The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, 2d ed.  -     By: Mark Smith
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The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, 2d ed.

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2002 / Paperback

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In this remarkable, acclaimed history of the development of monotheism, Mark S. Smith explains how Israel's religion evolved from a cult of Yahweh as a primary deity among many to a fully defined monotheistic faith with Yahweh as sole god. Repudiating the traditional view that Israel was fundamentally different in culture and religion from its Canaanite neighbors, this provocative book argues that Israelite religion developed, at least in part from the religion of Canaan. Drawing on epigraphic and archaeological sources, Smith cogently demonstrates that Israelite religion was not an outright rejection of foreign, pagan gods but, rather, was the result of the progressive establishment of a distinctly separate Israelite identity. This thoroughly revised second edition of The Early Histoey of God includes a substantial new preface by the author and a foreword by Patrick D. Miller.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 227
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2002
Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)
ISBN: 080283972X
ISBN-13: 9780802839725
Availability: In Stock
Series: Biblical Resource

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Publisher's Description

Foreword by Patrick D. Miller

In this remarkable, acclaimed history of the development of monotheism, Mark S. Smith explains how Israel's religion evolved from a cult of Yahweh as a primary deity among many to a fully defined monotheistic faith with Yahweh as sole god. Repudiating the traditional view that Israel was fundamentally different in culture and religion from its Canaanite neighbors, this provocative book argues that Israelite religion developed, at least in part, from the religion of Canaan. Drawing on epigraphic and archaeological sources, Smith cogently demonstrates that Israelite religion was not an outright rejection of foreign, pagan gods but, rather, was the result of the progressive establishment of a distinctly separate Israelite identity. This thoroughly revised second edition ofThe Early History of God includes a substantial new preface by the author and a foreword by Patrick D. Miller.

Author Bio

Mark S. Smith holds the Skirball Chair of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. His many other books include The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel and God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of Biblical Literature
"Review of the first editon ? Smith deserves a very careful and appreciative hearing. . . This book provides a feast for the attentive reader and concerned scholar."

The Christian Century
"Review of the first editon ? Smith assembles and analyzes a tremendous array of archaeological and textual evidence to challenge the notion of Israel's religious distinctiveness. . . The implications of this insight for theological reflection on Judaism are incalculable."

Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"Review of the first editon ? It is rare to find a book so steeped in the primary evidence of texts and history and so thoroughly conversant with the nuances of recent scholarly discussion. . . Smith's admirable erudition and discerning judgment will make this book required reading for present and future generations of biblical scholars and students."

Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"Review of the first editon ? The notes are a treasury of information and resources for scholars, yet the treatment is one that an informed reader can follow. . . One is left with both respect for Smith's contribution and also a clear awareness of how it cuts against the basic grain of the biblical text itself."

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  1. Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Treatment of Israelite Monotheism
    February 18, 2013
    Jonathan Becker
    Blue Springs, MO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: Male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Six months ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of picking up Smith's "Early History of God." However, I decided to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised.

    For one, Smith has earned a reputation as a premier biblical scholar, so his numerous works on Israelite monotheism can't be ignored. The information is dense at times, but his lengthy explanations and translations of relevant material make this work accessible for anyone willing to expend a bit of effort.

    Secondly, Smith seems extremely charitable to other views, while remaining confident of his own. Thus, this book comes accross more as one voice in reasoned dialogue than one haughty scholar's view on developmental monotheism.

    If one doesn't accept all of Smith's conclusions, there is still much to learn from this book and I firmly recommend it to anyone fascinated by Israel's early faith.
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