In His Own Image and Likeness: Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism

By W. Randall Garr | Go to book overview

‘image’ and ‘likeness’ are strangely suitable characterizations of the divine-human relationship in Gen i. They are semantically alike; the nouns are each representational terms that express similative content (see §0.3). They imply, or seem to imply, two foci of comparison between the divine and human spheres. Ostensibly, humanity is envisioned to be, and created as, a token of divine presence and participation in the world (§§0.2, 5.5). The nouns suggest that, in two respects at least, humanity will resemble, replicate, or mimic God and his divine community. Humanity, then, is (like) a theophany.

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).

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In His Own Image and Likeness: Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Culture and History of the Ancient near East ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Note on Translations and Citations xi
  • Abbreviations and Symbols xiii
  • Preface 1
  • Part One - God and the Gods 15
  • Chapter One - The Plural Pronouns 17
  • Chapter Two 23
  • Chapter Three - Gen 11: 7 45
  • Chapter Four - Gods 51
  • Chapter Five - Gen 1: 26 85
  • Part Two - The Divine-Human Relationship 93
  • Chapter Six - The Prepositions ט and ב 95
  • Chapter Seven 117
  • Part Three - Creating the World 177
  • Chapter Eight - The Priestly Cosmogony 179
  • Chapter Nine - God's Victory over the Gods, and the Elevation of the Human Race 201
  • Bibliography 241
  • Text Index 279
  • Word Index 291
  • Author Index 293
  • Culture and History of the Ancient near East 307
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