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.
330 JILL MIDDLEMAS
The parts of a metaphor work together, and they act on each other.
This is referred to as interanimation by Janet Soskice. By so doing, they
compel new possibilities of vision 40. They help us structure the features
of the world around us, affect the answers at which we arrive, and even
influence the questions we ask. The use of the comparative metaphor
for God in the prophetic literature raises the possibility that new con-
ceptions of the divine image are generated in the prophetic literature.
Its appearance almost exclusively in aniconic contexts suggests further
that it is a rhetorical strategy that counters idol creation by resisting the
stabilization of the divine image. A brief consideration of the prophetic
use of modelling similes for the divine contributes to a better under-
standing of the concept of the imago Dei in prophetic and priestly usage.
Divine comparative use is found only rarely in Isaiah 40–55
(40,10-11; 42,14; 44,7; 46,9; 54,6 41; 42,13[2x])42. When we restrict
our examination to uses embedded in anti-idolatry contexts (thereby
excluding 54,6) that do not express incomparability (as in 44,7; 46,9),
we are left with four occasions in which the comparison functions
as a modelling simile that portrays what the deity appears like: “a
shepherd” (h[rk 40,11) 43, “a soldier” (rwbgk 42,13) and similarly “a
man of war” (twmxlm vyak 42,13) 44, and “a woman in labor” (hdlwyk
42,14) 45. In Second Isaiah, the deity is likened by the use of the
comparative particle, when likened at all, positively to human beings,
in human roles.
Force and Linguistic Structure (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy;
Oxford 1987); P.W. MACKy, The Centrality of Metaphor to Biblical Thought.
A Method for Interpreting the Bible (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity
19; Lewiston, Ny 1990).
SOSKICE, Metaphor, 58-61.
The simile can be taken to refer either to the deity or to Jerusalem: “for
yHWH has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like the wife of
a man’s youth when she is cast off, says your God” (Isa 54,6). When understood
as a reference to yHWH, the comparison with female imagery reinforces the point
that for Second Isaiah the deity can be compared to human beings in both genders.
Other studies of the divine metaphors (not restricted to similes) in Second
Isaiah appear in M.Z. BRETTLER, “Incompatible Metaphors for yHWH in Isaiah
40–66”, JSOT 78 (1998) 97-120; DILLE, Mixing Metaphors, 44-45, 107-114.
A more general study of metaphor use and Second Isaiah is found in DEL
BRASSEy, Metaphor and the Incomparable God.
“Here comes the Lord yHWH [...] Like a shepherd [...]” (Isa 40,10-11,
“yHWH goes forth like a soldier, like a warrior [...]”.
“[...] now I will cry out like a woman in labour, I will gasp and pant”.