YHWHs Ancient Look-Alikes
Edited by Collin Cornell
Publication date:16 March 2020
Length of book:280 pages
The Bible says that YHWH alone is God and that there is none like him—but texts and artwork from antiquity show that many gods looked very similar. In this volume, scholars of the Hebrew Bible and its historical contexts address the problem of YHWH’s ancient look-alikes, providing recommendations for how Jews and Christians can think theologically about this challenge.
Sooner or later, whether in a religion class or a seminary course, students bump up against the fact that God—the biblical God—was one among other, comparable gods. The ancient world was full of gods, including great gods of conquering empires, dynastic gods of petty kingdoms, goddesses of fertility, and personal spirit guardians. And in various ways, these gods look like the biblical God. Like the God of the Bible, they, too, controlled the fates of nations, chose kings, bestowed fecundity and blessing, and cared for their individual human charges. They spoke and acted. They experienced wrath and delight. They inspired praise. All of this leaves Jews and Christians in a bind: how can they confess that the God named YHWH was (and is) the true and living God, in view of this God’s profound similarities to all these others?
The essays in this volume address the theological challenge these parallels create, providing reflections on how Jews and Christians can keep faith in YHWH as God while acknowledging the reality of YHWH’s divine doppelgängers. It will be welcomed by undergraduates studying religion; seminarians and graduate students of Bible, theology, and the ancient world; and adult education classes.
—Mark S. Smith, Helena Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary