The “divine power” and the “divine thing”: are they the same?

Is the Cuzari’s “divine power” another name for “the divine thing”?

In I, 95, the ḥaver describes the final stages in the creation of Adam: “and he is the one who received the soul in her perfection, and [then] the maximum intellect possible for the human constitution, and the divine power after the intellect.” The divine power (al-qūwa al-ilāhiyya) is thus something superadded to the human intellect. Hallevi immediately tells us precisely what this divine power is: “I mean, the stage (rutba) at which he conjoins with God and the spiritual beings, and then knows the particular truths (al-ḥaqā’iq) without studying, but rather by means of the easiest of thought gesture (bi-ahwan fikra).”

The “divine thing” (al-amr al-ilāhiy) is a key and crucial element in Hallevi’s thought (see my preceding post). Is it the same thing as the “divine power”? The only person to ask this question, from what I have looked at, is the Nazir, and he answers in the affirmative. He correctly observes that both are the fourth and highest stage in a certain hierarchy. However, the “divine power”, like the “divine thing”, is a well-known concept with a history of its own; and the meanings it has assumed are different from that of the “divine thing”. (I have posted elsewhere notes towards a study of the term “divine power”.) Moreover, as we have just seen, Hallevi gives quite a precise definition of the “divine power”; it sounds like a form of intuition, which indeed was seen as God-given gift of some sort. (Yes, I have written on this too …) The description is not quite the same as that given earlier on for the “divine thing” (see especially I, 41), which includes the ability to survive fire, to go without food and water, to maintain robust health one’s entire life, and to have access to hidden secrets—a superhuman, as the ḥaver sums up.

I am not sure what if any difference it makes that Hallevi chooses to describe Adam by the “divine power”, but the great poet can be presumed to have chosen his words carefully.


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