Monday, February 11, 2019

"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" - Jewish Midrash concerning Genesis 1:26

Over the weekend, I read Jacob Neusner's, Judaism When Christianity Began (link to Google Preview). 

Given the recent AF topic on corporeality and God, I felt compelled to share the following selection:

The Torah's single most important teaching about God is that humanity is like God, so Genesis 1:26: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." God and the human being are mirror images of one another. Here we find the simple claim that the angels could not discern any physical difference whatever between man—Adam—and God:

Genesis Rabbah VIII:X
A. Said R. Hoshaiah, "When the Holy One, blessed be he, came to create the first man, the ministering angels mistook him [for God, for man was in God's image,] and wanted to say before the latter, Holy, [holy, holy is the Lord of hosts].' (Page 29)

This brought back to mind an essay by Neusner which I read back in the late 90s—"Conversation in Nauvoo about the Corporeality of God"—which was published in volume 36.1 (1996) of the BYU Studies Quarterly. I grabbed the issue from my collection, and on page 14 found the exact same Midrash quote referenced above—which I must admit, I had forgotten. (PDF copy available online HERE.)

I think many folk will find Neusner's book and essay of interest...

Grace and peace,



TOm said...

Hello David!
I have been devoting a little time to trying to understand the positions on LFW and God's knowledge, but failing to devote the necessary time.
I thought I would say that I read this and the Lacantius post and thought they were interesting.
Hope (and expect it quite likely) your studies are proceeding at a rate better than mine!!!
Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

I am not overly dogmatic concerning LFW and God's foreknowledge; though the fact that some advocates of LFW disagree over the exact definition of LFW itself speaks volumes to me. What I am not willing to negotiate is that the choices of humans—who have reached the age of accountability—are 'free' in the sense that one had/has the actual/real ability to choose between 'real choices' at any given time. (By 'real choices' I mean those instances wherein it is not physically impossible to make alternate choices.)

As for my current studies, I am trying to come to a viable understanding of why so many early Christian apologists chose to adopt a more Platonic/Hellenistic understanding of those many Biblical passages that represent God in some type of corporeal form, instead of siding with the prevalent Jewish understanding which interpreted such passages in a very literal sense.

Hope to post more on this important issue in the near future, the Lord willing...

Grace and peace,