Preface

I have written this book primarily for two sorts of reader, both of whom love the adventure of thinking about religion and neither of whom is an academic specialist.

The first is a non-Christian, non-Jewish and possibly non-religious person who is currently exploring spirituality in the pagan or New Age areas. This reader is offered an opportunity to cast a radical but sympathetic eye over one of the key sets of sacred writings of the ancient world, and to find many traces of the old gods of paganism hiding in unexpected places within its pages.

The second is a modern Christian or Jew, but one who is dissatisfied with conservative and fundamentalist readings of the Bible or Tanakh. This reader is offered an approach based firmly upon Old Testament studies as it has developed in western universities over the last 130 years. It does not assume that the sacred writings are "right", and does not try to show that they are consistent with modern versions of monotheistic faith. But then neither is the approach hostile. It traces the evolution of religious ideas in the period from 1500 to 500 BCE in a way which I hope will be stimulating and challenging.