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God: An Anatomy


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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.

About the Author

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 UK TV, Radio and festivals.Her contribution (on the same subject as the book) to Dan Snow's History Hits podcast is currently its most popular ever episode.


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 *
Professors of Theology are imagined to be dull, gentle souls. This book, however, is a great rebel shout . . . a learned but rollicking journey through every aspect of Yahweh's body, from top to bottom (yes, that too) and from inside out . . . instructive, vivid and frequently hilarious. * Economist *
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 *
God: An Anatomy - consistently lively, despite its considerable length - takes us back behind the biblical texts to the world of west Asian religion and mythology in the second millennium BCE and earlier . . . The book presents this picture with a wealth of scholarly detail and much gusto. -- Rowan Williams * New Statesman *
God: An Anatomy is a tour de force. Stavrakopoulou has created not just an extraordinarily rich and nuanced portrait of Yahweh himself, but an intricate and detailed account of the cultural values and practices he embodied, and the wider world of myth and history out of which he emerged . . . Stavrakopoulou has taken to heart the biblical injunction to seek the face of God, and what emerges is a deity more terrifyingly alive, more damaged, more compelling, more complex than we have encountered before. More human, you might say. -- Mathew Lyons * New Humanist *
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

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