Theodore J. Lewis is the Blum-Iwry Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of several books on Israelite and Near Eastern religion, including the recent and widely acclaimed The Origin and Character of God (Oxford Univ. Press 2020), which earned the Frank Moore Cross Award from the American Society of Overseas Research, the 2021 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion from the American Academy of Religion, and a 2021 BAS Publication Award for Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible. He is also General Editor of the multi-volume Writings from the Ancient World translation series, and the co-editor of Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion.
BAS Winter Symposium, February 11, 2023
Israelite Religion: When and How Did It Emerge?
Israelite religion is well documented in Iron Age texts (the Hebrew Bible and the extra-biblical inscriptional record) and material culture. But what if we step back to ask the “origin” question? When and where did it all start? And how did ancient Israel’s religious understandings emerge out of much older Near Eastern cultures that predate Israel by thousands of years? As a test case, we could ask: If Israelite religion is marked in particular by the god Yahweh, when and where does he first emerge on the scene? In the well-documented ancient Near East, how is it that Yahweh fails to appear in neighboring cultures of the Late Bronze Age? When does he first appear? In short, how do historians use the Bible, ancient texts, art, and archaeology to reconstruct the earliest history of Israel’s god?
ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, January 11 – 13, 2013