard to be sure how ancient that understanding is. It could
>> well be as old as the text,
> Not likely. Most commentators will readily admit that in all
> likelihood, the Ancient mind did not think so abstractly. Some argue
> that they were incapable of it. ...
Well, this is such total nonsense, with racist overtones, that I am not
prepared to interact with anyone who makes this kind of claim. By the
way, this kind of argument is another reason why I and many others
choose not to interact with Wellhausen etc. The idea that ancient humans
other than or before the Greeks were intellectually incapable of certain
kinds of thought is prejudiced and totally repugnant. It may be that
they did not in fact think in such ways, but that needs to be
demonstrated rather than attributed to alleged mental incapacity. In
fact there is plenty of evidence that ancient peoples did engage in
highly abstract thought - look for example at ancient Egyptian religion.
> ... All the ANE evidence leans towards a literal reading. Can you name
> one single piece of ANE evidence that would support the "morality"
I suggest you read the Clines article referred to above.
> == What was it that Moses actually saw? The text refers
>> to God's 'AXORIYM, a word which can refer to the rear parts of an
>> object or a person, but is more commonly rather metaphorical, so the
>> translation might be more like "from behind".
> Can you demonstrate how the Hebrew in this instance was used elsewhere
> to refer to something that didn't really have a "behind"? If God is an
> invisible, incorporeal mass of spirit - as so many theologians insist
> -then how could Moses presume to refer to a front of back? Or God's
> hand which blocked his view? ...
I would suggest that almost every language in the world, including
Hebrew and English, uses the same word e.g. "back" both for the literal
rear part of a person or object and in metaphorical senses referring to
such concepts as coming after or following a person or object. Similarly
God's hand is a regular, almost frozen and dead metaphor for God's power.
> ... Tselem refers to a three-dimensional image, does it not? Everytime
> it is used in the Bible (with the possible exception of Ps 73) it
> refers to a physical object.
You are begging the question concerning the high proportion of uses
which refer to the "image of God". It is quite wrong to say that because
many uses of a word are literal the word cannot be used metaphorically.
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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