You Saw An Image (Surrealist God)

The Bahir plays with that biblical icon of the modern iconoclastic tradition that is sometimes translated into English as “you saw no manner of image” (kal-temunah) (Deut. 4:15). The Bahir says, “You saw an image, not an entire image” (temunah v’lo kal temunah) (sec. 47).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to You Saw An Image (Surrealist God)

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Aristotle On Interpretation

    Our first point of reference is Aristotle’s introduction of the sign relation in his treatise On Interpretation.Words spoken are symbols or signs (symbola) of affections or impressions (pathemata) of the soul (psyche); written words are the signs of words spoken. As writing, so also is speech not the same for all races of men. But the mental affections themselves, of which these words are primarily signs (semeia), are the same for the whole of mankind, as are also the objects (pragmata) of which those affections are representations or likenesses, images, copies (homoiomata). (Aristotle, De Interp. i. 16a4).This early text recognizes the three roles within the sign relation: signs, ideas, and objects. It also characterizes the relationships between these three roles. For Aristotle, the relation between signs (words) and ideas (affections and impressions) is that of a symbol to what it symbolizes. In origin, a symbol was a split coin used as a token of recognition. In concrete terms the symbol is a particular kind of sign. As a fragment, it refers both to its other half and to the whole that they originally formed. The relation between ideas and objects is that of an impression to what it is a likeness of. Although Aristotle leaves it implicit, we can see that there is a relationship between signs and objects that is a compound of the first two relations. It is the indirect relation, a fragment of a likeness. There is irony here, that the sign relation is rooted in a type of iconoclasm.

    • Awbrey, J.L., and Awbrey, S.M. (Autumn 1995), “Interpretation as Action : The Risk of Inquiry”, Inquiry : Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 15(1), pp. 40–52.
    Available from: [accessed Jul 29 2021].

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