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 327
sages in Genesis (Gen 1,26; 5,1.3). In contrast to the verbal focus
found in Second Isaiah, the Priestly Writer consistently employs nouns
to express the divine image and favours the term ~lc “image” (Gen
1,26.27[2x]; 5,3; 9,6).
Although an inquiry into the ways of expressing incomparability
in the Old Testament has been conducted already by C.J. Labuschagne 27,
my own examination has added two new points worthy of note in the
context of this examination. The first and most important revelation is
that the expression of incomparability in Second Isaiah is made pri-
marily through the use of verbs: “To what will you liken God?”; “To
what will you compare me so that I be equalled?”; “To what will you
liken me and make me equal and compare me that we be alike?”. The
emphasis lies on the activity of constructing or manufacturing, so that
the real concern is with the futility of the activity of constructing
images to capture the divine form. Nevertheless, the noun twmd “like-
ness” appears once in the question: “what likeness can you make com-
parable to [God]?”. The way this phrase is articulated suggests strongly
that there is something that can be comparable to the deity, but that it
is not to be made 28. The passages in Second Isaiah leave open the pos-
sibility that there is something that imitates the divine form after all 29.
This interpretation is consistent with similar suggestions made by
yehezkel Kaufman 30, as well as by exegetes such as ulrich Berges 31
and Joachim Schaper 32.
The second important observation is that the declarations and
rhetorical questions expressing incomparability are inextricably inter-
twined with polemical statements about idols in Isaiah 40–48. Other
studies have already linked the incomparability statements in Second
Isaiah with idol polemics 33, but the present analysis stresses how the
LABuSCHAGNE, Incomparability. Cf. P. DEL BRASSEy, Metaphor and the In-
comparable God in Isaiah 40–55: A Thesis (BIBAL Dissertation Series 9; North
Richland Hills, Tx 2001).
So also C.R. NORTH, “The Essence of Idolatry”, Von Ugarit nach Qumran.
Beiträge zur alttestamentlichen und altorientalischen forschungen (ed. J.
HEMPEL) (BZAW 77; Berlin 1958) 151-160, here 158. Contra HOLTER, Idol-Fab-
rication Passages, 79-89.
MIDDLEMAS, The Divine Image, 137-138.
y. KAufMAN, The Religion of Israel. from Its Beginnings to the Babylonian
Exile (translated and abridged by M. GREENBERG) (Chicago, IL 1960) 236-237.
u. BERGES, Jesaja 40–48 (HTKAT; freiburg im Breisgau 2008) 142.
SCHAPER, “Divine Images”, 150-151, 158.
LABuSCHAGNE, Incomparability; HOLTER, Idol-Fabrication Passages, 64.