Episode 2 of Francesca Stavrakopoulou‘s recent BBC2 series, The Bible’s Buried Secrets is available, for the moment, on YouTube:
When submitted to rigorous analysis, the biblical texts actually reveal quite another story. I think that the evidence now shows that the people of the Bible believed in many gods. And the scribes who composed the Bible did their best to conceal this – but not altogether successfully.
– Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Stavrakopoulou goes on to discuss the Ugaritic findings, which she considers are more significant than the Dead Sea scrolls for understanding early Judaism:
Thanks to the finds at Ugarit, we now have a detailed understanding of what polytheism entailed. As the chief god of the pantheon, El ruled over a divine council, a form of heavenly parliament. This collection of gods was responsible for maintaining order in the cosmos. But the gods were also responsible for what was going on in the human, earthly realm.
- Francesca Stavrakopoulou