Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah
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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 224
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
This volume of essays draws together specialists in the field to explain, illustrate and analyze religious diversity in Ancient Israel. Our understanding of the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites has changed considerably in recent years. It is now increasingly accepted among scholars that the biblical presentation of Israelite religion is often at odds with the likely historical realities of ancient Israel's religious climate. As such, the diversity inherent within ancient Israelite religion is often overlooked - particularly within university lecture halls and classrooms. This volume of essays draws together specialists in the field to explain, illustrate and analyze this religious diversity. Following an introductory essay guiding the reader through the book, the collection falls into three sections. The first focuses on conceptual diversities. It seeks to deconstruct common assumptions about Israelite religion and reconstructs Israelite perceptions of the nature of the religious world. The second section examines socio-religious diversities. It studies the varied social contexts of ancient Israelites, exploring the relationship between worshippers' social locations and their perceptions and experiences of the divine. The third section deals with geographical diversities. It seeks to understand how geographical distinctions may engender certain characteristics within Israelite religion and impact upon religious perceptions.
'This is a splendid collection of essays whose publication is greatly to be welcomed. Its contributors are scholars who are well qualified to tackle aspects of the religious life of ancient Israel and Judah. The volume reveals something of the extent to which the Hebrew Bible's presentation of religion has been influenced by the Deuteronomists and what they wanted to portray, and demonstrates not only that there was "diversity but that such diversity cannot simply be summed up as the difference between 'official' and 'popular', or 'urban' and 'rural'. A feature of the volume as a whole is that it offers a constructive balance between (biblical) textual and archaeological evidence, acknowledging that both have their contributions to make while both have their interpretational problems. Perhaps understandably the emphasis is on religious practices rather than beliefs but, in a telling phrase in the book's postscript, Barton reminds us that the authors of the Hebrew Bible ."..were already in the business of thinking about Yahweh as well as worshipping him" (p.373).' - Adrian Curtis, The University of Manchester, UK. --Sanford Lakoff