pdf Studies in the Bible and Antiquity vol. 8 (2016)  >  Book Review: Catherine L. McDowell The Image of God in the Garden of Eden: The Creation of Humankind in Genesis 2.5–3.24 in Light of mīs pî pīt pî and wpt-r Rituals of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt


Book Review:
Catherine L. McDowell The Image of God in the Garden of Eden:
The Creation of Humankind in Genesis 2.5–3.24 in Light of mīs pî pīt pî and wpt-r Rituals of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt

Catherine L. McDowell. The Image of God in the Garden of Eden: The Creation of Humankind in Genesis 2.5–3.24 in Light of mīs pî pīt pî and wpt-r Rituals of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015.

The discovery of Babylonian, Assyrian, and Egyptian ritual prescriptions for creating and enlivening divine statues ranks among the more important in providing depth and context for reading biblical texts, and it is one that has only relatively recently begun to bear fruit.1 As the most recent and sustained study of these texts and their signifi ance for understanding the Hebrew Bible, Catherine L. McDowell’s The Image of God in the Garden of Eden demonstrates the gains in understanding made possible, with all due caution, by bringing the mīs pî pīt pî (mouth-washing, mouth-opening) ritual instructions from Mesopotamia and the wpt-r (mouth-opening) texts from Egypt into conversation with the Genesis creation stories. The work under consideration is both an excellent distillation and critique of the relatively recent work done on the animation of divine statues in the ancient Near East as well as a compelling analysis of what it means for understanding the Garden of Eden narrative of Genesis 2–3.2 A revision of her 2009 Harvard dissertation directed by Peter Machinist and Irene Winter, McDowell’s work displays the comprehensiveness, attention to detail, and clarity of exposition that make this indispensable for understanding both the rituals involved and the conceptual context informing the Genesis account. Scholars will find reasons to dispute some of the claims and conclusions made in the volume, but McDowell has herewith advanced the conversation in a systematic and reasonable manner.

Chapter 1 introduces the subject and treats previous work on it. Although the title of the book might lead one to believe the study is restricted to the Eden narrative in Genesis 2–3, the driving question really concerns the divine-human relationship in both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2–3, two sections long recognized to contain separately authored creation accounts. Genesis 1:26–27 famously states that humans are created in the ṣelem and dəmût (“image” and “likeness” respectively) of God, but no such terminology is found in Genesis 2–3. “Are we to conclude, therefore, that in contrast to Genesis 1, the Eden story does not conceive of humanity as created in the image of God?” (p. 1). While in the wake of source criticism this question might be deemed irrelevant (why should separate creation stories be like each other in this respect?), McDowell presents the case that both stories appeal, albeit by different means, to ancient Near Eastern traditions of divine image making in describing the creation of humans.

McDowell seizes especially on the common Semitic term for image (Heb. ṣelem, Akkadian ṣalmu) used in Genesis 1, opening the discussion by connecting the biblical creation stories to Southwest Asian conceptions of divine images and especially to ritual texts known as mīs pî pīt pî in Mesopotamia and wpt-r in Egypt (“mouthopening”). She hints already in the introduction that both accounts in Genesis draw on ancient Near Eastern traditions of image making, and this pushes her toward the notion that one of these two texts was written in response to the other (though she does not come down on one side of the debate). The introduction continues with a helpful discussion of comparative methodology and argues for the possibility of a historical, and not just typological, link between the Mesopotamian traditions of image making and the Hebrew Bible, based on Second Isaiah’s specific knowledge of the tradition in the “idol parody” of Isaiah 44. She reviews previous scholarship on relevant Egyptian and Mesopotamian connections to Genesis 1–3, with particular attention to earlier studies drawing explicit comparisons between the Eden narrative and the mouth-washing/mouth-opening ceremonies.3 McDowell represents her study as building off of previous work while simultaneously attempting to give the most comprehensive treatment to date of the relevance of ancient Near Eastern image making to understanding Genesis 1–3—and in this she is not wrong.

After presenting the Hebrew of Genesis 2:5–3:24 and her English translation, McDowell begins chapter 2 by discussing where properly to divide the end of the first account (Genesis 1:1–2:4a) from the beginning of the second (Genesis 2:4b–3:24), challenging in the process the scholarly consensus that understands the “tôledôt formula” in 2:4a as the conclusion to the Priestly account in Genesis 1. Her contention is rather that this entire verse exhibits a kind of Janus-faced transition that looks both backward to the end of the first story and forward to the beginning of the second, and that therefore it cannot be grouped with either account. She then orients the reader to the mechanics of the story via a brief literary analysis of verbal patterns. One wishes here that her translation in the beginning of the chapter had been typeset to reflect her understanding of the story’s structure, as opposed to having been presented in one block of text with no delineation of units within the text. Finally, in the closing paragraphs of chapter 2, McDowell describes the biblical account as a reversal of expectations that is visible only as such in light of the mouth-opening rituals—namely, that the humans created and animated in the garden setting succeed in opening their own eyes, thereby becoming like gods and being expelled, whereas the divine statues of Mesopotamia and Egypt were animated in a garden by human craftsmen, thus enabling their enthronement as gods. In both cases the eye-opening was efficacious as apotheosis. She returns to this theme later, in chapter 4 (p. 169).

The reader may be left wondering how necessary were the lengthy discussion of 2:4 and the parsing of literary structure for the comparison to the mouth-washing/mouth-opening rituals. One recalls that a primary purpose of McDowell’s is to elucidate the relationship between Genesis 1 and 2–3, and therefore she focuses on the nature of the transition between them. Her conclusion that Genesis 2:4(a+b) is “the work of an ingenious redactor who purposefully and artfully linked the two accounts together” (p. 34) is difficult to maintain with regard to intent but is interesting as viewed from the perspective of the final form of the text. On this point, as throughout the volume, a more robust integration of source-critical discussions would have helped the informed reader to situate her arguments more effectively. In general, McDowell avoids the use of classical documentary hypothesis monikers J and P, a decision that some will find refreshing and others frustrating. In the end the discussion of the historical relationship between the two creation texts requires much more critical engagement with scholarship on the relationship between P and J (or “non-P” as many would have it) to be convincing, but this is not a criticism that makes a major dent in her work, given that her most substantial contribution to understanding these texts is in the discussion of the role of images and image making in both accounts, accomplished in the following chapters.

In chapter 3 McDowell looks in detail at the Mesopotamian (both Babylonian and Assyrian) and Egyptian texts that lay out the ritual process for creating a divine image. Both cases are similarly organized. Following an orientation and discussion of previous studies, she summarizes the procedure first narratively and then in tabular detail. The Mesopotamian mīs pî pīt pî texts portray a two-day ceremony whereby a statue destined for installation in a temple or shrine underwent various ritual procedures. The statue was moved from workshop to riverbank to temple garden, where it was fed and clothed and spent the night and then was taken on to the relevant shrine for installation in the inner sanctum. The Egyptian wpt-r ceremony bears general similarities to the Mesopotamian procedure but also differs in important respects. It began similarly in a temple workshop with the statue receiving ritual action, including incantation, purification, and offerings before moving the statue to its shrine. McDowell notes the Egyptian ceremony could affect the (re)birth of a statue, mummy, or even sarcophagus. Although the final destination of the Egyptian object was frequently a funerary shrine, she highlights the movement of the statue in the ritual process from workshop to sacred garden to installation in the shrine in a way that resonates with the Mesopotamian rites of statue initiation.

