Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Origins of Biblical MonotheismIsrael's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Mark S. Smith

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195134803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019513480X.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 November 2019

The Emergence of Monotheistic Rhetoric in Ancient Judah

The Emergence of Monotheistic Rhetoric in Ancient Judah

(p.149) 8 The Emergence of Monotheistic Rhetoric in Ancient Judah
The Origins of Biblical Monotheism

Mark S. Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Monotheism is addressed in the context of the polytheisms of ancient Ugarit and early Israel. Within the Bible, monotheism is not a separate stage of religion in ancient Israel, as it is customarily regarded. It was in fact a kind of ancient rhetoric reinforcing Israel’s exclusive relationship with its deity. Monotheism is a kind of inner community discourse using the language of Yahweh’s exceptional divine status over and in all reality (“there are no other deities but me”) in order to absolutize Yahweh’s claim on Israel and to express Israel’s ultimate fidelity to Yahweh in a world where political boundaries or institutions no longer offered sufficiently intelligible lines of religious identity. In its political and social reduction in the world (first because of the rise of foreign empires in the seventh century, followed by its exile in 587–538 ), Israel elevated the terms of its understanding of its deity’s mastery of the world. Put summarily: Israel was now no nation, but the gods of other nations, including the greatest powers, were not really gods; and Yahweh was the sole force over both.

Keywords:   ancient Israel, Judah, emergence of monotheism, Israelite exile, Israelite monotheism, Israelite polytheism, monotheism, polytheism, religious history, Ugaritic polytheism, Yahweh

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .