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A Body unlike bodies: transcendent anthropomorphism in ancient semitic tradition and early Islam.


In taking up and elaborating upon John Wansbrough's insistence that emergent Islam be seen as a continuation of the Near Eastern Semitic monotheistic tradition, (1) Gerald R. Hawting makes an important observation:
 That Islam is indeed related to Judaism and Christianity as part
 of the Middle Eastern, Abrahamic or Semitic tradition of
 monotheism seems so obvious and is so often said that it might
 be wondered why it was thought necessary to repeat it. The reason
 is that although it is often said, acceptance of Islam as a
 representative of the monotheist religious tradition is not
 always accompanied by willingness to think through the
 implications of the statement (emphasis added). (2)

Although both Muslim tradition and Western scholarship articulate a recognition of Islam's place within the Semitic monotheistic tradition, there is not only often an unwillingness to embrace the implications of this recognition, there is also in practice the tendency to distance Islam from that tradition. (3) This is particularly the case regarding the Islamic Gotteslehre. Islam is often viewed as the religion par excellence of divine transcendence. (4) God is khilaf al-'alam--"the absolute divergence from the world"--and this characteristically Islamic doctrine of mukhalafa, "(divine) otherness," precludes divine corporeality and anthropomorphism. (5) But such a model of divine transcendence is Hellenistic, not Semitic. (6) The very notion of "immateriality," as well argued by Robert Renehan, seems to have been the brain-child of Plato. (7) The Semitic, and the ancient Near Eastern (ANE) models in general, embraced both "otherness" and corporeality/anthropomorphism: the gods were "transcendently anthropomorphic," to use Ronald Hendel's term. (8) That is to say, while the gods possessed an anthropoid or human-like form, this form was also in a fundamental way unlike that of humans in that it was transcendent, either in size, beauty, the substance of which it was composed, or all three. (9)

Ancient Israel stood in linguistic, cultural, and religious continuity with her neighbors in the Levant. (10) Morton Smith suggested in a classic article that Israel participated in "the common theology of the ancient Near East."(11) However ill-defined this concept of an ANE "common theology," it is clear that the god(s) of Israel and the gods of the ANE actually differed less than has been supposed. (12) Like the gods of the ANE, the god(s) of Israel and biblical tradition were transcendently anthropomorphic. (13) This ancient Near Eastern/Semitic transcendent anthropomorphism stands in stark contrast to normative Islamic notions of divine transcendence. But the latter, as Fazlur Rahman has pointed out, "does not emerge from the Qur'an, but from later theological development in Islam."(14) This "later theological development" included the appropriation of Hellenistic concepts and terms in order to interpret the Qur'an and the Sunna, particularly the statements about God. (15) Early Islam was, among other things, clearly a formulation of ancient Near Eastern mythological tradition. (16) It is specifically the "oriental monotheism," to use John Wansbrough's characterization of the ancient Near Eastern biblical tradition, to which Islam and the Qur'an are heir, (17) a point the latter concedes. (18) This disparity between ANE/Semitic and Islamic tradition the insistence, by Islamic tradition and Western scholarship, that the deity is the same in the three monotheistic traditions: "The monotheists not only worship one God; he is the same god for all. Whether called Yahweh or Elohim, God the Father or Allah, it is the selfsame deity who created the world out of nothing." (19) What then is the relation between the transcendently anthropomorphic Yahweh-Elohim and the incorporeal Allah?

It will be argued here that at an earlier period Islam possessed a tradition of "transcendent anthropomorphism" similar in many ways to that articulated in ANE and biblical sources. Through the mediation of hellenistically-influenced schools such as the Mu'tazila, Greek-inspired notions of divine transcendence would eventually characterize all of Islam, Sunni and Shici alike. (20) But while the triumph in Shi'ism was achieved by the third/ninth century, (21) Sunnism held out for considerably longer. Sherman Jackson has pointed out that in early Muslim debates over the divine attributes Rationalist groups such as the Mu'tazila privileged Aristotelian-Neoplationic logic and motifs while Traditionalists rejected them, at least ostensibly. (22) It thus should come as no surprise that it is in traditionalist Sunnism that this ancient Semitic transcendent anthropomorphism survived well into the sixth/twelfth century. (23) We will first document this ANE/biblical tradition of transcendent anthropomorphism and then explore its resonances in Islamic tradition.


In ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean tradition the divine body was thought to be so sublime it bordered on the non-body. (24) One of the distinguishing characteristics of this body divine is its dangerously luminous and fiery nature.
 The body of the gods shines with such an intense brilliance
 that no human eye can bear it. Its splendor is blinding ... if
 the god chooses to be seen in all his majesty, only the tiniest
 bit of the splendor of the god's size, stature, beauty and radiance
 can be allowed to filter through, and this already enough to
 strike the spectator with thambos, stupefaction, to plunge him
 into a state of reverential fear ... (25)

This "awe-inspiring luminosity" of the deities is in Akkadian termed pulhu melammu (Sum., an hendiadys meaning "fear, glory."(26) This, as A. Leo Oppenheim told us in a seminal article, denotes a dazzling aureole or nimbus surrounding a divinity. (27) The pulhu or puluhtu is often described as a supernatural garment of fire and flame. (28) The ancient and ubiquitous garment-as-body metaphor is certainly operative here, (29) as pulhu/puluhtu is equated with the Sumerian ni, "body, corporeal shape."(30) The melammu is associated with some sort of sparkling headwear, like a crown or even a luminous mask. (31) According to E. Cassin, the melammu is better understood as the expression of a vital force in the form of pulsating light. (32) Thus, pulhu melammu is the terrible epiphanic glory of the gods. (33) Its radiance overwhelmed enemies on the battlefield:(34) "The awe-inspiring splendor of Assur, my Lord, overwhelmed the men"; "the effulgence of his surpassing glory consumed them." (35) Even deities seek shelter from the radiant splendor of the greater gods: "O my Lady (Inanna), the Anunna, the great gods, Fluttering like bats fly off before you to clefts [in the rock],/They who dare not walk [?] in your terrible glance, who dare not proceed before your terrible countenance." (36)

Theirs is "[a] body invisible in its radiation, a face that cannot be seen directly." (37) To catch a glimpse of a deity could mean death for a human onlooker, because the mortal constitution is unable to bear it. (38) In order to be seen when such is desired or necessary, or in order to intervene directly in human affairs, the gods must conceal their divine forms. (39) Concealment is achieved either by veiling--enveloping the divine body in a mist, fog or cloud to become invisible (40)--or by some sort of divine metamorphosis. (41) This latter is usually done by reducing the divine size and splendor and taking on the appearance of a mortal human. (42)

The God of ancient Israel, too, was transcendently anthropomorphic, (43) and His transcendence was morphic as well.
 Yahweh has a body, clearly anthropomorphic, but too
 holy for human eyes ... Yahweh's body was believed to
 be incommensurate with mundane human existence; it has
 a different degree of being than human bodies ... It is a
 transcendent anthropomorphism not in form but in its effect,
 approachable only by the most holy, and absent in material
 form in the cult ... The body of God was defined
 in Israelite culture as both like and unlike that of humans. (44)

No doubt the signature feature of this Israelite transcendent anthropomorphism is a brilliant luminosity that is the morphic manifestation of God's signature holiness. (45) It is for this reason, we are given to understand, that humans cannot see God, Not because God is invisible, but because humans are unholy, and unholy beings are in great danger in the immediate presence of God's consuming, morphic holiness (46) This divine body is also characterized by a divine substance (ruah) antithetical to mortal flesh (basar). (47)

In the biblical canon this luminous divine body has been called in some sources his [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII], kabod. (48) In the priestly material (P and Ezekiel) in particular, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] (kabodyhwh). denotes Yahweh's radiant human form, "with the strongest possible emphasis on God as light." (49) The fire that emanates from [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] is dangerous: it consumes whatever it touches. (50) Like the pulhu melammu of the Mesopotamian deities, the flames of the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] can be unleashed on Yahweh's enemies. (51) To look upon [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] was deadly: the brightness was too much for the mortal eye. (52) To abide with Israel, but not consume her, Yahweh, like the Homeric and Hesiodic deities, cloaks his fiery [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] with a black cloud [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBE IN ASCII] (53) When Yahweh wants to visit wrath on an enemy or punish one of his own, he thrusts aside the cloud, exposing them to his undimmed radiance. (54)

The God of Israel, like the deities of the ANE generally, was a divine anthropos whose morphic transcendence imperils man. (55) The best example of transcendent anthropomorphism in the Bible is the inaugural vision of Ezekiel (Ezek, ch. 1). The priest-prophet sees God seated on a glorious throne:
 and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that
 seemed like a human form. Upward from what appeared like the
 loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked
 like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked
 like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was
 splendor all around. Like a bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such
 was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the
 appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh (1:26-27, the
 New Oxford Annotated Bible translation).

After this "emotional" description loaded with qualifiers, indicating that the prophet was searching for the right words to describe the undescribable, (56) Ezekiel falls to the ground in a faint. (57) Yahweh is here seen as an enthroned, transcendent anthropos (Ezek 1:1-28). (58) Ezekiel's vision of the deity is at once the most transcendent and the most anthropomorphic of the entire Bible. As Rimmon Kasher observes, "there is perhaps no other biblical prophet whose God is so corporeal as Ezekiel. Anthropomorphism did not, of course, originate with Ezekiel; the Bible offers many anthropomorphic descriptions of the Deity ... The prophet Ezekiel belongs to this general biblical tradition and in fact amplifies it."(59) On the other hand Daniel I. Block notes that Ezekiel's vision of God is the height of divine transcendence as well:
 Two features of the image are especially significant. First,
 Ezekiel recognizes the form to be that of a human being ('adam).
 Second, this was no ordinary man. What appeared to be his upper
 body radiated with the brilliance of amber (hasmal); his lower
 body seemed enveloped in a dazzling fiery glow as well ... With
 respect to force and awesomeness, no theophany in the entire
 OT matches Ezekiel's inaugural vision ... the vision proclaims the
 transcendent glory of God. Everything about the apparition
 proclaims his glory: the dazzling brilliance of the entire image,
 the gleam of the creatures' bronze legs, the jewels on the wheels,
 the crystalline platform, the lapis lazuli throne, the amberous
 and fiery form of the "man." Everything about the vision cries
 "Glory!" (cf. Ps. 29:9), even the prophet's frustrating search for
 adequate forms of expression ... Everything about the vision is in
 the superlative mode. God is alone above the platform, removed
 from all creatures, and stunning in his radiance. (60)

This biblical transcendent anthropomorphism had a long afterlife in post-biblical Jewish (especially apocalyptic and mystical/esoteric (61)), Christian, (62) and, it will be argued, Islamic traditions.

 And argue not with the People of the Book except by what
 is best, save such of them as act unjustly. But say: We believe in
 that which has been revealed to us and to you, and our God and
 your God is One (ilahuna wa-ilahukum wahid), and to Him
 we submit. (Surat al-'Ankabut [29]:46)

It is our claim that Islam, as a formulation of the ANE/Semitic tradition, once possessed a similar tradition of transcendent anthropomorphism. Now, "transcendent anthropomorphism" presupposes, of course, anthropomorphism and most Muslim scholars assure us that Islam does not countenance this. Nevertheless, the subject was hotly debated in early Islam. James Pavlin has argued that the "major theological controversies in Islam ... revolve(d) around the nature of God and His Attributes" (63) and, according to Richard C. Martin, "the problems of anthropomorphism and corporealism lay at the heart of the disputes about God in Islamic theology." (64) The theological problem has always in some way been related to the scriptural representations of God. (65) As Duncan Black MacDonald observed: 'The [Qur'anic] descriptions are at first sight a strange combination of anthropomorphics and metaphysics ... With only a little ingenuity in one-sidedness an absolutely anthropomorphic deity could be put together, or a practically pantheistic, or a coldly and aloofly rationalistic (deity)." (66) The Sunna, as Daniel Gimaret noted, "ne se borne pas a reprendre ceux, encore relativement vagues et abstraits, du Coran, elle les amplifie, les precise, les concretize." (67) A Qur anic hand becomes a palm with five fingers and fingertips in the Sunna, etc. (68) How is this imagery to be understood? Literally? Metaphorically? This question at times occupied center stage in the theological debate. The real issue, of course, was the authority of scripture. (69)

Studies treating Islamic anthropomorphism and the debates surrounding it are relatively few. (70) Nor do Western scholars agree on the place of anthropomorphism in the history of Islamic thought. Views range, for example, from the extremes of Helmut Ritter, who claimed that for Muslim orthodoxy the idea of an anthropomorphic deity was nothing less than "ein Greuel," (71) to the view of Ignaz Goldziher, who claimed that this orthodoxy would accept nothing but a crude anthropomorphism. (72) This scholarly ambivalence towards Islamic anthropomorphism is partly the problem of semantics, particularly a much too imprecise use of the term "anthropomorphism," coupled with an uncritical conflation of this term and the Arabic tashbih. While the former term literally refers to man's "form" (morphe), it more often than not is made to bear the burden of signifying all ascriptions of human likeness to God. Thus, human emotions, thoughts, and actions, properly anthropopathisms and anthro-popoiesis, are subsumed under the designation anthropomorphism. Because Homeric anthropomorphism with its repugnant acting deities is usually the standard and no consideration is given to the idea of an "ethical anthropomorphism," the net effect of this subsumption, if you will, is that discussion of the alleged "form" of God, the main point of the term "anthro-pomorphism," is often de-emphasized or assumed to be a non-issue: (73) certainly the scriptures could not have really meant to depict God "as a disarmingly familiar figure who acts in ways that often seem improbable for a divinity if not outrightly inappropriate." (74) But at least the biblical tradition of transcendent anthropomorphism, articulated as it is in the context of an ethical monotheism, should caution us with regard to this line of reasoning. It is, I believe, because of this uncritical and inappropriate conflation of anthropomorphism and tashbih that an accurate account of Islam's theological struggle over the issue of God's attributes has yet to be written.

