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God: An Anatomy

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  58 reviews
An astonishing and revelatory history that re-presents God as he was originally envisioned by ancient worshippers--with a distinctly male body, and with superhuman powers, earthly passions, and a penchant for the fantastic and monstrous.

[A] rollicking journey through every aspect of Yahweh's body, from top to bottom (yes, that too) and from inside out ... Ms. Stavrakop
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Hardcover, 608 pages
Published January 25th 2022 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published September 16th 2021)
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Andre Audiobook. The author herself narrates it and I found it far less tedious of an experience than reading the excerpts I read.

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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  313 ratings  ·  58 reviews


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Paul Clark
Oct 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I really loved this book. Francesca Stavrakopoulou is a professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at a British university who occasionally makes programmes for TV.

In this book, she draws on her knowledge of Egyptian religion and other south-west Asian religions to help us understand the god of the Bible better. She also draws on her knowledge of Hebrew to show how Christian translators have modified the Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Old Testament), airbrushing elements of the Biblical god that don’t
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Viggo Pedersen
Oct 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Review from a none believer: A absolutely brilliant book! (I read it at the same time as I listened to the Professor herself read the book, so in one way I've read it twice.)
It starts with a quote from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, maps, a list of illustrations, a prologue and an introduction. Then it's divided into 5 parts: Feet and Legs, Genitals, Torso, Arms and Hands & Head + an epilogue. 420+ pages of God: An Anatomy, and it ends with 150+ pages of glossary, notes, bibliography, acknow
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Richard Hakes
Nov 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
A good book if a little long on a single subject. I have been interested in 'the' family history ever since singing some Christmas carols a few years ago and wondering what cherubs and seraphims were, non of my pals (or anyone since) seems to know much. I have been on the lookout for further enlightenment since. The book tracks big G's life story from when he first came out about 3000 years ago. Back then he was very much the family man with wife, kids maybe not a mortgage and job but very clos ...more
Socraticgadfly
This was a great book in many ways, but a nagging issue, an overemphasis on one talking point, and what I believe is an incorrect interpretation of the Book of Job in the last chapter ultimately cost it a star. I’d rate this 3 1/2 if you let me be precise. (Since we can't do half stars, and the average rating is even higher on Yellow Satan than here, it got 3 stars there, and I reserve the right to downgrade the 4-star here.)

With that, let’s dig in.

It’s easy to forget that the God of the Hebrew
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Alenka of Bohemia
I think it needs to be said that I am a Christian who came to believe in God pretty much on her own. With that out of the way one must say that this book stands for excellent scholarship and readable writing style. I would say it may only offend those who indeed take every word in the Bible as holy and precise, with one meaning only, rather than regard the Book as a testament of the existence of God AS WELL AS a reflection of the times when it was written. Which I would argue we should. The auth ...more
North Landesman
Dec 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"The huge throne seats a diety so large his 'lower extremities' cram the santuary. Most anchient and modern translators assume it is god's robe that swamps the space. But Isaiah makes no mention of a robe."

Stavrakopoulou's book argued that most of how both Jewish and Christian society percieves god is wrong based on the writing in the bible. She useds scripture and evidence of similar gods in the area and historical record to argue god was an incredibly large, well-endowed, beautiful man with bl
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Scriptor Ignotus
It is axiomatic to each of the Abrahamic faiths that God has no body. Centuries of liturgical tradition, theological reflection, philosophical disputation, and historical disruption have polished away, as best they can, any trace of particularity or compositeness in the God of the Bible, bringing the divine patron of Israel into alignment with the immaterial and utterly transcendent Absolute conceptualized by Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Platonism. God can’t be a thing, s ...more
Asser Khattab
Sep 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, we finally we have a book that reveals the bare face (and several other organs!) of the God of the Bible before he became the Jewish God or the Christian God with whom we are familiar today, or think that we are. Excellent and highly recommended!
Holly Cruise
May 08, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Apparently it is possible to spend too much time over the dinner table reciting facts you have learned from this book about God's willy to your partner. That's me told.

