Where the Gods Are


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Spatial Dimensions of Anthropomorphism in the Biblical World

Mark S. Smith

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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 GodThe Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus (with contributions by the archaeologist Elizabeth Bloch-Smith); The Origins of Biblical MonotheismGod in TranslationPoetic 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

"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

“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

“[Where the Gods Are] is brimming with insight and learned interconnections, representing the fruit of years of study and close interaction with ancient religious texts. . . . [A] valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion on concepts of deity in the Bible.”—Ryan S. Thomas, Religion and Literature of Ancient Palestine

“Smith offers a novel and informed approach to the study of the conceptualization of deity in Where the Gods Are, and we need more of it. . . . A significant step forward among popular books in promoting a more multidisciplinary approach to biblical studies.”—Daniel O. McClellan, Studies in the Bible and Antiquity

“[Smith]'s encyclopedic knowledge of primary sources coupled with his insights on the anthropomorphism provide new insights on ancient ritual practice and divine ideology. This book belongs in the library or on the
syllabus of anyone interested in the religion of ancient Israel.”—Michael R. Simone, Theological Studies

“For those interested in anthropomorphism in the Biblical world, Smith’s book is among the best studies on the topic. Smith’s writing allows for a wider readership to feel comfortable with the contents of the book, while students and scholars working on Near Eastern anthropomorphism will be definitely rewarded by the richness of Smith’s scholarship and his new approach of anthropomorphism-and-space that, in a way, challenges long-established views on Biblical anthropomorphism.”—Nickolas P. Roubekas, Reading Religion

"Smith’s work will likely whet the appetite of readers to explore more extensive treatments of the particular areas of sacred and profane spatiality by other authors, and is best read in tandem with such works. Smith himself adeptly guides readers to such sources in his extensive endnotes."—Eric M. Trinka, Journal of the College Theology Society

“Smith’s work is extremely helpful in its nearly limitless sourcing of primary material. . . . Readers are once again indebted to Mark Smith’s careful and insightful scholarship.”—Ryan N. Roberts, Bulletin for Biblical Research

Winner of the 2016 Frank Moore Cross Award sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research.
ISBN: 9780300209228
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
248 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library
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