The Origins of Biblical Monotheism

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

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Description

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 one 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 largest 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 deity.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 156 x 232 x 24mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195167686
  • 9780195167689
  • 348,725

Review quote

"Brilliant, well-documented, well-organized, and very discomforting. Biblical scholars now recognize that in the pre-exilic era Asherah worship, infant sacrifice, solar veneration, and other religious practices attacked by biblical authors represented normal Israelite worship, while monotheism was a late development in the Babylonian Exile and subsequent years. Smith and others led the charge in this new scholarly perception of Israelite religion. But with this volume Smith has thrown down a gauntlet to challenge our understandings even more. Smith has produced a seminal work with which scholars must come to grips for years."-Journal of Hebrew Scripturesshow 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 literature.show more

Rating details

73 ratings
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3 18% (13)
2 1% (1)
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