Blog post summarizing some of Mark Smith's work on the origination of monotheism

Ancient Near Eastern polytheism -- Ugaritic literary culture. Oddly enough Mark Smith's view on the development of Judaism as a monotheistic religion sounds vaguely like the narrative Nietzsche came up with. This blog post seems to be by someone who lost his faith?

'At Ugarit, El presided over a divine council or family, whose characters included his consort Atherat, the storm god Baal, the bloodthirsty anti-authoritarian Anat, and a host of others. Many of the stories there will trace back to Sumerian myths, but that is beyond the scope of this piece... With this metaphor, the stage for the rise of national identities was set, with nations adopting their god as the national god, and his supernatural contests with others as manifestations of their physical contests with neighbouring nations... Thus, the idea of "henotheism" developed, where many gods were believed to exist and hold real power, but only their god was to be worshipped for that locale... Finally, as revisions and perhaps extraneous political factors led to the removal of Asherah and the destruction of her symbols, a fully-fledged monotheism could now develop...

'The Assyrian and Babylonian dominance (and the resultant elevation of their gods Assur and Marduk) from the 8th centuries onward would have forced a deep reflection as to the nature of the deity, while at the same time introducing ideas about the cosmos that had not been thought of to that point... The exile would have caused a move from identity based on territorial ownership to one of unique belief and practice, that would later prove to be an enduring cultural safeguard against the aliens around them... Thus Israel's view of equality with the other nations could no longer be sustained, but instead of lapsing into despair, they elevated their god further, viewing him as punishing them for their sins, and it followed then that he must control the fates of all nations.'