Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, May 3, 2021

YAHWISM - The Early History of God

Amazon Link 

(2002) In this remarkable, acclaimed history of the development of monotheism, Mark S. Smith explains how Israel's religion evolved from a cult of Yahweh as a primary deity among many to a fully defined monotheistic faith with Yahweh as sole god. Repudiating the traditional view that Israel was fundamentally different in culture and religion from its Canaanite neighbors, this provocative book argues that Israelite religion developed, at least in part, from the religion of Canaan. Drawing on epigraphic and archaeological sources, Smith cogently demonstrates that Israelite religion was not an outright rejection of foreign, pagan gods but, rather, was the result of the progressive establishment of a distinctly separate Israelite identity. This thoroughly revised second edition of The Early History of God includes a substantial new preface by the author and a foreword by Patrick D. Miller.

Amazon Link

(2003) According to the Bible, ancient Israel's neighbors worshipped a wide variety of gods. In recent years, scholars have sought a better understanding of this early polytheistic milieu and its relation to Yahweh, the God of Israel. Drawing on ancient Ugaritic texts and looking closely at Ugaritic deities, Mark Smith examines the meaning of "divinity" in the ancient near East and considers how this concept applies to Yahweh.

Amazon Link

(2012) The texts from ancient Ugarit are among the most important modern discoveries for understanding the Bible. For more than thirty years, Stories from Ancient Canaan has been recognized as a highly authoritative and readable presentation of the principal Canaanite myths and epics discovered at Ugarit. This fully revised edition takes into account advances in the reading, understanding, and interpretation of these stories since 1978. It also includes two additional texts, expanded introductions, and illustrations. Coogan and Smith have collaborated to bring this classic up to date in order to provide accessible and accurate translations of these texts for a new generation of students.

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*Side Note - When studying at the University of Michigan I had a course in Old Testament  Studies from George Mendenhall, a world renown Ugaritic scholar whom I didn't fully appreciate until years later. We met several times at length in his office to discuss his beliefs and perspectives and throughout he was ever the gentleman sharing his knowledge as only he could from his past experience with American Christianity.

What I learned from him that I didn't realize until much later was that religion is ever in process from being what it was to becoming what it might be, either good or bad. In short, George held this same perspective as he shared how Israel's religion was always morphing from its antecendent phases to its future perturbations. Where I wanted clearer statements dear Dr. Mendenhall wished me to dwell in the grey boundrylands of the in-between wisely knowing nothing is ever so black or so white as to be ever clear of the "process historical reality" of a state of being to a newer state of becoming. - re slater


George E. Mendenhall

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George Emery Mendenhall
BornAugust 13, 1916
MuscatineIowa, U.S.
DiedAugust 5, 2016 (aged 99)
NationalityUnited States of America
EducationMidland College (B.A., 1936)
Western Theological Seminary
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (B.D., 1938)
Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1947)
OccupationBiblical Scholar
Ordained Lutheran Minister
University Professor
EmployerUniversity of Michigan
Notable work
Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East
The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition
Ancient Israel’s Faith and History: An Introduction the Bible in Context
Our Misunderstood Bible
  • George Newton (father)
  • Mary Johnson Mendenhall (mother)

George Emery Mendenhall (August 13, 1916 – August 5, 2016) was an American Biblical scholar who taught at the University of Michigan's Department of Near Eastern Studies.


Mendenhall graduated from Midland College in Nebraska in 1936, and from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 1938. Mendenhall was first an ordained Lutheran minister, and during World War II he served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy. After the war, Mendenhall obtained a Ph.D. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University and began a career in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical studies as well as related archeology. He was professor at the University of Michigan from 1952 to 1986.[1] The University of Michigan honored Mendenhall by creating the "George E. Mendenhall Professor Emeritus of Ancient and Biblical Studies".

The Tenth Generation proposed that the Ancient Israelite settlement was actually the result of a cultural-religious egalitarian revolution within Canaanite society, rejecting the views it was either a military conquest or a process of peaceful sedentism.[2] It was popular with some New Left scholars in the mid 1970s.[citation needed] Mendenhall died in August 2016, just 8 days short of his 100th birthday.[3][4]

Partial bibliography

  • Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East Pittsburgh: The Biblical Colloquium, 1955.
  • The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition Johns Hopkins, 1973.
  • Ancient Israel’s Faith and History: An Introduction the Bible in Context (Edited by Gary A. Herion) Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
  • Our Misunderstood Bible BookSurge Publishing, 2006
  • The Quest for the Kingdom of God: Studies in Honor of George E. Mendenhall Eisenbrauns, 1983.


  1. ^ Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East - George Mendenhall
  2. ^ William G. Dever (31 March 2006). Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4416-3. p.52–53.
  3. ^ Mention of Mendenhall's death
  4. ^ Staff (2016-08-07). "George Mendenhall Obituary". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved 2016-08-07.

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Israelite Religion to Judaism:
the Evolution of the Religion of Israel – David Steinberg


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Ancient Jewish History:
The Birth and Evolution of Judaism

The Hebrew religion gave us monotheism; it gave us the concept of rule by law; it gave us the concept that the divine works its purpose on human history through human events; it gave us the concept of the covenant, that the one god has a special relationship to a community of humans above all others. In the West, in the Middle East, in most of Africa and Asia, the legacy of Hebrew religion permeates nearly everything you see.

