wert ..iniple [.iroof that the gods exliteJ and ibai they merited vencrati mi■. Such i mages liIm i iiicdited a diviiie pnt.senee and functionecI11ec [Lvelv within rvlijjiuuH .

First-Century and Early Rabbinic Teachings on the Invisible Gqd

We have secn second-century t hristian writers like lustin and t t:niL'nl credited Creek philosophy with recognizing Cod's invisibilil■. and singularity, As a Legitimizing parallel lor their ■ i11 claims, ibe wisdom nl i he 11 recks on I his pi iint served as an invaluable resource fin Ik-early api ilo^isls. The Hebrew Seriplureji represented another such ancient and authoritative tradition, {"ihmiians saw ibese .ScripLurrs [hi- original fumrce not only of ( hristian teaching about God's inde-scribabilin but also of Greek wisdnm on the subject, since rhc-y often pretried Mows m the source of Greek pli losophy as well as of Christian theoLn^y—.l i i point in g oul that whereas* hristians badgot-

tc i 11'l' truih of the matter die f ireeks iand later Etonians* persisted in a flaw* l] and insufficient understanding, 5u< Ii a view is partii ularly characteristic of < Cement's writing but ii can also be seen in du wnrks of other Christ: m apolog sts '

Huweter, lustin Martyr, in his firsC Analogy, scales ih.Ll "jI! few*"' i^that i n\! actually appeared to Abraham and the others who had 1 htophjnk" vigors in thc RibLe. and Trypho is |?rcsenicas agreeing with thi* ba.sii; asHenum.*" Justin* who agrees ih.^i the divine Word might appeat inhuman form, furthet cntLcliiei Jew* lm llieir literal-mindedness, claiming that the\ misunderstand figurative speech and hi: :"|"■-."■—^ Lhai"[he Fmlicrof nil, unbegotlen (Jodj hat- hands and t'eet, and fingers and a souljike a composite beings and foi dais rea^nn it'ach ■ li r it wii 1 hL; Father Himself who appeared to Abraham and facob."' Mill, whiucvri second-century Jews actually belief about the appearances cii i ifid in S< ripture (even the anthropomorphic onesjh they apparently rcfrai icd from representations of God in visual art. ln-L-.>hus ixpljin.H in his i revise fyaiwst . if-.vpj that while God may be seen in creation, God's form and magnitude are completely beyond human abiliiy to describe and that no materials, however precious, could be used to fashion an ima^c of Cod- Moreover, no individual possesses the ability conceive ■ I or [li.iki1 sulIi .ill iirii^i. ( i>.ilI ik -ii fai beyond human viilon thai even to contemplate the aci of representatk]]i uf ibe di^ ir.c One is impious. "Ilw like of him \ve havcj nevti seen, we den nnl imagine, and ¡i i-. impious to conjectureTacitus confirms this from (he Iv-'Jiian l>er.H"■ i ivt, iin^".i:jj 11:.11 fcw.h cnnceivc only ^11v gtnI, ■ m<l Ihal with i he ■"mind .lktne," regarding il.ose who make divine representations as impi ous m :i lc [.he su pi i -.t and i-: l- rnal divin e beIng is i: l- It her destruci i-blc nor able to be depicted.41

Philo clearly agrees with this position, bul he expands somewhai on the simple prohibition of divine images, In his exposition of the Second Commandment, he «plains thai although all (hose who worship objects ni creation rather than the Creator are íji grievous error and have done great niiur) to the human race, God does :iul equally con dernn those who worship the divine .11 natural phenomena 1 lor example, 111L- st j:■! ar the sun) those who \ c 1 ier acl- "graven images " According to Moses, he ^îv-; (using an argument lluit would appear hï later Ch r^t ian apologetic writing), thifse who w< 1 rship heavenly bodlc n offend less than those who worship idols» because the latter di? not [n:: eeive thai human made objects are inferior to and younger Lhan both their makers ,uul their models. Nevertheless, each group of idolaters has -^a^ away a main support nf tlu- sou!— the proper conception of Cod. '