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is an atheist on a mission to talk about God's body, or at least the things we know about it from the Bible, from other apocrypha and Jewish and Christian traditions, and what we know about the bodies of the other gods of south-west Asia at the time. How was Yahweh depicted and how does that fit in with hi
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Odette Lattimer
Dec 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Utterly fantastic
Matthew Lloyd
In the middle of listening to Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s God: An Anatomy, I saw the comedian Nish Kumar perform at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival. Talking about the racist abuse he has received as a person of colour, Kumar joked: “I’m a bad Muslim – a Hindu.” He continued to point out that Christians are much better Muslims than Hindus, believing in only one god with similar attributes, stories, and rules.

Coming back to God after watching Kumar, I found myself reflecting anew on one of Stavrako
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Sorrento
Jan 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fancesca Stavrakpoulou’s book is a brilliantly researched and presented book which has enriched my understanding of the God of the Bible and the other Gods which were worshipped in the middle east during biblical times.
Having been brought up in the Church of England I thought was quite familiar with this God of the Old Testament (Yahweh) and the idea of the Trinity however to my surprise, reading Stavrakopoulou’s book I realised how little I knew about Yahweh’s body and personality and how he wo
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Flapper72
Jan 07, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most people who are academics in biblical studies and religion tend to have a 'conflict of interests' and actually believe in a super power. The author is not one of these people - she doesn't have a faith and, thus, I find her works and reading really interesting the way that she presents the historical evidence and facts and, in this book, explains how god the person became a super power who's no longer a man. The parallels with previous religions and gods, nothing's really new, just re brande ...more
Lynn
Apr 13, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I liked this better. Kind of a harsh, detached look at god without pleasantness but harshness. Not a very involving book.
Peter
Apr 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional

Well worth reading, others will do better reviews than me, I'm just posting twenty words to say I enjoyed it immensely and learned a lot
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Alex
Jan 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Waterstones I was able to get this book and bring it back to the U.S. a couple months before it came out here.

The author was not wrong, they had written a dense and informative textbook that I wish I had while I was in undergrad. But now, I see it as a perfect resource for my graduate programs.

This is one of the first books where I could feel how delicately each word was selected for every sentence, as if every individual word had the weight of the entire theological understanding of
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Joao
Feb 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The author's knowledge about the bible and ancient cultures and religions of the south west asia region is truly breathtaking, and armed with this knowledge she managed to convince me that everything that I once knew about the god mentioned in The Bible is completely different from what its original authors intended.
She discusses what is said in The Bible and opposes that to what is usually accepted and what knowledge we have been accumulating about other religions at the same region and at abou
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DC Palter
Feb 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is an impressive book describing exactly what God has looked like to his worshippers. If you're expecting an old guy with a long beard floating in the clouds, that's a modern invention. This book describes what He looked like millennia ago when Yahweh was the local storm god of Judah and Israel. The author starts at the feet when they used to be grounded in the temple, and moves up to the legs, genitals, torso, hands, and head.

If you're religious and think the Bible was written by God rathe
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K L
4.5*

Let me start my thoughts on this fascinating book by explaining what angle I am coming at this book from. I am neither Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I am an agnostic with an interest in religion and the idea of religion. It is not up to me to tell others what they should or should not believe. You do you and I do me. I wanted to say that, because I imagine this book could be quite polarizing for those who hold a particular faith.

