The Hebrew God

Portrait of an Ancient Deity

Bernhard Lang

View Inside Price: $26.00


April 1, 2002
258 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300186901
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Originally worshipped by the people of a small and politically insignificant eastern Mediterranean community, the Hebrew God rose to become the monotheistic deity of the entire Western tradition. In this absorbing book, well-known biblical scholar Bernhard Lang provides for the first time a full portrait of the ancient Hebrew God. Drawing on all available evidence, including ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian texts and art, Lang offers a comprehensive view of the Hebrew God that is both fascinating and surprising.

Lang’s portrait shows the Hebrew God in five images. He appears as lord of wisdom, lord of war, lord of the animals, lord of the individual, and lord of the harvest—a God whose rule extends to all areas of life. Lang illuminates the completeness of this God’s leadership with insights derived from modern religious, anthropological, and cultural studies, and he argues that Israel’s monotheistic God, far from being simply opposed to other gods, actually echoes and incorporates much of the ancient polytheistic experience of the divine. The worldview of the ancient Semites did not differ from that of the Indo-European peoples as dramatically as others have assumed, Lang contends. Written in an accessible style, this appealing volume stores a wealth of information for general reader and religious historian alike.

Bernhard Lang is professor of Old Testament and religious studies at the universities of St. Andrews, Scotland and Paderborn, Germany.

“Lang’s brilliant book sheds more, as well as new, interesting light on the origins of the God of Israel than any work I know.”—Bruce Chilton, Bard College

“Lang’s treatment is resolutely comprehensive: a broad ranging, systematic sketch with an enlivening use of ancient images and texts. Anyone interested in comparative religion or ancient Near Eastern history and culture will profit from reading this book.”—Stephen L. Cook, Anglican Theological Review

"Much here to excite the reader."—Church Times

"The fascinating epilogue . . . frames his study with inspiring clarity."—David Jays, The Observer

"[An] exceptionally acute study. . . . A fascinating and thoroughly accessible work."—David Levy, The Salisbury Review

"[A] significant accomplishment. . . . Lang offers compelling evidence to demonstrate his argument. . . . Most certainly, this book would work quite well in various graduate seminars, and would also serve well as a text for advanced undergraduate religion or philosophy courses about god." —Jeff B. Pool, Southern Humanities Review