3.1. Tashbih versus "Anthropomorphism"

The verbal form sh-b-h means literally "to liken (so. or to so/th. else)," thus shibh "similar to," shabah "likeness, resemblance," and tashbih "assimilation/making similar." This term is not used in the Qur'an except once, in reference to the death of Jesus (4:157). Nevertheless Muslim theologians of all eras and persuasions were unanimous in regarding tashbih, that is to say, "likening God to creation," as condemnable. The problem is that in many cases tashbih does not mean, and should not be translated as, "anthropomorphism"; some of Islam's, we would say "crudest," anthropomorphists have been as adamant against tashbih as the anti-anthropomorphists. (75) In fact, taking the history of Islamic discourse on the issue into consideration, it is desirable that scholars discontinue the ready translation of tashbih by anthropomorphism, as such a practice inhibits our understanding of the nuances involved in the discussion.

Take, for example, Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855), the "patron saint of the traditionalists" and the Shibboleth of Sunni orthodoxy. (76) We have elsewhere demonstrated that Ibn Hanbal quite unequivocally was an anthropomorphist in the strict sense: he was adamant about God's anthropoid form. (77) To deny it is tantamount to kufr. (78) Ibn Hanbal was, if you will, "a true blue" anthropomorphist. Yet he disavowed tashbih in no uncertain terms: God's anthropomorphism is not "like" that of man. When asked about the statements of the mushabbiha or likeners Ibn Hanbal is said to have replied: "He who says 'sight like my sight, hand like my hand, foot like my foot,' he likens God to His creation, and this limits Him, and this is evil speech which I do not like."(79) It is also reported that he was asked: "Is our Lord not similar to anything from His creation (and) does one not compare Him to anything from His creation?" to which he replied, "Yes, there is nothing like Him (na'm, laysa ka-mithlihi shay'in [Q 42:11])."(80) It is, rather, the radically anti-anthropomophist Jahmiyya who are the true mushabbiha. (81) In a telling remark Ibn Hanbal accuses the Jahmiyya of tashbih for likening God to man by denying that His speech was eternal:
 You have, by this assertion, likened Allah to His creatures for,
 according to your belief, there was a time when He did not speak.
 So are the sons of men, who could not speak until He created speech
 for them. This is kufr and tashbih together. Far be it from Allah!
 We say the opposite: Allah was always the speaker when He
 wished. We do not maintain that He was without speech until
 He created it; nor do we say that He was without knowledge until
 He created it; nor do we say that He was without power, light
 or might until He created them for Himself. (82)

Contrary to God's creatures, which had to wait for Him to create their speech, God was never without this ability. While both God and man speak with a real voice, (83) God had His speech from eternity. Thus it is the Jahmiyya who are guilty of tashbih or likening God to His creation. The Mu'tazilite Abu 1-Husayn al-Khayyat, in his Kitab al-lntisar, even labeled Jahm b. Safwan (d. 128/746), the eponymous founder of the Jahmiyya, "the imam of the mushabbiha."(84) His sin was apparently that he likened God's knowledge of things to man's by his claim that God knows things only after those things come into existence. There is no way one could translate mushabbih here as "anthropomorphist." As Daniel Gimaret points out, "ce qui caracterise les gahmiyya, c'est fondamentalement ... leur antianthropomorphisme." (85) Jahm could not tolerate the embodied God of his traditionalist contemporaries. (86) None would thus accuse him of anthropomorphism--assimilation maybe, anthropomorphism (stricto sensu) impossible. This highlights the point we are making: the term tashbih is vague and nuanced enough as to preclude any ready translation as "anthropomorphism." One could not only disavow tashih while affirming an anthropmorphism." One could not only disavow tashih while affirming an anthropoid form for God, as with Ibn Hanbal, but one could also disavow the latter and still be guilty of the former, as with Jahm.

In light of this, how are we to understand Strothmann's claim that "Ahmad b. Hanbal has become the great orthodox authority against tashbih"?(87) Is Strothrmann claiming Ibn Hanbal as an authority against assimilating God to man, which the Imam indeed seems to have been; or as an authority against anthropomorphism, believing God to have an anthropoid form, however unlike that of man? The latter claim, which seems to be Strothmann's intent, is untenable in light of our review of the sources testifying to Ibn Hanbal's creed. (88) But it is in Henri Laoust's article on Ibn Hanbal in the Encyclopaedia of Islam where the dangers of an uncritical rendering of tashbih is most clearly illustrated. Laoust noted:
 Ibn Hanbal ... rejects the negative theology (ta'til) of the
 Djahmiyya and their allegorizing exegesis (ta'wil) of the Kur'an
 and of tradition, and no less emphatically rejects the
 anthropomorphism (tashbih) of the Mushabbiha, amongst whom he
 includes ... the Djahmiyya as unconscious anthropomorphists. (89)

We should clearly see here the inappropriateness of conflating tashbih and anthropomorphism. Ibn Hanbal affirmed the latter (i.e., anthropomorphism), but rejected the former (tashbih); and he accused the Jahmiyya of the former (tashbih), but not of the latter (anthropomorphism). This is not to say that tashbih never has the meaning of anthropomorphism in the sources. It certainly does. But this has to be determined by the context. (90)

3.2. There is nothing like Him?

At the heart of this semantic issue is the nature and degree of the "likeness" posited or prohibited: absolute likeness vs. only relative likeness. Taqi I-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) argued that the term tashbih can denote a properly acknowledgeable degree of likeness between Creator and created (i.e., relative likeness), and it can also denote an improper degree of similarity (absolute likeness) whose disavowal is mandatory. (91) This nuance is most clearly articulated by the Hanafi qadi Ibn Abi I-'Izz (d. 792/1390) in his Sharh ul-Aquida al-Aqida al-tahdwiyya. Ibn Abi I-'izz begins by noting that the term tashbih had become with the people "rather vague" (lafz mujmal). (92) He, too, suggests that there is an improper tashbih prohibited by the Qur'an wherein an identity is posited between Creator and created, and a proper or allowable tashbih wherein only a general or limited correspondence is posited. Whoever denies the latter is as guilty as he who affirms the former:
 It is clear ... that the Creator and the created are similar in
 some respects and differ in others (ittifaquhuma min wajhi
 wa-ikhtilafuhuma min wajh). And whoever denies what is common
 between them is a negator and is surely mistaken. On the other hand,
 whoever makes them homogeneous (mutamathilayn) is a mushabbih
 and is equally mistaken. And Allah knows best. That is because,
 even though they are called by the same name, they are not
 identical (ma ittafaqa fihi). (93)

Ibn Abl i-Izz demonstrates this correspondence by citing Qur'anic verses wherein man is called by the names of God (e.g., 30:19, hayy; 51:28, 'alim, etc.). He argues that these are not mere homonyms, such as mushtari (which means both buyer and the planet Jupiter), similar in name only: the attributes of God and man share a common element denoted by the term. (94) They differ in that those of God are attributes of perfection (sifat al-kamal), whereas man's comprise imperfections. (95)

As noted above, tashbih is not used in the Qur'an in reference to God. Instead, the pivotal verse wherein God's otherness is most forcefully and (it would seem) clearly articulated--Q 42:11, "There is nothing like Him (laysa ka-mithlihi shay')"--uses a different root m-the-l "to be like, compare," mithl "similar, image," tamthil "assimilation, likening." This verse is said to reject "all anthropomorphism." (96) But the same expression ("there is nothing like him") was used for anthropomorphic deities prior to the Qur'anic revelation. It was found already in ancient Egyptian temple inscriptions of the Ptolemaic period. (97) In this context it meant simply that there is no other god like that god. (98) Likewise, Second Isaiah's theologically important dictum, "To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with me" (Isa 40:18-20), is not a rejection of anthropomorphism;(99) rather it "is meant to show the inferiority of man-made idols," and this in the specific sense of immovability and unshake-ability. (100) Indeed, the very same formulas used to describe Yahweh's incomparability ("Who is like" [mi k (e)]; "there is none like" ['en k (e)]) is similarly used to describe the incomparability of men and Israel: "Who is like (mi k (e)) the wise man?" (Eccles 8:1); "There is none like him (Saul) among all the people" (I Sam 10:24). (101) For Israel the dictum of Second Isaiah was not a rejection of anthropomorphism but an affirmation of the paradox of transcendent anthropomorphism. As Robert Dentan in The Knowledge of God in Ancient Israel puts it:
 The particular paradox of belief in an anthropomorphic deity
 who is nevertheless utterly different from man is related to
 other paradoxes, and especially to the familiar one which declares
 that God is both transcendent and immanent, a paradox of which
 Israel was fully aware. She knew ... that God was both like man,
 and yet entirely different from him. (102)

The Qur'anic context seems also to indicate that a denial of anthropomorphism was not what the verse necessarily intended. "And the blind and the seeing are not alike" (ma yastawi, 35:19). The verbal root used here, s-w-y, denotes "equality, sameness, to be equivalent." The man who can see (presumably the truth of revelation) is contrasted with the man who cannot. It is certainly not to be inferred that one of the men is embodied while the other is not. The difference--that which constitutes their "unlikeness" or "otherness"--lies elsewhere. Likewise, in Q 33:32 ("O wives of the Prophet, you are not like (lastunna ka-) any other women") the same laysa ka- construction is used as in Q 42:11. Whether or not the difference lies in the other women's lower order of merit, as Goldziher thought, it is clear that there is no polemic here against anthropomorphism. (103)

According to Ibn Hanbal, Q. 42:11 was from among the mutashabihat or ambiguous verses that required explanation, (104) and a proper explanation did not preclude an anthropoid deity. It was, says Ibn Hanbal, Jahm b. Safwan who first used this verse in an antianthropomorphist manner to support his novel doctrine of God as "an invisible spirit." (105) On the other hand, a review of the exegetical history of this verse (Q 42:11) indicates that this verse was actually first employed by advocates of anthropomorphism in support of their position. (106) In Ibn al-Jawzi's time (d. 597/1201) it was still in the service of the anthropo-morphists. (107) This seems quite amazing. What is it about laysa ka-mithlihi shay that lent itself to the exegetical needs of reputed anthropomorphists?

Syntactically, the ka could be read as a syndetic relative cause (sila) added for emphasis, in which case the reading would be something like, "There (really) is nothing like Him." If the ka is taken as a non-expletive, however, it would then read, "There is nothing like (ka) His likeness (mithlihi)." As Ibn al-Jawzi noted, "taken literally (zahir) these words indicate that God has a mithl, which is like nothing and like which there is nothing." (108) Ibn al-Jawzi cites this verse as one of the proof-texts of the so-called anthropomorphists. They obviously took the mithl here anthropomorphically. But how so? The mithl of Q 42:11 was probably understood in these circles as a reference to God's form, sura, which term is a synonym of mithal. (109) His mithl "likeness," Ibn al-Arabi claims, is Adam, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil). (110) Adam was made "according to the sura/mithal (form/image) of God," according to a Prophetic tradition (111) and he appeared to Muhammad in an ahsan sura, according to other reports. (112) God's ahsan sura. His most beautiful form, was exegetically associated with Adam's ahsan taqwim "most beautiful stature" (95:4), and both with God's sura according to which Adam was made.'(113) Adam's "most beautiful stature" and God's "most beautiful form" are therefore identical, at least in those circles so inclined. These exegetes might even have solicited the aid of sura al-Nahl (16:60): li-llahi l-mathal al-a'la. (114) God's "highest likeness" (al-mathal al-a'la) here could conceivably be identified with His incomparable mithl of Q42:11, and then with His anthropoid sura.

 Belief that God possessed a visibly perceivable (though not earthly)
 body ... is reflected in early Islamic sources.
 (EQ, s.v. Face of God)

Understanding Q 42:11 to prohibit only absolute likeness but allow for relative likeness between Creator and creature, allowed one to both disavow tamthil/tashbih and affirm an anthropoid form for God. (115) As Josef van Ess observed:
 The statement [Q 42:11] did not decide the question whether
 dissimilarity between God and man was absolute or relative ... Why
 should not the intention of the Quranic verse be satisfied when
 God is merely considered to be different, perhaps by his
 dimensions, or by the matter He is composed of, or by the
 consistency of the matter? (116)

Van Ess is not being rhetorical here. Take, for example, the famed early Qur'anic exegete Muqatil b. Sulayman (d. 150/767), probably Islam's most notorious anthropomorphist, who claimed that
 God is a body in the form of a man, with flesh, blood, hair,
 and bones. He has limbs and members, including a hand, a
 foot, a head, and eyes, and He is solid. Nonetheless, He does
 not resemble anything else, nor does anything resemble Him. (117)

Muqatil's flesh and blood deity was yet unlike His creation. How is He different? "Biqudra," said Muqatil. (118) Or, as Abu Tammam's Nabita believed, huwa shay'la ka-l-ashya, min jihat al-qidam ("He is a being unlike beings in respect of sempiternity"). (119) Morphically, Muqatil claimed that God is musmat, "compact" through and through, possessing no stomach cavity or "hollowness" which obviously distinguished the divine form from the human. (120) These early Muslim exegetes saw no problem harmonizing their anthropomorphism with the Qur'anic affirmation that there is none like Him. They coined the early formula, jism la ka-l-ajsam ("a body unlike bodies"). (121) Later Muslim theologians interpreted this verse in a similar fashion. Muhammad b. Sadun, better known as Abu' Amir al-Qurashi (d. 1130), famous Andalusian theologian, said:
 The [anti-anthropomorphists] heretics cite in evidence
 the Qur'an verse 'Nothing is like Him," but the meaning of
 that verse is only that nothing can be compared to God in
 His divinity. In form, however, God is like you or me. (122)

In his Moreh Nebukim (written ca. 1190), Maimonides makes reference to "people"--Muslims, according to Harry A. Wolfson (123)--who "came to believe that God has the form (surah) of man, that is to say, man's figure and shape ... maintaining that, if they did not conceive of God as a body possessed of a face and a hand similar to their own figure and shape, they would reduce Him to nonexistence. However, He is, in their opinion, the greatest and most splendid (of bodies) and also His matter is not flesh and blood," (124)