Ph lIo al.ho anticipates Clement and Ori^trt in in [çrprcl ing the hiblicaI LI iphan Les as m vit ic,l a nd not as corpa rea I ,l[1 pearanc l'.-.. For l* mple, according (o Philo, Moses' requerí to see God's face was made ^ven though Mosei realized that sucha request could never be granted, but still he persists until he enters "into the thick darkness where God was—

that i s. i nlu .i conception regarding the Existent Being that s-si lls to the unapproachable region win.-re there are no material forms.. .. And o'.it ot this quest there accrues to Moses a vast boon, namely to apprehend i h.h (he God of real Beiog apprehensible ici im oHeh and to see precisely tluil Kc i-, incapable ut' being seen." Such ;i mystical exegesis resolves the contradiction between rhe superficial implications and even the apparent contradictions of llic test of Exodus ■ and Philo's asaerti-ons thai nothing Can be sait! 11 l1^ l tl] ^-r o I God's appearance and that no í.>:u- may have ,ui actual physical view of llu- L 3 ¡ - ¡ c 1 .

Philo also claimed lhat certain biblical statements of God must be understood in .1 figurative and not -i ^¡Lcr,il sense. E'or example, he when the rl-xt says that "The lord down to see that city and that tower" fof babel. Gen 11:5h It did not mean lliL.t i ¡od actually l-uiil1 down and walked around as if God had a human body, kit rather that God fills all pla ces at on ce .s nj both conlaii is a n d per v a des ever yt h i n c i 11 the universe, l'he Divine Being, he sayst i-ï both invisible and incomprehensible, and <ú Ulf sl'.oIl' time everywhere and in everything/3 For I ' h i I ; ). In j wcver, assert ing that the invisible God also had a n <Limage" ^ necessary, since the first chapter of Genesis claims that humanity was created in ill at image (and "after the likeness™ ( îen L. :. Philo, however, a-* the <christian Alexandrians do later on, associates lhc image with 1 'z\c preesistent Word ut' Uuú the agiiii of creation and the model for humanity whose likeness may be achieved through the practice of intellectual and moral virtue. 1 he likeness that humans bore ilu> original image was not according to any external appearance, then, but accord ing to the degree that humans shared in Divine Reason, l'hiln insists thnU

no cine could "represent this likeness as one to a bodily form; for neither is God in human form, nor is the human body God-Iike."7'

On thc other hand, the rabbis of Justin's time and Eater may well have emphasized the human-like appearance of God, especially as they considered the epiphanies portrayed in the books of Lxodus and Daniel. According to Elliot Wolfs on, some of the rabbinic authorities from the tannaitic period "assumed an anthropomorphic manitestation of God in concrete, visible forms Was a basic part of biblical faith."74 For example, Wolfs OH cites the mid fash it collection Mekhilta dc-Rabbi tehmcie! on the book of Exodus and expounds on the polymorphic appearance of God as noted in these texts: "The Lord is a man of war' [F.xod 15$]. Why is this said? For at the sea he appeared as a warrior doing battle, as it says. The Lord is a man of war.' At Sinai he appeared as an old man full of mercy, as it says, lAnd they saw the God oi Israel etc"1"

Wolf son sees an a hti- Christian polemic at work in these jew ish traditions. Just as Irenaeus was concerned that Gnostic teachers might interpret these theophanies as the appearance of a lessev God, the rabbis were aware thai Christians were proposing that they demonstrated the existence of a second divine person. The polymorphous representations of God (sometimes as a warrior, sometimes as an old king on a throne, sometimes as a bridegroom, for instance) were not as worrisome as the claim that Christians [ike Justin or Tertullian nmde that These were epiphanies of God's Sun or Logos, By way of combating such Christian readings, the rabbis might wish to assert that the manifold and diverse manifestations of God ill the Bible were an essential means ol presenting a truth about God—that God appeared in reality and not just as a figure in the prophet s imagination and, at the same time, God transcends ordinary (or banal) morphic consistency,"'1 The invisible God's occasional manifestation to select individuals at particular moments gives the people assurance of God's presence, but, at the same time, it demonstrates that God cannot be limited in any sense or by any single form or outward appearance,

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