... brilliant ... Anything but distracted by biblical references to God’s body, Stavrakopoulou is aesthetically entranced by them and programmatically attentive to their iconographic and literary contexts ... Because the Bible is not organized this way, Stavrakopoulou’s program requires of her, first, that she control the Bible’s countless bodily references to God or to Christ well enough to reorder them — down to the individual verses — around her chosen corporeal headings. She does this amazingly well, clearly working from the original languages ... Boldly simple in concept, God: An Anatomy is stunning in its execution. It is a tour de force, a triumph, and I write this as one who disagrees with Stavrakopoulou on broad theoretical grounds and finds himself engaged with her in one narrow textual spat after another ... Stavrakopoulou is a rousing read, even, or especially, when I tangle with her over particulars ... Stavrakopoulou has nonetheless written a stunning book.
... rivetingly fresh and stunning ... This may all sound like a clever theologian’s undermining of faith — she is open about her own atheism — but she also insists there is nothing in her book for atheists either, who tend only to 'disprove' an idea of God as cosmic comfort blanket.
Stavrakopoulou has the good grace to quote these distinguished opponents, but she never explains why they are wrong. There is, instead, a lot of dark insinuation that this was the theologians’ 'strategy' to 'veil' the truth, or that they were under the “elitist” influence of Greek philosophers who wrote about the immateriality of God: throughout this book, taking Plato and Aristotle seriously is considered a rather shameful habit ... Stavrakopoulou has a lively, unfussy prose style well suited to this kind of study ... More often, however, Stavrakopoulou’s interpretations drain the colour from the Bible ... The blurb suggests that Stavrakopoulou will examine 'the origins of our civilisation', but her approach tends to make the Bible’s most important passages meaningless or ridiculous ... Great texts always provoke varying interpretations: it is one mark of their greatness that each generation finds something new in them. But sometimes a novel interpretation is also hopelessly wrongheaded.
Some of Stavrakopoulou’s assumptions are—although perfectly respectable—not unassailable, namely that there was nothing particularly distinctive about Israel’s pre-exilic religion and that ancient Israel’s neighbors had a naively literal view of the depictions of their own deities. Regardless, Stavrakopoulou has drawn a masterful line from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to that of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas ... Stavrakopoulou demonstrates scholarly acumen and popular flair.
[A] long, detailed and scrupulously researched book ... as corporeal creatures, she argues, we must somehow reincarnate this arcane deity, see him as our ancestors did and bring him down to earth. She then proceeds, in 21 chapters packed with knowledge and insight, to 'anatomize' the divinity from head to toe ... Yahweh, she complains, was transformed by Jewish philosophers such as Maimonides into a timeless, changeless, immaterial deity, wholly unlike anything in the earthly realm ... Instead, she believes, we should return to the ancient Israelite mythology. But this is not how religion works. At its best, it demands that, as circumstances change, we respond creatively and innovatively to the present ... It is probably because most Western Christians have not been instructed in this exercise that the Trinity remains as obscure to them as it does to Stavrakopoulou, who longs for a divine face or hand to which she can turn.