4.1. Allah al-Samad: Islam's massive deity

In an order of conversion of Muslims to the Byzantine Church appended to the Twentieth Book of Nicetas Choniates' (ca. 1155--ca. 1215/6) Thesaurus Orthodoxiae, one anathema against Islam reads in part:
 And on top of all these, I anathematize the god of Muhammad,
 about whom he [Muhammad] says that "This is one God, holosphyros
 [made of solid metal beaten to a spherical shape] who neither
 begat nor was begotten, and no-one has been made like him." Thus,
 by anathematizing everything that I have stated, even Muhammad
 himself and his sphyrelaton [beaten solid] god. and by renouncing
 them, I am siding with Christ, the only true God ... (125)

On the basis of internal evidence Franz Cumont plausibly argued for a mid-Umayyad Syrian provenance of this anathema. (126) What catches our attention is how the God of Islam is described. Holosphyros and sphyrelaton, quite common descriptions in Byzantine anti-Islamic polemical literature. (127) are clearly attempts to translate the Arabic epithet samad found in Q 112:2, the hapax legomenon of the Qur'an. Al-Samad was a popular divine epithet during the Umayyad period, particularly in Syria. (128) While the precise sense of the epithet was debated in the Classical Arabic literature, and is still in Western scholarship, (129) these Greek translations are not necessarily polemical distortions. (130) In fact, they seem to be based on a genuine Arabic tradition of interpreting the epithet and God similarly. By at least the time of al-Tabari (d. 310/923) a popular reading equated samad with musmat, "solid, of even composition, massive, compact, or not hollow (i.e., without a stomach cavity)." (131) Al-Ash'ari (d. 324/936), in his Maqalat al-islamiyyin observed, "Many people say, 'He [God) is solid,' interpreting the word of God, samad, to mean solid, i.e., not hollow." (132) There were variations of this theme as well. While Muqatil b. Sulayman understood God to be completely samad/musmat, (133) the Wasiti theologian Dawud al-Jawaribi (fl. eighth century), on the other hand, claimed that God was compact only in his lower half. (134)

In al-Tabari's Jami al-bayan 'an ta'wil ay al-Qur'an we find a particularly relevant report traced back to Abd Allah b. Abbas (d. 68/688) and Abd Allah b. Mas ud (d. 32/652) relating Adam's creation (ad Q 2:30). After God molded the human body of Adam from clay the body was left standing as a hollow, lifeless statue for forty days. During this time, the angels saw Adam and were terrified at the sight, none more than Iblis, the devil. Iblis would strike Adam's body, making a hollow ring. He then went into Adam's body through his mouth, exiting through his rear. Iblis then said to the frightened angels, "Do not be afraid of this: your Lord is solid (samad), but this is hollow. Indeed, if I am given power over it, I shall utterly destroy it."(135) This last statement gives us the reason why the angels were terrified:they thought the Adam statue was God. "God created Adam according to His form," we are told in a prophetic hadith found in the sahih collections. (136) This idea has a Jewish precedent. In Genesis Rabbah, we read: "Said R. Hoshaiah: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create the first man, the ministering angels mistook him (viz. Adam) [for God, since man was in God's image,] and wanted to say before him, 'Holy, [holy, holy is the Lord of hosts]'."(137) In the Islamic version, the angels are disabused of this belief once it was learned that Adam's body was hollow; Allah, the angels well knew, had a compact and solid (samad) body. (138) In this context we can see the logic of a statement attributed to Abu Muhammad b. Qutayba (d. 276/889): "God possesses an actual form, though it is not like other forms, and He fashioned Adam after it." (139) The difference between divine and human anthropomorphism, at least according to this formulation, is therefore that while God's anthropoid form is samad/musmat, Adam's was ajwaf "hollow."(140)

Muqatil b. Sulayman and, especially, Dawud al-Jawaribi were probably on the margins of the General Religious Movement of the Formative Period. (141) But there is evidence suggesting that such notions as they represented might at one time have been more centrally placed. In particular some mythic traditions associated with the Dome of the Rock built in Jerusalem by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik (r. 65-86/685-705) link the Caliph himself with such notions. A number of Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis ("The Merits of Jerusalem") reports identify the Rock (al-Sakhra) as God's earthly throne on which he resided for forty years after completing creation. (142) When ascending back to heaven, his massive foot left a cavity in the Rock on takeoff. (143) The Umayyad Syrians are particularly associated with--and censored for--such views, (144) even Abd al-Malik. (145) It has been suggested even that such a myth lies behind the Caliph's building of the Dome. (146)


These particular formulations of transcendent anthropomorphism are pretty marginal to Sunnism as it developed in the third/ninth century onward. Instead, in traditionalist Sunnism in particular, the formulation characteristic of the ANE/biblical sources treated above took root.

The Qur'an seems to share the biblical/ANE tradition of God's luminosity: 'And the earth is lit up with the light (nur) of its Lord (39:69)"; "And Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth (22:35)"; "Your Lord's Face (wajh), possessor of Glory (jalal) and honor, [alone] will survive (55:27)." Jalal is "suggestive of effulgence"(147) and sura al-Shura [42]:50 suggests that this luminosity is veiled when God communicates to humans. (148) According to a number of hadith reports, the veil protects man from the scorching effulgence of God's Face. "His [God's] veil is light. If He would remove it, the august splendor of Allah's Face would burn everything of His creation to which His glance reaches."(149) Sura al-A raf [7]: 143, which depicts an actual theophany, seems to describe a "partial" manifestation (tajalla) of God's luminosity (jalal), whose effects leveled the mountain and knocked Moses unconscious. (150) The veil over God's Face intervening between Him and man's vision of Him is also called His rida al-kibriya', Mantle of Grandeur. (151) This brings to mind the Akkadian pulhu or "garment of fire and flame," the dangerously luminous body of the Mesopotamian deities. (152) The transcendent anthropomorphism implied here was not missed by traditionalist Sunnis. As Muhammad b. Ishaq b. Khuzayma (d. 311/924), the most prominent Shafi I in Nishapur at the time, eloquently wrote:
 God has affirmed for Himself a Splendid and Venerable face,
 which He declares is eternal and non-perishable. We and all scholars
 of our madhhab from the Hijaz, the Tihama, Yemen, Iraq,
 Syria, and Egypt affirm for God (the) face, which He has affirmed
 for Himself. We profess it with our tongues and believe it in our
 hearts, without likening (ghayr an nushabbiha) His face to one from
 His creatures. May our Lord be exalted above our likening him
 to His creatures ... We and all our scholars in all our lands say
 that the one we worship has a face ... And we say that the face of
 our Lord (radiates) a brilliant, radiant light (al-nur wa-l-diya'
 wa-l-baha') which, if His veil is removed the glory of His face
 will scorch everything that sees it. His eyes are veiled from the
 people of this world who will never see Him during
 this life ... The face of our Lord is eternal. ...
 Now God has decreed for human faces destruction and denied
 them splendor and venerability. They are not attributed the light,
 brilliance or splendor (al-nur wa-l-diya') that He described His
 face with. Eyes in this world may catch human faces without the
 latter scorching so much as a single hair ... Human faces are
 rooted in time (muhdatha) and created ... Every human face
 perishes ... O, you possessors of reason (dhawa al-hij[an]), could it
 ever really occur to any one with sense and who knows Arabic and
 knows what tashbih (means) that this (transient and dull human)
 face is like that (splendidly brilliant face of God)?(153)

We have here the affirmation of anthropomorphism and the concomitant disavowal of tashbih. Ibn Khuzayma adamantly argues for God's possession of a true face, but one dangerously radiant and non-perishable, in contrast to man's perishable and dull face: transcendent anthropomorphism. The "chief of the traditionalists" (ra's al-muhaddithin) asks, in short. "Can one who acknowledges these differences be charged with tashbih?" Certainly not according to the language of the Arabs!

5.1. Theomorphism and divine beauty

Characteristic of the transcendent anthropomorphism of the ancient gods is their divine beauty. (154) We find a similar motif in traditionalist Sunnism.
 [Mu'adh b. Jabal] narrates: One morning, the Messenger of God took
 a long time to come join us for the dawn prayer, until the moment
 when we were on the point of seeing the sun come up. The Prophet
 then came out hurriedly. They did the second call to prayer, and the
 Messenger of God did the prayer, but his prayer was short. When he
 had pronounced the final salutation, he shouted to us: "Remain in
 rows as you are!" Then he turned towards us and said: "I am going
 to tell you what made me late this morning. I got up last night
 [to pray]. I did the ablution, I prayed what destiny wished that
 I pray; then while I was praying, sleepiness overtook me, and I fell
 asleep. And there, in front of me, was my Lord, in the most
 beautiful form (fi ahsani surati). He said [to me]: O Muhammad!--
 [Yes] Lord, here I am! He said [to me]: Over what does the Exalted
 Council dispute?--I do not know, Lord, I responded. He posed [to me]
 again two times the same question. Then I saw Him putting His palm
 between my shoulder blades, to the point that I felt the coolness
 of His fingertips between my nipples, and from that moment everything
 became evident and known to me."(155)

The God of Muhammad is beautiful, we are told in another hadith, and He loves beauty. (156) We now learn that this includes paramount morphic beauty. Such a theophany offended the sensibilities of the anti-anthropomorphist theologians who subjected the report to de-anthropomorphizing interpretations. The Ash arite Ibn Furak, for example, recounts in his Mushkil al-hadith we-bayanuh several interpretations advanced by the theologians: either

the ""most beautiful form" refers to the Prophet who saw God while in this state, or it refers to a created form used by God to communicate to His Prophet, or even the form of an angel in which God inheres. (157) The ashab al-hadith polemicized violently against these hermeneutics. Abu Sa id Uthman b. Sa id al-Darimi, a leading traditionalist of Harat (d. 280/895), argued in his Naqd ala l-Marist: "Woe to you! It is not possible that this is Gabriel, or Mika il, or Israfil; it is not possible that this [form] is other than Allah."(158)

Other anti-anthropomorphist scholars impugned the authenticity of the hadith, (159) but the traditionalists generally accepted it. This report and its variants are narrated on the authority of twelve other Companions: Ibn 'Abbas, (160) Jabir b. Samura, (161) Abu Hurayra, (162) Anas b. Malik, (163) Abu Umama, (164) Abu TJbayda b. al-Jarrah, (165) Abd al-Rahman b. 'As, (166) Thawban, mawla rasul Allah, (167) cAbd Allah b. Umar, (168) Abu Rafi, (169) cAbd al-Rahman b. Sabit, (170) and Abu l-Darda. (171) This tradition is included in a great many of the hadith collections. (172) Ibn Hanbal judged it sahih. (173) Al-Tirmidhi judged it hasan sahih and said: "I asked Muhammad b. Ismail (al-Bukhari) about this hadith and he said: hadha sahih." (174)-Thus, whatever its actual status vis-a-vis authenticity, traditionalist Sunnism embraced the report. (175)

In other reports this "most beautiful form" of God is given a more detailed description. It is thus related on the authority of Umm al-Tufayl, wife of the Companion Ubayy b. Ka'b (d. 22/642):
 Umm al-Tufayl narrates that one day she heard the Messenger of
 God say that he had seen his Lord, during his sleep, under the most
 beautiful form, [like] a young man (shabb) with long hair (muwaffar),
 (176) His two feet in verdure, having on Him sandals of gold,
 and on His face a veil of gold. (177)

Similar reports were narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik, (178) Mucadh b. Afra, (179) Ibn Unar, (180) A isha, (181) and Abd Allah b. Abbas. (182) It is not surprising that such reports greatly perturbed those Muslim theologians put off by anthropomorphism. (183) According to Helmut Ritter, the thought that God could have a particular form--that of a beardless young man, an idea popular among the Sufisi (184)--"was intolerable for orthodox Muslims" who thus "in sum rejected" these reports. (185) Both of these claims are anachronistic and, therefore, wrong. AI-Darimi, among others, did "totally reject" (186) this hadith al-shabb from Ibn 'Abbas because, he argues, it is opposed by contrary reports from Abu Darr and A isha, according to which Muhammad never saw God. (187) However, one or more of these reports generally had great support among the Traditionalists. Ibn Hanbal, (188) cAbd Allah b. Ahmad, (189) Ibn Abi Asim, (190) cAbd Allah b. Adi, (191) al-Tabarani, (192) al-Lalaka i, (193) and Muhammad b. al-Husayn al-Ajurri (194) reported it in full or abridged (mukhtasar). (195) Even al-Ashari counted the vision as a true vision (ru'ya haqiqa). (196)

Authentic or not, traditionalist Sunnism was characterized--and caricaturized (197)--by belief in this corporeal and theophanous deity. (198) We learn from the Zaydi imam al-Qasim b. Ibrahim (d. 246/860) that the popular proto-Sunni movement that looked to Ibn Hanbal as its figurehead accepted the report and based its view of God on it. (199) Writing around the same time, the Mu tazili essayist al-Jahiz (d. 255/869) describes the same doctrinal trend among the proto-Sunnis. (200) The rescript of Caliph al-Radi, issued in 935 against the Baghdahi Hanbalis, condemns them for anthropomorphist views based on hadith al-shabb, (201) and the Mu tazilite qadi Abd al-Jabbar (d. 415/1025) noted that, in the eleventh century still, the common people inclined towards anthropomorphism (qulub al-amma la tasbiqu illa ila ma tasawwiruhu) based in part on this report. (202)

While for the Shi a and the Mu tazila this Sunni anthropomorphism was pure tashbih, (203) the Traditionalists themselves saw it differently. Abu Ya la (d. 458/1066), for example, "the major leader and prime mover of the Hanbalite movement" in his day and clearly a leading influence on Hanbalism/Sunnism for a good part of the eleventh century, (204) declared that the traditions concerning the Divine Attributes must be taken literally (ala Zahiriha) and that they are not to be likened to the same attributes in creation. (205) This includes the descriptions of God as a beardless, curly-haired, young man. (206) God's is a transcendent anthropomorphism.
 If it is said, "He is a corporeal person (shakhs (207) ir firn (sura),
 " it [should be] said: The report from different routes on the
 night of the mi raj mentioned, "I saw my Lord in the most beautiful
 form"... And the application of that is not to be refused. Just as
 "soul" (nafs) not like souls and essence (dhat) not like essences
 were not denied Him. Likewise form unlike forms, for the Shari
 a [uses it in this manner]. (208)


