Mark S. Smith


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Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. He has served as visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Smith was elected vice president of the Catholic Biblical Association in 2009.


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The Origins of Biblical Mon...

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Memoirs of God

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Exodus: Volume 3

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The Genesis of Good and Evil

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Where the Gods Are: Spatial...

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The Priestly Vision of Gene...

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Untold Stories: The Bible a...

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More books by Mark S. Smith…
“Interpreters have imposed on Genesis 3 ideas about sin and disobedience, divine anger, or divine punishment found elsewhere in the Bible.”
Mark S. Smith, The Genesis of Good and Evil: The Fall(out) and Original Sin in the Bible

“Genesis 1 does not use conflict as the main element in its vision of the cosmos and the place
of humanity in it. Instead, the priestly holiness of time and space overshadows the component of
conflict.
This view made sense of a world in which monarchy no longer protected Israel. This
outlook would serve Israel well in exile and beyond when responsibility for community order
passed from the Davidic dynasty to the priesthood of Aaron. Indeed, Genesis 1 has often been
dated to the exilic or post-exilic period.
Genesis 1 reflects this change: to the royal model has
been added a priestly model. The politics of creation have changed. There is still a king in this
world, but it is the King of Kings, the One Will who rules heavens and earth alike, with no
serious competition, and this King in Heaven is to be followed by humanity ruling on earth.
There is no single royal agent on earth whose human foes mirror the cosmic foes of the divine
king. Moreover, this king is the Holy One enthroned over the cosmos”
Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

“We may therefore propose a working hypothesis for Judah:
a culture with a diminished lineage system, one less embedded in traditional family patrimonies
due to societal changes in the eighth through sixth centuries, might be more predisposed both to
hold to individual human accountability for behavior and to see an individual deity accountable
for the cosmos.

(This individual accountability at the human and divine levels may be viewed
as concomitant developments.) Accordingly, later Israelite monotheism was denuded of the
divine family, a development perhaps intelligible in light of Israel’s weakening family lineages
and patrimonies. This is only one dimension of Israelite monotheism, a complex matter that the
last chapter of this book addresses in detail.”
Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts

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