In The Solar Nature of Yahweh: Reconsidering the Identity of the Ancient Israelite Deity, the original nature of the chief god of the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh, is reexamined. Daniel Sarlo challenges the current consensus that Yahweh was initially a storm god by examining the relevant biblical texts and comparing them with Ancient Near Eastern texts, ultimately arguing that Yahweh was a solar deity. The implication of this research is that Yahweh was not a minor god who gradually accumulated characteristics to become the head of the ancient Israelite pantheon, but rather a significant god from the very beginning, or at least before the inception of the United Monarchy.
Daniel Sarlo (Ph.D. in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto) is currently an independent researcher.
Part 1—Yahweh, the Storm God?
1. Yahweh’s Storm Characteristics
2. The “Solarization” of Yahweh
Part 2—Yahweh, the Sun God
3. Sun Gods of the Ancient Near East
4. Yahweh’s Solar Characteristics
5. Proof of Concept: An Ancient Yahwistic Mountain Epiphany (Deut 33:2–3)
Daniel Sarlo clearly understands the necessary task of reassessing orthodoxies that creep into the study of ancient texts. He also takes into account contextual understandings of what are currently termed natural phenomena. This combination attests to the utility of his work. The field of ancient West Asian religions has long suffered under schools of interpretation that gloss over what close reading reveals. Sarlo here demonstrates the many benefits of turning over rocks and describing what lies beneath.
The Solar Nature of Yahweh is a monograph that unveils the erudition of its author, Daniel Sarlo, and the audacity of his analysis. It successfully achieves three important goals. First, it challenges the common view that YHWH was originally a storm god. Second, it rehabilitates the ancient theory of the solar origin of YHWH, strengthening it with new observations. Third, it identifies YHWH as a great god from the very beginning of his cult. These accomplishments are welcome. They will undoubtedly contribute to modify our current representation of early Israel and its religion.