It should have been clear to me from the beginning how difficult this book would be. In its first incarnation, delivered at the University of Toronto in the spring of 1995, I presented a grammatical argument that God's first person plural pronouns in Gen 1: 26 are referentially plural; viz., that P's God refers to other gods as he is about to create human beings. A member of the audience then exposed the basic problem: From all that is known of P, this tradition is strictly monotheistic and does not recognize any god other than the one God (see §0.3). It would seem, then, that grammar and interpretation fundamentally conflict in this instance and, I feared, that any new attempt to enter this longstanding debate was doomed. This project was trouble from the outset.
As it expanded scope, I called on colleagues, friends, and family to help me navigate the terrain. Wallace Chafe, Carol Genetti, and especially Marianne Mithun coached me on linguistic issues. In Assyriological matters, I benefitted from the advice of Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Peter Machinist, Erica Reiner, Piotr Steinkeller, and especially Benjamin Foster. When I got entangled in taxonomic categories, Newton Kaiman and Deborah Kaska patiently sorted out the mess. I thank them all.
I am indebted to a long list of Biblicists and non-Biblicists who each showed me something new about a topic I thought I understood: Yohanan Breuer, Marc Brettler, Rabbi Steven Cohen, Alan Cooper, Barry Eichler, Richard Elliott Friedman, Gail Humphreys, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Edward Greenstein, Jon Levenson, Jan Joosten, William Nelson, Simon Parker, William Propp, and Jeffrey Tigay. So too, I thank Mario Biagioli, Phyllis Bird, David Carr, Vincent DeCaen, Steven Fassberg, Michael Fox, Frank Gorman, Allan Grapard, Richard Hecht, Aharon Maman, Elisha Qimron, John Revell, and Mark Smith.
This project made me unusually reliant on the generosity of others. James Barr, Judith Hadley, Karel Jongeling, Norbert Lohfink, Jeffrey Tigay, and Eerdmans Publishing Company graciously sent me preprints or offprints of material not otherwise available to me. I am grateful to the libraries and librarians of the Claremont School of Theology, Ecole Biblique, Fuller Theological Seminary, Westmont Col-