Creation of Monotheism
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26-05-2017, 01:57 AM
Creation of Monotheism
I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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26-05-2017, 03:04 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
(26-05-2017 01:57 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

I remember reading something about 'Witches' [or what people presumed to be an actual witch at the time] being the only ones who could speak to the gods. At some point one of these witches said something along the lines of "all the other gods have died and new god arises" [going off memory, probably VERY wrong] and it kind of took off from there.

Have a google, I found it after search YAHWEH for info on that in particular.

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26-05-2017, 03:06 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
You can find a number of decent documentaries on youtube as a place to start. As I recall around the time the Torah was written the king pushed for the monotheism (and likely commissioned the Torah too), before then "Jews" were polytheists, with archaeological evidence to back that up, then there was a huge political purge (slaughter) to shore up the throne and the new version of the religion.

I could be wrong on some of the details but as I recall this is what I've uncovered through much painstaking research. I'll try and dig up specific resources for you.

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26-05-2017, 04:58 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
(26-05-2017 01:57 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

Buckyball makes a great post here:

Salvation/Mythic Origins

That could give you quite a few rabbit trails to follow. Thumbsup

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

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26-05-2017, 05:10 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
(26-05-2017 01:57 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

It matches human command structure nicely. If there is one god then one human leader makes sense.

I mean look at the mess the geeks gods had.
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26-05-2017, 07:06 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
(26-05-2017 05:10 AM)AB517 Wrote:  
(26-05-2017 01:57 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

It matches human command structure nicely. If there is one god then one human leader makes sense.

I mean look at the mess the geeks gods had.
Polytheism matched hunter-gatherer power structures. Polytheism, particularly animism, would simply personify inanimate objects like clouds or trees, or elevate lower animals as expressions of spirit-beings. If you deal mainly with nature you will worship and personify nature.

Monotheism evolved when most of humanity had transitioned to city-states ruled usually by kings. If you live within such power structures you will tend to extrapolate from that when imagining / inventing your gods.
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26-05-2017, 07:19 AM (This post was last modified: 26-05-2017 07:23 AM by jennybee.)
RE: Creation of Monotheism
There's a book written by a Christian named Thom Stark (a scholar of ancient and modern religious texts), that I'm actually interested in reading called The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide it). There's an interview by Valerie Tarico for the Huffington Post (11/10/2010) called "Polytheism and Human Sacrifice in Early Israelite Religion"- if you'd like to know more about the book. Just Google that and it should pop up.

Stark mentions the following (from his book) in one part of the interview:

Who is the Yahweh of the Israelites?

Well as scholars like Frank Cross, Chris Rollston, Mark Smith and others have demonstrated and have known for some time, the earliest texts in the Hebrew Bible give a strong indication that the early conception of Yahweh was that he was an ancient Near Eastern tribal deity. As I argue in my book, following Rollston, the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 indicates that Yahweh was believed to have been one of the children of the Canaanite deity El Elyon (God Most High). The song describes how the nations were originally formed, and what it says is that the peoples of the earth were divided up according to the number of El Elyon’s children (the junior members of the divine pantheon). Yahweh, Israel’s patron deity, was one of Elyon’s children.

The best evidence suggests that Yahweh did not begin as the “only true God” of later Jewish monotheism; he did not begin as the creator of the world. Yahweh began as a young, up-and-coming tribal deity whose prowess among other gods mirrored Israel’s aspirations vis-a-vis surrounding tribes and nations.

You’re saying God evolves in the Old Testament?

Exactly. Surprise of surprises, as Israel aspired to greatness and sought to make a name for itself, surrounded by vast empires, Yahweh got bigger and bigger, until he became so grandiose in their theologies that it no longer made sense to refer to the other national deities as gods at all — so vastly superior was Yahweh to the gods of other nations, according to Judean propaganda literature.

Tell us more about this evolution from tribal deity to monotheism.

Well as Chris Rollston argues, there are various stages in Israel’s progression from polytheism to monotheism. Yahweh begins as a junior member of the divine pantheon. This is the view during the tribal confederation period of Israel’s history. After Israel became a monarchy, Yahweh gets a promotion to head of the pantheon, taking his father Elyon’s place. (This parallels similar ideas in Babylonian literature, in which Marduk’s ascendancy to king of the gods mirrors the rise of the Babylonian empire.)

Over time, Yahweh and Elyon are conflated, they sort of merge into one god. At this stage Yahweh starts to be seen as creator-god. But in this period, Israel still believes in other gods; it’s just that they’re not supposed to worship other gods because they owed their allegiance to Yahweh, their patron deity. Of course, Yahweh was believed to have had a wife, Asherah, and it is clear that Israelites worshiped her as Yahweh’s consort.

This seems to have been acceptable orthodoxy until the seventh century BCE or so. At that point, prophets like Jeremiah began to polemicize other gods, calling into doubt their very existence. This idea that Yahweh alone is God is solidified during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century for a complex set of reasons. This is when official Israelite religion finally became monotheistic.
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26-05-2017, 07:37 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
(26-05-2017 01:57 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I would like to research how monotheism came into being. How right at the start there were multiple gods in Canaan, and how the Hebrews started worshipping one above all others. I've read Karen Armstrong's History of God, but she only briefly touches on the Yahweh, Asherah, El Elyon topic. 

Anyone know of a good resource out there?

Thanks all

> There are quite a few links and resources here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotheism
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26-05-2017, 08:11 AM (This post was last modified: 26-05-2017 09:02 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Creation of Monotheism
Quote:This seems to have been acceptable orthodoxy until the seventh century BCE or so. At that point, prophets like Jeremiah began to polemicize other gods, calling into doubt their very existence. This idea that Yahweh alone is God is solidified during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century for a complex set of reasons. This is when official Israelite religion finally became monotheistic.

That's actually not my view, at all.
First of all, Isaiah was not written by one author.
http://thecenterforbiblicalstudies.org/r...le/isaiah/
There is no understanding this topic, without understanding the "politics" in ancient Israel.
http://books.google.com/books?id=ISAQAAA...el&f=false
During and AFTER the Exile, the latter parts of Isaiah were written to explain and react to the exile. As the concept of "individualism" gained importance (a complex topic in itself ... Google "individualism in ancient Israel"), Second and Third Isaiah came to insist on an "individual" god. The concepts of the gods always reflect human culture. The family groups (which were of prime importance before the Exile), got disrupted, and "individualism" gained importance partly from that, and partly as a result of influences from other cultures, (ie the Greeks). In that context, an "individual god" made more sense.
Before the rise of "individualism", one's identity consisted (only) in membership in a clan. No individual "personalities" were important. Family/clans were everything. As that changed, many other things changed, (including the introduction of the idea of "personal sin", and monotheism).
http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10...chapter-11

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26-05-2017, 09:16 AM
RE: Creation of Monotheism
Thanks all

Do we know if any of this is peer reviewed?

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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