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Yahweh's Winged Form in the Psalms: Exploring Congruent Iconography and Texts


LeMon, Joel M (2010). Yahweh's Winged Form in the Psalms: Exploring Congruent Iconography and Texts. Fribourg, Switzerland / Göttingen, Germany: Academic Press / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Abstract

The striking image of the winged Yahweh occurs in six psalms (e. g., Ps 17:8 “Hide me in the shadow of your wings”). Scholars have disagreed on the background, meaning, and significance of the image arguing that it: (1) likens the Israelite deity to a bird; (2) alludes to the winged sun disk; (3) draws from general Egyptian symbolism for protection; (4) evokes images of winged goddesses; or (5) refers to winged cherubim in the temple and/or on the ark of the covenant. These divergent proposals signal a need for clearer methods of interpreting biblical imagery in light of visual-artistic material from the ancient Near East. This volume refines iconographic methodologies by treating the image of the winged Yahweh as one among a constellation of literary images in each psalm. Since the portrayals of Yahweh in each psalm have distinct contours, one finds several congruencies in Syro-Palenstinian iconographic material. The congruent iconographic motifs for Yahweh’s winged form include (1) the winged sun disk (in multiple form and variations), (2) the Horus falcon, (3) winged suckling goddesses, and (4) winged deities in combat. No single image stands behind the portrayals of Yahweh. In fact, even within a single psalm, more than one iconographic trope can provide congruency with the literary imagery and inform the interpretation of the text. Thus, the winged Yahweh in the Psalms provides an example of a ‘multistable’ literary image, one which simultaneously evokes multiple iconographical motifs.

Abstract

The striking image of the winged Yahweh occurs in six psalms (e. g., Ps 17:8 “Hide me in the shadow of your wings”). Scholars have disagreed on the background, meaning, and significance of the image arguing that it: (1) likens the Israelite deity to a bird; (2) alludes to the winged sun disk; (3) draws from general Egyptian symbolism for protection; (4) evokes images of winged goddesses; or (5) refers to winged cherubim in the temple and/or on the ark of the covenant. These divergent proposals signal a need for clearer methods of interpreting biblical imagery in light of visual-artistic material from the ancient Near East. This volume refines iconographic methodologies by treating the image of the winged Yahweh as one among a constellation of literary images in each psalm. Since the portrayals of Yahweh in each psalm have distinct contours, one finds several congruencies in Syro-Palenstinian iconographic material. The congruent iconographic motifs for Yahweh’s winged form include (1) the winged sun disk (in multiple form and variations), (2) the Horus falcon, (3) winged suckling goddesses, and (4) winged deities in combat. No single image stands behind the portrayals of Yahweh. In fact, even within a single psalm, more than one iconographic trope can provide congruency with the literary imagery and inform the interpretation of the text. Thus, the winged Yahweh in the Psalms provides an example of a ‘multistable’ literary image, one which simultaneously evokes multiple iconographical motifs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:Special Collections > Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:03 Jul 2018 12:12
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:31
Publisher:Academic Press / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Series Name:Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Volume:242
ISBN:978-3-7278-1670-3
Additional Information:Digitalisat erstellt durch Florina Tischhauser, Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Zürich
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/54117/

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