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Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.22 no.2 Pretoria  2009


The dark side of the Imitatio Dei. Why imitating the God of the Holiness Code is not always a good thing



Esias E. Meyer

University of Stellenbosch





In the past some Old Testament scholars have argued that the concept of imitatio dei has some potential to become a kernel around which an ethics of the Old Testament could be constructed. Scholars have recently questioned this proposition. This article continues that line of questioning by focusing on Leviticus 25 along with other texts in the Holiness Code. In these texts YHWH is presented as a land possessor and a slave owner. The argument is that these texts do not ask of the addressees to imitate the characteristics of YHWH as land possessor and slave owner. Imitating these characteristics of YHWH would have had a detrimental effect. Yet, there are certain cases where particular acts of YHWH could (and should) be imitated. Although one could at the most argue that the idea of imitating God is present in some texts, it constitutes by no means a foundation for an ethics of the Old Testament.



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Esias E. Meyer
Department Old and New Testament
University of Stellenbosch

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