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Episode: The polymathic Mark S. Smith joins OnScript to discuss his book on God’s body, and the way Hebrew and Ugaritic literature present divine embodiment in human space. Along the way we discuss Mark’s scholarly mentors and his passion for early Israelite religion, the Hebrew Bible, Ugaritic, and yes, even footnotes. Toward the end of the episode we do a ‘lightning round’ on a bunch of Hebrew Bible and ancient Israelite stuff.
Guest: Mark S. Smith is the Helena Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis at Princeton Theological Seminary. He’s the author of over 15 books, including Poetic Heroes (Eerdmans, 2014), God in Translation (Eerdmans 2008), The Origins of Biblical Monotheism (Oxford University Press, 2001), The Early History of God (Eerdmans, 1990; 2nd ed., 2002), and our book for this episode, Where the Gods Are: Spatial Dimensions of Anthropomorphism in the Biblical World (Yale, 2016). Mark previously held the Skirball Chair of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU.
Book: In this episode we discuss Mark’s most recent book, Where the Gods Are: Spatial Dimensions of Anthropomorphism in the Biblical World (Yale, 2016). This book draws together several previous studies on the way texts represent gods (like Israel’s god) interacting with human space. In the first programmatic section of the book Mark discusses God’s body in the Hebrew Bible, focusing on human-like, ‘super-sized,’ and cosmic representations of God. He then proceeds to discuss animal representations of divinity, and the way that deities interact with temples and cities.