To me, this was a fascinating read. I listened to it on audio bo
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Ionarr
Jun 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. It's a very accessible but not dumbed-down look at the physical presence of the Christian/Jewish God and how he came to the incorporeal state currently assumed. Even if you know nothing about Stavrakolopoulou her expert knowledge and passion for the subject shines through, as does her wicked sense of humour. I was pleasantly surprised how much of the book linked religious traditions right back to Assyrian/Babylonian and contemporaneous religion, as I'm very interested in this ...more
John
May 17, 2022 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book that succeeds in bringing the reader back into the world of ancient Israel and its neighbors. Along the way, we learn that the God of Christianity--the God who is incorporeal, immaterial, spirit and such--is not the God of the Old or New Testaments. That God had feet and arms, a heart and face, and we were created to literally look like him. We are said to be this God's image bearers. Stavrakopoulou painstakingly details the grittiness of the ancient Hebrew's ideas and concept ...more
Darwin Ross
Jun 27, 2022 rated it really liked it
Very detailed in displaying the shift from pagan gods to the Judeo-Christian God. As for how far the literalness of God's body actually persists and should persist in late Judaism and early Christianity, to the undermining of each, is another matter. The evolution from early Middle Eastern gods to the later Yahweh does not automatically discount his relevance.

The evolution might be purposeful and intended. For example, "progressive creation" or "theistic (macro-) evolution" advocates see a plac
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Akanksha Dutta (Athena Book Briefs)
This is a lovely although lengthy book, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, especially as the author narrates it themself. The book discusses the specific beliefs and mythology surrounding the Judeo-Christian God and his cultural predecessors from the Levant. This is done through a discussion of the anatomy of the gods, how various parts from their hands, feet, hair, heart etc have different stories attached. It was quite a revelation to see how drastically the traits and conception of God has ...more
Chris
Jul 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Really wonderful! Stavrakopoulou’s thesis is elegantly summarized at the very end of her book:
...the distance between God and humanity is light years from the image of God in the Bible. The Christian construct of God as a transcendent, invisible and incorporeal being is a distorted refraction, not a reflection, of the Biblical image of God. The real god of the Bible was an ancient Levantine deity whose footsteps shook the earth, whose voice thundered through the skies and whose beauty and radian
...more
Geof Sage
Mar 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 53-want
Armed with a PhD from a different (but related) department at the university of which the author teaches, and the topic being near and dear to me with my UG focus on 1) bodies and 2) the Hebrew Bible, I can't decide how I feel about this. 60% is something I wish I wrote, 20% needed a tighter editor (we get told the Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes twice and the same story about Moses a couple of times), and 20% woefully underexplored and too explicatory, especially regarding the layers of bodily pres ...more
Rachel
Apr 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing
What is the true nature of God? That’s a question that has been explored and debated over the centuries. There seems to be no satisfactory answer for everyone, even among believers, atheists and agnostics. Two recent books discuss this issue in very different ways: Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s fascinating “God: An Anatomy” (Alfred A. Knopf) offers a close look at God as the deity was originally portrayed in the Bible, while Rabbi Toba Spitzer’s excellent “God is Here: Reimagining the Divine” (St. ...more
Cat
Jan 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jamie Charles
Feb 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing
February 2022 | 4.5/5
Professor Stavrakopoulou examines how the Western idea of God came to be using her knowledge of ancient religions and deep examination of the Hebrew bible.

She shows how the ancient God had a human shaped body, walked and talked with his followers, laughed, cried, and loved his people.

A male god with bulging muscles, long hair, a well kept mustache and a luxurious beard, a long thick member with heavy testicles, reddish tinged skin, thonged sandles on feet, and perfumes on hi
...more
Delson Roche
Jan 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
A book densely packed with history of the God of Levant. Each chapter is dedicated to one organ of god and explains where and how things changed as time progressed.
The book starts with the foot and ends up on the head. I found the chapter on the genitals of god the most entertaining and it answered my childhood question of why Yahweh needed a penis (else why would he be called a he).
The book gets 4 stars because I missed a chronological development in the stories. The stories jump across times,
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Miriam
May 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
This is a tour de force, but not for those who prefer to remain complacent in their theology. Stavrakopoulou, an avowed atheist and expert in the Jewish Bible, has written a book that truly takes the text literally. References to God's body and breath are accepted at face value and then placed within the context of the region's myths and pantheons. The result traces the transition of Judaism and Christianity's understanding of the divine from henotheism to platonic idealism, from a dynamic if de ...more
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