The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Jun 29, 2009 - Religion - 334 pages
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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Gods Body and the Bibles Interpreters
1
Mesopotamia and Canaan
12
2 The Fluidity Model in Ancient Israel
38
3 The Rejection of the Fluidity Model in Ancient Israel
58
Tent Ark and Temple
80
Difficult Beginnings
109
Implications and Afterlife
124
Monotheism and Polytheism in Ancient Israel
145

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Benjamin D. Sommer is Professor in the Department of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Bibliographic information