While many traditions regard God to be incorporeal, some three thousand years ago in the Southwest Asian lands, a group of people worshipped a complex pantheon of deities, led by a father god called El. El had seventy children, who were gods in their own right. One of them was a deity, known as Yahweh. Yahweh had a body, a wife, offspring and colleagues. He fought monsters and mortals. He gorged on food and wine, wrote books, and took walks and naps. But he would become something far larger and far more abstract: the God of the great monotheistic religions.
Author of ‘God: An Anatomy’ and Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter, Francesca Stavrakopoulou is today’s guest on the podcast. Examining God’s body, from his head to his hands, feet and genitals, Francesca and Dan discuss how the Western idea of God developed, the places and artefacts that shaped our view of this singular God and the ancient religions and societies of the biblical world and not only the origins of our oldest monotheistic religions, but also the origins of Western culture.