Touched by an Angel / Touched by God: Preliminary Questions

Jacob wrestles a man, whom he later identifies as God; an angel of the LORD touches Elijah on the shoulder; a seraph touches Isaiah on the lips; the LORD touches Jeremiah directly; the Glory of the LORD yanks Ezekiel around by the hair.  What is going on with all of these tactile encounters?


Scholars of ancient prophecy, apocalypticism, and mysticism or, to use a broader category, “divine/human interactions” typically focus on hearing the divine or seeing the divine.  I have even just finished a draft for a monograph that breaks down strategies of seeing the divine in ancient Christian literature.  We are obsessed with sight!  So were the ancients.

What about touching?  Is there the same tensions, questions, and traditions around touching the divine as around seeing or hearing?  Or is it an altogether different type of experience and different type of exegetical exposition for later interpreters?


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