McDowell highlights important differences between the two— especially that the Mesopotamians denied human craftsmanship and that the Egyptian evidence stems largely from mortuary and not temple contexts—and she also discusses whether there is a direct relationship between the Mesopotamian and Egyptian versions of the enlivening rituals, ultimately deciding that it is possible but beyond the evidence to assert affirmatively. Chief among her analytical conclusions, and compelling to me, is that the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cases both deploy imagery and metaphors of birth and manufacture simultaneously, which makes sense given the hybrid nature of an anthropomorphic divine being that was also created in a workshop.

With these analyses in mind, McDowell makes in chapter 4 an involved attempt to bridge the two biblical creation accounts via an investigation of image-making motifs present in both. Her entry point is the Hebrew term ṣelem, which she understands to refer normally to a figural object, though there are several important instances, mostly in Genesis, where it refers to humans (e.g., Genesis 5:1–3). Furthermore, only in those instances where a human ṣelem is in view is the term used positively instead of the more common pejorative reference to idolatry or prohibited images. In order to understand the replication of God’s image in humankind, McDowell draws on texts (2 Chronicles 24 and Psalm 9) that cast YHWH in the role of a blood avenger (cf. Genesis 9:6). She argues that this only makes sense if YHWH considers the slain protagonists as kin: “to murder one’s kinsman is to slay a member of God’s family” (p. 121, emphasis in original). She moves on to a discussion of the well-attested Akkadian cognate ṣalmu, “image,” usually applied to objects but sometimes also to human actors such as kings (e.g., Tukulti-Ninurta I). She makes the important observation that the term is conferred on the image in the mouth-opening rituals even after the image is understood to have become the enlivened deity.

Though this claim is intriguing, I find myself unconvinced that blood redemption in the Hebrew Bible can be solidly understood as avenging YHWH’s own family. The few texts that even hint at this concept do not explicitly mention either the reciprocity or the relevance of the image of God. More convincing is the notion, highlighted by McDowell, that humanity made in the ṣelem and dəmût of God is invested with divine authority, a concept solidly represented in P and in harmony with image-making practices that invest the ṣalmu with the essence and power of their referent such that an attack on the image could be construed as an attack on the deity himself.4 To bring the injunctions against injury to humans into the network of norms dictating the treatment of divine and royal images is a compelling possibility, one that may in fact undergird some of the legal logic of the Priestly source. Much more work is needed to flesh out this connection.

McDowell next ventures into a “brief and selective” discussion of the history of the interpretation of Genesis 1:26–27, highlighting the exegetical discomfort (e.g., of Philo and Luther) with divine anthropomorphism and the opposite reaction in rabbinic theology and modern scholarship. She also explores the modern theological observations that human creation in the image and likeness of God uniquely endow humanity (as opposed to other life forms) with the ability to establish relationships with God. Finally, she notes the trend to read Genesis 1:26–27 in light of ancient Near Eastern parallels and thereby to understand humans as God’s royal delegation. She ultimately finds all these interpretations unsatisfactory and incomplete.

In order to provide a clearer picture, McDowell returns to the notion she examined earlier that ṣelem and dəmût imply kinship between God and humans. She argues that the way in which Genesis 1 presents humans differently from other created species indicates that humans are created not as “according to [their] kind” but in the ṣelem and dəmût of God—they are God’s kin(d). To support this she ranges through the Hebrew Bible to collect those references that specify Yahweh’s role as Israel’s father (or mother).5 Although she notes that “humanity is nowhere described in the Hebrew Bible explicitly as ‘Yahweh’s son,’” she explains that “Gen 1:26–27 is defining the divine-human relationship in terms of sonship while at the same time carefully avoiding the divinization of humankind” (p. 134).

As additional evidence McDowell presents Akkadian texts that depict divine-royal sonship, namely the Tukulti-Ninurta Epic, Enuma Elish, and also the Egyptian “Instructions for Merikare,” where humans are explicitly called images of the divine body in a way that implies parentage (while Genesis 5:1–3 makes the relationship explicit, namely, Seth in the image of his father Adam). She teases out three intertwined components inhering in the divine-human relationship expressed in Genesis 1 that are all mediated to some extent by the concept of ṣelem: kinship, kingship, and cult.

