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 325
In seemingly sharp contrast, the Genesis passage suggests that the
form most consistent with the divine image is a human being. John
Kutsko has even suggested that Ezekiel’s image of God is directly
related to, and even more radical than, that of the Priestly Writer 18.
Otherwise, appeal has been made to Hosea as the fountainhead of an-
iconism, and Second Isaiah has been traced back to the prophecies
therein through Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History 19.
When considered more holistically, data from Second Isaiah, Ezekiel,
and Hosea reveal aniconic rhetorical strategies that contribute to
assessments of what appears to be a very iconic representation of the
deity placed at the beginning of the Bible.
I. Aniconic Rhetorical Strategies: Incomparability and Comparability
One of the ways we can approach the question of the relationship
between attitudes towards the divine image in Second Isaiah and Gen-
esis is to consider the expression of aniconism in the prophets. One of
the rhetorical ways of resisting the stabilization of the divine image
was to insist on its lack of equivalence, and this is a strategy found no-
tably in Second Isaiah. Paradoxically, at the same time, the prophetic
literature abounds in images of the deity found in the form of
metaphor and simile. By restricting our investigation to metaphors ex-
pressed as simile, that is, with the comparative k, and also with what
I refer to as an extended simile form, harmk twmd, we find a variety of
mental images used in conjunction with the deity, both humanoid and
non-humanoid 20. These, too, will need to be considered in order to
28; frankfurt am Main 1995); L. RuPPERT, “Die Kritik an den Göttern im Jesaja-
buch”, BN 82 (1996) 76-96.
KuTSKO, Between Heaven and Earth, 132-133; and ID., “Ezekiel’s Anthro-
pology and Its Ethical Implications”, The Book of Ezekiel. Theological and An-
thropological Perspectives (eds. M.S. ODELL – J.S. STRONG) (SBLSS 9; Atlanta,
GA 2000) 120-125.
T.N.D. METTINGER, “The Veto on Images and the Aniconic God in Ancient
Israel”, Religious Symbols and Their Functions (ed. H. BIEZAIS) (Stockholm
1979) 15-29; M. WEINfELD, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford
1972, 1983) 198-209, and ID., Deuteronomy 1–11, 44-50.
The use of simile (comparative k) with reference to the deity, rather than
to divine actions, judgment, salvation, etc, is exceedingly rare in the prophetic
literature and is not found in the prophetic books of Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah,
Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah. The simple com-
parative use in conjunction with the deity is found in Hosea, Ezekiel, and Second
Isaiah, whereas the extended simile is found only in Ezekiel.