Today is April 16, 2024 ()

Diversity of Ancient Israel



A new course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation will examine the diversity of Israel’s archaeology, history and religion from ancient times to the Diaspora.

“The Diversity of Ancient Israel: A Retrospective of Archaeology, History and Religion” will be taught Tuesday evenings beginning April 16 from 7:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany.

                During his ongoing study of ancient Israel, instructor Steven Stark-Riemer was surprised to realize that the courses he presents all have an unintended central theme running through them: diversity – of community, of thought, of practice – and it has marked ancient Israel from its beginnings in the central hill country of Canaan to its life in the Diaspora. In this latest offering, Stark-Riemer will present a retrospective drawn from his previous seven courses that will highlight this variety. Topics will include:


  • the emergence of early Israel as a people;
  • the distinction between “Book Religion” and “Folk Religion” – Does the Bible present religious reality or theological ideal?
  • the redactors of the Hebrew Bible;
  • the variety of Second Temple Judaisms;
  • Alexandria – the first Jewish Golden Age;
  • sects of the Second Temple period, and the formation of the Dead Sea Scrolls community;
  • apocalyptic eschatology meets politics in first-century Judea;
  • was there a split Diaspora?


Stark-Riemer studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972. He conducted field work at the Tell Gezer excavations in Israel under the direction of William G. Dever, director of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School at the time. Stark-Riemer continues to pursue his interest in the archaeology, history and religion of the ancient Near East.

 “The Diversity of Ancient Israel” is open to the public. Fee for the eight-session course is $60; $40 for B’nai Sholom members. Registration is required.

For more information, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or

Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region, creating a vibrant Jewish present that links ancient traditions with the promise of the future. More than 150 diverse households from six counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.

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