November 29, 2009

Does God have a body?

Adam Kirsch reviews what seems to be an intriguing book from Benjamin Sommer in this week's tablet. Sommer's argument is that God in the Bible seems to have some kind of a body. In Genesis, God is described as forming Adam in his own nature, he even walks in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening, he comes to Abraham as a traveller, he speaks to Moses face to face like a friend, Isaiah says that he saw him standing at his throne. This is an important insight because one of the things that appears to distinguish the Jewish God from the other Gods of the Middle East was his incorporeality. Another such thing is that the Jews explicitly were forbidden from carving an image of their God- and yet there is quite a lot of evidence within the Bible, from Jacob constructing a stone to worship to King Jehoahaz worshipping a pole that the Isrealites beleived that God inhabited their world. More and more, either from Professor Sommer's work or work like that of Professor Momigliano, we are getting the sense I believe that the Jewish religion and its sisters Christianity and Islam emerged out of a particular constellation of thoughts and ideas in the middle and near east in the centuries just before AD. The more we know of Ishtar and Gilgamesh, the more we know of Moses and Jehovah.

5 comments:

James Higham said...

He did when Jesus was on earth. :)

Claudia said...

Absolutely! :)

Gracchi said...

James nice- but I'm talking about the Old Testament really here! Even so a paternal image uses the analogy of a bodily relationship.

Cheers Claudia.

Cioara Andrei said...

Foarte interesant subiectul postat de tine. M-am uitat pe blogul tau si imi place ce am vazut.Cu siguranta am sa il mai vizitez.
O zi buna!

Gracchi said...

Unfortunately my powers are only limited to answering comments in English! But thanks Ciora if that was positive!