Not Just a Pot

There is a comparison between God and a potter on the one hand, and humanity and pottery on the other, in both testaments of the Christian Bible.

The analogy is not apt. Pots do not feel pain. And as human beings, we rarely agree that the simple act of creating means that the one who did so has unlimited rights to torment the work of his or her hands.

I mention this because I have had students reflecting on the story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac, and am not persuaded that simply positing that God is the Creator of humankind solves the moral problems inherent in that story.

  • Joshua Smith

    As a potter myself, I have always been disturbed by the way Jeremiah 18 has been used. I may be an amateur, but I understand enough about the trade to know that if a pot is off-center or if the walls of the vessel cave in and it collapses back into a pile of clay, it is the fault of an unskillful potter, not the fault of the inanimate clay.

  • omar

    For in the Market-place, one Dusk of Day,
    I watch’d the Potter thumping his wet Clay:
    And with its all obliterated Tongue
    It murmur’d—”Gently, Brother, gently, pray!”


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