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God: An Anatomy By Francesca Stavrakopoulou

God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou

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A fascinating, surprising and often controversial examination of the real God of the Bible, in all his bodily, uncensored, scandalous forms.

God: An Anatomy Summary

God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Beautifully written, passionately argued and frequently controversial, God: An Anatomy is cultural history on a grand scale.

Three thousand years ago, in the Southwest Asian lands we now call Israel and Palestine, a group of people worshipped a complex pantheon of deities, led by a father god called El. El had seventy children, who were gods in their own right. One of them was a minor storm deity, known as Yahweh. Yahweh had a body, a wife, offspring and colleagues. He fought monsters and mortals. He gorged on food and wine, wrote books, and took walks and naps. But he would become something far larger and far more abstract: the God of the great monotheistic religions.

But as Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou reveals, God's cultural DNA stretches back centuries before the Bible was written, and persists in the tics and twitches of our own society, whether we are believers or not. The Bible has shaped our ideas about God and religion, but also our cultural preferences about human existence and experience; our concept of life and death; our attitude to sex and gender; our habits of eating and drinking; our understanding of history. Examining God's body, from his head to his hands, feet and genitals, she shows how the Western idea of God developed. She explores the places and artefacts that shaped our view of this singular God and the ancient religions and societies of the biblical world. And in doing so she analyses not only the origins of our oldest monotheistic religions, but also the origins of Western culture.

God: An Anatomy Reviews

Rivetingly fresh and stunning . . . Isaiah actually saw God's genitals filling the temple. This sounds just too comical to be plausible - and yet fertility and bull-like potency are essential to ancient deities, and Stavrakopoulou argues that Jahweh is no different. Much more like the Cerne Abbas giant than today's CofE would really want. -- Christopher Hart * Sunday Times *
Stavrakopoulou's book restores limb by limb the terror and the awe of that whole, obscured by translators and commentators through the ages. How does Stavrakopoulou achieve this? Through the provocation and erudite analysis of ancient material evidence and texts, not as records of discrete cultural and religious traditions but as centuries-long accumulated treasury of imaginings of the embodied divine . . . an enriching and disturbing, at times pleasurable and always thought-provoking experience. -- Simon Yarrow * Literary Review *
Boldly simple in concept, God: An Anatomy is stunning in its execution. It is a tour de force, a triumph, and I write this as one who disagrees with Stavrakopoulou both on broad theoretical grounds and one who finds himself engaged with her in one narrow textual spat after another . . . I have poetic reservations but Stavrakopoulou has nonetheless written a stunning book. -- Jack Miles * Catholic Herald *
Good Lord, Stavrakopoulou touches that sweet spot that is scholarly, funny, visceral and heavenly. A revelation. -- Adam Rutherford, author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived and How to Argue with a Racist
One of the most remarkable historians and communicators working today. -- Dan Snow
In both Judaism and Christianity God is conceived as non-physical. In God: An Anatomy Francesca Stavrakopoulou shows that this was not yet so in the Bible, where God appears in a much more corporeal form. This provocative work will surprise and may shock, but it brings to light aspects of the biblical account of God that modern readers seldom appreciate. -- John Barton, Emeritus Professor at Oriel College, Oxford and author of A History of the Bible
In Stavrakopoulou's stunning dissection of historical religious texts, the real back-story and context of the God of Judaism and Christianity is revealed . . . Where pious theologians have abstracted him into emptiness, Stavrakopolou gives him back his substance, and he's so much more interesting in this bodily form! Both scholarly and accessible, and full of fascinating stories - I guarantee you'll never think of this God the same way again. -- Professor Alice Roberts

About Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou studied theology at Oxford and is currently Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. The author of a number of academic works, she also presented the BBC 2 documentary series The Bible's Buried Secrets. She regularly appears on BBC1's The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live, and has appeared on several Radio 4 shows, including Woman's Hour, The Infinite Monkey Cage and The Museum of Curiosity. She writes for the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday, and the Times Literary Supplement, and has spoken about the Bible, religion, and atheism at numerous public events, including the Cheltenham Science Festival, the World Humanist Congress, and Conway Hall's annual London Thinks festival. Her contribution (on the same subject as the book) to Dan Snow's History Hits podcast is currently its most popular ever episode.

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God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Pan Macmillan
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