God: An Anatomy
Winner of The PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2022
Shortlisted for The Wolfson History Prize 2022
A The Times Books of the Year 2022
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.
Beautifully written, passionately argued and frequently controversial, God: An Anatomy is cultural history on a grand scale.
‘Rivetingly fresh and stunning’ – Sunday Times
‘One of the most remarkable historians and communicators working today’ – Dan Snow
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 Stavrakopolou'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
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?