The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series)

Mark S. Smith

The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series)
The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series)

Book Details

Categories: Israelite Religion

Book Information

Pages: 289
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Published: 2002
ISBN-10: 080283972X
ISBN-13: 9780802839725

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4.875 out of 5 based on 4 user ratings
Denver Seminary Journal December 5, 2009 4.5 5
A detailed synthesis of archaeological, textual, and biblical evidence for the worship of Yahweh and other deities in Old Testament times. This approach argues for a convergence of various deities to "create" Israel's God as he is known in the Bible. [Full Review]
This second edition of Smiths book follows precisely the outline of the first edition published by Harper & Row in 1990the same chapter heads and subheadsand reproduces the front and back matter from the earlier work (reviewed by D. N. Freedman in JBL 110 [1991]: 69698). New materi al comprises a twenty-six-page Preface to the Second Edition and a number of minor ch anges in the body of the text, responding partly to reviews of the first edition and partly to more recent discoveries and studies. A major change in format is the substitution of footnotes for endnotes. A brief foreword by Patrick D. Miller introduces the new edition. The new preface reviews pertinent discoveries and studies that have appeared since the first edition. It begins with a bibliographical survey of recent work on the relevant deities and religions, including the various forms of polytheism and developments toward monotheism. Smith then identifies some important trends of the last decade: a new concentration on iconography; new synthetic archaeological research and theoretical discussion; and greater influence of the social sciences. A section on theoretical challenges reverts to the problems of interpreting vestigial evidence of various kinds. [Full Review]
This revised edition of Mark S. Smiths landmark study of ancient Israels pluralistic religious landscape accomplishes the improbable; it exceeds the pivotal first edition in importance and circumspection. Smith has thoroughly revised elements of the text in the light of recent bibliography and scholarship. The preface recounts the trends and development of research on ancient Israelite religion since the appearance of the first edition in 1990. It is perhaps a common desire of readers to know how an author believes his or her published work interacts with subsequent research and rejoinders, and here Smith rewards the curious with a concise yet highly satisfying survey of the fields evol ution (and the place of his ideas therein) over the past decade or so. He responds not only to critiques of his own thesis but also to more paradigmatic changes in discursive approaches to the social world of ancient Israel. Some of these approaches concern the import of changing archaeological perspectives, such as the more cautious association between material culture and ethnicity, while others concern large conceptual models of interpretation influenced by the academy. [Full Review]
This is the second edition, thoroughly updated and partly revised, of a book first published in 1990. The author, Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University, is a recognized expert in ancient West Semitic languages and literature and well known for his numerous writings in the fields of Ugaritic literature and religion, Israelite religious history, and biblical studies. The first edition of the book under review was rightly welcomed a decade ago as a major synthesis on the history of ancient Israelite religion in general and the relationship between Yahweh and other deities in particular. This review (1) briefly summarizes the general structure and major arguments of the book; (2) exposes salient features of the new edition; and (3) offers the reviewers appreciation on the books pl ace in the ongoing scholarly debate on the development of Yahwism from the nonexclusive worship of a primary deity through exclusive monolatry to monotheism during the first millennium B.C.E. 1. [Full Review]

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