This is a really interesting volume, considering biblical and Ugaritic sources (among others) in noting how levels of the northwest Semitic pantheon can be correlated with class levels of a stratified society. Thus Handy discusses the differences between authoritative deities, active deities, artisan deities and messenger deities as depicted in the texts and compares them with strata of society. He describes how various civilizations engaged in the practice of creating gods “in their own image,” so to speak.
I found this volume to be incredibly helpful in a paper I wrote attempting to correlate the international koine style of late bronze imported luxury items with what appears to be a koine religion seen in international correspondence between the “great powers club” of the late bronze age. This book provided a similar model of imagining religious beliefs in terms of categories that were “understood” by neighboring civilizations who shared similar societal values.
Make sure to nab your copy asap! This deal likely expires at noon on Saturday, 20 March 2010, unless this is the weekend deal.