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Since the middle of the twentieth century, one of biblical scholarship's chief assumptions has been that ancient Israel evolved out of the polytheism of surrounding cultures into an ethical monotheism. However, this consensus has fallen apart in recent years. Scholars now know that early Israel was surrounded by a very polytheistic culture and that many Israelites thought of Yahweh as the chief God among many gods. Furthermore, archaeology has shown that Yahweh was worshiped along with other gods throughout the period after the exile, when many shrines were in honor of "Yahweh and his Asherah." David Penchansky's Twilight of the Gods is the first accessible book that shows a historical Israel where polytheism and monotheism existed simultaneously in great conflict. He provides a historical introduction, followed by close readings of key Old Testament passages, where he demonstrates how to interpret difficult biblical texts that depict other gods or claim Yahweh is the only God within this new understanding of Israelite religion.
Since the middle of the twentieth centuries, one of biblical scholarship's chief assumptions has been that ancient Israel evolved out of the polytheism of surrounding cultures into an ethical monotheism. By the time of the eighth century (halfway through the monarchy, around the time of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah), the religious thinkers of the biblical texts believed in the existence of Yahweh alone. The exile and restoration (in the sixth century) cemented monotheism as a core belief in early Judaism, and after the exile, the worship of other gods is not existent. However, this consensus has fallen apart in the last twenty years, on two fronts: we now know that early Israel was surrounded by a very polytheistic culture, out of which Yahweh emerged not as only God but as chief God among many gods (see Mark Smith's The Early History of God, for instance); and archaeology has shown that Yahweh was worshipped along with other gods throughout the postexilic period, when many of the shrines were in honor of Yahweh and his Asherah. Penchansky's Twilight of the Gods is the first accessible book that shows how to interpret the difficult texts (those depicting other gods, and those claimi
Buy Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible (Interpretation Bible Studies) by David Penchansky from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780664228859 & 0664228852
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