Jill Middlemas, «The Prophets, the Priesthood, and the Image of God (Gen 1,26-27)», Vol. 97 (2016) 321-341
This analysis considers aniconic rhetoric in Hosea, Second Isaiah, and Ezekiel, in order to assess commonality and difference with respect to prophetic and priestly perspectives of the divine image because interpreters draw on the prophetic literature in discussions of the thought of Gen 1,26-27. There is greater similarity in thought between Second Isaiah and Gen 1,26-27 as well as greater tension between Ezekiel and the first imago Dei passage than accounted for previously, and almost no commonality with Hosea. Furthermore, the prophets diversify the number and type of divine images as a means to resist idolatry.
The Prophets, the Priesthood, and the image of God
There are three divine image passages in the Book of Genesis
(Gen 1,26-27; 5,1-3; 9,6), often attributed to the composition of
the Priestly Writer. The most famous of these is the articulation in
Gen 1,26-27: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our
likeness [...] And God created humankind in God’s image, in the im-
age of God, God created them; male and female God created them”
(selected) 1. The interpretation of this passage remains disputed 2.
The verses are enigmatic and have invited a virtual plethora of
interpretations. The main debate focuses on whether the phrase refers
to the physical likeness of the deity, “[hu]man as the statue of God” 3,
and on how the bestowal of the image grants a function to human
* An early draft of this article was presented at the Biblical Prophecy and Its
Reception Conference hosted by Bar-Ilan university, 9-11 June 2015. I would
like to thank the conference organizers and participants for the valuable discus-
sion and comments.
I refrain from using pronouns for the deity because studies of metaphor
have shown that they supply images that can become fixed; see Z. KöVECSES,
Metaphor: A Practical Introduction (Oxford 22010) 26.
Reviews include D.J.A. CLINES, “Humanity as the Image of God”, TynB 19
(1968) 53-103; P.A. BIRD, “Male and female He Created Them: Gen 1,27b in the
Context of the Priestly Account of Creation”, HTR 74 (1981) 129-159; G.A.
JóNSSON, The Divine Image. Genesis 1,26-28 in a Century of Old Testament Re-
search (CBOT 26; Lund 1988); J.f. KuTSKO, Between Heaven and Earth. Divine
Presence and Absence in the Book of Ezekiel (BJS 7; Winona Lake, IN 2000) 59-
70; W.R. GARR, In His Own Image and Likeness. Humanity, Divinity, and
Monotheism (CHANE 15; Leiden 2003); C.L. CROuCH, “Genesis 1,26-27 as a
Statement of Humanity’s Divine Parentage”, JTS 61 (2010) 1-15; S.L. HERRING,
Divine Substitution. Humanity as the Manifestation of Deity in the Hebrew Bible
and the Ancient Near East (fRLANT 247; Göttingen 2013) 88-95.
H. NIEHR, “In Search of yhwh’s Cult Statue in the first Temple”, The Im-
age and the Book. Iconic Cults, Aniconism, and the Rise of Book Religion in Is-
rael and the Ancient Near East (ed. K. VAN DER TOORN) (CBET 21; Leuven 1997)
73-96, here 93. Cf. P. HuMBERT, “L’‘imago Dei’ dans l’Ancien Testament”,
Études sur le récit du paradis et de la chute dans la Genèse (Mémoires de l’uni-
versité de Neuchâtel 14; Neuchâtel 1940) 153-175; M. WEINfELD, Deuteronomy
1–11 (AB 5; New york 1991) 198-209; S.D. MOORE, “Gigantic God: yahweh’s
Body”, JSOT 70 (1996) 92-95; T. PODDELLA, Das Lichtkleid JHWHs. unter-
suchungen zur Gestalthaftigkeit Gottes im Alten Testament und seiner altorien-
talischen umwelt (fAT 2/15; Tübingen 1996) 252-259; J.C. DE MOORE, “The Du-
BiBlica 97.3 (2016) 321-341