The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel
In The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel, Benjamin D. Sommer investigates the notion of a deity's body and self in ancient Israel, Canaan, and Mesopotamia. He uncovers a lost ancient Near Eastern perception of divinity according to which an essential difference between gods and humans was that gods had more than one body and fluid, unbounded selves. Though the dominant strains of biblical religion rejected it, a monotheistic version of this theological intuition is found in some biblical texts. Later Jewish and Christian thinkers inherited this ancient way of thinking; ideas such as the sefirot in kabbalah and the trinity in Christianity represent a late version of this theology. This book forces us to rethink the distinction between monotheism and polytheism, as this notion of divine fluidity is found in both polytheistic cultures (Babylonia, Assyria, Canaan) and monotheistic ones (biblical religion, Jewish mysticism, Christianity), whereas it is absent in some polytheistic cultures (classical Greece). The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel has important repercussions not only for biblical scholarship and comparative religion but for Jewish-Christian dialogue.
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Gods Body and the Bibles Interpreters
Mesopotamia and Canaan
2 The Fluidity Model in Ancient Israel
3 The Rejection of the Fluidity Model in Ancient Israel
Tent Ark and Temple
Implications and Afterlife
Monotheism and Polytheism in Ancient Israel
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Akkadian ancient Israel ancient Near Eastern anthropomorphic argues Asherah Baal Bethel betyl biblical texts Canaanite chapter conception cultic deﬁnition deity describe Deuteronomy discussion divine embodiment divine presence dwelling Enlil Enuma Elish especially evidence example exile Exodus Ezekiel ﬁgurines ﬁnd ﬁre ﬁrst ﬂuidity model ﬂuidity traditions further Genesis God’s body God’s presence goddess gods heaven heavenly Hebrew Bible holy human identical identiﬁed Ieremiah Ierusalem temple Iewish Image inscriptions Ioshua Isaiah Ishtar Israelite Israelite religion Iudaism kabbalah kabod Kaufmann Keel and Uehlinger Kings Leviticus literature located locative Maimonides mal’akh manifestation Marduk Mark Smith Mesopotamian Mettinger monolatry monotheism monotheistic Moses multiple narrative Northwest Semitic notion Numbers ofthe passage Pentateuch polytheism polytheistic priestly tabernacle Psalm rabbinic refer reﬂect regard ritual sacred space sacriﬁce Samuel scholars shekhinah shem signiﬁcant Similarly Sinai speciﬁcally stelae suggests tabernacle tent term theology Torah translation Ugaritic verb verse Weinfeld word worship Yhwh Yhwh’s Zion