A Study of the Development and Significance of the Idea of by John Haydn Gurmin

By John Haydn Gurmin

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Extra info for A Study of the Development and Significance of the Idea of the ‘Image of God’ from its Origins in Genesis through its Historical-Philosophical Interpretations to Contemporary Concerns in Science and Phenomenology

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At that time, the Jewish people considered this claim to be blasphemous and required that the blasphemer be put to death as recorded by the Gospel writers (Luke 23:2124, John 18:12-19:22). Undoubtedly, the Targums as commentaries on the Pentateuch had a profound and wide-ranging influence on the Jewish people. They also formed a lot of the Jewish writers at the time including Philo of Alexandria. Philo too falls into line with distancing the image of God idea from too strong of a relationship with God; he does this by utilising Hellenistic philosophy, particularly the philosophy of Plato.

18 This reluctance was due, on the one hand, to a fear of anthropomorphising God and, on the other hand, to divinising the human being. As Altmann notes, Turning […] to rabbinic sources, we note a certain reluctance to define the meaning of the phrase ‘image of God’. This is particularly evident in the Aramaic versions of the Pentateuch. The oldest of these, the Targum Yerushalmi discovered by A. Diez Macho and dated by him as pre-Christian, fights shy of rendering the term [tselem], ‘image’ by [ẓalma] or similar Aramaic equivalents and uses instead the more innocuous term demūt or demū, ‘similitude’, which carries with it the association of imitatio Dei, rather than any anthropomorphic concept of God.

G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE – 117 CE) (Berkley & London: University of California Press, 1999; 1996) p. 242. 15 Ibid. 16 Pompey brought the region under Roman control in 63 BC and the Jews in general lost political control. They were given the right, however, to exercise semi-independent rule in the Kingdoms of Herod (37-34 BC), Archelus (4 BC-6 AD) and Agrippa (41-44 AD). According to Barclay the concept of the Jewish ‘homeland’ and ‘diaspora’ in this period becomes quite difficult to distinguish.

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