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The Body and Voice of God in the Hebrew Bible (Book chapter)

Book title: "I Sing the body electric". Body, Voice, Technology and Religion

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Book Series: Journal for Religion, Film and Media ISSN: 2414-0201 ISBN: 9783741000461 Year: Volume: 2/1 Pages: 23-35 Language: english
Publisher: Schüren Verlag
Added to DOAB on : 2020-09-08 08:44:19
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In both Judaism and Christianity the question as to whether God has a body is sensitive and contested terrain. The answer now tends to be ‘no’ and yet the most straightforward interpretation of numerous Hebrew Bible passages is that God is conceived of in bodily, anthropomorphic terms – though often there also exist attendant possibilities of ambiguity and ambivalence. The familiar divine statement, ‘let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…’, betsalmēnû kidmûtēnû (Gen 1:26), for example, seems to envisage – particularly in the case of the first term, tselem (‘image’) – a physical form; not least, because in the Hebrew Bible tselem most often pertains to concrete, hewn images, including to idols. This is very clear at 1 Samuel 6:11 where the people are instructed to make (from ‘śh, a verb pertaining to crafting and shaping) models of mice and tumours; as well as Numbers 33:52, with its reference to molten images (cf. 2 Kgs 11:18; 2 Chron 23:17); and also in the Aramaic account of Daniel 3:1, where a cognate (tselēm) refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. But in two occurrences at least physicality of tselem is undermined: hence in Psalms 39:7 and 73:20 the noun pertains to elusiveness, possibly to a semblance, or phantom. If tselem refers more widely to either a seeming (i.e. a phantom), or to a more inclusive, not-only-physical form or image, this could indeed complicate matters for interpreting Genesis 1:26-27.

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"I Sing the body electric". Body, Voice, Technology and Religion

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Book Series: Journal for Religion, Film and Media ISSN: 2414-0201 ISBN: 9783741000461 Year: Volume: 2/1 Pages: 130 Language: english
Publisher: Schüren Verlag
Subject: Visual Arts --- Religion
Added to DOAB on : 2020-08-27 11:16:23
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In his controversial poem “I Sing the Body Electric”, Walt Whitman glorified the human body in all its forms. The world according to Whitman is physical and sensual. Bodies are our fundamental way of being – being in the here and now, being in time and space. Bodies we have and bodies we are are as much sensed, felt, experienced, seen, or heard as they are material objects.2 As bodies, we are in space, and through our bodies, their processes, their practices, their skills, we leave traces in space and time and extend ourselves in space. Bodies that extend and reach out and communicate through voice, as well as how voice materialises the immaterial, was the topic of a colloquium, “I Sing the Body Electric”, held at the University of Hull, United Kingdom, in 2014, which in turn inspired the following special issue of the Journal for Religion, Film and Media (JRFM).Following on from the colloquium’s inspiration, this JRFM issue is dedicated to the interrelation between religion, body, technology, and voice and its analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective using approaches from musicology, philosophy, and religious studies.

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2016 (2)