The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion through the Lens of Divinity

ISBN : 9780190072544

Theodore J. Lewis
1048 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2020
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Few topics are as broad or as daunting as the God of Israel, that deity of the world's three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who has been worshiped over millennia. In the Hebrew Bible, God is characterized variously as militant, beneficent, inscrutable, loving, and judicious. Who is this divinity that has been represented as masculine and feminine, mythic and real, transcendent and intimate? The Origin and Character of God is Theodore J. Lewis's monumental study of the vast subject that is the God of Israel. In it, he explores questions of historical origin, how God was characterized in literature, and how he was represented in archaeology and iconography. He also brings us into the lived reality of religious experience. Using the window of divinity to peer into the varieties of religious experience in ancient Israel, Lewis explores the royal use of religion for power, prestige, and control; the intimacy of family and household religion; priestly prerogatives and cultic status; prophetic challenges to injustice; and the pondering of theodicy by poetic sages. A volume that is encyclopedic in scope but accessible in tone, The Origin and Character of God is an essential addition to the growing scholarship of one of humanity's most enduring concepts.


Chapter One: Introductory Matters
Chapter Two: The History of Scholarship on Ancient Israelite Religion - A Brief Sketch
Chapter Three: Methodology
Chapter Four: El Worship
Chapter Five: The Iconography of Divinity - El
Section I: Methodology and Iconography
Section II: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and Divine Images
Section III: The Iconography of Ugaritic 'Ilu
Section IV: The Iconography of Israelite El
Chapter Six: The Origin of Yahweh
Section I: The Meaning and Revelation of the Name Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible
Section II: The Name Yahweh in Extra-Biblical and Epigraphic Sources
Section III: The Geographic Origins of Yahwistic Traditions and the Debate Concerning
Chapter Seven: The Iconography of Divinity - Yahweh
Section I: The Iconography of Yahweh: Anthropomorphic and Theriomorphic Traditions
Section II: The Iconography of Yahweh: Aniconic and Abstract Traditions
Chapter Eight: The Characterization of the Deity Yahweh
Part One: Yahweh as Warrior and Family God
Section I: Yahweh as Divine Warrior
Section II: Yahweh the Compassionate and Family Religion
Chapter Nine: The Characterization of the Deity Yahweh
Part Two: Yahweh as King and Yahweh as Judge
Section I: Yahweh as King
Section II: Yahweh as Judge
Chapter Ten: The Characterization of the Deity Yahweh
Part Three: Yahweh as Holy
Works Cited

About the author: 

Theodore J. Lewis is the Blum-Iwry Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit and co-author of Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. He is General Editor of the multi-volume Writings from the Ancient World translation series and the co-editor with Gary Beckman of Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion. He is former editor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Hebrew Annual Review. His research has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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