Camden Theological Library

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The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel

Posted on 31 July 2012 Gavin Glenn

Reviewed by Linda Turton

Professor Sommer, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, explores in this book the idea that God, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible, is embodied. He addresses the critical question, Should we take the biblical anthropomorphic statements as metaphor, or did the ancients who wrote about God’s body really think that God has a body? Particularly fascinating is his analysis of texts that illustrate a model of fluidity in divine selfhood – hence the title wording ‘The Bodies of God…’ – a model that was rejected by other Israelites, those of the Deuteronomic school. Sommer maintains that the presence of this model in scripture means it should receive serious attention alongside the more dominant non-fluidity understanding of God. He makes, as a Jewish thinker, some interesting observations on how the fluidity traditions found expression in Christianity, the Trinity for instance, and about the implications of God’s embodiment for both Judaic and Christian theology.


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