Can God be seen with the eyes

The German word "face" comes from "see", from the sight of the eyes, the "sense of sight". Instead of “I see something” I can also say: “It comes to my face”. With “face” the (“seeing”) eyes are meant first. From the point of view of seeing the eyes, the meaning of the word "face" was then extended to the entire front of the head. It is different in Latin, where the word for face ("os") is derived from "mouth". If we reverse the direction of gaze - from the face that sees to the face that is seen - the face does not stand for the look, but for the sight of a person, not for the way he sees, but for his appearance. In this respect too, the eyes are central. Instead of “I'll look you in the face”, we can also say: “I'll look you in the eye”. The face identifies a specific person. It is the signature of their unmistakable individuality and stands for the whole person, like his name. The face can therefore represent the person - in documents such as passports, for example. The Italian “faccia”, the French “face”, the Spanish “faz”, the English “face” and in German the term “facade” are derived from the Latin “facies”. A building can also have a face. The city gets a face, a cityscape, through its buildings. The face is the characteristic appearance that gives an object an identity and thus enables it to be identified. "Face" also stands for the reputation of a person, for their dignity. A slap in the face means deep humiliation. When someone suffers an injury to his or her honor, it is a loss of face. Whenever we speak of "face" in this sense, we also use terms such as "face" and "countenance". These titles would not be used to describe an animal's face. "Man alone bears his head upright, so he has a face," says Herder.

Medium of self-communication
The face is a medium of self-communication. It expresses the inner constitution of a person. You can tell from his face how he is doing, how he is in a mood. The facial expression, the facial expression, is the outward-facing mirror of the current state of mind and thus the interface between inner and outer people. “It's written on your face,” we say when we reflect on someone's impression of their expression. Many idioms tie in here: those who are disappointed make a long face, those who are upset make a sour face. The face darkens, brightens, becomes bitter or sweet. And our body language also has its own means of expression: you put your hands over your face or cover it out of shame. The face that you “make” or “show” does not have to be the real one. It can become a mask and indicate a role that we play or want to play. That is the basic meaning of the Latin "persona" (mask). So someone can put on a good face to the bad game or put on a poker face. The face can be a facade behind which we hide, and it can reveal our real state of mind. So we don't just have our faces, we can also give ourselves a face. The face I look into tells not only who the other is and how he is doing, but also what I mean to him and what he expects from me. Faces are the interfaces between people, establish relationships and express relationships. There is such a thing as an interfacial sphere in which the personhood of a person is formed - the face as an interface. A person signals affection by turning his face to another person and aversion by withdrawing it. A facial expression can indicate sympathy, apathy, or antipathy. It can contain an appeal and thus bring an ethical demand to another. He can ask for something, command or forbid something. In this function, too, the face is spoken of in a figurative sense: the phrase "looking someone or something in the face" means a form of immediacy. When communication is particularly dense, someone speaks “face to face” (or “eye to eye”) with the other person. When all deceptions are lifted, we look the truth in the face. Looking "face to face" therefore goes beyond optical seeing and takes into the "look" the essence that is precisely invisible to the eyes. It is "seeing" with the heart. There is also "seeing" with the mind. When we speak of this supersensible “seeing”, we are talking about someone having “visions”: visions, appearances, experiences of revelation. "I felt this intense pain ... and I had a dream or a face, whatever you want to call it," says Hermann Hesse, Goldmund.

Realization of God
We encounter many features of this little phenomenology of the face in the biblical talk of the "face of God", as well as in other religions which have personal ideas about God. This is an improper, anthropomorphic (human-like) way of speaking, as is also the case where the hand of God, the eye of God, the voice of God is spoken of. It is not intended to say anything about parts of the body of God, but about forms of his making present. Such figurative ways of speaking are a middle way between the pictorial representation on the one hand and the avoidance of all clarity on the other hand. Religious forms that strictly reject illustrations of God, such as Islam, push back the talk of the "face of God". It can only be found in two places in the Koran (Sura 2,115 and 272), although other translations are also possible here. In the Old Testament, on the other hand, we have about 100 passages in which the term "panim" (face) is used in relation to God. The biblical talk of the "face of God" is not about essence, but about relationships. It expresses the experience of the nearness and distance of God. In the Old Testament traditions, however, God's "face" does not stand for his mere presence, but for his salutary devotion or, conversely, for its withdrawal: God shows his face or hides it, turns it around or away, raises it or lowers it, covers it, makes it mild and light or hardened and dark. These metaphorical modes of expression thus express the granting or withdrawal of the grace of God. When it says in the so-called Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6: 25f): "God let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you", then the glow means a blessing. The "face of God" means God in his gracious self-communication. God has no face - he is face. Talking about the face of God probably has its most important historical “seat in life” in the practice of the Jerusalem temple cult and thus in the social context of royalty with its court ceremonies and audiences. It is therefore "borrowed" language to express the certainty of God's presence. In temple theology, God was presented as a king whose throne room is entered according to the model of an audience. In research it has been assumed that the talk of the face of God can be traced back even further in the history of religion. It could be traced back to the sight of a cult image when entering ancient oriental temples and could be related to the ancient oriental veneration of the "golden sun" depicted in the picture. Such worship of images of God was sharply rejected in Israel. The talk of the "face of God" could thus represent a critical, spiritualizing reception of the worship of images of God - a reception in connection and contradiction at the same time. The cult image would have been demythologized to a linguistic image.

Mirror of dignity
According to Exodus 34:30, the glory of God is reflected in the face of Moses. With this motif, his election as a revelation mediator is expressed. In this way his authority is to be legitimized. He is therefore "chosen" to impart the revelation of God to the people. Paul takes up this tradition, interprets Christ as "the image of the invisible God" (2 Cor 4: 4) and delimits the motif from the glory of God, which is reflected on the face of Moses, by explaining the immediacy of God's encounter with Moses on all People apply: "We all reflect the glory of the Lord with our faces uncovered" (2 Cor 3:18). Man is not just standing in front of God. Rather, people's faces are hidden faces of God. The human being as the face of God - therein lies the theological justification for the inviolable dignity of human beings. That dignity is on his face.