The purpose of this course is to explore a range of textual and archaeological evidence that sheds light on conceptualizations of divinity and their relationship to social and political systems in the human realm.  Students will evaluate the religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel, and seek to understand how they responded to historical events and sociopolitical structures.  In addition, students will consider the nature of social power and the strategies used by those in power to affirm divine approval of significant alterations to the framework of society.  Finally, students will assess how scholarship has shaped conventional wisdom regarding the religious histories of these regions.