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Archaeology of the Religion of Ancient Israel Examined at B’nai Sholom

What do we know about the archaeology of the religion of ancient Israel, and how do we know it? A course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will provide many of the answers.


“The Archaeology of the Religion of Ancient Israel” will be taught over seven Thursdays beginning March 19 from 7:15 p.m. until 9 p.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, N.Y.


This class will begin with a history of the search for ancient Israel’s religion. Previous approaches to this subject have paid insufficient attention to the archaeological data, which is substantial. Among the topics covered by the succeeding sessions are: Canaanite religion before the emergence of ancient Israel; the distinction between “book religion” and “folk religion”; sacred space in ancient Israel; the cult of Asherah in ancient Israel; death in the life of ancient Israel; and the transition from polytheism to monotheism. The timeframe of this course concludes with the Babylonian Conquest in 586 B.C.E.


Steven Stark-Riemer, the course instructor, has taught about the scientific study of the Biblical world since 2007. He 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 Tel 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 Archaeology of the Religion of Ancient Israel” is open to the public. Fee for the seven-session course is $54 ($36 for B’nai Sholom members), and 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. Nearly 150 diverse households from six counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.



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