Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts – God: an Anatomy (Francesca Stavrakopoulou)

Such a fascinating subject!


Title: God: an Anatomy
Author/Narrator: Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Genre: Non-Fiction / History / Theology
First published: 2015
Edition: Audio book/hardback, published by Picador in 2021

Three thousand years ago, in the Southwest Asian lands we now call Israel and Palestine, 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 minor storm 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.


Let me start my thoughts on this fascinating book by explaining what angle I am coming at this book from. I am neither Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I am an agnostic with an interest in religion and the idea of religion. It is not up to me to tell others what they should or should not believe. You do you and I do me. I wanted to say that, because I imagine this book could be quite polarizing for those who hold a particular faith.

To me, this was a fascinating read. I listened to it on audio book, but I was glad to have the hardback on hand to see some of the gorgeous artwork that the author mentioned in her narrative. The author does read the audio book herself. She dissects the history of God through the use of his body parts, starting with the feet and working her way up. It was a wonderful and novel way to talk about the history of the God we know from the Bible, the Torah and the Qur’an to a lesser extent. How did this God start out? How did the idea of him change over the millenia that we have known him?

As is often the case with history, there are a lot of plausible assertions that do not necessarily rely on fact. To be honest, I did not mind that. I read this book as an theory as what God had once been to be people and how he changed from a corporeal being to a nonphysical entity. I thought it was an entirely fascinating read. Maybe I wish there was a bit more ‘oomph’ to it in the end. I am not sure exactly what I was missing, maybe a more assertive conclusion? I am finding it hard to put a finger on it.

This book made me realise I want to read more about the subject of religion, particularly monotheistic religions. I will seek out some more books and information when I feel ready. I imagie that this is a book that I will return to in sections in the future.

If the subject matter sounds interesting to you, you won’t be disappointed.

6 out of 7 stars

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