Dec. 7: Ancient Israel Reimagined: Applying modern science to Biblical narratives

We all think we know a few basic facts about ancient Israel. It was the nation that rejected the worship of local deities and embraced monotheism. Or was it?

  • What if the ancient Israelites were polytheistic and worshipped many gods?
  • Imagine if Israel’s God, Yahweh, was the god of Israel’s mortal enemies, the Edomites?
  • Suppose the First Commandment — Have no other gods before me — meant that there were other gods, but Yahweh came first?
  • How did this outsider deity work through the pantheon of regional gods to become Israel’s sole deity?

These are just some of the provocative questions raised by Mark Smith, the Skirball Professor of Bible and a Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University.

Smith’s research draws on new archeological discoveries and a growing library of ancient inscriptions and icons from surrounding civilizations. They have changed our understanding of some Biblical passages, and suggest how the ancient Israelite culture emerged from the Canaanite world around it.

While our picture of the ancient world is far from complete, Smith’s research shows how modern archeology, an improved understanding of ancient civilizations, and critical readings of sacred texts can help us deepen our understanding of our heritage.

Join us on Wednesday, December 7, for an enlightening view of a story more than 3,000 years in the making.

Wednesday, December 7
6 to 8 pm

ASME Headquarters, 22nd Floor
3 Park Avenue (Park & 34th St.)

$5 for 2011 dues-paid SWINY Members*
$10 for nonmembers

RSVP here.

*Not a member? Pay $25 for 2012 membership and attend this event at the members’ price.

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