The above discussion is then brought to bear on the second creation account (Genesis 2–3), which does not use ṣelem and dəmût explicitly. McDowell teases out her three core concepts individually as they are presented in the text: (1) kinship in the creation of woman out of the bone and flesh of the ʾādām, (2) kingship implied in Adam’s role as gardener and provider of abundance (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:4–6), and (3) cult in the characterization of Adam’s keeping the garden and labor in it in priestly terms (using the roots ʿbd and šmr, used otherwise only in Numbers 3:7–8; 8:26; 18:5–6).6 Here she wants to link the creation of humans in God’s ṣelem in Genesis 1 to Genesis 2–3, even though the terms are not used in the latter chapters. This section is an attempt to articulate concrete means of comparison, although in my opinion these motifs are based on evidence too thin for them to be a lens that brings both texts into focus simultaneously. There may be deep structural similarities, and McDowell’s careful sifting of these elements has raised important points, but detecting the presence of all three in both seems unnecessary.

McDowell turns next to a discussion of the importance of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian rituals for understanding Genesis 2–3, specifically with regard to the garden setting. To my mind this is the most convincing and important exploration of the volume. She notes the Mesopotamian setting of the mīs pî pīt pî rituals in the temple garden of Ea/Enki, an appropriate location given Ea’s overseeing of creation, birth, crafts, and purification. He also becomes, McDowell notes, the father of the statues, a point that draws the two biblical creation stories together via appeal to the Mesopotamian context. The Egyptian setting for object animation differed because of the peculiarities of Egyptian conceptions about rebirth—the statues having been created in the temple workshop or in the tomb with no explicit garden mentioned—but McDowell notes the close affiliation of tombs with surrounding gardens. Comparing the setting in Eden, the animation of the human in the garden seems to borrow more from the Mesopotamian mīs pî pīt pî ritual concepts than from Mesopotamian creation stories in which humans are placed not in gardens but in cities.7The affinity deepens with the close association of the Garden of Eden with temples, as noted by biblical scholars.

An excursus on Ezekiel’s oracle against the king of Tyre explores a different story with a setting also in Eden. McDowell argues against the identification of the king of Tyre as the primal human. She contends that it is the reflex of an old story about a rebellious cherub and that against this backdrop it would have been strange for an ancient audience to hear about human placement in a divine garden. It therefore presented a novel idea: that “God and humankind were meant to dwell together” (p. 157, emphasis in original).

Returning to the Genesis 2–3 account, McDowell lays out the points of thematic contact with the mouth-washing and mouth-opening rituals: installation (nwḥ) of Adam in the garden in 2:15; nakedness and clothing in Genesis 2:25, 3:21; and opening the eyes in Genesis 3:5, 7. She reads Genesis 2:158 in light not just of the mīs pî pīt pî rituals, but also in light of other biblical texts that describe the installation of objects in cultic settings (2 Chronicles 4:8; Isaiah 46:7; Zechariah 5:5–11). She sees the transition from nakedness to clothing in Genesis 2–3 as informed both by the traditions about the radiant melammu of divine statues in Mesopotamia and by Psalm 8, where humans, defined there as “a little lower than elohim” (Psalm 8:6; 8:5 NRSV), are said to havebeencrowned with glory and honor. She also brings in postbiblical traditions about the primeval couple clothed in garments of light. She notes particularly the explicit equation between the opening of their eyes and their having become like God (Genesis 3:5, 22). After presenting another set of tables comparing now the mīs pî pīt pî traditions, the wpt-r ceremony, and Genesis 2–3, this chapter concludes that there is enough evidence to suggest the author had direct knowledge of the mīs pî pīt pî rituals: “They suggest that the Eden author not only knew how divine statues were made but understood the ritual means by which they were activated” (p. 176). This is most strongly demonstrated, according to McDowell, by the fact that the biblical account is the only creation account known from the ancient Near East to place humans in a garden. She also notes here the important difference in the Eden author’s use of the mouth-opening ritual context, namely, that divinity is ultimately denied to the couple that had been animated in the garden and in some respects, then, the Mesopotamian progress from garden to temple is reversed or halted.

