God an Anatomy     by  Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou is a British biblical scholar and broadcaster.
 She is currently Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. 
The main focus of her research is on the Hebrew Bible, and on Israelite and Judahite history
 and religion.   Born: 3 October 1975

1. The Creation story was written in the 5thC BC,  but drawing on older myths,
Yahweh was yet to be imagined as the only divine being.
2. The Bible is not a book but a collection of books.
3. The OT was mostly composed between 700-100 BC
    5 books tell of the founding of the God/Israel relationship, giving the nation an identity.
   Then semi-history of the kingdom ending with the Babylonian exile. (700s)
   Finally the return from exile covering 500s-400s.
Historically there is evidence only for the later parts,  Evn David and Solomonare dubious.
4. But non-blblical material can cast a lot of doubt over the Bible's portrayal of the past.
(eg Omri is given a minor role in the Bible, but Moabite letters make him a major figure.
 Assyrian texts even call Israel 'Omri-land'. 
The Bible authors, or editors, often have their own axe to grind!).  
The same tendency shows in the central role given to the Jerusalem temple, 
when there were several others of equal standing.
The Hebrew Bible offers a highly ideological and frequently unreliable portrait of the past.
 It is told from a particular perspective and the trauma od conquest and exile in the 700s.
5. God's body is not denied in the Bible. It is simply assumed as existing – somewhere.
In most religions God is seen through a material image, since the spiritual world was continuous
 with the material  and could meet in such an image.
The hidden nature of God (as seen at Sinai) gave rise to the more abstract deity of Christianity
 – one without bodily form. 
6.   A reference In Deuteronomy (32:8-9)  locates Yahweh as one God amongst others under El.
The “Shaddy “ (ie widerness) gods, including Yahweh, rebelled againsdt Ell at one stage.
Notably the God that Abraham and Esau met announced himself as El Shaddi. 
 In time Yahweh came, somehow,  to surpass his father El, at least in the eyes of Israel
 by the 800sBC
7. Temple inscriptions affirm that both Yahweh and his wife Asherah were worshipped in 700s.
8. The defeat that led to the Exile was portrayed as  punshment for worshipping other Gods.
 Thus Yahweh became seen as intolerant of others and his worship monotheist.
9. The portrayal above contrasts with traditional doctrine which is based on unreliable

Chapter 2
1. For a thing to exist it must be bound up with the physical world.
2. Footprints are said to mark the place a God stood  -  but which God?
(are church spires the modern form of standing stones?)
3. Gods were commonly seen as gigantic figures,  but with feet firmly placed on earth,
 or where their major shrines/temples stood.   
The idea of giganticism slowly faded,  but as still current in Christian times.

Chapter 3
1.  a development from the Exile was the idea of God as not fixed in one place, 
 but his throne had become mobile in the heavenly realms.  
(Even though the temple had been destroyed as his resting place, he was still powerful).

2. The removal of God images and placing them in the conqueror's temples, as sub-gods.
3. Giganticism became a theological embarrassment, particularly to Christians
 who came to see God and in Christ.  Origen wrote strongly against it.