The Origins of Biblical Monotheism

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism : Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

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As the Bible tells us, ancient Israel's neighbours worshipped a wide variety of Gods. It is now widely accepted that the Israelites' God, Yahweh, must have originated as among these many, before assuming the role of the one true God of monotheism. Mark Smith here seeks to discover more precisely what was meant by 'divinity' in the ancient near-East, and how these concepts apply to Yahweh. Part One of the book offers a detailed examination of the deities of ancient Ugarit, known to us from the large surviving group of relevant extra-biblical texts. In Part Two, Smith looks closely at four classic problems associated with four Ugaritic deities, and considers how they affect our understanding of Yahweh. At the end of the book he returns to the question of Israelite monotheism, seeking to discover what religious issues it addressed, and why it made sense at the time of its emergence. He argues that within the Bible, monotheism is not a separate 'stage' of religion but rather represents a kind of rhetoric reinforcing Israel's exclusive relation with its more

Product details

  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 162.6 x 239.3 x 27.4mm | 743.9g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 019513480X
  • 9780195134803
  • 1,676,514

Review quote

It is...a valuable book...The substantial introduction alone is a notable achievement of reflection upon the questions of method which such a study raises. * Graham Davies, Journal of Theological Studies *show more

About Mark S. Smith

Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. His publications include The Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus (1997), The Ugaritic Baal Cycle (1994), The Early History of God (1990), as well as several other books on the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and West Semitic mythology and more

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