This last point seems to me to leave out one critical aspect of the Eden story’s use of mīs pî pīt pî concepts: that rather than a reversal, or a failure of the creations to achieve divinity, its very success is indicated when YHWH banishes the humans. It is because they have become enlivened like divine beings, with their eyes opened, that they must be banished to prevent divine challengers. The author’s use of notions of image consecration in the Eden story sets the reader’s expectations for deities to emerge from the process, and this is what happens, or very nearly so. It is only because the humans had achieved the status of potential rivals to YHWH that they had to be driven out, their mortality fixed (cf. Psalm 82). This is the only possible outcome for image making in a monotheistic system, but it is not because the mīs pî pīt pî was reversed—rather because it was completed, or because it got dangerously close.

Chapter 5 relates the foregoing discussion to broader conversations about the textual history of the two creation accounts. McDowell here explores the compositional and sociopolitical history of the two creation accounts, giving brief summaries of the scholarship on both composition and date of each story. She pays particular attention to the apparent scholarly majority that has come to see both accounts as exilic or postexilic in their fi al form, as well as to the attempts to parse Genesis 2:4b–3 into multiple accounts. She appropriately, in my opinion, critiques the bases on which the stories have been deemed late, while leaving considerable room (without necessarily arguing) for a preexilic dating. Also worthy of mention is the notion of “negative influence” that she brings into the discussion by way of the work of G. Hermerén. Negative influence draws attention to the forces of repulsion that may exist between two texts and may be visible in systematic dissimilarity in two works, though McDowell stops short of arguing for its presence in the texts under consideration.

She doubts even the assignment of the second account to J, calling into question the bases of its author’s identification, which she identifies as the use of the name Jahweh, anthropomorphic qualities of the god, and its “primitive literary style.” On the other hand, she reminds the reader of the full divine name used after Genesis 2:4a (YHWH Elohim) and points out anthropomorphic qualities of the god of Genesis 1. Some modern source critics would agree: the document classically known as J indeed should not be identified on the basis of a text’s style, anthropomorphic ideals, or use of a divine name. The isolation of such features of J follows from the isolation of the document on literary grounds, such as alternative tellings of stories that compete for the same narrative space.9 Documentarian source critics still assign the second creation story of Genesis to the J source. McDowell concludes chapter 5 with a discussion of the two creation accounts in relation to one another, citing some scholars who see the second account as a comment on (and therefore later than) the first, but offering support for the contrary position, that the P account reformulates the earlier notion in Genesis 2–3 that humans were made as divine images.

The extended discussion of issues of dating and authorship in chapter 5 leaves the reader wondering about its necessity in the scope of the present project—the earlier discussions of ṣelem, dəmût, and mīs pî pīt pî rituals do intersect in a few points with the question of dating, mainly in adding to the welter of ancient Near Eastern sources the authors had at their disposal, but these particular sources do not tip the dating scales too far in one direction or another. The concluding paragraphs give a taste of the potential impact of McDowell’s research, but such impact might be clouded for the reader in the variety of opinions about matters of date and authorship. Her discussion of the relationship between the two accounts, which takes on different hues when viewed through the lens of image-making rituals in the ancient Near East, is in my opinion the most interesting and valuable contribution of the chapter.

