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Twilight of the Gods: The Conflict of Monotheism in the Hebrew Bible

Westminster John Knox Press / 2005 / Paperback

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Product Description

Previously it was believed that monotheism gradually evolved in Israel's history, becoming influential, say, during the major prophets in the eighth century B.C. Archaeological evidence now suggests that polytheism, at least on a popular level, continued to vie with monotheism for centuries afterward. 160 pages, softcover. Westminster/John Knox.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Westminster John Knox Press
Publication Date: 2005
Dimensions: 9.0 X 6.0 (inches)
ISBN: 0664228852
ISBN-13: 9780664228859
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Since the middle of the twentieth century, one of biblical scholarship's chief assumptions has been that ancient Israel evolved out of the polytheism of surrounding cultures into an ethical monotheism. However, this consensus has fallen apart in recent years. Scholars now know that early Israel was surrounded by a very polytheistic culture and that many Israelites thought of Yahweh as the chief God among many gods. Furthermore, archaeology has shown that Yahweh was worshiped along with other gods throughout the period after the exile, when many shrines were in honor of "Yahweh and his Asherah." David Penchansky's Twilight of the Gods is the first accessible book that shows a historical Israel where polytheism and monotheism existed simultaneously in great conflict. He provides a historical introduction, followed by close readings of key Old Testament passages, where he demonstrates how to interpret difficult biblical texts that depict other gods or claim Yahweh is the only God within this new understanding of Israelite religion.

Author Bio

David Penchansky is Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of several books, including What Rough Beast?: Images of God in the Hebrew Bible and The Betrayal of God: Ideological Conflict in Job.

Product Reviews

1.7 Stars Out Of 5
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Displaying items 1-3 of 3
Page 1 of 1
  1. Age: 35-44
    Gender: Male
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Not compelling
    July 17, 2016
    hyperyoda
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    I disagree strongly with the reviewer who said that Penchansky makes a strong case for a polytheistic ancient Israel. Penchansky uses a few cherry picked verses and attempts to infuse his conclusion onto them. If one is intellectually honest and reads the whole of the Old Testament it is clear that although Israel came in contact with those worshiping other gods the Israelites were fiercely monotheistic. This is bad scholarship. Strongly do not recommend you buy this book.
  2. MA
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Short and Provocative
    July 2, 2016
    Gary Gumuchian
    MA
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Penchansky makes a compelling case for a polytheistic ancient Israel. Using scripture and archeology he provides evidence that the ancient society that gave birth to modern monotheism had a lot of different religious practices. This book certainly helps identify the places in scripture where readers can sometimes be left with a "wait a minute..." like 2 Kings 3. The author cites a lot of previous scholarship and the bibliography is worth the price of the book. Grad students, seminarians, and others who have undertaken studies on ancient Israel will recognize some of the scholars cited.
  3. Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Failed to convince me.
    January 9, 2014
    bergerie
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    It is clear from reading the Old Testament, that Israel was confronted with other religions and other gods, and regularly warned by prophets or others to worship Yahweh only. As an evangelical, I was hoping to find a book that would explain who these other gods were and how they might have influenced Israel in turning away from their own God.

    This book totally failed to convince me, as the argument of the author was based on a few hard to understand verses, and he consistently tried to push his point forward by jumping to conclusions that fit his view.

    For example, the commandment to have no other gods, implies, according to this author, a recognition that there were other gods.

    Basicaly, he is out to prove that Israel worshiped many gods, and the view we find in the Bible was mostly the result of those who wrote history, and managed to pass their monotheism as if it were the only true faith.

    Comparisons with ideas of gods in surrounding religions are tenuous at best, and totaly fail to see that Israel's faith, even when badly practiced, was different from that of other nations.

    Of course, as an evangelical, I give credit to the Bible as being the word of God that he intended for believers to remember and learn from. Once you think the Bible is only another religious writing put together by a religious elite to give themselves a History, I guess it becomes just one among many other equivalent religions that happened to be practiced by some near eastern people.

    This is my first critique ever, but this book is so full of intellectual dishonesty that I coudl keep quiet.
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