BAS Winter Symposium

February 11, 2023
1:00-5:15 pm EST
Gods, Religion, and Sacred Texts in Ancient Israel

Theodore J. Lewis, Erin Darby, Mary Joan Leith and Christopher Rollston

The BAS Winter Symposium brings together top biblical scholars and archaeologists to present the latest discoveries about the origins, development, and practice of Israelite religion from the Iron Age (1200–586 B.C.E.) through the Exilic period. Presentations and case studies will explore such topics as:

  • The origins and background of Israel’s god, Yahweh
  • Jerusalem, Solomon’s Temple, and “official” Israelite religion
  • Everyday religious practice in ancient Israel and Judah
  • Art, imagery, and iconography in Israelite religion and worship
  • How Israel’s sacred texts evolved during the Babylonian Exile

This online event will bring you the most recent scholarly perspectives on ancient Israel and its religious practices, with special presentations by leading experts in the field:

Theodore J. Lewis, Johns Hopkins University (and winner of a BAS 2021 Publication Award)
Erin Darby, University of Tennesse, Knoxville (and past lecturer at BAS’s St. Olaf Seminar)
Mary Joan Leith, Stonehill College (and frequent speaker at BAS’s Bible & Archaeology Fest)

In addition, Christopher Rollston, renowned scholar of ancient texts, will lead a lively discussion among the scholars, and BAR Editor-in-Chief Glenn J. Corbett will moderate the symposium and give you the chance to share your own questions and comments with the presenters.


Israelite Religion: When and How Did It Emerge?
Theodore Lewis, Johns Hopkins University

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?

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... Read More

Unearthing the Religions of Ancient Israel
Erin Darby, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

What does archaeology tell us about the religious lives of ancient Israelites? This lecture will review the role archaeology has played in reconstructing Israelite religious practices in the home and beyond. Taking a whirlwind tour through the material culture of the Iron Age II, we will encounter the types of artifacts archaeologists use to understand religion at all levels of Israelite society, and we will explore the intriguing debates and unresolved questions that remain even today.

Erin Darby is Associate Professor of Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is an expert in the archaeology... Read More

Persian Surprise: A Key Period for Biblical Studies
Mary Joan Leith, Stonehill College

Long ignored by biblical scholars, the Persian period (539–332 B.C.E.) has become the darling of biblical scholars over the last half-century as it became apparent that this was the time when the Hebrew Bible, at least as we know it today, first began to come into being. The archaeological record has provided a crucial source of light on this obscure period, but has also raised challenging questions about how, when, and why certain religious concepts developed among the biblical authors and editors.

Mary Joan Leith is Professor of Religious Studies and Theology at Stonehill College. Trained as an archaeologist, her research and publishing has centered on three disparate areas... Read More

Christopher Rollston, George Washington University
Special Discussant

Christopher Rollston is Professor of Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures, and Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the George Washington University. Read More


  • Full payment due at time of registration
  • Early Bird Rate (Ends January 28, 2023): $79
  • Regular Rate: $99
  • Student Rate: $49
  • Cancellation: You may request a refund until January 30, 2023. You will be refunded the full amount less a $20.00 administrative fee.


If you are unable to fill out the electronic registration form, please contact the Travel/Study department at 1-800-221-4644, ext. 424.


For more information, contact:

Peter Megginson
Biblical Archaeology Society
Email: [email protected]
800-221-4644, ext. 424 (Toll-free)
202-364-3300, ext. 424
5614 Connecticut Ave. NW #343
Washington, DC 20015-2604