Chapter 6 summarizes the findings from the previous chapters and the methodological implications of her study and indicates future questions to pursue. In the section on methodology, her claim—compelling to me and offered with all due caveats—that “the placement of Adam in a sacred (temple-)garden . . . could not be adequately explained apart from the Washing of the Mouth and the Opening of the Mouth” is noteworthy, especially since no other ancient Near Eastern creation account shows humans created in a garden setting. The volume’s text concludes with a look to further avenues of inquiry: (1) what the metaphorization of humans as images means in the context of the prohibition of images in so many biblical texts; (2) the exploration of descriptions of other human entities in terms that evoke image production (she hints at exilic and postexilic texts in Isaiah that treat corporate Israel as a statue); and

(3) the clothing of the high priest as allusive of garments made for gods described in Mesopotamian texts. Following the conclusion of the text are a bibliography and helpful indexes of cited biblical texts, modern authors, and ancient Near Eastern texts. There is unfortunately no subject index nor are there illustrations.

McDowell’s work constitutes a major step forward in the study of the nuances and complexities of one of the most important and attendedto sections of the Bible. Although minor claims made here and there arguably go beyond the evidence,10 the vast majority of the discussion is methodologically self-aware and generally careful not to overstate influence or conclusions. I offer two final points of criticism in hopes of pointing to further possibilities for study.

First, notably missing from her discussion are two important texts, the first of which is perhaps the clearest parallel to rituals of oral purification, the so-called prophetic call narratives that serve to ready the prophet’s mouth for speaking the divine word. Especially relevant is Isaiah 6, in which the prophet experiences a theophany and mouth cleansing—in the Jerusalem temple—that enables him to deliver the word of YHWH.11 Although this is clearly removed from the making of a divine image, the temple context and the delegation of divine authority seem to appeal to the same core concept as Genesis 2–3, albeit to different ends, drawing on the same knowledge of image-making traditions. The second text missing from the discussion is Exodus 32, the narrative of the golden calf, which expresses the same ambivalence about the role of the craftsman as agent in the creation of the image and the same declaration of the image-as-person, both placed in the mouth of Aaron. In Exodus 32:4, after having made the calf, Aaron declares “these are your elohim, who brought you up from the land of Egypt,” in a way that recalls the craftsmen of the mīs pî pīt pî rituals speaking about their statues as gods. Further, at the end of the narrative, when Moses accuses Aaron, Aaron replies in terms that evoke the Mesopotamian craftsmen’s active denial of their role in the image making process: “So I said to them, ‘whoever has gold, tear it off ’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it in the fire, and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:24, author’s translation). Both of these texts, together with those already discussed by McDowell, such as the icon parodies of Second Isaiah, indicate a detailed yet dynamic knowledge of image-making procedures among biblical authors, a knowledge that was spun out in several different directions. This further strengthens McDowell’s argument about the way they inform the creation accounts of Genesis.

My second critique concerns McDowell’s agnostic position with regard to the authorship of the two creation accounts. Although understandable in the present state of source-critical (non)consensus, it is unfortunate because it forecloses the pursuit of other textual evidence that might strengthen her position and illuminate the compositional logic of the two stories independently. It would have been much better, in my view, instead of trying to make the creation accounts talk directly to each other, to attend more to their differences by showing how each draws differently on the traditions of image creation in the ancient Near East in order to characterize the divine-human relationship. J’s concern with the problems of apotheosis and the maintenance of divine-human boundaries, first visible in Genesis 2–3, is repeated in subsequent stories (e.g., the nephilim precipitating the flood in J) in ways that resonate with the making of images. Similarly, the Priestly creation account, more than a reaction to Genesis 2–3, might have been fruitfully explored in the context of P’s investment in the ritual readying of objects of power (such as the tabernacle and its implements, and even the priests themselves) and in the underlying logic of Priestly legal material. Attention to the role of image making in the creation of humans may have also opened greater space for a discussion of the gender dynamics involved in each of (and across) the two creation accounts. One hopes that the groundwork she has laid here provides both the impetus and structure for future studies along these (as well as other) lines.

