For those in the Melbourne area, you may be interested to know that archaeologist William Dever, a critic of the biblical minimalist school of OT interpretation, will be giving a public lecture at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday 18th April at 6.30 p.m., entitled 'Did God Have a Wife?' (Lecture Theatre A, Elizabeth Murdoch Building). Here is the blurb:
The Hebrew Bible portrays the religion of ancient Israel as monotheistic, the worship of a single male deity named Yahweh. Yet the archaeological data recently accumulated shows thatthis may have been the ideal, the reality was quite different. We have hundreds of nude female figurines that represent the old Canaanite Mother Goddess ‘Asherah’. We even have 8th century BCE Hebrew inscriptions naming her as the consort of Yahweh in the context of blessing. This illustrated lecture will show how monotheism developed slowly and with great difficulty in ancient Israel.
It would have been much more fun if the estimable Francesca Stavrakopoulou were here to give the lecture, but Dever might be interesting nonetheless. He is also giving lectures at the Australian Instittue of Archaeology on 20-21 April. Details here.