Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria and Israel

Continuity and Change in the Forms of Religious Life


This volume deals with the religious practices of the family in the ancient Babylonian, Syrian, and Israelite civilizations. On the basis of a wealth of documents from both the private and the literary realm, the book gives an exhaustive description and analysis of the rites of the ancestor cult and the devotion to local gods. The author demonstrates the role of these two aspects of family religion in the identity construction of its followers. The section dealing with Israel pays particular attention to the relationship between family religion and state religion. The emergence of the state religion under King Saul marked the beginning of a competition between civil and private religion. Though the two had great influence upon each other, the tension between them was never resolved. A study of their interaction proves to be a key for the understanding of the development of Israelite religion during the monarchic period.
The book is of particular importance to biblical scholars, Assyriologists, and all those interested in the history of ancient Near Eastern religion.

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Karel van der Toorn, Ph.D. (1985) in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, is Professor of Ancient Religions at the University of Leiden. He has published extensively on Ancient Near Eastern religion. He is editor of the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Brill, 1995).
'Over a hundred pages of indices and bibliographies make the research that has gone into the book very easy for the reader to access.Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria and Israel is a valuable addition to the library of any scholar of antiquity who can afford the price.'
Joseph Blenkinsopp, Journal of Biblical Literature.
`Biblicists studying Genesis, patriarchy, land tenure, tribalism and the like will discover it to be a useful source of information, responsible analysis and lucid interpretation.'
Ziony Zevit, The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1996.
`Dieses opus magnum des Professors für "Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies" der Universität Leiden darf als die umfassendste und profundeste Untersuchung gelten, die die Familienreligion im Alten Vorderen Orient bisher gefunden hat.'
Rainer Albertz, Biblica, 1997.
Assyriologists, Biblical scholars, historians of religion, anthropologists, sociologists.
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