RELI 1001 Polytheism to Monotheism Development of Monotheism -Classical account: Evolutionary Theory of “Stages” (Western bias?) -Polytheism-Belief in multiple simultaneously powerful Gods -Penotheism- Many gods but one is the chief God -Monolotry-Other gods but you focus on one -Monotheism-Really only one -Kaufman -Monotheism can’t evolve from Polytheism -Two completely different realities; radical break -Evolutionary → Revolutionary -Share form (animal sacrifice, legends, purity rituals) but transformed function From Monotheism to Polytheism to Monotheism -Traditional Jewish belief: World descends into polytheism from Adam’s monotheism starting with Enosh (descendant of Adam) -Abraham emerges and rejects polytheism based on his own reasoning -Leaves Ur and the Chaldees and worships one God -Establishes the “Temple Mount” facing the West (not east=Sun) -Mount Moriah was already a pagan place of worship -Abraham mimics and transforms pagan rituals also performed on high mountains -Children of Israel subjected to slavery and worship idols like the Egyptians -Why do ancient Israelite practices so closely resemble polytheistic practices of the time according to traditional Jewish belief? -Torah aligned itself with people who were receiving it and therefore commanded that they continue offering animals and burning incense, except that now, instead of sacrificing to idols, they were to sacrifice to the God of Israel -Transform polytheistic elements into commandments and monotheism Myth vs. Mythology -Mythology vs. Myth -Mythology: lives, deaths, and interactions of gods -Myth: traditional story, fanciful, related imaginatively historical events; explain some kind of practice, ritual, custom, natural phenomenon; veiled explanation of truth; symbolic worldview i.e. a parable/allegory -Do we know of a time when myth did not exist? -No -What’s the difference between myth and mythology? -A myth does not necessarily involve life and death of a god/gods but may
Belief vs. Trust -Polytheism and ancient religion: -No word for “believe,” instead “trust;” gods were seen everywhere; sky, sun, water, etc. -Trusting a god meant believing the god would help you/protect you -No question about the existence of gods The Polytheistic Worldview -Is the only difference between beliefs of polytheists and monotheists in the times of the ancient Israelites the number of gods?