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God's Body In The Bible

God has a body of flesh and bones.  The testimony of modern prophets and other witnesses prove it.  The Bible proves it, too.  Gen 1:26-27 is perhaps the best proof. 

The first context is that God was always anthropomorphic to the original Jews.  We know this to be true because the main thing the Jews involved in translating the Hebrew Bible into the Septuagint did was change the anthropomorphic manifestations into visits by angels or spiritualized events.  Gen 1:26-27 and 5:3, which I discuss below, is a perfect example.  Though the Hebrew uses the identical "image" and "likeness" in the verses, the Septuagint changes likeness to form, and inverts their order, making the parallel imagery less obvious. 

 No one picking up the Bible for the first time and letting it speak for itself draws the wrong conclusion.  Man looks like GodGod walks (Hebr. Halak, hith. tense, to walk about or traverse)in a visable form (see JFB Commentary for Gen 3) in the Garden (Gen 3:8) and they hear his voice (Gen 3:10).  Man's moral character does not accrue until Gen 3:22, when God notes man is now become enabled with the ability to know good and evil.  Honor, goodness, all moral attributes do not and cannot exist outside of the realm of choice. There is no nobility without choice.

A person starting in Genesis 1 and getting through Genesis 3 is confronted by a visible God with legs, a voice and who apparently men resembleThe Bible makes no mention or implication that God stops having these physical characteristics.  In fact the Bible teaches that though God cannot be contained (Hebrew: that is restrained or confined) to heaven or an Earthly temple (1 Kings 8:27), God does in fact have a specific location where He dwells, that is Heaven, where he comes and goes freely (1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49, 57). We could have looked up dozens of other passages, but this section of 1 Kings 8 is the one most often misapplied when Trinitarians are trying to assert a non-corporeal God is omnipresent.  The chapter is in fact totally supportive of God having a specific location in the universe.  Quacks like a duck, walks like a duck.

Trinitarian desires notwithstanding, the word image (tselem) means: 

 image

   1. images (of tumours, mice, heathen gods)

   2. image, likeness (of resemblance)

   3. mere, empty, image, semblance (fig.)

It means to have a physical resemblance, or look as something appears physically.  Physically?  Yes, we know this because the translators of the Septuagint used the word   Eikon.  Look up Matt 22:20, Mark 12:16, Lk 20:24.  Actually, it is used of outward appearance (Greek meaning).  The two most interesting uses are 2Cor 4:4 (Christ is the image of God, i.e. outward appearance) and Rev 20:4.  Do we think the Septuagint scholars were just ignorant of the words they selected?  While they had an agenda to make God invisible and out of reach, they stood more than 2000 years closer to the original Hebrew usage, making their opinions and vocabulary important to understanding the Bible.  Knowing they had been Hellenized philosophically allows us to carefully note the differences between the translations, and understand more fully both texts.

My position is strongly LDS, and yet is completely supported from the text without need to appeal to LDS theology for proof-texting. I conclude the anthropomorphic view of God (really theomorphic view of man, since God came first) is a Biblically based doctrine not needing to be changed or renounced since it is more Biblical than those "Bible thumpers" who require me to skew the text to conform to their theology.  I am certain Moses would be distressed to find his writings being interpreted through a Hellenized lens of neo-Platonism after he personally had seen God and spoken with him face to face (or at least “body to body”, since it was only the face of God which carried the pain of death upon its viewing, and his body parts are enumerated).

 "Choose ye this day" is still good advice. 

I find when Mormons assert things without citations, we are often accused of blindly following Church leaders without understanding the real linguistic or theological issues.  On the other hand, when we provide lengthy, scholarly and linguistically based responses, we are often accused of obfuscation or spinning.  In either case, usually what we actually teach or believe is still considered less important than what the critics say we do.  So if I am darned either way, I will opt for thoroughness.

Peace,

Bob Vukich

 

 
     
All material developed and placed on this page and associated subsections is copyrighted by Robert B. Vukich. Reasonable efforts will be made to properly attribute copyright ownership for material reviewed or quoted on these pages.