Sunday, October 18, 2009

Clayboy has pointed the way

Doug Chaplin's sequel was worth the wait. In particular I think this sentence is important: "This is what will have happened by the time the story ends."

I have left a question on several blogs recently - why is 'the likeness' not repeated in the creation of the human?  Two responded with 'form critical' suggestions. One with a caution not to build too much on the omission. Why? Isn't everything a house of cards - why not build another on a gap in the table?

The gap in the table is really obvious. With all the careful repetition in the first chapter of Genesis, this omission sticks out for me like a sore thumb.  Repeating myself:

Have you noticed this?

ויאמר אלהים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו
And God said - let us make a human in our image after our likeness 

וירדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים
to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of heaven etc

ויברא אלהים את־האדם בצלמו
So God created the human in his image

בצלם אלהים ברא אתו
In the image of God he created it
זכר ונקבה ברא אתם
male and female he created them

God says - let's make the human in our image according to our likeness
But then God creates the human in his image

What's missing? In a poem where repetition is a pattern closely followed, this 'after our likeness' is not repeated.

Likeness without image is used in Genesis 5 - image without likeness in Genesis 1. How are we to understand the missing words? The use of likeness with respect to the human is not taken up again till the visions of Ezekiel.

My self-discipline is not adequate at the moment to this question. John Hobbins may be right - maybe it is just a synonym.


Joel said...

Dr. Ellen van Wolde addresses this specifically. Her answer is that the "likeness" (dmut) only applies to the plural concept represented by "our," while the "image" (tzelem) applies both to the plural concept and singular God. She cites "Garr, W. R. (2003), In His Own Image and Likeness. Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism (Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 15), Leiden: E.J. Brill," which I haven't read.


Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks Joel - though I might not agree with her attempt to re-apply the conceptual map over the ancient language with respect to create and make and distinguish, this suggestion of hers seems promising. I have always had issues with governance and the ambiguity of plural - is it a several plural - many individuals taken individually but addressed together or is it only corporate, all individuals taken together as one? My previous post on Malachi 1:2 gives me a problem - what is אהבתי אתכם - is it that God loves Jacob or that God loves all the individuals in Jacob severally and individually?