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[Conference] The Desert Origins of God: Yahweh's Emergence and the Materiality of Desert Cult in the Southern Levant and Northern Arabia

Käte Hamburger Kolleg Conference
Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
15 - 17 July 2019

Conveners: Juan Manuel Tebes & Christian Frevel

This conference seeks to explore and contextualize the configuration of the varied desert cultic practices from the southern Levant and northern Arabia during the Late Bronze/Iron Ages that may have contributed to the emergence of the Yahwistic cult. Recent archaeological excavations in the Negev, southern Transjordan and Hejaz and new interpretations of old epigraphic and iconographic evidence are rapidly changing the biblical-based paradigm of the interactions between the desert cults and the Iron Age Levantine religions.

The conference adopts an interdisciplinary approach, assessing textual, archaeological, as well as epigraphic data. The papers presented here contribute in a unique way to big historical questions of the LBA/IA desert religions: Was there something unique in the desert cults? How were the religious experiences shaped by the interactions between the local rituals and the sanctuary cults that penetrated from the agricultural lands? The conference also touches the much wider debate of the role played by trade–in copper, incense, pastoral products–and cultural interconnections in the diffusion of religious ideas. It particularly explores how these data relate to those religious practices attested in Judah and Israel of the later Iron Age and beyond, thereby providing new insights into the prehistory of the Yahweh cult.


Monday, 15 July 2019

04:00 - 04:30 Welcome Address & Introduction
Tim Karis (Bochum)

04:30 - 04:45 Introducing the Online-Journal Entangled Religions
Julia Reiker (Bochum)

Panel 1: The Origins of Yahweh in the Desert

04:45 - 05:45 Beyond Yahweh: The Materiality of Cult of the Iron Age Negev and Edom in the Longue Dureé
Juan Manuel Tebes (Buenos Aires)

05:45 - 06:45 The Desert and the Formation of Early Israel
Uzi Avner (Eilat)

07:00 Dinner

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Panel 1: The Origins of Yahweh in the Desert (cont.)

10:00 - 11:00 The Midianite Hypothesis – A Current Evaluation of its Achievements and Limitations
Martin Leuenberger (Tübingen)

11:00 - 11:15 Coffee break

Panel 2: The Southern Origins of Yahweh in Biblical Tradition

11:15 - 12:15 The Wilderness Traditions in the Hebrew Bible and the Origins of Yhwh
Thomas Römer (Lausanne/Paris)

12:15 - 01:30 Lunch

01:30 - 02:30 El Shadday, the Shed Gods and the Wilderness: A Reassessment
Christophe Nihan (Lausanne)

02:30 - 03:30 The Early History of God – Reflections on the Rise of Yahwism in Israel and
Judah Christian Frevel (Bochum)

03:30 - 04:00 Coffee Break

Panel 3: New Perspectives from Egyptology, Archaeology & Iconography

04:00 - 05:00 Signs of Yahweh in Egypt?
Racheli Shalomi-Hen (Jerusalem)

05:00 - 06:00 Notes on God(s) in the Desert
Davida Eisenberg-Degen (Beersheba)

06:15 Dinner

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Panel 3: New Perspectives from Egyptology, Archaeology & Iconography (cont.)

10:00 - 11:00 Votive Gifts in Desert Shrines
Angelika Berlejung (Leipzig)

11:00 - 11:15 Coffee break

11:15 - 12:15 On Deserted Landscapes and Defeated Ostriches: Iconographical Perspectives on Yahwe's Desert Origins
Katharina Pyschny (Bochum)

12:15 - 01:30 Lunch

01:30 - 02:30 A Metallurgical Perspective on the Qenite Hypothesis
Nissim Amzallag (Beersheba)

02:30 - 03:00 Final Remarks

Käte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe,
Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
CERES Conference Room Ruhrpott
Universitätsstr. 90a, 44789 Bochum, Germany

Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany).

Attendance is free but spaces are limited.

For registration and special rates for accommodation, please contact Juan Manuel Tebes (