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

Front Cover
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 - Religion - 344 pages
14 Reviews
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.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
6
4 stars
5
3 stars
2
2 stars
1
1 star
0

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

User Review  - Ondra Panděro - Goodreads

Probably spent too much time reading through laments about white-male-elitists-protestant-text-focused-whatever scholars who ignore archeology and about I'm-the-feminist-don't-get-it-wrong stuff. At ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Bianca Bradley - Goodreads

It took me three months to get through this. It wasn't because of the length, it was from the dearth of information. My brain needed time to let it sink in. He is retired now, but he was the head of ... Read full review

Contents

Defining and Contextualizing Religion
1
Religion as Ultimate Concern
2
The Care and Feeding of the Gods
4
On Folk Religion
5
Toward a Methodology
8
Phenomenology of Religion
9
The Context of Folk Religion
12
Religion and the Good Life
29
Public OpenAir Sanctuaries
135
Monumental Temples
167
The Goddess Asherah and Her Cult
176
Votives Vows and Folk Religion
195
Characterizing Asherah and Her Cult
196
Asherah Womens Cults and Official Yahwism
209
Asherah in the Hebrew Bible
211
Asherah Yahweh and Syncretism
212

The History of the History In Search of Ancient Israelite Religions
32
The Myth and Ritual School
33
Old Testament Theology
35
Sociological Approaches
39
A Revival of Interest in Israelite Religion
40
An Overall Critique of Previous Scholarship
59
Sources and Methods for the Study of Ancient Israels Religions
63
The Biblical Texts and Their Limitations
64
Some Caveats
68
Nonbiblical Texts
73
Archaeology as a Primary Source for History and Religion
74
Who and Why
76
Setting the Archaeological Record Straight
79
What Archaeology Can and Cannot Do
81
Why Another History?
87
The Hebrew Bible Religious Reality or Theological Ideal?
90
Part I Cultic Terminology in the Hebrew Bible
92
Family and Household Shrines
95
Temples
96
Cult Paraphernalia in the Hebrew Bible
98
Part II Cultic Terminology in the Hebrew Bible
103
Some Caveats Regarding Sacrifice
104
Prayers and Vows
106
Festivals
107
Archaeological Evidence for Folk Religions in Ancient Israel
110
Local Shrines and Family Religion
111
An Excursis on Magic
125
Iconographic Evidence of the Goddess
219
Asherah and Womens Cults
236
Archaeological Correlates of Womens Cults
239
Other Ethnographic Parallels
247
From Polytheism to Monotheism
252
Holy Places in PreIsraelite Times
264
The Israelite Sacrificial System as Canaanite
266
The Calendar
267
The Question of Syncretism
269
Religion in Crisis
271
To Your Tents O Israel
280
The State Cult in the North
281
Judah and the Yahweh Alone Movement
285
The Fall of Judah and Religious Crisis
291
The Empty Land
293
Out of the Ashes
294
Why Monotheism? and Whither?
297
Archaeological Evidence for Reforms
299
The Afterglow
300
Asherah Abscondita and Jewish Mysticism
301
What Does the Goddess Do to Help?
304
Afterword and Foreword Again
314
Some Basic Sources
318
Index of Authors
334
Index of Subjects and Places
337
Index of Scripture References
341
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2005)

William G. Dever is professor emeritus of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has served as director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, as director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, and as a visiting professor at universities around the world. He has spent thirty years conducting archaeological excavations in the Near East, resulting in a large body of award-winning fieldwork.

Bibliographic information