Beyond the animal imaginings of childhood, anthropomorphism and theriomorphism
, Shepard argues that it should be a normal part of human development for people to incorporate animals into their conceptions of the cosmos.
While theriomorphic representation of the divine is met with in all periods of religious history in the ANE, it does not seem to be the case that belief in anthropomorphism succeeded an earlier belief in theriomorphism
. Already in 1939, Johannes Hemple ("Die Grenzen des Anthropomorphismus Jahwes im Alten Testament," ZAW 57 : 75) was able to dismiss this "naiven entwiclungsgeschichtlichen Auffassung ..., da[beta] etwa regelma[beta]ig der Theriomorphismus dem Anthropomorphismus habe vorausgehen mussen." In fact, he pointed out "keine Aufeinandefolge des Therio- und Anthropomorphismus klar nachweisbar its." Henri Frankfort has pointed out that such a theory of Stufenfolge "ignores the fact that the earliest divine statues which have been preserved represent the god Min in human shape.
It emerged in the context of the 'theological triangle' which witnessed the encounter and conflict between gods in human shape, gods with animal heads and a god with no image: the anthropomorphism of the Greek gods, the theriomorphism
of the Egyptian gods and the aniconism of the god of the Jews.