God: An Anatomy (Pan Macmillan) by Francesca Stavrakopoulou.
We don’t know his real name. In early inscriptions it appears as Yhw, Yhwh, or simply Yh; but we don’t know how it was spoken. He has come to be known as Yahweh. Perhaps it doesn’t matter; by the third century BCE his name had been declared unutterable. We know him best as God.
God, as he is now understood by monotheistic religions, wasn’t always a singular deity. When Sargon II of Assyria conquered Israel in the eighth century BCE, he described seizing statues of “the gods in whom they trusted”. Who were these other gods – and what was Yahweh to them? Thanks to second-millennium BCE texts from the Syrian city-state Ugarit, we know that Yahweh was once a minor storm god of a wild, mountainous region south of the Negev desert. He was part of a large pantheon of Levantine gods headed by the patriarch El and his consort Athirat.
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