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2014 Tenenbaum Lecture

Watch video of Professor Dever's lecture!

William G. Dever

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Lycoming College
Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Arizona State University
Did God Have a Wife?

Did God Have a Wife?
Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

This illustrated lecture will showcase recent archaeological evidence that reveals the differences in beliefs and practices of ordinary people in ancient Israel compared to the elitist, idealist portrait in the Bible, particularly the ongoing veneration of the Canaanite Goddess Asherah.

February 3, 2014
Monday, 7:30pm
Reception Hall
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Emory University

Running alongside the entire history of archaeological exploration of the ancient Middle East is the scholarly controversy of the relationship of Biblical texts to archaeological evidence. Are Biblical texts historical or merely “stories” passed down through oral tradition? Does the material evidence validate the textual history? Should it? Will archaeologists eventually find evidence of the “real” King David? Is the role of the archaeologist to validate the texts? Should the archaeologist even reference Biblical texts in relation to material evidence?

William Dever has been an active participant, a major voice even, in this discussion for most of his long career as an archaeologist of the Middle East. One aspect of the debate is the extent to which the monotheistic rituals of the religious elites of the ancient Israelites penetrated to all levels of the society. It is this facet that will be the topic of Professor Dever’s lecture “Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel,” the 2014 Tenenbaum Lecture in Judaic Studies presented by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, on Monday, February 3, 2014, in the Reception Hall of the Carlos Museum on the Emory campus. The illustrated lecture will showcase recent archaeological evidence that reveals just how different were the beliefs and practices of ordinary people in ancient Israel, compared to the practices of the Temple elites portrayed in the Bible. In particular, he contends that the Canaanite goddess Asherah was widely venerated by the common people until the end of the Monarchy, making the eventual triumph of monotheism seem even more remarkable.

Considered one of the world’s leading scholars of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, Dever’s most recent books include The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: Where Archaeology and the Bible Intersect (Eerdmans, 2012), Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did they Come From? (Eerdmans, 2003), What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? (Eerdmans, 2001), and the book upon which this lecture is based, Did God Have a Wife?  Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (Eerdmans, 2005). He graduated cum laude from Milligan College in 1955, earned the MA summa cum laude from Butler University in 1959, the BD cum laude in Greek and Hebrew from Christian Theological Seminary in 1959, and the Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1966. He has held academic positions at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, and, for more than 25 years, was Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona, where he continues as Professor Emeritus. He is now Distinguished Visiting Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. He has been the recipient of numerous academic honors, fellowships, and grants, has served in many professional and editorial positions, and has delivered many endowed lectureships and invited symposium papers. His archaeological field experience includes direction of excavations at Gezer, Jebel Qa’aqir, Shechem, and Be’er Resisim, as well as being principal advisor to numerous other excavations.

Dever is married to Pamela Gaber, Professor of Archaeology and Judaic Studies at Lycoming College, director of Lycoming’s Archaeological Field School in Cyprus, and a world-renowned expert in sculpture typology and pottery chronology.

This year’s lecture also serves as the keynote address of the TIJS-sponsored “8th Century Judah and Its Cultural Context:  A Symposium in Honor of Oded Borowski” taking place the following day.

This event is free and open to the public
Please join us for a reception following the lecture
Free parking available at Fishburne and Peavine Parking Decks

Driving Directions to Emory Campus

Directions to Fishburne deck

Map of Fishburne Deck and Carlos Museum

Printable Map | Past Tenenbaum Lectures | 2013 sponsors

The Tenenbaum lecture is sponsored by:
The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies
The Hightower Fund
The Laney Graduate School
The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry
The Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts
The Department of History
The Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies
The Department of Religion

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Last updated: December 19, 2014



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