Original Research - Special Collection: SASRF What it means to be human?

Metaphysical perspectives on YHWH as a fictional entity in the Hebrew Bible

Jacobus W. Gericke
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4566 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4566 | © 2017 Jacobus W. Gericke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2017 | Published: 19 May 2017

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Jacobus W. Gericke, Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Vaal Campus, South Africa

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Within a literary ontology, YHWH in the Hebrew Bible is technically also a fictional entity or object. In Hebrew Bible scholarship, a variety of philosophical issues surrounding fiction have received sustained and in-depth attention. However, the mainstream research on these matters tends to focus on the philosophical foundations of or backgrounds to a particular literary theory, rather than on metaphysical puzzles as encountered in the philosophy of fiction proper. To fill this gap, the present article seeks to provide a meta-theoretical overview of the main contemporary philosophical perspectives on the metaphysics of fictional objects. Three views (and their sub-currents) are discussed, namely possibilism, (neo-)Meinongianism and (literary) creationism. Each view’s theory is introduced and critically appropriated with reference to what is implied to be an answer to the question of what exactly the biblical character YHWH can meaningfully be said to be in the context of the metaphysics of fictional objects. In this way, the present study also goes beyond the traditional concern with the nature of God in Old Testament theology.


Yhwh; Hebrew Bible; philosophy of fiction; meta-metaphysics


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