Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Must-Have Books: The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1

I told my wife that I'd probably only buy 3 or 4 books at SBL this year, so I have a few in mind that I simply "must have" for my research and personal edification.

One of those is Mark S. Smith's new book The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1, newly available from Augsburg Fortress.
The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1
by Mark S. Smith
Format: Paperback 176 pages
Item No: 9780800663735
Publisher: Fortress Press
Release Date: Monday, October 26, 2009
Online Price: $25.00

For many readers, Genesis 1-2 is simply the biblical account of creation. But ancient Israel could speak of creation in different ways, and the cultures of the ancient near east provided an even richer repertoire of creation myths. Mark S. Smith explores the nuances of what would become the premiere creation account in the Hebrew Bible and the serene priestly theology that informed it. That vision of an ordered cosmos, Smith argues, is evidence of the emergence of a mystical theology among priests in post-exilic Israel, and the placement of Genesis 1-2 at the beginning of Israel's great epic is their sustained critique of the theology of divine conflict that saturated ancient near eastern creation myths. Smith's treatment of Genesis 1 provides rich historical and theological insights into the biblical presentation of creation and the Creator.
This book is definitely going to be essential reading for my research on creation in the Hebrew Bible (even though I'm not focusing on Genesis 1 per se, it's essential background). I look forward to picking up a copy in a few weeks.

HT: Agade


  1. its a fantastic book. it is in fact the BEST treatment of the text in question ive ever read. bar none.

    if you're only buying two books this year, get mark's, and get john levison's new book too.

  2. I concur, having read it very recently. It presents evidence and arguments concerning when Genesis 1 was written, why and by whom (written later than some other creation stories in the Bible, but priests). No such thorough examination of such questions has yet been published.

    (I also cite Smith in my chapter in an upcoming book, The Christian Delusion, a chapter on biblical cosmology.)

  3. I look forward to getting this book! Adding it to my wishlist.