THE NOUNS AND
The crux lies in the nature of this theophany. According to some scholars, the theophany is not physical.
The parallel terms “image” (ṣelem) and “likeness” (děmût) … suggest …
noncorporeal resemblance and representation.1
Others argue that the theophany is concrete.
[M] indful of the huge volume of writing about the phrase translated
as ‘in our image, according to our likeness’ … I can see only over-
interpretation, inspired by the presence of a theological agenda, which
in many cases appears reluctant to allow that the god has a shape that
is the same as a human one and wishes to allegorize the ‘image’ and
‘likeness’ in some way. But whenever in the books of the Hebrew Bible
there is a reference to the body of the deity, the deity is described as
having a human form, as do the great majority of heavenly beings. …
And so: the reason that humans are shaped the way they are is because
the creating god happened to be that shape too.2
1 Phyllis A. Bird, “‘Bone of My Bone and Flesh of My Flesh,’” ThTo 50 (1994): 529–530.
2 Philip R. Davies, “Making It: Creation and Contradiction in Genesis,” in The Bible in Human Society: Essays in Honour of John Rogerson (ed. M. Daniel Carroll R., David J. A. Clines, and Philip R. Davies; JSOTS 200; [Sheffield:] Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) 251. See also Clines, “The Image of God in Man,” TynB 19 (1968): 75 (repr. as “Humanity as the Image of God,” in On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays, 1967–1998 [2 vols.; JSOTS 292–293; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998] 2.470).