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image of Vetus Testamentum

A survey of ancient and modern interpretations of Genesis viii 7 reveals the consistent assumption that the raven must perform the same function as the dove, which makes the presence of the raven puzzling - why two birds? Traditional commentators explain the raven in symbolic and moralizing terms, while modern commentators generally see it as a traditio-historical fragment. It is here proposed that the raven has a different task from that of the dove, in that its flying to and fro above the waters is a symbolic replication of God's action through the ruah (Genesis viii 1) whereby the waters recede. This is related to the concept of imitatio Dei in Priestly thought.

Affiliations: 1: Durham


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