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Did God Have A Wife? Archaeology And Folk…

Did God Have A Wife? Archaeology And Folk Religion In Ancient Israel

by William G. Dever

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Dever provides a view of folk religion of Ancient Israel through the lens of archaeology and other source texts, including the Hebrew Bible. He makes a distinction between "Book Religion" (initiated by a small elite male group in Jerusalem) and the folk religion of the masses, describing the latter as being lead by women whose tilt was more intuitive, ritualistic and focused on family rituals. ( )
  zenitsky | Mar 18, 2009 |
This is the first book by Dever that I have read. It was a fascinating and easy read. There are no footnotes to plod through, but there is a helpful bibliography at the end.

The basic premise of the book is that pre-exilic Israel needs to be understood in light of archaeological evidence which uncovers the realities of "folk-religion" as practice by the common Israelites as opposed to the literati who fashioning and fighting for monotheism through the "book-religion" that we have inherited from the work of the Deuteronomist and later redactors.

As I said, Dever's work is accessible. In the past I have found works by archaeologists to be dry and boring. Dever's work is anything but. He carefully unfolds his arguments from chapter to chapter, relying first on artifacts, then secondly, on biblical and other textual sources. In the end his conclusions about ancient Israelite worship are reasonable.

Dever's writing style is personable and he doesn't resort to sensationalism (like I found in Greenberg's 101 Myths of the Bible. On the other hand, he does tend to do some self-promoting throughout the book which I found a little off-putting.

On the whole, this is a wonderful book, deserving a place on the bookshelf of every student of the Bible. even if you do not agree with him, you will gain considerable background information on the works of archaeologists to the present time on the matter of ancient Israelite religion. ( )
1 vote apswartz | Jul 3, 2007 |
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Book description
CONTENTS: Introduction -- I. Defining and contextualizing religion -- II. The history of the history: In search of ancient Israel's religion -- III. Sources and methods for the study of ancient Israel's religions -- IV. The Hebrew bible: Religious reality or theoogical ideal -- V. Archaeological evidence for folk religions in ancient Israel -- VI. The goddess Asherah and her cult -- VII. Asherah, Women's cults, and "offical Yahwehism" -- VIII. From polytheism to monotheism -- IX. What does the goddess do to help?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802828523, Hardcover)

Following up on his two recent, widely acclaimed studies of ancient Israelite history and society, William Dever here reconstructs the practice of religion in ancient Israel from the bottom up. Archaeological excavations reveal numerous local and family shrines, where sacrifices and other rituals were carried out. Intrigued by this "folk religion" in all its variety and vitality, Dever writes about ordinary people in ancient Israel and their everyday religious lives. "Did God Have a Wife?" shines new light on the presence and influence of women's cults in early Israel and their implications for our understanding of Israel's official "Book religion." Dever pays particular attention to the goddess Asherah, reviled by the authors of the Hebrew Bible as a foreign deity but, in the view of many modern scholars, popularly envisioned in early Israel as the consort of biblical Yahweh. His work also gives new prominence to women as the custodians of Israel's folk religion. The first book by an archaeologist on ancient Israelite religion, this fascinating study critically reviews virtually all of the archaeological literature of the past generation, while also bringing fresh evidence to the table. Though Dever digs deep into the past, his discussion is extensively illustrated, unencumbered by footnotes, and vivid with colourful insights. Meant for professional and general audiences alike, "Did God Have a Wife?" is sure to spur wide and passionate debate.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:37 -0400)

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

2 editions of this book were published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co..

Editions: 0802828523, 0802863949

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