For anyone interested, the Review of Biblical Literature has made available a review by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer of Sang Youl Cho’s great book, Lesser Deities in the Ugaritic Texts and the Hebrew Bible: A Comparative Study of their Nature and Roles (Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias, 2007). You can check it out here.

While not altogether positive, Tiemeyer’s review summarizes Cho’s major points and points out its many strengths.  I happen to own this book and think it is a wonderful resource.  In this book, Cho analyzes the classes of “lesser deities” found in the Ugaritic (Canaanite) texts and then attempts to find parallels in the heavenly beings found in the Hebrew Bible.  In the Ugaritic texts, these lesser deities are members of the divine council who serve the principal gods in the functions of messenger, mediator, warrior, guardian, etc.  Cho postulates that these deities show up in the Hebrew Bible as the elohim (plural) and the b’nei elohim (sons of God) who form the heavenly assembly–also known as the angels or heavenly hosts. They become the servant deities of Yahweh.  Cho points out that in both sets of texts, the lesser deities are considered to be the sons and daughters of the greater deity.  He theorizes that as monotheism took hold in the Jewish religion, the more “polytheistic” nature of the earlier beliefs became obscured.

While I don’t agree fully with the reviewer’s perspective, I recommend taking a look at the review–if only to get a better idea of what Cho has to say about these “lesser deities.” I also highly recommend the book itself, although it is rather pricey (as so many academic publications are these days).


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