Sherman Jackson has pointed out that:
 At the center of virtually all of the debates ... is the problem
 of how to affirm God's attributes and transcendence without falling
 into anthropomorphism, on the one hand, and without emptying God's
 attributes of concrete meaning, on the other. Whatever the approach
 taken to this dilemma... no school of Muslim theology
has showed a willingness to compromise on the
question of God's transcendence. (209)

Sherman Jackson is certainly correct that none of the various theological schools was willing to compromise God's transcendence: the Creator was different from and so far above His creation. But the implication that the premodern Muslim discussions of God's attributes are to be understood only in the context of the bipolar opposition between divine transcendence and anthropomorphism must be rejected. We have shown that these two are not mutually exclusive either in a history-of-religions context generally or in the Islamic context specifically. Muslim thinkers were able to affirm both God's anthropomorphism and His "otherness." This characteristically ancient Near Eastern and Semitic tradition of transcendent anthropomorphism, while replaced by the Mu'tazila and the Shi'a with the incorporeal transcendence of Hellenism, survived in traditionalist Sunnism through traditions describing God's paramount morphic beauty and luminosity. We cannot hope to fully elucidate the place of anthropomorphist doctrines in the history of Islamic theological development in such a brief study. A larger study is underway. Rather our objective here is much more modest: to urge methodological caution and to suggest a third option to which some availed themselves during the classical debates over the divine attributes. This problematizes many current treatments of Islamic theology which tend to take the near universal polemic against tashbih as a rejection of anthropomorphism. (210)

In 1967 historian of religion-turned-Islamicist Charles Adams lamented the fact that, on his reading, Islam is "extraordinarily, one may say perversely," impervious to a history-of-religions analysis. (211) According to Adams, "the mainstream of Islamic tradition," by which he means traditionalist Sunnism, lacks mythological expression. While Sufism and Shi'ism enjoy a "richness of symbolic expression," the juridical-theology of Sunnism is "markedly rationalistic in self-expression and determinedly iconoclastic." (212) This is certainly true of modern articulations of Islam, but our brief study has suggested that the juridical theology of classical traditionalist Sunnism was quite rich in mythological expression and this expression is consistent with the biblical and ANE mythic tradition. This tradition of transcendent anthropomorphism, which seems presupposed in the Qur'an as well, places Islam squarely within the tradition of "Oriental monotheism," the Semitic monotheism anchored in the ANE mythic tradition. (213) This study therefore offers more optimistic prospects for a history-of-religions analysis of Islam.

Abbreviations below follow the conventions of The Anchor Bible Dictionary and the Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition.

(1.) See especially his The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History (Oxford, 1978).

(2.) G. R. Hawting, The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam: From Polemic to History (Cambridge, 1999), xi-xii.

(3.) See Gerald Hawting, "John Wansbrough. Islam, and Monotheism," Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 9 (1997), special issue on "Islamic Origins Reconsidered: John Wansbrough and the Study of Early Islam," 23-38; Chase F. Robinson, "Reconstructing Early Islam: Truth and Consequences," in Method and Theory in the Study of Islamic Origins, ed. Herbert Berg (Leiden, 2003), 101-34.

(4.) See, e.g., William A. Graham, "Transcendence in Islam," in Ways of Transcendence: Insights from Major Religions and Modern Thought, ed. Edwin Dowdy (Bedford Park, South Australia, 1982), 7-23; Gary Legenhausen, "Is God a Person?" RelS 22 (1986): 307-23: W. M. Watt, "Some Muslim Discussions of Anthropomorphism," in idem, Early Islam: Collected Articles (Edinburgh, 1990), 87.

(5.) Muhammad Ibrahim H. I. Surty, "The Concept of God in Muslim Tradition," Islamic Quarterly 37 (1993), 127ff.; J. Windrow Sweetman defined the principle of mukhalafa, to which "the majority (of Muslims) adhered," as "all that is said of God is said with a difference and it has become proverbial that nothing the mind can devise can convey anything about Allah [...] there can be no doubt that the rejection of the corporeality of God is essential." In idem, Islam and Christian Theology, 3 parts, 4 vols. (London, 1947), I.II: 34, 36.

(6.) Herman Gunkel notes: "The notion of God's incorporeality ... was first attained by the Greek philosophers." On the other hand, "Hebraic antiquity always imagined Yahweh as humanlike. The notion of the deity as a fully spiritual being, without body, would have been totally incomprehensible to the ancient Hebrew" ("Influence of Babylonian Mythology Upon the Creation Story," in Creation in the Old Testament, ed. Bernhard W. Anderson [Philadelphia, 1984, 29). Daniel Boyarin, "The Eye in the Torah: Ocular Desire in Midrashic Hermeneutic," Critical Inquiry 16 (1990). 553 argues that "only under Hellenic influence do Jewish cultures exhibit any anxiety about the corporeality or visibility of God; the biblical and Rabbinic religions were quite free of such influences and anxieties" (emphasis original).

(7.) R. Renehan, "On the Greek Origins of the Concepts Incorporeality and Immateriality," in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 21 (1980): 105-38.

(8.) Ronald S. Hendel, "Aniconism and Anthropomorphism in Ancient Israel," in The Image and the Book, Iconic Cults, Aniconism, and the Rise of Book Religion in Israel and the Ancient Neara East, ed. Karel van der Toorn, CBET, 21 (Leuven-1997), 205-28.

(9.) On transcendent anthropomorphism in ancient Near Eastern and Classical tradition, see Hendel, "Aniconism and Anthropomorphism"; Jean-Pierre Vernant, "Dim Body, Dazzling Body," in Fragments for a History of the Semitic anthropomorphism generally, see Esther J. Hamori, "When Gods Were Men": The Embodied God in Biblical and Near Eastern Literature, BZAW, 384 (Berlin and New York, 2008); Tallay Ornan. The Triumph of the Symbol: Pictorial Representations of Deties in Mesopotamia and the Biblical Image Ban, OBO, 213 (Fribourg, 2005); Mark S. Smith. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford, 2001), 27-35; Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq, 3rd ed. (London and New York, 1992), 85-98; Marjo C. A. Korpel, A Rifi in the Clouds: Ugaritic and Hebrew Descriptions of the Divine (Minister, 1990); but on Korpel's forced attempt to impute metaphoric intentions to the Canaanites, see the review by Marvin H. Pope in UF 22 (1990): 497-502; James B. Pritehard, "The Gods and Their Symbols," in idem, The Ancient Near East in Pictures Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, 1954). 160-85; Stephen Herbert Langdon, Semitic Mythology (Boston, 1931). While theriomorphic representation of the divine is met with in all periods of religious history in the ANE, it does not seem to be the case that belief in anthropomorphism succeeded an earlier belief in theriomorphism. Already in 1939, Johannes Hemple ("Die Grenzen des Anthropomorphismus Jahwes im Alten Testament," ZAW 57 [1939]: 75) was able to dismiss this "naiven entwiclungsgeschichtlichen Auffassung ..., da[beta] etwa regelma[beta]ig der Theriomorphismus dem Anthropomorphismus habe vorausgehen mussen." In fact, he pointed out "keine Aufeinandefolge des Therio- und Anthropomorphismus klar nachweisbar its." Henri Frankfort has pointed out that such a theory of Stufenfolge "ignores the fact that the earliest divine statues which have been preserved represent the god Min in human shape. Conversely, we find to the very end of Egypt's independence that gods were believed to be manifest in animals." See Ancient Egyptian Religion. An Interpretation (New York, 1948, 1961), 11. For a balanced statement of the situation in Predynastic Egypt, see Gods and Men in Egypt: 3,000 BCE to 395 CE, ed, Francoise Dunanad and Christiane Zivie-Coche (Ithaca, 2004), 16-22; David P. Silverman, "Divinity and Deities in Ancient Egypt," in Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, ed. Byron E. Shafer (Ithaca, 1991), 7-87, esp. 9-30. See also Ornan, Triumph; W. G. Lambert, "Sumerian Gods: Combining the Evidence of Texts and Art," in Sumerian Gods and Their Representations, ed. I. L. Finkel and M. J. Geller, CM, 7 (Groningen, 1997), 1-10; idem, "Ancient Mesopotamian Gods: Superstition, Philosophy, Thology," RHR 20 (1990): 115-30.

(10.) Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich., 2002), 19-31: michael David Coogan, "Canaanite Origins and Lineage: Reflections on the Religion of Ancient Israel," in Ancient Israelite Religion: Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross, ed. Patrick D. Miller, Jr., Paul D. Hanson, and S. Dean McBride (Philadelphia, 1987), 115-24: John Day, "Ugarit and the Bible: Do They Presuppose the Same Canaanite Mythology and Religion?" in Ugarit and the Bible: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Ugarit and the Bible, Manchester, September, 1992, ed. George J. Brooke, Adrian H. W. Curtis, and John F. Healey (Munster, 1994), 35-52.

(11.) "The Common Theology of the Ancient Near East," JBL 71 (1952): 135-47.

(12.) Bernhard Lang, The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity (New Haven, 2002); Nicholas Wyatt, "Deress of Divinity: Some Mythical and Ritual Aspects of West Semitic Kingship," UF 31 (1999): 853-87; Edward L. Greenstein, "The God of Israel and the Gods of Canaan: How Different Were They?" in Proceedings of the Twelfth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, July 29-August 5, 1997, Division A (Jerusalem, 1999), 47-58; J. J. M. Roberts, "Divine Freedom and Cultic Manipualtion in Israel and Mesopotamia," in idem, The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Collected Essays (Winona Lake, Ind., 2002), 72-85; E. Thodore Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods: The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, Harvard Semitic Monographs, 24 (Chico, Cal. 1980). On biblical monotheism anddivine plurality, see Nathan MacDonald, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of "monotheism" (Tubingen, 2003); Smith, Early History of God; idem, Origins of Biblical Monotheims; John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. JSOT Supplement Series, 265 (Sheffield, 2000); Samuel Shaviv, "The Polytheistic Origins of the Biblical Flood Narrative." VT 54 (2004): 527-48; David Noel Freedman, "'Who is Like Thee Among the Gods?' The Religion of Ancient Israel," in Ancient Israelite Religion, 315-35.

(13.) On biblical anthropomorphism and an anthropomorphic deity, see further Frank Michaeli, Dieu a I'image de I'homme. Etude de la notion anthropomorphique de Dieu dans I'Ancien Testament (Neuchatel-Paris. 1950); James Barr, "Theophany and Anthropomorphism in the OT," VTSup 7 (1960): 31-38; Edmon LaB. Cherbonnier, "The Monotheistic Myth," Immanuel 14 (Spring 1982): 7 25 (= "Myth and Reality in Ancient Israel," in The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations, ed. S. N. Eisenstadt [Albany, 1986], 135-68); Jacob Neusner, "Conversation in Nauvoo about the Corporeality of God," BYU Studies 36 (1996-1997): 7-30; Stephen Moore, "Gigantic God: Yahweh's Body," JSOT 70 (1996): 87-115; Karel van der Toorn, "God (1)," in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, ed. Karel van der Toorn, Boh Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 2nd ed. (Leiden, 1999; hereafter DDD), 361-65; J. Andrew Dcarman, "Theophany, Anthropomorphism, and the Imago Dei: Some Observations about the Incarnation in the Light of the Old Testament," in the Incarnation: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God, ed. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O'Collins (New York, 2002). 31-46; James L. Kugel, The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible (New York, 2003), 5-107; Ulrich Mauser, "God in Human Form," Ex Audita 16 (2000): 81-100; idem, "Image of God and Incarnation." Int 2A (1970): 336-56; David J. A. Clines, "Yahweh and the God of Christian Theology," Theology 83 (1980): 323-30; Hamori, "When Gods Were Men."

(14.) Fazlur Rahnman, "The Quranic Concept of God, the Universe and Man," Islamic Studies 6 (1967): 2.

(15.) Morris S. Scal, Muslim Thology: A Study of Origins with Reference to the Church Fathers (London, 1964); R. M. Frank, "The Neoplatonism of Gahm ibn Safwan," Museon 78 (1965): 395 424; idem, "The Divine Attribates According to the Teachings of Abu l-Hadahyl al-Allaf," Mujseon 82 (1969): 451-506; Binyamin Abrahamoy, "'Abbad ibn Sulayman on God's Transcendence: Some Notes," Der Islam 71 (1994): 109-20; idem,"Fahral-din al-Razi on the Knowability of God's Essence and Attributes," Arabica 49 (2002): 204-30; Ian Richard Netton, Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology (London, 1989).

(16.) Aaron Huges, "The Stranger at the Sea: Mythopoesis in the Qur'an and Early Tafsir," SR 32 (2003): 261-79, at 266 argues: "The Qur'an is not only a genizah of various trajectories of biblical and near eastern aggadot, but also a kaleidoscope which gives these trajectories a new vision." Islam and the Religions of the Ancient Orient: A reappraisal," JNSL 12 (1984), 125-31; Ilse Lichtenstadter, "Origin and Interpretation of Some Our'anic Symbols," in Studi orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della Vida, vol. 2 (Rome, 1956), 58-80; idem, "Origin and Interpretation of Some Koranie Symbols," in Arabic and Islamic Studies in Honor of Hamilton A. R. Gibb, ed. George Makdisi (Cambridge, Mass., 1965), 426 36; Geo Widengren, Muhammad, the Apostle of God, and His Ascension (King and Saviour 5) (Uppsala, 1955). Though ancient Arabia is sometimes thought of as religiously isolated from the ANE, archeological and epi graphic evidence for North and South Arabia indicates otherwise. As relatively scant as this evidence is, nevertheless it clearly shows pre-Islamic Arabia to have been within the "mythological orbit" of the Near East, particularly in terms of motifs of the gods. For example, motifs associated with the cult of baetyls; the motif of the deity and his three hypostatic daughters; the motif of the winged disk and its tauroform compliment; the divine triad; and the motif of the antropomorphic god surrounced by his divine assembly, all characteristic of the ANE mythic tradition, were part of the Arabian mythic tradition as well. See, e.g., Werner Daum, Ursemitische Religion (Stuttgart, 1985); Hildegard Lewy, "Origin and Significance of the Magen David: A Comparative Study of the Ancient Religions of jerusalem and Mecca," Archiv Orientalni 18 (1950): 330-65; Ult Oldenbur, "Above the Stars of El: El in Ancient South Arabic Religion," ZAW 82 (1970): 187 208; Javier Teixidor, The Pagan God: Popular Religion in the Greco-Roman Near East (Princeton, 1977); Cyrus H. Gordon, "The Daughters of Baal and Allah," MW 33 (1943): 50-51; Stephanie Dalley, "The God Salmu and the Wingen Disk," Iraq 48 (1986): 85-101.

