God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World offers a substantial, extraordinarily broad survey of ancient attitudes toward deities, from the Late Bronze Age through ancient Israel and into the New Testament.
Looking closely at relevant biblical texts and at their cultural contexts, Mark S. Smith demonstrates that the biblical attitude toward deities of other cultures is not uniformly negative, as is commonly supposed.
He traces the historical development of Israel's "one-god worldview," linking it to the rise of the surrounding Mesopotamian empires. Smith's study also produces evidence undermining a common modern assumption among historians of religion - that polytheism is tolerant while monotheism is prone to intolerance and violence.
Robert R. Wilson
A magisterial treatment of the development of Israelite monotheism throughout the entire biblical period. . . . The starting point for much new research.
Karel van der Toorn
-University of Amsterdam
"This is an amazing book. Mark Smith takes the reader inside the intellectual universe of ancient Israel and its neighbors in a search for the possibilities of cultural translation. Learned, thoroughly researched, and written in clear and sober prose, this study defines a new level in our understanding of ancient Near Eastern theological thought.
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