Burpee lecture: ‘Did God Have a Consort?’

• Lecture at Burpee on recent archaeological discoveries brings to light other deities widely venerated

“Did God Have a Consort? Archaeology and the Cults of Ancient Israel” will be the topic of an upcoming lecture by Dr. William G. Dever of the University of Arizona. He will speak at 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 30, in the Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St.

The traditional God of the Hebrew Bible is portrayed as the only deity in ancient Israel and is always presented in exclusively male language and imagery. Recent archaeological discoveries, however, have brought to light other deities that were widely venerated, both in folk or popular religion and in the official cult.

This illustrated lecture will focus on actual religious practices throughout the Israelite and Judean monarchy, many of which seem to contradict the idealistic portrayal of religion in the Bible. Archaeological finds include hundreds of figures of “Ashcrah,” the old Canaanite-style Mother Goddess; model temples and shrines; exotic cult paraphernalia of many kinds; Canaanite-style “high places” of the type prohibited in the Bible, and even Hebrew inscriptions mentioning the goddess and associating her with Yahweh, the national deity of ancient Israel. At the end, the lecture will try to reconcile the two portraits of Israelite religion.

William Dever is an expert in biblical archaeology and the archaeology of Syria and Palestine. He has worked extensively in the Near East, as director of projects in Israel and the West Bank. After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard, he became director first of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology and then of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research—both in Jerusalem—before going to Arizona’s Department of Near East Studies. Professor Dever is the author of numerous publications and is the founder of the Southern Arizona Society of the AIA.

The lecture is sponsored by the Classics Department of Rockford College and The Archaeological Institute of America, Rockford Society, in collaboration with The Burpee Museum of Natural History.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Information: 226-4027.

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