How did Israelite religion develop and evolve in its earliest years? What influences led to the centralization of power during the First Temple period? And how did changing perceptions of God fit into all of this?
These questions will be raised and answered this week not by a religious institution, but by the California Museum of Ancient Art. As the final installment in its lecture series on "Religion in the Ancient World," the museum has invited Dr. Theodore Lewis to discuss "Ancient Israelite Religion: El Worship, Early Cult Centers and the Origins of Yahwism," on March 29, 7:30 p.m. at Barnsdall Park's Gallery Theater, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.
Using archeological findings and ancient texts -- including the Bible and ancient tablets -- Lewis, professor of Near Eastern studies as Johns Hopkins University, will look at the era starting when the Israelites first came to the land of Canaan through the centralization of worship and power during the period of the First Temple -- covering roughly 1250-700 B.C.E.
"We tend to see ancient religion through the glass of Judeo-Christianity because that is our framework," said Jerome Berman, the executive director of the museum, an institution without a facility whose collection of ancient art is currently in storage. "We are trying to present ancient religions in a more objective fashion from their own point of view, which is really the only relevant point of view."
To receive audiotapes of this lecture or previous lectures on ancient Egyptian, Sumerian or Hittite religions, or for more information, call (818) 762-5500.