Special Issue "Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Avraham Faust
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Israel Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 5290002, Israel

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Israelite religion has received a great deal of attention over the years, and many dozens of books and hundreds of articles have been written about various aspects of the Israelite religion. Initially, research was based on biblical testimony, either illustrating the various traditions or questioning them in a critical manner. Gradually, with the accumulation of more and more information on other ancient near-Eastern religions, and especially with the advent of archaeology, more avenues of research have been opened. Consequently, the framework that was based on the biblical narrative was abandoned by many, resulting in (1) an abandonment of the view that one can speak of an Israelite religion in the singular, and many today prefer to speak about Israelite religions, and (2) a plethora of research questions and scholarly agendas in approaching the data.

Among the questions discussed today are the differences between the "official" and "popular" expression of religion, between the "biblical" religion and the real one, as practiced during the Iron Age, the role of people in various forms of religions, the loci of religious expression (in temples or in other spaces), what objects were used for religious purposes (e.g., figurines) and how and when did monotheism evolve, and which other gods or goddesses were worshiped in ancient Israel? Did Israel's god (YHWH) have a spouse? Similarities and differences between the religious experienced in Israel and Judah and other Iron Age religions, the religion of Israel's neighbors, the influence of the Assyrian empire, aspects of continuity and differences between the Iron Age religion and those that developed during the Second Temple period, and many others.

Since archaeology has a major role in the new development, the present issue intend to present various approaches to the archaeology of Israelite religions, and to the contribution of recent studies to our understanding of this issue. Contributions are welcome by scholars from all disciplines, including archaeologists, biblical scholars, theologians, Assyriologists, historians, and more, and approaches need not be archaeological.

Prof. Dr. Avraham Faust
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • religion
  • Israelite religion
  • Bible
  • monotheism
  • polytheism
  • YHWH
  • ancient Near East

