Bertil Albrektson is a very cool Bible scholar. A former professor of Old Testament Exegetics in Turku, Finland, he was on the most recent Swedish Bible translation commission despite being an atheist. His ground-breaking little 1967 book History and the Gods. An essay on the idea of historical events as divine manifestations in the ancient Near East and in Israel was recently re-issued, and I read it for the first time. Its basic message is that on two important points, Hebrew monotheism is not as dissimilar to other religions of the Ancient Near East as had previously been argued. Good stuff!
In the book, Albrektson alludes to an observation that was not original with him but which I really like a lot (and I paraphrase):
In the various Ancient Near Eastern religions (including the Hebrew brand), people tended to see great events as signs of how powerful their respective gods were. This thinking applied regardless of how things happened to turn out for the people themselves. If they had good harvests and made military conquests, they concluded “God is mighty – and pleased with us! Oh, how mighty is our God!” If they starved and got their asses kicked by invaders, they said “God is mighty – and angry with us! Oh, how mighty is our God!”