Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yahweh and Asherah

A three-part BBC documentary, 'The Bible's Buried Secrets,' is popularizing an argument that Monotheistic Judaism is an evolutionary development from a polytheistic religion which recognized that God had a wife -- Asherah. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, senior lecturer at Exeter, has attempted to demonstrate this prehistory from an ostracon inscription and allusions in the Hebrew scriptures. She has argued that God's wife was essentially edited out of the Bible. Read the Discovery News article. Michael Heiser offers a response, here. I have neither read on the subject or seen the documentary, so if anyone wants to refine my description, please feel free to do so.


  1. Christian,

    My friend, Charles Halton, directed me to this blog, which has a very balanced approach to the issue: http://michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble/2011/03/yahweh-and-asherah-more-archaeo-porn-for-the-masses/

    This is not a new issue in scholarship despite the media sensationalism attached to it.

  2. Agreed. Nothing new here (except for Stravrakopoulou, I've never seen her name in the discussion before). Ever since Bill Dever found the pithoi at Ajrud and el-Qom in the 70s, there's been an immense discussion about YHWH and 'his Asherah' (including the fact that normally in Hebrew a proper name can't have a pronominal suffix attached--C. Uehlinger has an article on cult statuary giving parallels from Ugarit and Ebla which he thinks prove otherwise).

    Bill Dever's _Did God have a Wife?_ has been out for a quite a few years, and Ziony Zevit's _The Religions of Ancient Israel_ (along with every other current book on 'Israelite Religion') have a lot of discussions on this.

    Not much TC, but the question was asked. -John Q

  3. I think there may be a story in TIME magazine with a similar theme.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  4. Thanks for the link, John (and Charles). I have added to the main post.