Published Papers (12 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle
Archaeology and Folk or Family Religion in Ancient Israel
Religions 2019, 10(12), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120667 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article will summarize and interpret archaeological data that may be used to illuminate the religion of ancient Israel, ca. 1200–600 BCE, while using a phenomenal approach. The resultant portrait will be compared with one drawn from the texts of the Hebrew Bible, [...] Read more.
This article will summarize and interpret archaeological data that may be used to illuminate the religion of ancient Israel, ca. 1200–600 BCE, while using a phenomenal approach. The resultant portrait will be compared with one drawn from the texts of the Hebrew Bible, which suggests both convergences and significant differences. The conclusion will emphasize that archaeology does best in providing a real-life context for both artifact and texts. However, it is mostly limited to religious practice, rather than belief. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Israelite Festivals: From Cyclical Time Celebrations to Linear Time Commemorations
Religions 2019, 10(5), 323; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050323 - 14 May 2019
Abstract
The Pentateuch and later Jewish tradition associates the key pilgrimage festivals with stories about Israel’s past. Nevertheless, these festivals all began as agricultural or seasonal festivals. Using comparative evidence from the ancient Near East, and looking at the Covenant Collection, the earliest biblical [...] Read more.
The Pentateuch and later Jewish tradition associates the key pilgrimage festivals with stories about Israel’s past. Nevertheless, these festivals all began as agricultural or seasonal festivals. Using comparative evidence from the ancient Near East, and looking at the Covenant Collection, the earliest biblical law collection, through a redaction critical lens, we can uncover the early history of these festivals and even how they developed in stages. A similar process is evident with the Sabbath, which appears to have begun as a moon festival, as per certain biblical references and from comparative evidence, but which eventually developed into the seventh day of rest as part of the institution of the week, and then comes to be associated with the story of God resting after creation. These developments, from celebrating agricultural and lunar cycles to celebrating mnemohistorical events, can be seen as part of two parallel processes: the coalescing of Israelite cultural memory and the institution of the linear calendar as the dominant conception of time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Archaeology and Religion in Late Bronze Age Canaan
Religions 2019, 10(4), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040258 - 09 Apr 2019
Abstract
Dozens of temples were excavated in the Canaanite city-states of the Late Bronze Age. These temples were the focal points for the Canaanites’ cultic activities, mainly sacrifices and ceremonial feasting. Numerous poetic and ritual texts from the contemporary city of Ugarit reveal the [...] Read more.
Dozens of temples were excavated in the Canaanite city-states of the Late Bronze Age. These temples were the focal points for the Canaanites’ cultic activities, mainly sacrifices and ceremonial feasting. Numerous poetic and ritual texts from the contemporary city of Ugarit reveal the rich pantheon of Canaanite gods and goddesses which were worshiped by the Canaanites. Archaeological remains of these rites include burnt animal bones and many other cultic items, such as figurines and votive vessels, which were discovered within the temples and sanctuaries. These demonstrate the diverse and receptive character of the Canaanite religion and ritual practices. It seems that the increased Egyptian presence in Canaan towards the end of the period had an influence on the local belief system and rituals in some areas, a fact which is demonstrated by the syncretic architectural plans of several of the temples, as well as by glyptic and votive items. Late Bronze Age religious and cultic practices have attracted much attention from Biblical scholars and researchers of the religion of Ancient Israel who are searching for the similarities and influences between the Late Bronze Age and the following Iron Age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Zooarchaeology of Israelite Religion: Methods and Practice
Religions 2019, 10(4), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040254 - 07 Apr 2019
Abstract
This essay aims to provide a methodological framework for the application of zooarchaeology to the study of Israelite religion for the purpose of providing an overview of this growing subfield for the non-specialist and for inviting further conversation among practitioners. Definitions of “zooarchaeology” [...] Read more.
This essay aims to provide a methodological framework for the application of zooarchaeology to the study of Israelite religion for the purpose of providing an overview of this growing subfield for the non-specialist and for inviting further conversation among practitioners. Definitions of “zooarchaeology” and “Israelite religion” are explored and the aim of reconstructing practices of Yahweh-centric religion is described. A methodology is suggested through a series of questions that may be applied to explorations of faunal remains, including those related to context, excavation technique and analysis, and engagement with the Hebrew Bible. The essay concludes with an illustration from Tel Dan and affirmation of integrated methodologies that critically engage archaeological and textual data to form new syntheses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Religion at Kuntillet ʿAjrud
Religions 2019, 10(3), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030211 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The discovery of early Hebrew inscriptions at the site of Kuntillet ʿAjrud has generated considerable discussion among scholars over the past few decades. The fact that the inscriptions contain explicitly religious themes led some to conclude that the site had a cultic function. [...] Read more.
The discovery of early Hebrew inscriptions at the site of Kuntillet ʿAjrud has generated considerable discussion among scholars over the past few decades. The fact that the inscriptions contain explicitly religious themes led some to conclude that the site had a cultic function. In the present article, we challenge this assumption and argue that the inscriptions with religious themes are embedded in daily life as religion converges with scribal curriculum in ancient Israel. The inscriptions provide insights into conceptions of the Israelite pantheon, divine theophany, and theomachy in early Israelian religious ideology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
The Temple of Solomon in Iron Age Context
Religions 2019, 10(3), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030198 - 15 Mar 2019
Abstract
1 Kings preserves a long and detailed description of the construction of a temple and palace in Jerusalem by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. Previous generations of scholars accepted this description as an authentic account. Accordingly, much literature on this text [...] Read more.
1 Kings preserves a long and detailed description of the construction of a temple and palace in Jerusalem by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. Previous generations of scholars accepted this description as an authentic account. Accordingly, much literature on this text and the relevant archeological discoveries has accumulated. Since the 1980s, skeptical approaches to the early part of the Kingdom of Judah, the biblical text, and the archaeological record have been expressed. Some scholars doubt whether any temple at all was constructed in Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE. In the last few years, the picture has been changed by new discoveries from two Judean sites: a building model of the early 10th century BCE from Khirbet Qeiyafa and an actual temple building of the 9th century BCE from Motza. In this article, we present the history of research, some aspects of the biblical text and the contribution of the new discoveries. These enable us to place in context both the biblical text and the building it describes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Religion of the Ammonites: A Specimen of Levantine Religion from the Iron Age II (ca. 1000–500 BCE)
