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Reconsidering the Concept of Revolutionary Monotheism
Edited by Beate Pongratz-Leisten
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In February, 2007, a conference entitled "Reconsidering the Concept of 'Revolutionary Monotheism'" was convened on the campus of Princeton University. The meeting was unique in that it brought together scholars who were engaged in various disciplines of research, and though all were involved in the geographical area of the ancient Near East, everyone brought a different expertise to the question of how to approach the concept of the divine. What followed, in the course of two days, was an intense debate regarding the issue stated in the title of the conference; the dialogue was productive, and the papers—which were reworked in the wake of the conference and in accord with the interaction among the participants—are useful perspectives on the vexing topic of monotheism and the divine.
The papers in the this volume are presented by John Baines (gods in New Kingdom/Third Intermediate period Egypt), Gonzalo Rubio (Mesopotamian pantheon), Francesca Rochberg (polytheistic cosmogony in Mesopotamia), Beate Pongratz-Leisten (astralization of gods in Mesopotamia), Peter Machinist (dying gods and cosmic restructuring), Mark S. Smith (cross-cultural recognition of divinity in Israel), Konrad Schmid (monotheism in the Priestly texts), John Collins (king and messiah as Son of God), and P. O. Skjærvø (Zarathustra and monotheism).
Publication date: 2011
Bibliographic info: xii + 372 pages
Trim Size: 6 x 9 inches
"On the whole and in its various parts, Reconsidering the Concept of Revolutionary Monotheism is an excellent and provocative work. Its many sophisticated and nuanced presentations are worthy of careful scrutiny and will surely push forward the discussion on ancient Near Eastern religion and biblical monotheism."—Michael B. Hundley University of Munich (LMU) in Review of Biblical Literature, June 2012
Considered as a whole, this volume achieves four things. (1) It illustrates that upon “reconsideration,” Assmann’s hypothesis about revolutionary monotheism is not viable (Baines, Smith, Schmid). (2) It demonstrates that Assmann’s term for the movement of deities and ideas between religions, “translation,” is useful, not only for polytheisms but also for discussions of monotheistic thought. The word elicits a sense of active—indeed, mindful—borrowing and creative adaptation of concepts from one culture into another. In many situations, “translation” can replace “borrowing.” (3) It presents solid evidence that change was a regular feature in traditional, conservative religions. (4) It presents studies from disparate fields covering an array of topics that though treated in depth remain accessible to nonspecialists in the particular field. These provide readers with interesting ideas and useful bibliographies. . . . — Ziony Zevit, BASOR 369 (2013)
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