Tuesday, 2 August 2016
Idolatry and Linguistic Narrowing II
Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 78
Assmann now declares that the link between the second commandment and the formation of the canon is clear.
The argument is that the rejection of idolatry, that is, the explusion of the divine from all iconic and other forms of incarnation in the world, with the exception of writing, was a decisive step in the formation of the canon.
Images of G-d - such as are found throught the Hebrew Bible - such as 'gardener', 'judge' and so on - are perfectly acceptable in language, in a text, and in no other form. Assmann then makes a shocking observation:
In the synagogues, as is obvious to everyone down to the present day, the scrolls of the Torah replave the cultic image that in ancient Egypt remains in a shrine until it is brought out to the public gaze.
Language is kosher, and the canon has transformed the temple into writing. One can see, despite Assmann's suggestion that Christianity's theology of the incarnation reversed this transformation, the basic thrust of his idea being displayed in many churches - both liturgical and otherwise - up and down the land.