This lecture will trace the evolution of the deity of the great monotheisms - Yhwh, God, or Allah - by tracking Israelite beliefs and their context from the Bronze Age to the end of the Old Testament period in the third century BCE.
In order to undertake this detective work of sorts the lecture will draw on a long tradition of historical, philological, and exegetical work, and on recent discoveries in archaeology and epigraphy, to locate the origins of Yhwh in the early Iron Age, when he emerged somewhere in the South, in Edom, or in the northwest of the Arabian peninsula, as a god of the wilderness and of storms and war. He became the sole god of Israel and Jerusalem in phases, as the other gods – including the goddess Asherah, probably originally his consort – were gradually side-lined.
But it was not until a major catastrophe – the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah – that Israelites came to worship Yhwh as the one god of all, the creator of heaven and earth, who nevertheless proclaimed a special relationship with one people. And this development gave rise to Judaism.