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

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Oxford University Press, Aug 9, 2001 - Religion - 325 pages
6 Reviews
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 among these many, before assuming the role of the one true God of monotheism. This work 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 an 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 deity.
  

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

User Review  - Peter Bradley - Goodreads

My Amazon Review - http://www.amazon.com/review/R3EL5FWO... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - KirkLowery - LibraryThing

Smith is marvelous when he sticks to his specialty: Ugaritic studies. He is completely unconvincing in his comparison to the Hebrew Bible -- and he knows it. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
THE STRUCTURES OF DIVINITY
25
CHARACTERISTICS OF DIVINITY
81
THE ORIGINS OF MONOTHEISM IN THE BIBLE
133

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About the author (2001)


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.

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