Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Photo: Steven Haywood)
Christianity teaches us that the biblical God was without a body, only revealing himself in the Old Testament in words mysteriously uttered through his prophets, and in the New Testament in the body of Christ. The Bible’s frequent portrayal of God as corporeal and masculine is seen as a metaphorical, figurative, or poetic construct. But in a talk that draws on her revelatory studies, ancient religions expert Francesca Stavrakopoulou presents a vividly corporeal image of the biblical God: This is a human-shaped deity who walks and talks and weeps and laughs; who eats, sleeps, feels, and breathes; and who is undeniably male.
Stavrakopoulou, a graduate of Oxford University and a professor of Hebrew Bible and ancient religion at the University of Exeter, has closely examined and researched the portrayal of God’s body in the Bible, and shown how this deity was originally understood by his worshippers in the biblical world. God was created in the image of the people who lived then, a product of a particular society at a particular time, and shaped by their own circumstances and experience of the world. This reclaimed image of God may change how we think about religion, our bodies, and our humanity.
Stavrakopoulou’s book God: An Anatomy (Knopf) is available for purchase.
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