Other Gods: What the Bible Thinks about Other Nations’ Deities
Part of the series “The ‘Other’ in Jewish Text and Tradition”
The Bible frequently instructs the nation Israel not to worship “other gods” (אלהים אחרים). But the Bible never actually states that these other gods do not exist. Praying to other gods would be an act of disloyalty for an Israelite, but not an absurdity—there are apparently other gods who would hear the prayers in question. In fact, the Bible regards it as perfectly appropriate for other nations to worship them, because the “other gods” are simply the gods of other nations. In this session, we will examine the biblical attitude toward these other gods and what their existence implies about other religions. We will see, paradoxically, that the Bible remains monotheistic, even though it acknowledges the existence of many deities.
This session is generously sponsored by the Messer family in memory of Susan Kortsen.
ABOUT THE SERIES
We live in a time of such polarization—political, racial, economic, religious—that the gaps between us sometimes feel insurmountable. But this is not a new condition for Jews, either within or outside of the Jewish community. This webinar series will explore those gaps between “us” and “the other”: Israelites and other ancient peoples; men and women in the Bible and Talmud; Jews by birth and Jews by choice; the founders of Hasidim and their opponents; Israelis and Palestinians; and more.
From the ancient Near East to the American civil rights movement; from medieval philosophers to contemporary Jewish educators: how have Jews related to those we define as “other,” and how have we marginalized sub-groups within the Jewish community? What is our obligation to those we perceive as different? How have Jews challenged communal norms from within? JTS scholars guide us in an intellectual journey through Jewish history and text to understand how these gaps have been understood and, at times, bridged.
SPONSOR A SESSION
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