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Mark Ryden creates some extraordinary pop-art. A few months ago, in conjunction with Necessaries Toy Foundation, he began selling YHWH in a box. YHWH is a limited edition 17-inch tall pink deity, and there are only 2,000 images of YHWH which have been produced. YHWH is named after the central figure in Mark’s painting of the same name.

'YHWH', Mark Ryden

'YHWH', Mark Ryden

Here is the box which contains YHWH:

YHWH's Gold Embossed Box

YHWH's Gold Embossed Box

You can still obtain your personal YHWH at various stores around the internet for around US$180. There is a favourable review of the toy at Plastic and Plush, together with a list of YHWH vendors.

I wonder if turning YHWH into a pole is the revenge of Asherah (YHWH’s wife, whose worship and sacred poles were banned after a monotheistic, iconoclastic innovation in Hebrew religion, which occurred some time in the mid-first millennium BCE)? The worshiper in the painting is, after all, a little girl.

Christopher Min considers this is Ryden’s attempt to represent the irrepresentable, a type of apophatic theology:

“What strikes me about this piece in particular, is Ryden’s grasp of Apophatic theology. Strains of Aphopatic [sic] theology within the Christian tradition can be traced as far back as Augustine. This approach, known as “the negative way” or “Via Negativa,” holds that the Divine is ineffable and our experience of God can only be recognized or remembered, rather than accurately described. What’s more, the imperfection of language and our finite ability to grasp the eternal necessitates that any attempt at describing God will ultimately prove flawed and incomplete. To that end, practitioners would not make propositional statements about the nature of God or what God is, but rather, what God is not.

Also worthy of noting is that in the Jewish tradition, “YHWH” is the ineffable and unutterable name of God. In fact, for reasons of reverence, its utterance is absolutely forbidden in many Orthodox Jewish communities, even in prayer.”

(Christopher Min, ‘A Crucifix for the 21st Century’)


'YHWH', by Mark Ryden