Friday, February 10, 2017

Hard questions

We must consider when, in ancient Israel’s history, the metaphor of kinship would have been a fitting analogy for the divine-human relationship. If the analogy had been applied to Elohim and Israel, one might argue it was a product of the premonarchic tribal league, which was structured according to kin relations with Yahweh as the divine paterfamilias. Alternatively, it could have been written during the monarchy or divided monarchy, in which case the filial language would have reflected the older kinship traditions established by the premonarchic tribal federation. The exilic and postexilic eras could also be potential contexts for the composition of Gen 1:26–27, that is, if it had been Israel, rather than humankind generally, who had been created in the image and likeness of Elohim. The story would have been a powerful and comforting message of hope that sought to reestablish the kinship relationship Israel once enjoyed with her divine kinsman, Yahweh. The problem, however, is that the “royal son” of God in Gen 1:26–27 is ʾādām, not Israel. That is, Gen 1:26–27 is an account of human origins. It is hard to accept, thus, that Gen 1:1–2:3, and especially Gen 1:26–27, would have been written in the 6th century B.C.E. Would an exiled Israelite have composed an account in which all of humanity, including Israel’s captors, the Babylonians, was created in the image and likeness of their God? Could we expect the exiled Israelites to accept such a story?—The "Image of God" in the Garden of Eden, page 185

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