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Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible (Interpretation Bible Studies) [Paperback]

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Item Number 154446  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   108
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.34"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2005
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664228852  
EAN  9780664228859  


Availability  57 units.
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Item Description...
Overview
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.

Publishers Description
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

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More About David Penchansky

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Penchansky is Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of several books, including "What Rough Beast?: Images of God in the Hebrew Bible" and "The Betrayal of God: Ideological Conflict in Job".

David Penchansky currently resides in the state of Minnesota.

David Penchansky has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation


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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testa   [1604  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Warning: Close Minded People Will Not Like This  Oct 13, 2008
This book will seriously distress most Christians who have not come to grips with the history and theology of the Bible. The Bible was and is a book containing Henotheistic theology. That is, the Hebrews did believe in more than one real God, and they wrote about it in scripture. This book very adequately lays out that case.

The book is brief, contains a lot of citations, is organized into logical chapters, and offers a view of Biblical theology which will challenge the blind follower who is still being told by their pastor that the Bible does not contain discussions about other real gods. This book is not to be seen as a major defense of the subject matter, as it is too brief for that. But it has many great citations one can follow.

For further reading on this subject, one should consult works by Mark Smith The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts, Bill Dever Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, Margaret Barker's various works The Great Angel: A of Israel's Second God, or several other excellent works by various authors Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah (Biblical Seminar), The Hebrew Goddess 3rd Enlarged Edition.

The nature of these works will be considered by some to be moderate and liberal in their scholarship, and some of the authors have lost their faith in a Biblical God. By definition, anything is "liberal" which requires one to change their thinking, so that is not necessarily a bad thing. That should not be taken as a reason to shun this. Rather, truth must be able to interact with the evidence of history and retain faith, if it is true. My experience is that people usually lose their faith or are afraid of interacting with scholarship when they start from a false construction of what God is teaching, or his methods. Faith and scholarship are not incompatible.
 

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