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

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9780195134803: The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

According to the Bible, ancient Israel's neighbors worshipped a wide variety of gods. In recent years, scholars have sought a better understanding of this early polytheistic milieu and its relation to Yahweh, the God of Israel. Drawing on ancient Ugaritic texts and looking closely at Ugaritic deities, Mark Smith examines the meaning of "divinity" in the ancient near East and considers how this concept applies to Yahweh.

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About the Author:


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.

Review:


"This is an important work which will alter the perspectives of many."--The Bible Today


"Not only is the text wide-ranging and insightful at every turn, but it is greatly complemented by the endnotes, which resume arguments, develop tangential aspects, and offer a massive bibliography for further exploration."--Journal of Near Eastern Studies


"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 Scriptures


"Smith's book is an important one. All who wish to be informed on Israelite religion should read it closely." --Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin


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