The issue of how to represent God is a concern both ancient and contemporary. In this wide-ranging and authoritative study, renowned biblical scholar Mark Smith investigates the symbols, meanings, and narratives in the Hebrew Bible, Ugaritic texts, and ancient iconography, which attempt to describe deities in relation to humans. Smith uses a novel approach to show how the Bible depicts God in human and animal forms—and sometimes both together. Mediating between the ancients’ theories and the work of modern thinkers, Smith’s boldly original work uncovers the foundational understandings of deities and space.
Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. He is the author of fifteen books, including The Early History of God; The Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus (with contributions by the archaeologist Elizabeth Bloch-Smith); The Origins of Biblical Monotheism; God in Translation; Poetic Heroes; and How Human Is God? Seven Questions about God and Humanity in the Bible.
“Mark Smith provides an authoritative survey of concepts of God in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel, focusing on issues of representation and spatiality. He is exceedingly well-versed in the primary texts, the secondary literature, and theoretical frameworks for these topics. It is a bravura performance. Smith doesn’t simplify, but – as an expert teacher – makes complex materials come to life.” —Ronald Hendel, University of California, Berkeley
“A respected expert on gods and goddesses in antiquity, Smith offers here a welcome and useful exploration of the biblical views of the divine body. His findings bear on our understanding of idolatry, temples, cities, and ancient conceptions of space. And he presents these findings for scholars and students alike.”— Jacob L. Wright, Emory University
~Jacob L. Wright
"Arguably the most important scholar of Israelite conceptions of god(s), Mark Smith does not disappoint with this work on divine anthropomorphism. Insightful, clearly written, and engaged with scholarship both within and outside of biblical studies, the book was a pleasure to read. This book will further conversations and understandings of Israelite cult, cosmology, and theology."—T. M. Lemos, Huron University College, University of Western Ontario
~T. M. Lemos
“Once again Mark Smith has put us all in his debt. Massively detailed and citation-rich (the notes are a gold mine), this elegant volume on being and place, and the fascinating intersection of the human and divine in both, offers us a synthesis that is unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.”—Brent A. Strawn, Emory University
~Brent A. Strawn
Winner of the 2016 Frank Moore Cross Award sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research.
~Frank Moore Cross Award, American Schools of Oriental Research
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