In final analysis, The Image of God in the Garden of Eden is required reading for any modern student of the biblical creation narratives and of biblical conceptions of the image. McDowell has elucidated many aspects of the narrative and made crucial observations in her reading of the symbolic world inhabited by its ancient author and audience. She succeeds also in her general robust contextualization and close reading of the Eden narrative against the backdrop of image animation conceptions in ancient Southwest Asia, and I look forward to seeing the future development of and reaction to her work.

Cory Crawford is assistant professor of classics and world religions at Ohio University.



1. For previous works on the topic, see, among many others: Christopher Walker and Michael Dick, The Induction of the Cult Image in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Mesopotamian Mīs Pî Ritual (Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2001), available with updates at https://sites.google.com/a/siena.edu/mis-pi/; Michael Walker, ed., Born in Heaven, Made on Earth: The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999); Nathaniel Levtow, Images of Others: Iconic Politics in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 2008); Andreas Schüle, “Made in the ‘Image of God’: The Concepts of Divine Images in Gen 1–3,” ZAW 117 (2005): 1–20; Irene Winter, “‘Idols of the King’: Royal Images as Recipients of Ritual Action in Ancient Mesopotamia,”Journal of Ritual Studies 6 (1992): 13–42; Mark Smith, The Liturgy of the Opening of the Mouth for Breathing (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1993).

2. Note on reference: McDowell consistently refers to what scholars know as the first and second creation stories as Genesis 1:1–2:3 and 2:5–3:24, respectively. I will use “Genesis 1” and “Genesis 2–3” as a shorthand for these same stories or the “Eden narrative” for the latter.

3. Readers of this journal will perhaps be interested in McDowell’s extended critique (pp. 18–20) of Joshua Matson, “Idol Remains: Remnants of the Opening of the Mouth Ritual in the Hebrew Bible,” Studia Antiqua 12/1 (2013): 33–50.

4. See, e.g. Zainab Bahrani, The Graven Image: Representation in Babylonia and Assyria (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003) https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812206777; Amnon Ben-Tor, “The Sad Fate of Statues and the Mutilated Statues of Hazor,” in Confronting the Past: Archaeological and Historical Essays on Ancient Israel in Honor of William G. Dever, ed. S. Gitin, J. E. Wright, J. P. Dessel (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 3–16.

5. Deuteronomy 32:6; Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9; Exodus 4:22–23; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; 66:12–13(!); Malachi 2:10; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7

6. Cf. Numbers 3:7–8; she later elaborates on Eden as temple.

7. The relevance, however, of the so-called “Taming of Enkidu” story in the Epic of Gilgamesh does have a special resonance with the Eden narrative and was undoubtedly influential on the latter. This does not, of course, negate McDowell’s conclusions, but it could have been brought in to her study as support for the idea that biblical authors reached for more than just Mesopotamian creation stories in crafting their own creation narrative.

8. McDowell’s translation: “(God) installed [way-yanniḥēhû] him [i.e., Adam] in the garden of Eden.”

9. See Joel S. Baden, The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 13–33.

10. Three of these are perhaps worthy of mention: (1) In reference to Genesis 1, McDowell says that she had established that humans were portrayed as the “‘images’ who were created to dwell in the divine presence” (p. 141), when there was in fact no discussion of divine presence in Genesis 1. (2) She claims, perhaps too strongly, that “kinship in Genesis 1 was expressed as a father-son relationship between God and humankind” (p. 138), but McDowell herself noted that father-son language was explicitly absent from this chapter and therefore it seems beyond the evidence to claim an expression of kinship rather than an allusion to kinship-based themes. (3) The discussion of nakedness and glory imports anachronistic concepts from later interpretation and again seems beyond the evidence.

11. See Victor Hurowitz, “Isaiah’s Impure Lips and their Purification in Light of Akkadian Sources,” Hebrew Union College Annual 60 (1989): 39–89.


Article DOI: https://doi.org/10.18809/sba.2016.0111

Journal DOI: https://doi.org/10.18809/misba.21683166