(17.) On the mythological assonance among the three Semitic religions, see, e.g., A. J. Wensinck, The Ideas of Western Semites Concerning the Navel of the Earth (Amsterdam, 1916); idem, The Ocean in the Literature of the Western Semites (Amsterdam, 1918); idem, Tree and Bird as cosmological Symbols in Western Asia (Amsterdam, 1921).

(18.) As Johr. C. Reeves noted ("Preface," in idem [ed.], Bible and Qur'an: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality [Leiden, 2004], ix), the Qur'an "places itself within the biblical world of discourse." See also Daniel A. Madigan, The Qur'an's Self-Image: Writing and Authority in Islam's Scripture (Princeton, 2001), 193: "What is often overlooked in discussing the relationship of Islam to earlier religious traditions is that the Qur'an in effect chooses to define itself in their terms."

(19.) E. E. Peters, The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam (Princeton, 2004), I. See also Sachiko Murata and william C. Chittick, The Vision of Islam (New YorK, 1994), xviii: "The Koran, the Hadith, and the whole Islamic tradition maintain that the God of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims is a single God." This insistence is, of course, Qur'anic: see Q 29:46; 42:14, 2:130-36.

(20.) Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (Leiden, 1954-2004); hereafter El (2)), 10: Q 343 s.v. "Tashbih wa Tanzih" (Josef van Ess). See also El (2), 1: 412a s.v. "Allah" (L. Gard): "the MU'tazilite schools ... wished to justify dialectically the Muslim notion of God, in face of the Greek-inspired 'God of the philosophers.' On the Mu'tazila and Hellenism, see further Watt, The Formative Period of Islamic Though (Edinburgh, 1973), 249. On Hellenism and Islam generally, see E. E. Peters, "Hellenism and the Near East," BA (Winter 1983): 33-39; idem, Allah's Commonwealth: A History of Islam in the Near East 600-1200 A. D. (New York. 1973): idem, "The Origins of Islamic Platonism: The School Tradition," in Islamic Philosophical Theology, ed. Parviz Morewedge (Albany, 1979), 14-45; Gustave E. Von Grunebaum, "Islam and Hellenism," in idem, Islam and Madieval Hellenism: Social and Cultural Perspectives, ed. Dunning S. Wilson (London, 1976), 21-27; Averil Cameron, "The Eastern Provinces in the 7th Century A.D.: Hellenism and the Emergence of Islam," in Hellenismos. Quelques jalons pour une histoire de l'identite gracque. Actes du Colloque de Strasbourg. 25-27 octobre 1989, ed. S. Said (Leiden, 1991), 287-313; W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh, 1985), 37-49: G. W. Bowersock, "Hellenism and Islam," in idem. Hellenism in Late Antiquity, Jerome Lectures 18 (Ann Arbor, 1990), 71-82; W. F. Albright, "Islam and the Religions of the Ancient Orient," JAOS 60 (1940): 283-301.

(21.) On Mu'tazilism and the Shi'a, see Wilferd Madelung, "Imamism and Mu'tazilite Theology," in idem, Religious Schools and Sects in Medieval Islam (London, 1985), VII.

(22.) Sherman A. Jackson, On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali's Faysal al-Tafriqa (Oxford, 2002), 16-29. On the early orthodox rejection of Greek scientific works thought to be "contaminated" by theological error, see Ignaz Goldziher, "The Attitude of Orthodox Islam Toward the Ancient Sciences," in Studies on Islam, ed. Merlin L. Swartz (New York, 1981), 185-215.

(23.) See Wesley Williams, "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya: A Study of Anthorpomorphic Theophany and Visio Dei in the Hebrew Bible, the Qur'an and Early Sunni Islam" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of michigan, 2008). On anthropomorphisms within the Sunna, see also Daniel Gimaret, Dieu a l'image de i'homme: Les anthropomorphismes de la sunna et leur interpretation par les thologiens (Paris, 1997).

(24.) On the Semitic Near East context of Homeric and Hesiodic myth, see Carolina Lopez-Ruiz, "Some Oriental Elements in Hesiod and the Orphic Cosmogonies," Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 6 (2006): 71-104; Walter Burkert, Babylon, Memphis, persepolis: Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture (Cambridge, Mass., 2004); idem, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (Cambridge, Mass., 1992); Robert Mondi, "Greek Mythic Thought in the Light of the Near East," in Approaches to Greek Myth, ed. Lowell Edmunds (Baltimore, 1990), 141-98.

(25.) Vernant, "Dim Body," 37. See also Mahabharata 3.40.49: "Mahadeva (Siva) attacked the afflicted [Arjuna] with martial splendor and brilliance, stunning him out of his wits." Trans. James W. Laine, Visions of God: Narrative of Theophany in the Mahabharata (Vienna, 1989), 71; M. Streck, Assurbanipal and die letzten assyrischen Knoige bis zum Untergange Niniveh's (Leipzig, 1916), 2, 8, 10; 84-88: "the radiance of Assur and Istar overwhelmed him (Luli, King of Sidon) and he went crazy."

(26.) The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1975-; hereafter TDOT), 7: 29-30 s.v. kabod [V. Divine Glory in the Ancient Near East] (M. Weinfeld); E. Cassin, La "Splendeur divine melammu," JAOS 63 (1943): 31-34.

(27.) "Akkadian pul(u)h(t)u and melammu," 31.

(28.) Ibid.

(29.) On the garment-as-body metaphor, see Jung Hoon Kim, The Significance of Clothing Imagery in the Pauline Corpus (London, 2004), 44-52; Geo Widengren, The Great Vohu Manah and the Apostle of God: Studies in Iranian and Manichaean Religion (Uppsala, 1945), 50-55, 76-83; J. M. Rist, "A Common Metaphor." in idem, Plotinus: The Road to Reality (Cambridge, 1967), 188-98.

(30.) Oppenheim, "Akkadian pul(u)h(t)u and malammu," 31-34; Nahum M. Waldman, "A Note on Ezekiel 1:18," JBL 103 (1984): 615.

(31.) Oppenheim, "Akkadian pul(u)h(t)u and malammu," 31-33.

(32.) Splender divine, 79ff.

(33.) Oppenheim, "Akkadian pul(u)h(t)u and melammu," 32: "Thus the attire of the gods in their epihany was composed of a pulhu (or puluhtu) as garment and of a melammu as head-gear."

(34.) CAD s.v. melammu; George E. Mendenhall. The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical 'Tradition (Baltimore, 1973), 32-56.

(35.) Assyrian sources quoted from mencenhall. The Tenth Generation, 48.

(36.) Quoted from Weinfeld (TDOT, 7: 29-30 s.v. kabod [V. Divine Glory in the Ancient Near East]) who notes: "The terrible countenance is that of the goddess; it beams forth radiance and splendor like that of the fod Nanna, whose face is full of radiance (sag-ki-bi me-lam-gal-gim)."

(37.) Vernant, "Dim Body," 37.

(38.) Cf. the well-known story of Semele who wanted to see her lover Zeus in his glory, but when he appeared in his lightning-like splendor, she could not bear it and was struck dead by a thunderbolt: Apollodorus, Libr. 3, 4.3; Ovid, Met 3, 253-315. See Robin Lane Fox, "Seeing the Gods," in idem, Pagans and Christians (New York, 1987), 106-10; Gerard Mussies, "Identification and Self-Identification of Gods in Classical and Hellenistic Greece," in Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World, ed., R. van den Broek, T. Baarda, and J. Mansfeld (Leiden, 1988), 3. On the lethality of seeing the Egyptian gods, see Dmitri Meeks, "Divine Bodies." in Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. ed. Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks (Ithaca, 1996), 58.

(39.) Vernant, "Dim Body." 37: "'The paradox of the divine body is that in order to appear to mortals, it must cease to be itself, it must clothe itself in a mist, disguise itself as a mortal, take the form of a bird, a star, a rainbow."

(40.) Vernant, "Dim Body," 35; Renehan, "On the Greek Origins," 108-9; Arthur Stanley Pease, "Some Aspects of Invisibility." Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 53 (1942): 8-11.

(41.) On the nature of this metamorphosis, see Vernant, "Dim Body," 31-32; Jenny Clay, "Demas and Aude: The Nature of Divine Transformation in Homer," Hermes 102 (1974): 129-36.

(42.) Vernant, "Dim Body," 36: Mussies, "Identification and Self-Identification"; Clay, "Demas and Aude"; H. S. Versnel, "What Did Ancient Man See When He Saw a God? Some Reflections on Greco-Roman Epiphany," in Effigies Dei: Essays on the History of Religions, ed. Dirk van der Plas (Leiden, 1987), 45-46; H. J. Rose, "Divine Disguises," HTR 49 (1956): 62-72.

(43.) Van der Toorn, "God (1)," 361f.: "The Israelite concept of God shares many traits with the beliefs of its neighbors. The most fundamental correspondence concerns the anthropomorphic nature ascribed to God. God's anthropomorphism is external ... as well as internal (also called anthropopathism) ... God's qualities are human qualities, yet purified from imperfection and amplified to superhuman dimensions. Sincerity and reliability are human virtues--even if only God is wholly sincere and reliable. Strength, too, is not the exclusive prerogative of God; he is merely incomparably stronger than humans or animals. In view of the passages dwelling upon the contrast between God and man, the thesis of God's anthropomorphism should be modified in this sense that God is more than human. Though man has been created in the image of God ... there is a huge difference of degree--yet not of nature. In this respect the view found in the Hebrew Bible does not radically differ from the conviction concerning the similarity between gods and humans in the Babylonian Atrahasis myth. God has human form, but not human size. In visions, God proves to be so high and exalted that the earthly temple can barely contain the fringes of his mantel (Isa. 6:1). Gates have to lift their heads when God enters Jerusalem (Ps. 24:7, 9). In addition to his physical size (which transcends even the highest heaven, 1 Kgs 8:27), God surpasses humans in such aspects as wisdom (Job 32:13) and power (Ezek 28:9). His divine superiority also has a moral side: God excels in righteousness (Job 4:17; 9:2; 25:4), faithfulness (e.g., Deut 32:4), and other moral qualities."

(44.) Hendel, "Aniconism and Anthropomorphism,"223, 225.

(45.) Smith, Origins of Biblical Monotheism, 93-97.

(46.) See Williams, "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya," 45-54; George W. Savran, Encountering the Divine: Theophany in Biblical Narrative, JSOT Supplement Series, 420 (London, 2005), chap. 6; Christoph Dohmen, [much less than]"Nicht sieht mich der Mensch und lebt[much greater than] (Ex 33, 20): Aspekte der Gottesschau im Alten Testament.'" jahrhucli fiir biblische Theolofie 13. (1998): 36.

(47.) Silvia Schroer and Thomas Staubli, Body Symbolism in the Bible (Collegeville, Minn., 2001), 32: " ... if there was anything with which the divinities of the Ancient Near East, including YHWH, had nothing at all to do and from which they were sharply distinguished, it was human "flesh," the very essence of vulnerability and mortality." Also, p. 206: "The substance of the gods is of precious metals rather than "flesh," and so that word basar (flesh) is the only one among the many Hebrew words for body and its parts that is never applied to God, and is frequently contrasted to YHWH as the very symbol of all that is mortal." Sec also H. Wheeler Robinson, "Hebrew Psychology," in The People and the Book: Essays on the Old Testament, ed. Arthur S. Peake (Oxford, 1925), 367: "Yahweh's body is shaped like man's, but its substance is not flesh but 'spirit,' and spirit seen as a blaze of light. It is true that the imageless worship of prophetic religion repudiates the making of any likeness of God. and not form was seen in the storm-theophany of Sinai (Deut. iv. 12). But it is one thing to shrink from the vision of the form, and another to deny that a form exists, though a form wrought out of ruach-subslance " On the metallic bodies of the deities, see further Lise Manniche, "The Body Colours of Gods and Man in Inlaid Jewellery and Related Objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamun," AcOr 43 (1982): 5-12; Meeks, "Divine Bodies," 57.

(48.) For a tradition-history of the kabod in the Hebrew Bible (hereafter HB), see especially Carey C. Newman, Puul is Glory-Christology: Tradition and Rhetoric (Leiden, 1992). See also TDOT, 7: 23-38 s.v. kabod (Weinfeld); Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (hereafter TDNT; Grand Rapids, Mich., 1964-), 2: 238-47 s.v. [DELTA]O[epsilon]A: C. kabod in the OT (G. von Rad).

(49.) TDNT, 2: 241 s.v. [DELTA]O[epsilon][alpha]: C. kabod in the OT (G. von Rad). On the luminous, anthropomorphic kabod of P and priestly tradition, see Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deutoronomic School (Oxford, 1972), 191-209, esp. 200-206; RDOT. 7: 31-33 s.v. kabod (Weinfeld). Tryggve N.D. Mettinger, The Dethronement of Sabaoth: Studies in the Shem and Kabod Theologies (Lund, 1982), chaps. 3 and 4: J.E. Fossum, "glorry," DDD.348-52; A Joseph Everson, "Ezekiel and the Glory of the Lord Tradition." in Sin, Salvation, and the Spirit, ed. Daniel Durken (Collegeville, Minn., 19790, 163-76; Moshe Greenberg, Ezekiel 1-20, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, N.Y., 1983), 52f.; idem, "Ezekiel's Vision: Literary and Iconographic Aspects," in History, Historiography and Interpretation, ed. H. Tadmor and M. Weinfeld (Jerusalem, 1983), 159-68.

