Mark Smith on The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the God of Israel

On September 22, 2019, Professor Mark Smith delivered a lecture at Boston College Department of Theology on the Jewish conception of God in the Hebrew Bible.

“Ancient Israel’s unique notions of God drew on non-Israelite material from two related sources. First, Israel arose out of a Canaanite cultural matrix that has been well studied over the past century.¬† Second, during its heyday, ancient Israel maintained continuous cultural, economic and political interactions with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syrian states to the north. The culture of these places influenced the development of Israelite religious thought at every point.¬† Professor Smith focuses specifically on the ways such interactions helped lead to Israel’s understanding of God.”

The lecture brings at 4:45.

Mark S. Smith on The Birth of Monotheism

Professor Mark S. Smith (Princeton Theological Seminary) explains the origins of monotheism in ancient Judaism, in an address to the Tangier Global Forum, University of New England, Tangier Campus Auditorium, Morocco, on January 19, 2017 (the talk begins at 5:13).

Monotheism (the belief in only one god), given birth in ancient Israel and known from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, has been a topic of fascination for centuries. In the modern times, monotheism functioned to advance¬†Christian claims to “western” superiority as colonialist powers came into contact with “non-western” societies. Thus, monotheism has been a colonializing discourse. By contrast, the monotheistic discourse found in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament served as a means to preserve and assert Israelite identity in the face of the colonizing power of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. This monotheistic discourse was grounded in traditional Israelite practice and thought and developed fully under the impact of both internal socio-political stresses and external influence from the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. This lecture will address the various factors that contributed to Israel’s vision of one god for the world.