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The Rise of Monotheism in Ancient Israel – Biblical and Epigraphic Evidence

12 January 2010

Monotheism in ancient Israel was a late(r) development, certainly not part of early Israelite religion. Within this article, the basic biblical and epigraphic evidence is employed, with frequent reference to seminal secondary studies.

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The Rise of Monotheism PDF

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2 Comments to “The Rise of Monotheism in Ancient Israel – Biblical and Epigraphic Evidence”

  1. [...] in Ancient Israel: Biblical and Epigraphic Evidence,” Stone-Campbell Journal 6 [2003]: 95-115; PDF available). Having allowed them to work through that one as best they can, I plan to introduce helps for [...]

  2. Nicolas Ciccone

    Hi Dr. Rollston,

    I think this paper provides a lot of great material on the Ancient Near East, especially for a layman like myself. But as for the hypothesis that Yahweh was a “junior deity” to El Elyon early on, I don’t really buy it.

    The best evidence that has been offered for this idea has been Deut 32:8-9. But even here, one could still infer that they are referring to Yahweh as “Elyon”, and that Israel is “special”. It’s trying to turn the logic of ANE mythology on its head.

    In fact, I’ve read the book THE PROVENANCE OF DEUTERONOMY 32, and I’ve realized that those two verses seem to be the oldest ones in the poem. I then thought that someone must have made a conscious decision to include them.

    I think that, based on the polemics elsewhere in the Bible (like Psalm 29 and 82, which rehash parts of the Baal Cycle, but now with a monotheistic bent), this is just another bit of polemic based on other myths.

    Also, Yahweh seemed to be the type of god who accumulated aspects as time went on, acquiring aspects of Baal, Asherah (which I think Khirbet el-Qom and Kuntillet Ajrud attest to), and El Elyon as time went on. The old titles for Yahweh in Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32 attest to this mish-mash of characteristics.

    Please tell me what you think,
    N. Ciccone

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