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The Origins of Biblical Monotheism : Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts - Mark S. Smith

The Origins of Biblical Monotheism

Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

Hardcover Published: 9th August 2001
ISBN: 9780195134803
Number Of Pages: 352

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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 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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"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

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Abbreviations, Terms, and Siglap. xv
The Origins of Biblical Monotheismp. 2
Introductionp. 3
The Structures of Divinityp. 25
Anthropomorphic Deities and Divine Monstersp. 27
The Divine Councilp. 41
The Divine Familyp. 54
Pluralities, Pairings, and Other Divine Relationsp. 67
Characteristics of Divinityp. 81
The Traits of Deitiesp. 83
The Life and Death of Baalp. 104
The Origins of Monotheism in the Biblep. 133
El, Yahweh, and the Original God of Israel and the Exodusp. 135
The Emergence of Monotheistic Rhetoric in Ancient Judahp. 149
The Formation of Monotheistic Theologies in Biblical Literaturep. 167
Monotheism in Isaiah 40-55p. 179
Notesp. 195
Index of Textsp. 303
Index of Subjectp. 311
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195134803
ISBN-10: 019513480X
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 9th August 2001
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.62 x 16.15  x 2.95
Weight (kg): 0.62

Earn 367 Qantas Points
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