Did God Have a Wife? Archae­ol­o­gy and Folk Reli­gion in Ancient Israel

William G. Dever
  • Review
By – January 11, 2012
William Dev­er, a well known archae­ol­o­gist and pro­fes­sor who writes in a style acces­si­ble to every­one, tack­les the thorny top­ic of poly­the­is­tic prac­tices in ancient Israelite soci­ety. He offers a thor­ough dis­cus­sion of the the­o­ret­i­cal issues for research­ing the top­ic, includ­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal issues, and then lays out the archae­o­log­i­cal, inscrip­tion­al, and tex­tu­al record. He seeks to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between the pre­scribed reli­gion of the Deuteron­o­mist writ­ings of the priests and elites that make up so much of the Bible, and the prob­a­ble reli­gious prac­tices of the every­day peo­ple. The accounts of Hezeki­ah and Josi­ah remov­ing the high places and Asher­ah in 2 Kings, com­bined with Deuteronomy’s injunc­tion not to set up the Asher­ah next to the altar of the Lord, beg the ques­tion of what was going on at these times to be opposed, and how wide­ly were these expres­sions of reli­gious life prac­ticed. It is a fas­ci­nat­ing inves­ti­ga­tion, with impli­ca­tions not only for his­tor­i­cal stud­ies, but also, for exam­ple, for fem­i­nist inter­pre­ta­tion. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, indexes.
Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, is the author of Mys­tery­of Romans, win­ner of the 1996 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, Charles H. Revson­Award in Jew­ish-Chris­t­ian Relations.

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