Religions 2019, 10(3), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030153 - 02 Mar 2019
Abstract
In the Iron Age II (ca. 1000–500 BCE), the region around Amman, Jordan, was home to a sociopolitical group known as the Ammonites (literally, “the sons of Ammon”). This paper investigates the religious traditions of the Ammonites through an analysis of the extant [...] Read more.
In the Iron Age II (ca. 1000–500 BCE), the region around Amman, Jordan, was home to a sociopolitical group known as the Ammonites (literally, “the sons of Ammon”). This paper investigates the religious traditions of the Ammonites through an analysis of the extant archaeological and textual sources. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the religious tradition of the Ammonites is a specimen of the broader religious tradition of the Iron Age II Levant. One distinguishing feature of Ammonite religion is the state god Milkom, whose name is probably an epithet for the god ʾEl, and who appears to be represented in a tradition of stone sculptures that have been found in the vicinity of Amman. The rest of the non-physical realm was understood to be inhabited by gods, goddesses, a variety of other non-human beings, and dead ancestors. Also visible in the extant evidence is a blending of local and foreign elements, especially those from Mesopotamia. Unique in this respect is the probable temple to the moon-god at Rujm al-Kursi, which most likely reflects a local tradition of lunar worship influenced by the iconography of the Mesopotamian moon-god Sîn. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Iron Age Cultic Sites in Transjordan
Religions 2019, 10(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030145 - 27 Feb 2019
Abstract
In the area east of the river Jordan, eight Iron Age structures identified as cultic have been excavated. This paper presents the evidence as published and discusses the relevance of the cultic identification of the structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Moon, Rain, Womb, Mercy The Imagery of The Shrine Model from Tell el-Far‛ah North—Biblical Tirzah For Othmar Keel
Religions 2019, 10(2), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020136 - 25 Feb 2019
Abstract
The present article focuses on the imagery of the shrine model found at Tell el-Far‛ah North, Biblical Tirzah, seat of the ruling dynasty of the Northern Kingdom in the early days of the Israelite monarchy. It examines the multiplicity of connotations, changeability and [...] Read more.
The present article focuses on the imagery of the shrine model found at Tell el-Far‛ah North, Biblical Tirzah, seat of the ruling dynasty of the Northern Kingdom in the early days of the Israelite monarchy. It examines the multiplicity of connotations, changeability and ambiguity in the representation of the lunar crescent image in the figurative language of the ancient Near East. Finally, the article offers a reconstruction of the model’s place within the cult of the late 10th–early 9th century BCE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Women in Israelite Religion: The State of Research Is All New Research
Religions 2019, 10(2), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020122 - 19 Feb 2019
Abstract
Historically, those studying Israelite religion have ignored the existence of women in Iron Age Israel (1200–587 BCE). They have, therefore, accounted neither for the religious beliefs of half of ancient Israel’s population nor for the responsibilities that women assumed for maintaining religious rituals [...] Read more.
Historically, those studying Israelite religion have ignored the existence of women in Iron Age Israel (1200–587 BCE). They have, therefore, accounted neither for the religious beliefs of half of ancient Israel’s population nor for the responsibilities that women assumed for maintaining religious rituals and traditions. Such reconstructions of Israelite religion are seriously flawed. Only in the last four decades have scholars, primarily women, begun to explore women’s essential roles in Israel’s religious culture. This article utilizes evidence from the Hebrew Bible and from archaeological sites throughout Israel. It demonstrates that some women had roles within the Jerusalem Temple. Most women, however, resided in towns and villages throughout the Land. There, they undertook responsibility for clan-based and community-based religious rituals and rites, including pilgrimage, seasonal festivals, rites of military victory, and rites of mourning. They fulfilled, as well, essential roles within the sphere of domestic or household religion. At home, they provided medico-magical healing for all family members, as well as care for women and babies throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. They, and the men in their communities, worshipped Yahweh, Israel’s primary deity, and the goddess Asherah, as well; for most people, these two divinities were inextricably linked. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Israelite Temples: Where Was Israelite Cult Not Practiced, and Why
Religions 2019, 10(2), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020106 - 12 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Most scholars in the late 20th and early 21st century believed that cultic activity in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was practiced in various temples that were scattered throughout the kingdoms. Still, a detailed study of the archaeological evidence on Israelite cult [...] Read more.
Most scholars in the late 20th and early 21st century believed that cultic activity in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was practiced in various temples that were scattered throughout the kingdoms. Still, a detailed study of the archaeological evidence on Israelite cult reveals that Israelite cultic buildings were extremely rare, both in absolute terms and when compared to other ancient Near Eastern societies, suggesting that cultic activity in temples was the exception rather than the norm and that typical Israelite cult was practiced in the household and in other, non-temple settings. Hence, the evidence suggests that rather than viewing temples, like the one in Arad, as exemplifying typical cultic activity, they should be viewed as exceptions that require a special explanation. The first part of the article develops and updates the suggestion, first raised about ten years ago, that Israelite temples were indeed extremely rare. Given the ancient Near Eastern context, however, such practices seems to be exceptional, and the second part of the article will therefore explain why was such a unique pattern not identified in the past, and will suggest a possible explanation as to how was such an outstanding practice developed and adopted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Philistine Cult and Religion According to Archaeological Evidence
Religions 2019, 10(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020074 - 23 Jan 2019
Abstract
The paper surveys and discusses the updated archaeological evidence for Philistine cult and religion, and cult and religion in Philistia during the Iron Age. The evidence can be related to public or official cult, represented in temple and shrine structures, and to that [...] Read more.
The paper surveys and discusses the updated archaeological evidence for Philistine cult and religion, and cult and religion in Philistia during the Iron Age. The evidence can be related to public or official cult, represented in temple and shrine structures, and to that coming from households, representing possibly more popular religion. The evidence of public cult, so far mostly from peripheral sites, includes largely cultural elements linked with the local Canaanite cult and religion. Yet, within households at the Philistine cities there is more evidence for cultic elements of Aegean affinity during Iron Age I. In particular, figurines and ceramic figurative vessels and objects will be discussed. It seems that the Philistine religion may have retained certain distinctive elements also during Iron Age II. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to reconstruct the details of the nature of the Philistine religion due to the limited amount of evidence and lack of textual records. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Archaeology and Ancient Israelite Religion)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop