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 323
It is well known that polemics against the manufacture and wor-
ship of idols in short punctuating statements, as well as in lengthy
pericopes, abound in the prophetic literature 8. The prophets in numer-
ous passages railed against the creation and veneration of divinities in
fashioned forms. What is less well known is that prophetic literature
also reveals the rejection of stabilized yahwistic images and even
mental depictions that could be interpreted as idols. Images employed
in cultic contexts that implied or projected a stable image of yHWH,
such as the Bull Calf statue of the northern kingdom in the Book
of Hosea, were rejected 9. Its rejection seems to be related to the
perception that the form of the calf represented the form of the deity
and became the object of worship 10. Similarly, in the southern king-
dom, the stabilization of the divine form into a king, through the
mental image projected by a divine throne or footstool, was rejected
in the Book of Ezekiel because of concerns about stabilized divine
aging in the Prophets”, Divine Presence and Absence in Exilic and Post-Exilic
Judaism. Studies of the Sofia Kovalevskaja Research Group on Early Jewish
Monotheism, vol. 2. (eds. N. MACDONALD – I.J. DE HuLSTER) (fAT 2/61; Tübingen
2013) 183-211; and ID., The Divine Image.
Lengthier PAI passages include Isa 40,18-25; 41,6-7; 44,9-20; 46,1-7; Jer
10,1-16 // 51,15-19; Hab 2,18-19. See H.D. PREuSS, Verspottung fremder Reli-
gionen im Alten Testament (BWANT 5; Stuttgart 1971) 192-241, 251-253;
W.M.W. ROTH, “for Life He Appeals to Death (Wis 13,18): A Study of Old
Testament Idol Parodies”, CBQ 37 (1975) 22-36; E.M. CuRTIS, “The Theological
Basis for the Prohibition of Images in the Old Testament”, JETS 28 (1985) 277-
287; M.B. DICK, “Prophetic Parodies of Making the Cult Image”, Born in Heaven,
Made on Earth. The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East (ed. M.B.
DICK) (Winona Lake, IN 1999) 1-53. Cf. N.B. LEVTOW, Images of Others. Iconic
Politics in Ancient Israel (BJS 11; Winona Lake, IN 2008); HERRING, Divine Sub-
stitution, 77-84, 187-191; MIDDLEMAS, The Divine Image, 25-36.
W.I. TOEWS, Monarchy and Religious Institution in Israel under Jeroboam
I (SBLMS 47; Atlanta, GA 1993) 168; MIDDLEMAS, The Divine Image, 59-66. It
is generally agreed that the Golden Calf episode participates in iconoclasm, but
see the reassessment by J.W. WATTS, “Aaron and the Golden Calf in the Rhetoric
of the Pentateuch”, JBL 130 (2011) 417-430.
for a study of the confusion of a physical symbol with the form of
the deity, see M. HALBERTAL – A. MARGALIT, Idolatry (trans. N. GOLDBLuM)
(Cambridge, MA 1992).
J. MIDDLEMAS, “Exclusively yhwh: Aniconism and Anthropomorphism in
Ezekiel”, Prophecy and the Prophets in Ancient Israel (ed. J. DAy) (LHBOT 531;
New york 2010) 310-314; ID., “Transformation of the Image”, Transforming
Visions. Transformations of Text, Tradition, and Theology in Ezekiel (eds. W.A.
TOOMAN – M.A. LyONS) (PTMS 127; Eugene, OR 2010) 127-136.