December 7: Reimagining Ancient Israel: Applying modern science to Biblical narratives



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

  • What if ancient Israelites were polytheistic and worshipped many gods?
  • What if Israel’s God, Yahweh, was the god of Israel’s Israel’s mortal enemies, the Edomites?
  • What if 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 Israel’s one deity?

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

Dr. Smith uses ancient inscriptions and icons from surrounding civilizations as well as Biblical passages to understand the roots of ancient Israelite culture, and how it emerged from the Canaanite civilization around it.

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

Join us on Wednesday, December 7, to learn more about a story more than 3,000 years in the making.

Admission is $5 for 2011 dues-paid SWINY members*, $10 for nonmembers.

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The event begins at 6 p.m.

Location: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 3 Park Avenue, 22nd Floor.

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



To pay by check, send a check, payable to Science Writers in New York, to:

Science Writers in New York
51 MacDougal Street, Suite 304
New York, NY 10012

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