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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

Monolatry: The Israelites Believed in Many Gods

In this episode of The Bible for Normal People Podcast, Pete talks about monolatry, and he explores the following questions:

  • What is monolatry?
  • If Israel believed that many gods existed, why was their God Yahweh the only deity worthy of worship?
  • What does Psalm 95 tell us about what the Israelites believed?
  • If the Israelites were monolatrous, how do they explain the greatness of Yahweh?
  • Where did the divine name come from? And what’s up with “Lᴏʀᴅ”?
  • Who is the king of all of the gods?
  • How do the plagues help us understand the theology of monolatry?
  • What’s with the beef between Yahweh and the egyptian gods?
  • What did fertility have to do with theology in the ancient world?
  • What does monolatry have to do with all the idol talk in the bible?
  • What do the judgements passed on the kings of Israel have to do with worshiping the gods of other nations?
  • Who is the Satan in God’s heavenly board meeting?
  • What is the Divine Council?
  • What do we do with these images of heavenly board meetings and divine councils in the Bible?
  • How is god talked about in ancient tribal cultures and how do we respect that?

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This week’s topic is Jewish ways understanding what the Bible is, namely what it means to speak of the Bible as “revealed” and “authoritative.” Our guest is Benjamin D. Sommer, professor of Bible and ancient Semitic languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. His latest book is Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition. Christians have much to learn from Jews about how to understand the nature of the Bible.

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