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The Personhood of God

Biblical Theology, Human Faith and the Divine Image

Dr. Yochanan Muffs
Foreword by Dr. David Hartman (z"l)

6 x 9, 240 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-338-5

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A fascinating exploration of the many faces of God and what they reveal
about our own humanity
He was a whole pantheon in Himself…. He constantly appeared in many and ever-changing roles lest He be frozen and converted into the dumb idols He Himself despised. God was a polyvalent personality who, by mirroring to man His many faces, provided the models that man so needed to survive and flourish. This is the true humanity of God.
—from the Introduction
In scholarly but accessible terms, with many startling and controversial insights, renowned Bible scholar Dr. Yochanan Muffs examines the anthropomorphic evolution of the Divine Image—from creator of the cosmos to God the father, God the husband, God the king, God the “chess-player,” God the ultimate master—and how these different images of God have shaped our faith and world view. Muffs also examines how expressions of divine power, divine will and divine love throughout the Bible have helped develop the contemporary human condition and our enriching dialectic between faith and doubt.
“Muffs’s fascinating thesis—that the genius of the Jewish religion is the idea of God’s ‘personhood’—is skillfully executed and given its scholarly due. Readers of all faiths will find this book insightful and thought-provoking.”
Elyse Goldstein, author of ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens and editor of The Women’s Torah Commentary and The Women’s Haftarah Commentary
“Embraces unashamedly the ways the Bible pictures God as a person with all the traits of human psychology and even anatomy. Shows convincingly how it enriches both faith and theology, not least by liberating the readers from the stultifying literal readings of the sacred texts.”
Bishop Krister Stendahl,  Harvard Divinity School
“A priceless opportunity…. Vitality, excitement and theological imagination leap from every page. For those readers who never knew Muffs the teacher, this volume is a gift.”
Dr. Neil Gillman, professor of Jewish philosophy at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, author of The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought
“Biblical scholar, Jewish theologian, master teacher—all three of these personae make their appearance on every page. His vast but understated erudition is completely fused with his own passionate religiosity to make for stimulating and challenging reading. The reader will be well rewarded.”
Rabbi Arthur Green, dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, author of Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow
 “Behind the academic and the philosopher is the one who loves God as Person with a burning intensity. How does he work this out so it makes sense to him and to others? Those of us who have heard ‘Yochie Muffs’ teach and those who, alas, have not can read The Personhood of God. The book is a blessing.”
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, author of First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit: Reb Zalman’s Guide to Recapuring the Intimacy & Ecstasy in Your Relationship with God
Dr. Yochanan Muffs, for more than four decades a beloved teacher at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), holds the Distinguished Service Professorship in Bible and Religion at JTS and has made major contributions in biblical studies, Semitic languages, the history of the ancient Near East and Jewish religion and thought in general. Dr. Muffs’s central work has been in the understanding of biblical text through comparative philological study. His two books, Studies in the Aramaic Legal Papyri from Elephantine and Love and Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Israel are unparalleled studies in this area.

 

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