A number of scholars have sought to distance Ezekiel's anthropomorphic kabod from P's "abstract" kabod (e.g., Israe: Knohl, The Sanctuary of Silence: The Priestly Torah and the Holiness School [Minneapolis, 1995], 128-37). Walther Eifhrodt. Theology of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Philodelphia, 1961), 2:32 understood P's kabod to be "a formless brightness of light" and Julian Morgenstern, "Biblical Theophanies," ZA 25 (1911): 154 assumed that the kebhod jahwe of P, other than being "something like fire" enveloped in the "cloud of Jahwe," has "no particular shape." But these claims are based on the false assumption that P's theology is anti-anthropomorphist, an assumption that is to be rejected. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School. 200f. is surely correct: "Corporeal representation of the Deity in the Priestly document found its clearest expression in the conception of the 'Glory of God', against which the book of Deuteronomu promulgated its doctrine of 'God's Name'. The underlying imagery of the concept of God's Glory, 'the kabod of Yahweh," embedded in Priestly tradition is drawn from corporeal and not abstract terms"; Smith, Early History of God. 144 (=idem, Origins, 90): "The use of demut, "likeness," and seiem, "image," in Genesis 1:26-28 presupposes the vision of the anthropomorphic god ... Genesis I achieves the opposite effect of Ezekiel 1:26. While Ezekiel 1:26 conveys the prophet's vision of Yahweh in the likeness of the human person. Genesis I presents a vision of the human person in the likeness of the divine." See also Elliot Rs. Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Prenceton, 1994), 23 n. 55.

(50.) Fig., Lev 10:1f.

(51.) Cf.Ps.97:3f.: "fire goes before Him, and burns up his adversaries round about." On the danger posed by the kabod of Yahweh to Yahweh's enemies and trnsgressing Israclites, see TDOT, 7:31 s.v. kabod (weinfeld); Julian Morgenstera, TheFire Upon the Altar (Chicago, 1963), 11: idem, "Biblical Theophanies." 144-48.

(52.) Exod 33"17-23. See also morgenstern, Fire Upon the Altar, 16.

(53.) TDOT. 7:31 s.v. kabod (Weinfeld), Gerhard von Rad, "Deuteronomy's 'Name' Theology and the Priestly Documents' 'kabod' Theology" in idem. Studies in Deuteronomy (Chicago, 1953), 39. On the enveloping black cloud, see TDOT 11:371 s.v. "rapel (Mulder), 5:245-58 s.v. hasak (Mitchel et al.), 11:256, s.v. 'anan (Freedman and Willoughby); Chaim Cohen, "The Basic Meaning of the Term 'Arapel 'Darkness'," Hebrew Studies 36 (1995); 7-12' J.A. Loader, "The Concept of Darkness in the Hebrew Root 'RB/'RP." in De Fructu Oris Sui. Essays in Honour of Adrianus Van Selms, ed. I.H. Eybers et al. (Leiden, 1971), 98-107; Forrest Charles Cornelius, "The Theological Sgnificance of Darkness in the Old Testament" (Ph.D. diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1990). 12-51, 103-10; Leopold Sabourin, "The Biblical Cloud: Terminology and Traditions," BTB 4 (1974); 290-312.

(54.) E.g., Num 16:19, 20:16, See TDOT, 7:31 s.v. kabod (Weinfeld); Morgenstern, Fire Upon the Altar, 11; idem, "Biblical Theophanies," 144-48.

(55.) Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1962-65), 1:145, 46: "Actually, Israel conceived even Jahweh himself as having human form ... But the way of putting it which we use runs in precisely the wrong direction according to Old Testament ideas, for, according to the ideas of Jahwism, it cannot be said that Israel regarded God anthropomorphically, but the reverse, that she considered man as theomorphioc ... It has been rightly said that Ezek. 1:26 is the theological prelude to the locus classicus for the imago doctrine in Gen. 1:26 ... nevertheless at the same time an infinite difference and distance is tacitly recognized--first in the matter of mere stature, for Israel conceived Jahweh as gigantic (Mic. I. 3ff.; Is. LXIII. 1ff.; Ps. XXIV. 9), but also different and distant as regards quality, for the kabod which man has cannot, of course, be remotely compared with the fiery, intensely radiant light which is the nature of Jahweh ... Jahweh him-self was conceived as man," On the epithet "man" and "mighty man" used of God, see Gen 18; 32:24-30; Ex 15:3; 33:1 l; Isa 54:4; Hos 2:18; Ps 24:7-10; 78: 65; Isa 42:13; Zeph 1:14, 3:17; Jer 20:11; 1QM, xii, 9-10; 1QM, xix, 2; A. Marmorstein, The Old Rabbinic Doctrine of God, 2 vols. (New York, 1968), 7ff., 65ff.; J. Massingberg Ford, "The Epithet 'Man' for God," The Irish Theological Quarterly 38 (1971): 1: 72-76; TDOT 1: 230-33 s.v. IS; 'Isshah (Bratsiotis and Chernick), 2: 373-77 s.v. gabhar V gibber (Kosmala).

(56.) As John F. Kutsko ("Ezekiel's Anthropology and Its Ethical Implications," in The Book of Ezekiel: Theological and Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Margaret S. Odell and John T. Strong [Atlanta, 2000], 132) notes: "In 1:26-28, Ezekiel struggles to find appropriate language that indicates both human likeness and divine incomparability." See also Daniel I. Block, "Text and Emotion: A Study in the 'Corruptions' in Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision (Ezekiel 1:4-28)," CBQ 50 (1988): 429-30; Wolfson, Through a Speculum, 121; Greenberg, Ezekiel 1-20, 52f.; idem, "Ezekiel's Vision," 159-68; Christopher Rowland, The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (London, 1982), 95.

(57.) Savran, Encountering the Divine, 19: "In the case of Ezekiel one sees the initiate's fascination in the elaborately detailed description of the chariot. Yet when he actually sees the figure on the heavenly chariot he faints, not out of rapture, but out of fright in the face of the numinous ... While elsewhere the phrase ('I fell on my face' v. 28) has connotations of prayer, or dismay, here it indicates physical breakdown." See also ibid., 116-19; Block, "Text and Emotion," 430-31, 434.

(58.) Von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 1: 146: "The light-phenomenon of the 'glory of God' [in Ezekiel 1] clearly displays human contours ... nevertheless at the same time an infinite difference and distance is tacitly recognised."

(59.) "Anthropomorphism, Holiness and Cult: A New Look at Ezekiel 40-48," ZAW 110 (1998): 192.

(60.) The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1997), 104, 106, 108.

(61.) See further Gilles Quispel, "Ezekiel 1:26 in Jewish Mysticism and Gnosis," VC 34 (1980): 1-13; Martin Samuel Cohen, The Shi'ur Qomah: Liturgy and Theurgy in Pre-Kabhalistic Jewish Mysticism (Lanham, Md., 1983), 52ff.; Pieter W. van der Horst, "The Measurement of the Body: A Chapter in the History of Ancient Jewish Mysticism." in Effigies Dei. ed. van der Plas, 56-68; Alon Goshen Gottstein, "The Body as image of God in Rabbinic Literature," HTR 87 (1994): 171-95 (but cf. the rejoinder by David H. Aaron, "Shedding Light on God's Body in Rabbinic Midrashim: Reflections on the Theory of a Luminous Adam," HTR 90 [1997]: 299-314); Rachel Elior, "The Concept of God in Hekhalot Literature." in Binah: Studies in Jewish Thought, ed. Joseph Dan (New York, 1989), 97-120: Wolfson, Through a Speculum That Shines; Andrei A. Orlov, "Ex 33 on God's Face: A Lesson from the Enochic Tradition," SBL Seminar Papers 39 (2000): 130-47; idem, " 'Without Measure and With out Analogy': The Tradition of the Divine Body in 2 (Slavonic) Enoch;' JJS 56 (2005): 224-44; C. R. A. Morray-Jones, "The Body of Glory: The Shi'ur Qomah in Judaism, Gnosticism and the Epistle to the Ephesians," in The Mystery of God: Early Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament, ed. Christopher Rowland and C. R. A. Morray-Jones (Leiden, 2009).

(62.) Seyoon Kim, The Origin of Paul's Gospel (Tubingen, 1981), 137-267: Alan F. Segal, "Paul and the Beginning of Jewish Mysticism," in Death, Ecstasy, and Other Worldly Journeys, ed. John J. Collins and Michael Fishbane (New York, 1995), 95-122; idem, Paul the Convert. The Apostolate and Apostasy (New Haven, 1990), 35-71; Gedaliahu G. Stroumsa, "Form(s) of God: Some Notes on Metatron and Christ," HTR 76 (1983): 269-88; Jarl F. Fossum, "Jewish-Christian Christology and Jewish Mysticism," VC 37 (1983): 260-87; idem, "The Image of the Invisible God: Colossians 1.15-18a in the Light of Jewish Mysticism and Gnosticism," in idem, The Image of the Invisible God: Essays on the Influence of Jewish Mysticism on Early Christology, NTOA, 30 (Fribourg and Gottingen. 1995), 13-39; Markus Bockmuehl, "'The Form of God' (Phil. 2:6): Variation on a Theme of Jewish Mysticism," JTS 48 (1997): 1-23; Alexander Colitzin, "'The Demons Suggest an Illusion of God's Glory in a Form': Controversy Over the Divine Body and Vision of Glory in Some Late Fourth, Early Fifth Century Monastic Literature." Studia Monastica 44 (2002): 13-42; idem, "The Vision of God and the Form of Glory: More Reflections on the Anthropomorphite Controversy of AD 399," in Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West: Fest-Schrift for Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, ed. John Behr, Andrew Louth, and Dimitri Conomos (Crestwood, N.Y., 2003), 273-97.

(63.) "Sunni Kalam and Theological Controversies,' in History of Islamic Phlosophy, ed. Seyyed Hussein Nasr" and Oliver Leaman, 2 vols. (London, 1996), 1: 105.

(64.) The Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (Leiden, 2001 -6; hereafter EQ), 1:106 s.v. Anthropomorphism (Martin). See also Jackson, On the Boundaries, 20.

(65.) Josef van Ess, Theologie and Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra, 6 vols. (Berlin, 1991-97; hereafter TG), 4: 374. But cf. ibid., 4:416.

(66.) Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (Leiden, 1913-1938; hereafter EI) (1), 1: 302b, 306a s.v. Allah (Macdonald).

(67.) Gimaret, Dieu a I'image de I'homme, 14.

(68.) For references and discussion, see ibid., 189-227.

(69.) EQ, 1: 106 s.v. Anthropomorphism (Martin); van Ess, TG, 4: 376ff.

(70.) EQ, 1: 106ff. s.v. Anthropomorphism (Martin), 2: 316-31 s.v. God and His Attributes (Bowering); Gimaret, Dieu a I'image de I'homme; van Ess, TG, particularly vol. 4; idem, "Tashbih wa-Tanzih," in EI (2) 10: 341-44; idem, "The Youthful God: Anthropomorphism in Early Islam," The University Lecture in Religion at Arizona State University, March 3, 1988 (Tempe, 1988); Claude Gilliot, "Muqatil, grand exegete, traditionniste et theologien maudit," Journal asiatique 279 (1991): 39-92; EI (1), 4: 685f. s.v. Tashbih (Strothmann); Michel Allard, Le ]Probleme des attributs divins dans la doctrine d 'al-As'ari et de ses premiers grands disciples (Beirut, 1965); Helmut Ritter, Das Meer der Seele (Leiden, 1955), 445-503 (= Helmut Ritter, The Ocean of the Soul: Men, the World and God in the Stories of Farid al-Din 'Attar, tr. and ed. John O'Kane and Bernd Radtke [Leiden, 2003], 448-519); Kees Wagtendonk, "Images in Islam: Discussion of a Paradox," in Effigies Dei, 112-29; J. M. S. Baljon, 'Qur'anic Anthropomorphisms," Islamic Studies 27 (1988); 119-27; W. Montgomery Wan. "Some Muslim Discussions of Anthropomorphism" and "Created in His Image: A Study in Islamic Theology," in idem, Early Islam: Collected Articles (Edinburgh, 1990), 86-93, 94-100; Georges C. Anawati, "Attributes of God: Islamic Concepts," in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed. (Detroit, 2005; hereafter ER2), 1: 616-22; A. Al-Azmeh, "Orthodoxy and Hanbalite Fideism," Arabica 35 (1988): 253-66; Robert M. Haddad. "Iconoclasts and Mu'tazila: The Politics of Anthropomorphism," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 27 (Summer-Fall 1982): 287-305; W. Madelung, "The Origins of the Controversy Concerning the Creation of the Koran." in idem, Religious Schools and Sects in Medieval Islam (London, 1985), V. Sweetman, Islam and Christian Theology, 1.2: 27-47; Binyamin Abrahamov, Anthropomorphism and Interpretation of the Qur'an in the Theology of al-Qusim ihn Ibrahim: Kitab al-Mustarshid (Leiden, 1996); idem, Al-Kasim b. Ibrahim on the Proof of God's Existence: Kitab al-Dalil al-Kabir (Leiden, 1990), 25ff.; Merlin Swartz, A Medieval Critique of Anthropomorphism," The Arabis: 21-22 (1999): 27-36; 'Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Jawzi, The Attributes of God, tr. 'Abdullah bin Hamid 'Ali (Bristol, 2006); Wesley Williams, "Aspects of the Creed of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: A Study of Anthropomorphism in Early Islamic Discourse," International Journal of Middle East Studies 34 (2002): 441-63; idem, "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya"; Mohammad Hassan Khalil, "A Closer Look at the Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Western Obsession with the Medieval Muslim Theological Obsession with Anthropomorphism," Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 17 (2006): 387-401. This is a very short list in comparison to for example, the amount of ink that has been spilled over Biblical and Jewish anthropomorphism. I thus do not really understand to what Khalil refers when he speaks of the "modern Western obsession" with the issue of Islamic anthropomorphism and the pre-modern discussion of it.

(71). Ritter, Das Meer der Seele. 439 (- The Ocean of the Soul, 453, there translated as "abomination").

(72). Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and. Law (New Jersey, 1981), 92.

(73). See especially Barr; "Theophany and Anthropomorphism."

(74). David Stern. "Imitatio Hominis: Anthropomorphism and the Character(s) of God in Rabbinic Literature," Proofiexts 12(1992): 151.

(75). See below,

(76). On Ibn Hanbal and Sunni orthodoxy, sec Christopher Melchert, "Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and the Qur'an," Journal of Qur'anic: Studies 6.2 (2004): 22: Tilman Nagel, The History of Islamic Theology from Muhammad to the Present (Princeton, 2000). 237; Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 3 vols. (Chicago, 1974), 1: 391-92 n. 12.

