6 Pages

CCAnd the Women !(nead

T he typical historian of ancient Israelite religion, especially the historianof the first-millennium cult, relies heavily, if not exclusively, on the Bible.This is unavoidable, since the Bible is in essence the only written source (and indeed the only significant source of any kind) that describes the religion of firstmillennium Israel and Judah. Yet it has become increasingly obvious to historians of Israelite religion that the Bible's descriptions of the first-millennium cult are highly selective. The biblical materials, which come predominantly from the hands of priests and prophets, present priestly and prophetic religion as normative and orthodox in ancient Israel. Nonpriestly and nonprophetic religious beliefs and practices are condemned as heterodox and deviant. A more nuanced reconstruction of the religion of ancient Israel, however, would suggest that despite the biblical witness neither the priestly nor prophetic cult was normative in the religion of the first millennium. Rather, a diversity of beliefs and practices thrived and were accepted by the ancients as legitimate forms ofreligious expression.