Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bookshelf: Mark S. Smith

Ugarit is Israel's nearest neighbor in space and time of which we have significant archaeological data, and also texts.  Since most of the archaeological discoveries at Ras Shamra (Ugarit) came after 1970, Ugarit-related material is one of many reasons why early 20th century scholarship is systematically out of date (see also The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, the Bar Kochba texts, etc.).

Mark S. Smith is a top guy in Ugaritic studies who also happens to be an accessible and fairly prolific writer.  I recommend at least these two books of his: The Early History of God and The Origins of Biblical Monotheism are both about the fact that underlying the Bible as we have it in its final edited state is an earlier Israelite religion that looked a lot more like what we see at Ugarit, being not obsessively monotheistic but instead possessed of a divine family.

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