(77). Williams, "Aspects of the Creed."

(78). Ibn Abi Yala, Tabaqat al-Hanabila, ed. Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqi, 2 vols. (Cairo, 1952), I: 309.

(79). Ibn Taymiyya, Dar' ta'arud al-'aql wa-l-naql, Muhammad Rashad Salim, 10 vels. (Riyadh, 1979), 1: 256.

80. Ibid.

(81). On the Jahmiyya, see EI (2), 2: 388 s.v. Djahmiyya (Watt); Abdus Subhan, "Al-Jahm bin Safwan and His Philosophy," IC 11 (1937): 221-27. On the artificiality of an alleged Jahmiyya sect, see Watt, Formative Period, 143-48.

(82.) Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Radd'ala t-zanadiqa wa-l-jahmiyya (Cairo, 1393 H [1973]), 36f.

(83.) 'Abd Allah b. ahmad b. Hanbal, Kitab al-Sunna, ed. Muhammad b. Sa'ld b. salim al-qahtani, 2 vols (damman, 1986), 1: 280 nos. 533, 534.

(84.) Le Livre du triomphe. ed. H.S. Nyberg (Cairo, 1925), 133.

(85.) Gimaret, Dieu al' unage, 28.

(86.) Madelung, "The Origins of the Controversy," V: 505f.

(87.) E;', 4: 686 s.v. Tashbih (strothmann).

(88). See Williams, "Aspects of the Creed."

(89). EI (2), 1: 275a s.v. Ahmad b. Hanbal (Laoust).

(90). For example, al-Baghdadi Kitab Usul al din [Istanbul. 1928], 74 1. 14--p. 75) clearly has anthropomorphism in mind when he criticizes the mushabbiha:

[The mushabbiha] said: "We likened Him to man's image because of His saying, may He be exalted, 'surely We created man in the most beautiful creation (Q 95:4)'." They said: "The most beautiful creation is a creation in the image of God." Also they brought forth as proof the saying of the Prophet, may God bless him and give him peace, "God created man in His [own?] image." And they brought as a proof for His having organs 1 his saying. "The face of your Lord does last (Q 55:27)" and "I created by My hands (Q 38:75)." And [it is said] in a tradition: "The Omnipotent put His foot in fire." And they related: "The believer's heart is between two of God's fingers."

(91). Ibn Taymiyya, Dar' taarud al-'aql wa-l-naql 115f., 2481". See also Sherman Jackson's discussion. "Ibn Taymiyyah on Trial in Damascus," Journal of Semitic Studies 39 f 1 994): 5 I IT.

(92). Ibn Abi I-'IZZ., Shark al-'Aqida al-tahawiyya, ed. 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muhsin al-Turki, 2 vols. (Beirut, 1408/1987), 1: 57 (= Commentary on the Creed of at-Tahawi by Ibn Abi al-'Izz. tr. Muhammad 'Abdul-Haqq Ansari [Riyadh, 2000], 23).

(93). Ibn Abi I-Izz, Shark; 1: 62 (= Commentary, 27).

(94.) Ibid., 1: 63 (- Commentary, 28).

(95.) Ibid.. 1: 93ff. (= Commentary, 44117). The definite article used with God's attributes is probably germane here, e.g., al-'Amin (God) vs. 'amin (the Prophet).

(96.) Abdoldjavad Falaturi, "How Can a Muslim Experience God, Given Islam's Radical Monotheism," in We Believe in One God: The Experience of God in Christianity and Islam, ed. Anriemarie Schimmel and Abdoldjavad Falaturi (New York, 1979), 78.

(97.) Eberhard Otto, Gott und Mensch nach den agyptischen Tempeliuschriften der griechisch-romischen Zeit (Heidelberg, 1964), 11ff.

(98.) See van Ess, "Youthful God." 14 n. 12.

(99.) On anthropomorphisms in Second Isaiah. see .). Kenneth Eakins, "Anthropomorphisms in Isaiah 40-55," Hebrew Studies 20-21 (1979-1980): 47-50.

(100.) Paul Trudinger, '"To Whom Then Will You Liken God?' (A Note on the Interpretation of Isaiah XL 18-20)," VT 17 (1967): 220, 224.

(101.) See C. J. Labuschagne's study, The Incomparahility of Yahweh in the Old 'Testament, POS. 5 (Leiden, 1966).

(102.) (New York. 1968), 152.

(103.) Goldziher. Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, 93.

(104.) Ibn Hanbal, al-Radd 'aid l-zanddiqa wa-l-jahtnlyya, 20.

(105). Ibid.

(106.) Van Ess, TG 4: 378; Gilliot, "Muqatil," 57.

(107.) Kitab Akhbar al-sifat, ed. and tr. Merlin Swartz in A Medieval Critique of Anthropomorphism., 29 (Arabic).

(108.) Ibid.

(109.) E. W. Lane, Arabic '-English Lexicon (Cambridge, 1984), s.v. sura.

(110.) On Ibn al-'Arabi's al-lnsdn al-Kamil, see John T. Little, "Al-Insdn al-Kamil: The Perfect Man According to Ibn al-'Arabi," MW77 (1987): 43-54.

(111.) See n. 134 below.

(112.) See n. 153 below.

(113.) Ahmad b. Hanbal, Kitab al-Sunna, ed. 'Abd Allah b. Hasan b. Husayn (Mecca, 1349 H), 59.

(114.) For a discussion of this verse and its relation to 42:11, see Ibn Abi l-'Izz, Sharh, 1: 63 (= Commentary, 44).

(115.) Van Ess, TG, 4: 378.

(116.) Van Ess, "The Youthful God," 3.

(117.) al Ash'ari, Maqalat al-islamiyyin, ed. Helmut Ritter (Istanbul, 1929-1933'), 152f. On Muqatil see further van Essm, TG, 2: 518f.; Claude Gilliot, "La Theologie mushulamane en Asie centrale et an Khorasan," Arabica 49 (2002), 138-40; idem, "Muqatil": Mehment Aif Koc, "A comparison of the References to Muqaitil b. Sulayman (150/767) in the Eegesis of al-Tha'labi (427/1036) with Muqatil's own Exegesis," Journal of Semitic Studies 53 (2008); 69-101: Isaiah Goldfeld, "muqatil Ibn Sulaymam," Arbic and Islamic Studies (Bar-Ilan) 2 (1978), sviiff.

(118.) Lit, "in power." Muqatil b. Sulayman, Tafsir, ed. 'Abd Allah Mahmud Shahata, 4 vols. (Cairo, 1980-1988), 3; 465 ad Surat al-Shura [42]: 11.

(119.) Wilferd Madelung and Paul Walker, An Ismaili Heresiography. The Bab al-shaytan' from Abu tammam's Kitab al shajara (Leiden, 1998). 63 (Arbie). On the Nabita and anthropomorphism, see Williams, "Aspects of hte Creed," 452-53.

(120.) Van Ess, "Youthful God," 3-4.

(121.) Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, tr. Franz Rosenthal, 3 vols. (New York, 1958), 3: 45ff.; Harry A. Wolfson, Philosophy of the Kalam (Massachusetts. 1976). 14-15.

(122.) Cited by Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, 93.

(123.) Philosophy of the Kalam, 106.

(124.) Moreh, I, 1, 14, 11.5-11, tr. Wolfson, Philosophy of the Kalam, 101-2.

(125.) Patrologia Graeca, 140: 134A, translation in Daniel J. Sahas, "Holophyros"? A Byzsantine Perception of "The God of Muhammad." in Christian-Muslim Encounters, ed. Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Wadi Z. Haddad (Gainesville. Fl., 1995), 109.

(126.) "L'Origine de la formule greeque d'adjuration imposee aux musalmans," RHR 64 (1911): 143-50. But cf. Sahas, "Holosphyros?" 110.

(127.) See Sahas, "Holosphyros?" 110-14.

(128.) Van Ess, TG, 4: 368-69.

(129.) See, E.g., al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan 'an ta' wil ay al-Qur'an (Cairo, 1321), 30: 196ff.; Uri Rubin, "Al-Samad and the High God: An interpretation of Sura CXII," Der Islam 61 (1984); 197-217; Franz Rosenthal. "Some Minor Problems in the Qua'an." in The Joshua Starr Memorial Volume (New York. 1953). 67 84.

(130.) As suggested by Sahas, "Holosphyros?"

(131.) Al-Tabari lists as advocates of this reading Ibn 'Abbas, al-Hasan al-Basri, Sa'id b. Jubayr, Mujahid, al-Dahhak, sa'id b. al-Musayyib, and 'Ikrima, among others. See also Rosenthal, " Some Minor Problems," 76-79.

(132.) al-Ash'ari, Maqalat, 34.

(133.) See sources and discussion in van Ess, TG, 2: 529, 4: 370.

(134.) See van Ess, "Youthful God,"4.

(135.) The Commentary on the Qur'an by Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari; Being an Abridged Translation of Jami'al-bayan 'an ta' wil ay al-Qur'an, with an introduction and notes, by J. Cooper (Oxford, 1987), 214-15. On the creation of Adam in Muslim tradition. see further Leigh N.B. Chipman, "Mythic Aspects of the Process of Adam's Creation in Judaism and islam." Studia Islamica 93 (2001). 5-25.

(136.) al-Bukhari, Sahih, 8, book 74. no. 246; Muslim, Sahih. (al-jannat wa-sifat na'imiha wa-ahliha). no. 6809; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, 5 vols. (Cairo, 1313 h; hereafter Musnad"), 2: 315.

(137.) Jacob Neusner. The incarnation of God: The Character of Divinity in Formative Judaism (Philadelphia, 1988). 3.

(138.) On this tradition, see especially van Ess, "Youthful God," 1-2.

(139.) Quoted by Ibn al-Jawzi, in Swartz, Medieval Critique, 175 (Eng.).

(140.) Van Ess. TG 4: 369.

(141.) Though Muqatil, despite the negative assessment of him by posterity, seems to have enjoyed some fame among his contemporaries as a mufassir, Goldfeld ("Muqatil b Sulayman") has assembled the various opinions of Muqatil by his contemporaries. Cf. also Nabia Abbott, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri II; Qur'anic Commentary and Tradition (Chicago, 1967), 92ff. On the General Religious Movement, see Watt, Formative Period, ch. 3.

(142.) See Abu l-Ma'ali al-Musharraf b. Murajja, Kitab Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis wa-l-Khalil wa-fadd'il al-Sham, ed. O. Livne-Kafri (Shfaram. 1995). 114. no. 132: al-Wasiti. Eada'il Bayt al-Muqqadas, ed. I. Hasson (Jerusalem. 1978). 69, no. 113. See further M. J. Kister, "You Shall Set Out for Three Mosques: A Study of an Early Tradition," Museun 82(1969): 195; van Ess. TG, 4: 389-95: Ofer Livne-Kafri. "Jerusalem in Early Islam: The Eschatological Aspect," Arabica 53 (2006): 382-403: idem, "Fada'il Bayt al-Maqdis (The Merits of Jerusalem): Two Additional Notes." Quaderni di Studi Arabi 19 (2001): 63-66.

(143.) On the authority of Ka'b al-Ahbar: Ibn al-Faqlh, Kitab al-Buldan, ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leiden. 1855). 97; Josef van Ess, "'Abd al-Malik and the Dome of the Rock: An Analysis of Some Texts," in Julian Raby and Jeremy Johns (eds.), Bayt al-Maqdis, 'Abd al-Malik's Jerusalem (Oxford. 1992), 96: van Ess. "The Youthful God," If'.; Charles D. Matthews. Palestine, Mohammedan Holy Land (New Haven, 1949). 15.

(144.) See. e.g.. Rabi' b. Habib al-Farahidi. al-Jami' Sahib. 4 vols. (Cairo, n.d.). 3: 35. where Muhammad b. Hanafiyya. the son of 'Ali b. Abi Talib, is given to say: "These damned Syrians, how pagan they are! They pretend that God put His fool on the Rock in Jerusalem, though (only) one person ever put his foot on a rock (in this way), namely, Abraham when he made it the qibla for all mankind. ..."

(145.)al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan, 16: 212; Muhammad b. lshaq b. Khuzayma, Kitab al-Tawhid wa-ithbdt sifat al-rabb, ed. Muhammad Khalil Harras (Cairo, 1968). 72: van Ess. "'Abd al-Malik and the Dome of the Rock"; Livne-Kafri, "Jerusalem in Early Islam," 387-88.

(146.) Oleg Grabar, in The Shape of the Holy: Early Islamic Jerusalem (Princeton, 1996), 113 notes: "As a com-memoration of the place of God's Ascension--and thus of His return--this particular explanation of the Rock satisfies more of the objective features of the Dome of the Rock as it was built than any other and it also provides some clues for its later fate in the memory of Muslim culture." See also van Ess, TG. 4: 396.

(147.) EQ, 5: 275 s.v. Theophany (Mustansir Mir).

(148.) As J. Chelhod puts it: the veil was "apparently intended to protect the elect from the brilliance of the Divine countenance." EI (2). 3: 359 s.v. Hidjab. See further Williams. "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya," 79-83: EQ. 5: 413 s.v. Veil (Mona Siddiqui): al-Bukhari, Sahih, 9, no. 536; Muslim. Sahlh, nos. 296. 343, 346. 347; Ibn Maja, Sunan, I: 104. no. 186; Ibn Khuzayma, Kitab al-Tawhid, 10. 22f.; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, abridged tr. under the supervision of Shaykh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri (Riyadh, 2000), 10: 272.

(149.) Muslim. Sahih (iman), 79. 343; Ibn Maja. Sunan, 1: 110, no 195.

(150.) See Williams. "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya," 79-83,

(151.) "Nothing will prevent the blessed from seeing their Lord in the Garden of 'Ad except the Mantle of Grandeur (rida' al-kibriya') covering His face." Muslim, Sahih (iman). no. 296; Ibn Maja, Sunan, I: 104, no. 186.

(152.) On Wajh Allah as pars pro toto of God Himself, see EQ, 5: 264 s.v. Theology and the Qur'an (T. Nagel); J. M. S. Balyon, "To Seek the Face of God' in Koram and Hadith," AcOr 21 (1953): 255.

