Professor Thomas Römer (Collège de France) delivered the second Lagrange Lecture on April 25, 2018, at the École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem, entitled “Biblical Traditions about the Ark of the Covenant”.
The lecture begins at 3:15.
With careful attention to various diachronic puzzles posed by the often-confusing and incomplete biblical reports, Römer proposed the tentative outlines of a revisionist history of this fascinating cult object. From its mysterious origins in Shiloh to its temporary sojourn at Kiriath Yearim—for a much longer period than the biblical account would admit—the Ark belongs within a decentralized picture of Israelite worship in Römer’s view. Along these lines, Römer raised the possibility that the chest may have originally contained twinned cult stones, perhaps of YHWH and Asherah. The Ark’s ultimate, ceremonial transfer into Jerusalem should perhaps be dated to the time of Josiah and the politics of centralization, he suggests, while the account of its migrations through the Philistine cities may reflect earlier political tensions from the time of Hezekiah.