Was early Judaism polytheistic, and were "angels" originaly minor gods? It is supposedly one of the points argued for in the book "Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan". Also, is this view the currently dominant theory on the origins of early judaism, or a pet-theory of a few academics?

I just want to get some additional sources before I accidentally spread misinformation. Also, the source book has according to reviewers broken kindle version, and I don't want to pay 20$ for shipping, so no, I can't just check.


This is indeed a widely held view in academia, and has been for a while, although the angels are not always considered "gods." Other gods have been mentioned though. Asherah, for example, was mentioned in two different inscriptions as being the "consort of Yahweh." William Dever devoted a whole book to it (Did God Have a Wife?), and you can see the scholarly criticism of it actually reinforces the idea of widespread polytheism in Judaea. From Wiki:

In his book, William Dever describes archaeological findings in ancient Israel that have produced female figurines, representing female goddesses. Dever, claiming that the biblical authors never refer or allude to such archaeological facts of contemporary life, writes that the biblical authors “did not wish to acknowledge the popularity and the powerful influence of these images" (pg. 184). Benjamin D. Sommer has criticized Dever on this point, saying that "[i]n fact, however, biblical authors constantly acknowledge the widespread polytheism of Israelites, and they mention Israelite goddess worship specifically on a number of occasions (e.g., Book of Jeremiah 7.18, 44.17–19)".

Therefore, Sommer argues that the biblical authors were commonly involved in self-criticism of their nations polytheistic tendencies, from the period of Moses in the wilderness (Book of Exodus 32:4) to the monarchies of Israel and Judah (First Book of Kings 11:5, Second Book of Kings 23:13, Book of Ezekiel 8) and their writings in fact reflect a widespread polytheism in their own day. Even Solomon is reported to have worshipped other gods toward the end of his kingdom.

You can also read about the development of the Israelite pantheon, which was long a henotheistic religion where Yahweh was supreme, on Wik as well.

Notice that the "angels" are seen only as minor divinities. In this regard, their role is probably the same then as it was when it was put down in Tanakh.

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