(153.) Ibn Khuzayma, Kitab al-Tawhid, 10f., 22f.

(154.) Vernant, "Dim Body," 30-32; Elior, "The Concept of God in Hekhalot Literature," 101.

(155.) al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-ahwadhi bi-sharh Jami' al-Tirmidhi, 10 vols. (Damascus, 1979), 9: 106ff., no. 3288; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad'. 5: 243; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur fi l-tafsir al-ma'thur (Beirut, 1983), 7: 203.

(156.) Fudayl b. 'Amr al-Fuqimi [greater than] Ibrahim al-Nakhai [less than] 'Alqama b. Qays [less-than] 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud: "The Messenger of God answered: God is beautiful (jamil). He loves beauty." Muslim, Sahih (iman), 147: Ibn Khuzayma. Kitab al-Tawhid, 384.

(157.) Abu Bakr b. Furak, Mushkil al-hadith wa-bayanuh (Cairo, 1979?), 70f. For a discussion of this hadith, see Daniel Gimaret. Dieu a l'image de l'homme. 143ff.; idem, "Au cocur du mi'rag, un hadith interpole," in Le Voyage initiatique en terre d'Islam, ed. Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi (Louvain, 1991), 67-82.

(158.) 'Uthman b. Sa'id al-Dariml. Naqd al-Imam Abi Sa'id 'Uthman b. Sa'id 'ala l-Marisi al-jahmi al-'anid, 2 vols. (Riyadh. 1998), 2: 737. See also Ibn Hanbal, Kitab al-Sunna 159.

(159.) The Ash'arite al-Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066), al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, ed. 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad al-Hashidi, 2 vols. (Jidda, 1993), 2: 79 declared "all of [the reports] are da'if (weak)" and Ibn al-Jawzi said. "It is not sound" (Daf' shubah al-tushbih bi-akaff al-tanzih [Amman. 1991]. 149).

(160.) Ibn Hanbal, Musnad', 3: 437, no. 3483; al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-ahwadhi, 9: 101ff., no. 3286; al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, 2: 300; 'Ali b. 'Umar al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Ru'ya. ed. Ibrahim Muhammad al-'Ali and Ahmad Fakhri al-Rifa'i (Zarqa', Jordan, 411 1/1990), 329, no. 244; Abu Ya'la al-Mawsili, Musnad Abi 'Ya'la al-Mawsili, ed. Husayn Salim Asad (Damascus, 1984-), 4: 475, no. 281.

(161.) al-Suyati, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 203, sura Sad.

(162.) al Lalaka'i, Sharh usul i'tiqad ahl al-sunna wa-l-jama'a, 2 vols. (Riyadh. 1982), 2: 520: al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 342, no. 257; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 203.

(163.) al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 333, no. 247; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur. 7: 204: idem. al-La'ali al-masnu'a fi l-ahadith al-mawdu'a, 2 vols. (Egypt, 1963), 1: 31: al-Dhahabi, Talkhis Kitab al-'Hal al-mutanahiya li-Ibn al-Jawhi (Riyadh, 1998), 26.

(164.) al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 204; Nur al-Din al-Haythami, Kitab Majma' al-buhrayn fi zawa'id al-mu'jamayn (Riyadh, 1992), 370; Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Sunna, 2 vols. (Riyadh, 1998), 1: 326, no. 475.

(165.) al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ta'rikh Baghdad, 14 vols. (Cairo, 1931), 8: 151; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 205.

(166.) Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, ed. Shu'ayb al Arna'ut. 30 vols. (Beirut, 1993; hereafter Musnad (2), al-Lalaka'i Sharh usul, 2: 514: al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, 2: 63; Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Ahad wa-l-mathani (Riyadh, 1991), 5: 48; al-Haythami, Kitab Majma' al-buhruyn, 366.

(167.) Ibn Abi Asim, al-Sunna, 1: 328, no. 479; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 205; al-Haythami, Kitah Majma' al-bahrayn. 367.

(168.) al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 336, no. 252; al-Haythami, Kitab Majma' al-bahrayn, 369. no. 11743.

(169). al-Tabarani. al-Mu'jam al-kabir (Baghdad, 1978; hereafter al-Mu'jam'), 1: 296, no. 938.

(170.) Ibn Abi Shayba, al-Kitab al-mitsannaf fi l-ahadith wa-l-athar (Beirut, 1989), 7:424.

(171.) al-Fadl b. Shadhan, al-Idah, ed. Jalal al-Husayni al-Urmawi (Tehran, 1972), 26.

(172.) al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-ahwadhi, 9: 106ff., no. 3288; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad (1), 5: 243; al-Daraqutni, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 329, no. 244; Abu Ya'la al-Mawsili, Musnad, 4: 475, no. 281; al-Suyuti, Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur, 7: 203; al-Lalaka'i, Sharkh usul, 2: 520; al-Darimi, Sunan, 2:606f., Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Sunna, I: 326, no. 475.

(173.) 'Abd Allah b. 'Adi, al-Kdmil fi du'afa' al-rijal, 7 vols. (Beirut, 1984), 6: 2344. Ibn 'Adi reports concerning the Mu'adh b. Jabal report: "I saw Ahmad b. Hanbal declare sound this report ... He [Ibn Hanbal] said: 'This, I consider it sound'."

(174.) al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, apud al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-ahwadhi, 9: 106ff'., no. 3288.

(175.) See also Khaldun Ahdab, Zawa'id Tarikh Baghdad 'ada I-kutub al-sitta (Damascus, 1996), 6: 253; Ibn Manda, al-Masdar al-sabiq, apud al-Darimi, Naqd, 2: 734.

(176.) According to Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-arab, 5: 288, wafra denotes hair that reaches down to the earlobe or even further.

(177.) al-Tabarani, al-Mu'jam al-kabir (Cairo, n.d.) (hereafter al-Mu'jam (2), 25: 143; Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Sunna, 1: 328; al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, 2: 368; al-Daraqutnl, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 358, no. 286; al-Suyuti, al-La'dli, 28f.; 'Ala' al-Din al-Muttaqi, Kan- al-'ummal fi sunan al-aqwal wa-l-af'al, 18 vols. (Hyderabad, 1945), 1:58; al-Haythami, Kitab Majma', 370.

(178.) al-Daraqutnl, Kitab al-Ru'ya, 356-57, no. 285.

(179.) al-Suyuti, al-La ali, 30; Ibn Furak, Mushkil al-hadith, 387.

(180.) al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, 2: 361f., no. 934; Ibn Furak, Mushkil al-hadith, 386.

(181.) al-Suyuti, al-La'ali, 30.

(182.) Ibn 'Adi, al-Kamil, 2: 677; al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma' wa-l-sifat, 2: 363; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ta'rikh Baghdad, 11: 214; al-Suyuti, al-La'ali, 29f.; al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-'ummal, 1: 58.

(183.) See, e.g., Ibn al-Jawzi, Kitab al-Mawdu'at min al-ahadith al-marfu'at (Riyadb, 1997), 1: 181; al-Suyuti, al-La'ali, 29.

(184.) The hadith al-shabb was particularly in fashion among the Sufis in the tenth century, according to the Yemeni author 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Ali b. al-Dayba', Tamyiz al-tayyib min al-khabith fima yaduru 'ala alsinat al-nas min al-hadith (Egypt, 1963), 80. Their practice of al-nazar ila l-murd or "gazing at young, beardless boys" no doubt originated with these hadiths; see. e.g., Annemarie Schiuimel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, 1975), 290. On al-nazar ila l-murd, see Ibn al-Jawzi, Tablis Iblis (Cairo, 1995), 274ff.; Ritter, Der Meer der Seele, 460ff.

(185). Das Meer der Seele, 445 [= Ocean of the Soul, 459]; H. Ritter, "Philologika II: Uber einige Koran und Hadit betreffende Handschriften hauptsachlich Stambuler Bibliotheken," Der Islam 17 (1928): 257.

(186) He says astaukiruhu jidd[an] al-Darimi. Naqd, 2: 726.

(187.) al-Darimi, Naqd, 2: 726; idem, al-Radd 'ala l-Jahmiyya (Cairo. 1985), 53.

(188.) Ibn Hanbal, Musnad[2] 4: 350f., no. 2580.

(189.) 'Abd Allah b. Ahmad, Kitab al-Sunna, 2:484, 503, nos. 1116, 1117, 1168.

(190.) Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Sunna, 1:307, no. 442.

(191.) Ibn 'Adi, al-Kamil, 2: 677.

(192.) al-Tabaram. Kitab al-Sunna, apud al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-'ummal, 1: 58.

(193.) al-Lalaka'i, Shark usul, 2: 512.

(194.) Muhammad b. al-Husayn al-'Ajurri, al-Shari'a, ed. Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqi (Cairo, 1950), 491f.

(195.) Ritter's claim that "the traditions were in sum rejected by the orthodox" is inaccurate for the modern world as well. Ahmad Muhammad Shakir (d. 1958). editor of Ibn Hanbal's Musnad and clearly the "greatest traditionalist of his time" (G. H. A. Juynboll, "Ahmad Muhammad Shakir [1892-1958] and His Edition of Ibn Hanbal's Musnad," in idem, Studies on the Origins and Uses of Islamic Hadilh Brookfield, Vt., 1996], 222) declared:"The hadith in its essence is sahihb." Likewise Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, editor of Ibn Abi 'Asim, Kitab al-Sunna, says of this report: hadilh sahih rijaluhu rijal al-Sahih "the report is sound, Its transmitters are men from the sound hadith collections": Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Sunna, 1: 311. On the abridgement of this report, see Williams, "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya," 213.

(196.) Abu Bakr b. Furak, Mujarrad maqalat al-Ash'ari, ed. Daniel Gimaret (Beirut, 1987), 86.

(197.) See, e.g., al-Hilli, Minhaj al-karama, apud Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj al-sunna ai-nahawiyya (Cairo, 1964), 2: 506.

(198.) On anthropomorphist trends within ninth-century Sunni movements, see also Williams, "Aspects of the Creed," 450ft. Nimrod Hurvitz, "Mihna as Self-Defense," Studia Islamica 92 (2001): 93-111; Robert M. Haddad, "Iconoclasts and Mu'tazila: The Politics of Anthropomorphism," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 27 (1982), 287-305.

(199.) al-Qasim b. Ibrahim, Kitab al-Mustarshid, ed. and tr. Binyamin Abrahamov, in Anthropomorphism and Interpretation of the Qur' an in the Theology of al-Qasim Ibn Ibrahim (Leiden, 1996), 133. See also idem, al-Kasim b. Ibrahim on the Proof of God's Existence (Leiden, 1990), 188; Williams, "Tajalli wa-Ru'ya," 219-20.

(200.) al-Jahiz., Risala fi l-Nabita, apud al-Jahiz, Rasa'il al-Jahiz, ed. 'Abd al-Salam Muhammad Harun, 4 vols.(Cairo, 1964-1979), 2: 18-20; Williams, "Aspects of the Creed," 452-53.

(201.) 'izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi l-ta'rikh, ed. C. J. Thornberg (Leiden, 1851-1876), 8: 229ff.

(202.) al-Qadi 'Abd al-Jabbar, Fadl al-i'tizal wa-tabaqat at-Mu'tazila, ed. Fu'ad Sayyid (Tunis, 1393/1974), 149.

(203.) See, e.g., Ya'qub b. al-Sirraj's report: "I said to Abu 'Abd Allah (Ja'far al-Sadiq): Verily some of our companions claim that Allah is the form like man (insan) and others said that He is in the form of a beardless youth with curly hair. Abu 'Abd Allah fell down prostrating, then lifted his head and said: 'Glory be to Allah who is not like anything; vision comprehends Him not, and knowledge does not encompass Him. He does not give birth [to a son] because a son is similar to his father; He was not begotten [because] He would be like that which was before Him ... ''' Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi, Kitab al-Tawhid (Tehran, 1955), 61; Muhammad Baqir b. Muhammad Taqi al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar (Tehran. [1969-1970]). 3: 304.

(204.) On Abu Ya'la. see EI (2), 3: 765-66 s.v. Ibn al-Farra' (Laoust); Wadi Z. Haddad, "Al-Qadi Abu Ya'la Ibn al-Farra': His Life, Works and Religious Thought" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1969).

(205.) Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu' at al-rasa'il al-kubra (Cairo, 1905), 1: 145.

(206.) Ibn al-Jawzi, Kitab Akhbar at-sifat, 49 (Eng.183).

(207.) This designation is based on a hadith from the Prophet on the authority of the Companion al-Mughira b. Shu'ba: "No person (shakhs) is more jealous than Allah; no shakhs is more pleased to grant pardon than He; no shakhs loves praiseworthy conduct more than He." al-Bukhari, Sahih (tawhid), 20:512; Muslim, Sahih (li'an), 17;Ibn Hanbal, Musnad (1), 4: 248; al-Nisa'i, al-Sunan (nikah), 37, 3. The term shakhs is usually translated as "corporeal person." It connotes "the bodily or corporeal form or figure or substance (suwad) of a man," or "something possessing height (irtifa') and visibility (zuhur)," Ibn manzur, Lisan al-arab (7: 45.4-11). See also Lane. Arabic-English Lexicon, 2: 1517.

(208.) Abu Ya'la, Kitab al-Mu'tamad fi usul al-din, ed. W. Z. Haddad (Beirut, 1974), 58.

(209.) Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection (New York, 2005), 180-81.

(210.) E.g., Binyamin Abrahamov. "The Bi-La Kayfa Doctrine and Its Foundations in Islamic Theology," Arabica 42 (1995): 369; E[I.sup.2]., 1:333 s.v. 'Akida (W. M. Watt).

(211.) Charles J. Adams, "The History of Religions and the Study of Islam." in The History of Religions: Essays on the Problem of Understanding, cd. Joseph M. Kitagawa et al. (Chicago, 1967), 177-93.

(212.) Ibid.. 182-83.

(213.) On Israelite/biblical tradition and ANE myth, see Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism (New York, 2004), lxiii: Michael Fishbane, Biblical Myth and RabbinicMythmaking (Oxford, 2003).


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