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 333
aniconism is apparent here. The third passage is a summary of the first
vision and the terms twmd and harm are found inverted. The verse be-
gins with “like the rainbow”, and so it establishes at the forefront that
a comparison is being made. However, when the deity’s form is actu-
ally compared, rather concrete language is employed: “it is the general
appearance of the form (twmd harm) of the morphè of yHWH”. Here, a
blurred photograph is being sharpened. The representation that cap-
tures most closely the appearance of the divine form is the rainbow,
which is not to say that God is a rainbow. In metaphor theory, when
two things are brought together in a comparison, one more fully elu-
cidates the other but does not entirely represent it. When God appears,
the form most consistent with its representation is a rainbow. The text
states that the rainbow is like the divine form, and so it is not that the
rainbow obscures the divine image, but rather that it is made compa-
rable to it.
An exact representation of the divine image is resisted by a num-
ber of rhetorical strategies apparent in these passages. In the first
place, the extended simile form of expression is found, which effec-
tively distances the divine image from a solid description. In the sec-
ond place, the divine form is similar to more general figurations, the
human being (~da) rather than the male person (vya) and fire. In the
third place, and similar to, but also distinct from, Second Isaiah, more
than one image group is employed to convey the representation of the
divine morphè. Ezekiel projects a series of multiple images when
seeking to capture the divine figuration — the human form, the rain-
bow, and fire. In addition to being consistent with theophanies in the
traditions of ancient Israel (e.g. Exod 3,3; Num 9,15), these images are
drawn from the animate and inanimate realms, thereby diversifying
what the divine form can be like from what is known from the human
realm alone. No single image and no single source domain conveys
the divine image. In Ezekiel, when the deity is portrayed through the
divine comparative, God is not only human.
Literary strategies that resist a stable image in descriptions of the
divine morphè are consistent with the careful use of language noted
by Kutsko in his analysis of monotheism in the Book of Ezekiel 51.
Kutsko found that terms connoting divinity are used exclusively for
“I looked, and there was a figure that looked like fire (va); below what appeared
to be its midsection it was fire, and above the midsection it was like the appear-
ance of brightness, like gleaming amber”.
KuTSKO, Between Heaven and Earth; and ID., “Ezekiel’s Anthropology”.