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

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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 colorful insights. Meant for professional and general audiences alike, "Did God Have a Wife?"is sure to spur wide and passionate debate."

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Product details

  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 144.78 x 223.52 x 25.4mm | 476.27g
  • William B Eerdmans Publishing Co
  • Grand Rapids, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0802863949
  • 9780802863942
  • 258,149

Review quote

Susan Ackerman "In"Did God Have a Wife?"Bill Dever presents a multidimensional portrait of ancient Israelite religion with his characteristic eloquence and panache. Most significantly, through his detailed examination of archaeological materials, Dever reveals crucial facets of what he calls 'folk religion, ' or the religion of one of ancient Israel's most neglected communities, the everyday people."Ronald Hendel "Dever has done it again. The dean of biblical archaeology presents a wide-ranging and lively treatment of folk religion in ancient Israel, including the possibility of a prominent role for the goddess Asherah. Dever's synthesis of the archaeological evidence is masterful. This is a must-read for students of the Bible."J. Edward Wright ""Did God Have a Wife?"is the book that Bill Dever has been preparing to write for decades. In fact, he is probably the only person prepared and bold enough to attempt it. . . Dever finds that the only way to uncover the rich diversity of the religious impulse in ancient Israel is for archaeology to work in conversation with texts and iconography. . . Professionals will know much of the data but will nonetheless be impressed with Dever's synthesis of evidence from diverse sources. Lay readers will appreciate Dever's clear reconstruction and, at the same time, will be challenged by his conclusions. It is fitting that a book focusing on folk religion is written in a style that makes the information readily available to modern audiences."Mark S. Smith "A lucid treatment of a most provocative aspect of the Bible, namely, the question of a goddess in ancient Israel who might have been thought of as Yahweh's consort. Dever is one of the leading biblical archaeologists in the world, and he tackles one of the Bible's burning issues in this book. Fresh, clear, accessible, and recommended to anyone interested in the religion of ancient Israel."Ziony Zevit "Once again William Dever has written a page-turner for thoughtful individuals interested in the Bible. This time, however, he explores what most biblicists ignore the folk religion of ancient Israel, the religion as lived and practiced. . . Although written for the general public, this is one book that scholars cannot afford to miss. . . Writing in a personal style sprinkled with anecdotes, Dever has produced a rare work a book that may be read and appreciated by all who take the Bible, archaeology, and history seriously. Packed with information, crackling with brilliant observations.""Review of Biblical Literature" "I would like to recommend Dever's book to all ordinary people but especially to theologians who are interested in the real religion' of ancient Israel.""Catholic Biblical Quarterly" "Anything by the fiesty Dever is a must-read. He is state-of-the-art in the field of archaeology and religion, and he invariably enlightens and challenges.""Archiv Orentalni" "Highly persuasive in its portrayal, ["Did God Have a Wife?"] can become a welcome guide for all who are not afraid to adopt a somewhat alternate view of the ancient Israelite world.""

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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 colorful insights. Meant for professional and general audiences alike, "Did God Have a Wife? is sure to spur wide and passionate debate.

show more