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The Personhood of God: Biblical Theology, Human Faith and the Divine Image [Kindle Edition]

Dr. Yochanan Muffs , David Hartman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

"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

"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

"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

"Provides modern readers with a blueprint for understanding God's dynamic nature and presence.... Succeeds in helping us see the relevancy and the power of the very rich description of God's many roles in the biblical narrative. All those in search for meaning in their lives will find in this comprehensive study of how the Bible describes God's persona a mirror reflecting our own humanity; who we are and who we can become." -- Norman J. Cohen, provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, author of Hineini in Our Lives: Learning How to Respond to Others through 14 Biblical Texts and Personal Stories

From the Inside Flap

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 610 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1580233384
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing (October 26, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005ZSSXFG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,281 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
There are two fundamental ways of seeing God.One is to see God as the God of Nature and the Universe, the God of Impersonal Laws, the God of Einstein's physics and Spinoza's 'Ethics'. The other way, more satisfying perhaps and more difficult, more logically problematic perhaps also, is to see God as Person. The Personal God, the God which the Bible gave to the world is the subject of this illuminating and inspiring study by Yochannan Muffs. In his admiring introduction Rabbi David Hartman speaks about Muffs' showing the God of the Bible as dymanic and developing . This is the God that humans can relate to in terms of their own personality and relationships, the God who somehow provides a model for what their Humanity should be.

This exploration of the 'human personal God' is at the heart of this faith- strengthening work .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultivating personhood May 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Contemporary Bible scholar Yochanan Muffs takes us back to the essence of biblical faith and the most revolutionary element in its world view--the personhood of God. Unlike pagan deities, God in the Hebrew Bible is always searching for an interpersonal relationship with human beings, his partners in the cosmic drama. The philosophical essays in this collection, which vary in difficulty, always return to this exhilarating theme. To encounter the full force of biblical theology, Muffs urges us to suspend judgment long enough to read the Bible on its own terms: "Fully realizing that the anthropomorphic God is to a very great degree a projection of man's understanding of its own psyche...we must turn up the mythical decibels of the old personal God."

While religious thinkers have relied on increasingly abstract notions of God, in the Hebrew Bible God is always a living, breathing presence. "It is almost tragic that in order to liberate the religious from religion, the God of the common faith from the God of supernaturalism, it should be necessary to demythologize religious literature, thus draining off its poetic power, and to depersonalize religious doctrine, thus draining it of its educational power," he writes. "A model of divinity that does not partake of personhood can hardly be expected to cultivate personhood in man."
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A differetn question April 20, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the greatest problems of devotional life, if it be based on true faith, tangible spirituality and meaningful worship, is how to understand and relate to God. We are fortunate to have opportunities and challenges in how God is to be conceived because when we struggle with a lack if clarity in who He is, we also understand better who we are. A relationship requires both kinds of understanding.

Why is it a problem? Because the God who we feel in the deepest recesses of our beings, sense with our hearts and feeling and read of in the holy books is not He who our minds tell us He is.

Reason, philosophy and intellect lead us to the God who is perfect, immutable and distant, Pascal's "God of Philosophers, not the God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob." Our minds conceive of Divinity that is too great to be contained within the heart of men; yet, if we can ever hope to relate to Him, we must reduce the dread and he awe of the overpowering Presence to manageable, workable concepts and images of God the Sovereign, Father, Teacher, Lover.

Philosophic cognition of God leaves us with an arid, distant and unappealing spirituality that fails to motivate and inspire. Man is small and God is great and never can the this gulf be bridged. Man worships the unattainable not because it cares for him or desires his attention but because he has no other choice, or, in the Maimonidean formulation, because all of Creation suffers the same fate. This is the tragedy of the neoplatonic mystic, to pine away for something that can never return his interest. Not only is it dry and unsatisfying because the object of our love is unattainable but also because there are no intermediate steps by which to approach it. There is no bridge between God and man and that's it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Personhood of God: Biblical Theology February 4, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Muffs is coming from a Jewish point of view which I found refreshing. It wasn't "God" but Elohim and Jehovah. I found the book hard to read, but it had a lot of good information. I am pleased I read the book.
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