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The Nabataean “God Of The Fathers”

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Chapter Summary

In 1929 Albrecht Alt, in his ground-shifting essay on "Der Gott der Väter", invoked the epigraphic evidence provided by the Nabataean inscriptions to support his argument that the Hebrew patriarchal narratives showed traces of earlier nomadic religious tradition. The phenomenon which drew Alt's attention was the habit, in the Pentateuchal texts, of referring to the god of the patriarchs as the god of a named individual. There are two elements to this kind of usage. Firstly, the god being referred to remains, at the moment the phrase in question is used, anonymous. The other, and more important, element in this usage is the associating of the deity in question with a particular ancestor or particular ancestors. This chapter looks again at the Nabataean evidence, without implying anything about the real nomadic or other origins of Israelite religion.

Keywords: Albrecht Alt; God of the fathers; Israelite religion; Nabataean inscriptions; nomadic religious tradition; Pentateuchal texts



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