Item description for Memoirs of God by Mark S. Smith...
Overview This insightful work examines the variety of ways that collective memory, oral tradition, history, and history writing intersect. Integral to all this are the ways in which ancient Israel was shaped by the monarchy, the Babylonian exile, and the dispersions of Judeans and the ways in which Israel conceptualized and interacted with the divine--Yahweh as well as other deities.
Publishers Description This insightful work examines the variety of ways that collective memory, oral tradition, history, and history writing intersect. Integral to all this are the ways in which ancient Israel was shaped by the monarchy, the Babylonian exile, and the dispersions of Judeans and the ways in which Israel conceptualized and interacted with the divine-Yahweh as well as other deities.
Citations And Professional Reviews Memoirs of God by Mark S. Smith has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Choice - 03/01/2005 page 1244
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Studio: Fortress Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.14" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.49" Weight: 0.75 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2004
Publisher Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN 0800634853 ISBN13 9780800634858
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark S. Smith
Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. His publications include The Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus (1997), The Ugaritic Baal Cycle (1994), The Early History of God (1990), as well as several other books on the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and West Semitic mythology and literature.
Mark S. Smith has an academic affiliation as follows - New York University University of Warwick University of Warwick Univer.
Reviews - What do customers think about Memoirs of God?
Repressed Cultural Memories Jun 2, 2008
Mark S. Smith's book "Memoirs of God" is a condensed version of his other books, "The Early History of God" and "The Origins of Biblical Monotheism" for the general reader. In addition, Smith adds the element of cultural memory and amnesia to his previous books. The result is a fascinating look at the evolution of theological culture concepts in ancient Israel.
The early Isrealite concept of divinity was essentially polytheistic. According to Smith, the concept of divinity was modeled on the family, with a "patron god," a consort or wife, and a group of lesser divinities. The Isrealites apparently were influenced in this regard by Ugarit, an ancient near-Eastern country. When Israel became a united Monarchy in the 8th century BC, the concept of divinity began to change. After the Assyrian conquest and re-population, the re-conceptualization of divinity as monotheism was cemented. What happened was that after families were broken up, it was no longer logical to see the family as the model for divinity. The Isrealites could no longer look at individuals as being punished for the sins of their parents, for one thing. For another, in the old model of divinity, each country had a patron god, and if a country fell, then that god must have been punishing them, or was a false god. So instead of their being a patron god for each country, in the wake of the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles, Yahweh became the god of the whole universe, and the later writings from the "D" source (Deuteronomy) reflect this change in view. Vestiges of the old polytheistic view in the biblical writings could remain, as long as they could be re-interpreted within a Monotheistic framework. As a result, there was a cultural amnesia about Israel's polytheistic origins, or to put it another way, the memories of Israel's polytheism were repressed. The biblical writings are an expression of cultural memory and cultural amnesia.
Of course, that was just a general sketch of what Smith talks about in the book. This is highly recommended for non-scholars who want a background on biblical writings.
Better Have a Mind May 9, 2007
Brilliantly written, Mark Stratton Smith takes you on an intellectual journey into the why's and wherefore's of Monotheistic belief. It is certainly not for a reader with no background in the subject.
The Memoirs of God: History, Memory, and the Experience of the Divine in Ancient Isreal Mar 8, 2007
The material presented by Mark Smith is an insightful interpretation of the collective memory of an ancient culture. The thoughts are well organized and easy to understand by a non academic.
Collective Memory and Collective Amnesia Sep 4, 2006
Mark Smith writes in this book that the Hebrew Bible contains both the collective memory of ancient Israel and the collective amnesia. The first two chapters are representations of Israel's past in the Bible. This discussion begins about 1200 BCE and ends about the beginning of the Persian Period. The Dead Sea Scrolls get mentioned as examples of the longevity of ideas. The biblical history prior to 1200 BCE (Genesis, etc.) is explained as a memoir from a later period when Israel simply wished that life was not so painful as it was. In chapter 2, Smith focuses on the challanges facing Israel's existence. One of the basic questions was: who or what was an Israelite? Israel was not just the "twelve tribes." In chapter 3, Smith takes a look at the biblical representation of montheism in the Bible. In this chapter Smith looks at the monotheism of the Bible from the point ot view of the pantheon of Ugarit. If this is unfamiliar to the reader, the reader may want to consult Lowell Handy's _Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian Pantheon as Bureaucracy_ or other writings. In chapter 4, Smith introduces collective amnesia as proposed by various scholars.
In a postscript, Smith addresses the *theological* problem of how to deal with a revelation which may be related to both the language and culture of the Bible or which may be unrelated altogether. Those who study the Bible as a "single eternal" witness fail to understand the Bible's own witnesses. Yet the Bible as theology is an attempt to relate how Israel engaged the challanges it faced and, as a record, to help subsequent peoples to do the same.
Does a people collectively forget its oral history? Or do written records replace what we think people had thought when maybe they did and maybe they thought something else. Smith has a most thought-provoking book.