The Hebrew religion, so important and far-reaching in its influence on human culture, did not spring up overnight. Along with the Hebrew history, the development of Hebrew religion was a long and rocky road. Major shifts in the Hebrew fate inspired revolutions in the religion itself; it wasn't until sometime after the Exilic period that the central document of Hebrew faith, the Torah, took its final and orthodox shape.

Through archaeology and analysis of Hebrew scriptures, scholars have divided the development of the Hebrew religion into four main periods.

Pre-Mosaic Stage (1950-1300 BCE)

Little or nothing can be known for certain about the nature of Hebrew worship before the migration from Egypt. In Hebrew history, Abraham is already worshipping a figure called "Elohim," which is the plural for "lord." This figure is also called "El Shaddai" ("God the Mountaineer (?)," translated as "God Almighty"), and a couple other variants. The name of God, Yahweh, isn't learned by the Hebrews until Moses hears the name spoken by God on Mount Sinai. This god requires animal sacrifices and regular expiation. He intrudes on human life with astonishing suddenness, and often demands absurd acts from humans. The proper human relationship to this god is obedience, and the early history of humanity is a history of humans oscillating between obedience to this god and autonomy. This god is anthropomorphic: he has human qualities. He is frequently angered and seems to have some sort of human body. In addition, the god worshipped by Abraham and his descendants is the creator god, that is, the god solely responsible for the creation of the universe. The god of Genesis is bisexual: he/she is often referred to in female as well as male terms. For instance, this god is represented frequently as "mothering" or "giving birth through labor pains" to the world and humans (these passages are universally mistranslated in English as "fathering"—this god is only referred to as a "father" twice in Genesis ). In Genesis , Elohim or El Shaddai functions as a primitive law-giver; after the Flood, this god gives to Noah those primitive laws which apply to all human beings, the so-called Noahide Laws. Nothing of the sophistication and comprehensive of the Mosaic laws is evident in the early history of the human relationship to Yahweh as outlined in Genesis .

Scholars have wracked their brains trying to figure out what conclusions might be drawn about this human history. In general, they believe that the portrait of Hebrew religion in Genesis is an inaccurate one. They conclude instead that Hebrew monolatry and monotheism began with the Yahweh cult introduced, according to Exodus, in the migration from Egypt between 1300 and 1200 BC. The text of Genesis in their view is an attempt to legitimate the occupation of Palestine by asserting a covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Hebrews that had been established far in the distant past.

All these conclusions are brilliant but tentative, for we'll never know for sure much of anything substantial about Hebrew history and religion during the age of the patriarchs or the sojourn in Egypt. Nevertheless, scholars draw on the text of Genesis to conclude the following controversial ideas about early Hebrew religion:

— Early Hebrew religion was polytheistic; the curious plural form of the name of God, Elohim rather than El, leads them to believe that the original Hebrew religion involved several gods. This plural form, however, can be explained as a "royal" plural. Several other aspects of the account of Hebrew religion in Genesis also imply a polytheistic faith.

— The earliest Hebrew religion was animistic, that is, the Hebrews seemed worship forces of nature that dwelled in natural objects.

— As a result, much of early Hebrew religion had a number of practices that fall into the category of magic: scapegoat sacrifice and various forms of imitative magic, all of which are preserved in the text of Genesis .

— Early Hebrew religion eventually became anthropomorphic, that is, god or the gods took human forms; in later Hebrew religion, Yahweh becomes a figure that transcends the human and material worlds. Individual tribes probably worshipped different gods; there is no evidence in Genesis that anything like a national God existed in the time of the patriarchs.

The most profound revolution in Hebrew thought, though, occurred in the migration from Egypt, and its great innovator was Moses. In the epic events surrounding the flight from Egypt and the settling of the promised land, Hebrew religion became permanently and irrevocably, the Mosaic religion.

National Monolatry and Monotheism (1300 - 1000 BCE)

According to Hebrew history narrated in Exodus , the second book of the Torah, the Hebrews became a nation and adopted a national god on the slopes of Mount Sinai in southern Arabia. While we know nothing whatsoever of Hebrew life in Egypt, the flight from Egypt is described in Hebrew history with immense and powerful detail. The migration itself creates a new entity in history: the Israelites; Exodus is the first place in the Torah which refers to the Hebrews as a single national group, the "bene yisrael," or "children of Israel."

The flight from Egypt itself stands as the single greatest sign from Yahweh that the Israelites were the chosen people of Yahweh; it is the event to be always remembered as demonstrating Yahweh's purpose for the Hebrew people. It is the point in history that the scattered tribes descended from Abraham become a single unit, a single nation. It is also the crucial point in history that the Hebrews adopt Yahweh as their national god.

Hebrew history is absolutely silent about Hebrew worship during the sojourn in Egypt. A single religious observance, the observation of Passover, originates in Egypt immediately before the migration. This observance commemorates how Yahweh spared the Hebrews when he destroyed all the first born sons in the land of Egypt. The Yahweh religion itself, however, is learned when the mass of Hebrews collect at Mount Sinai in Midian, which is located in the southern regions of the Arabian peninsula. During this period, called the Sinai pericope, Moses teaches the Hebrews the name of their god and brings to them the laws that the Hebrews, as the chosen people, must observe. The Sinai pericope is a time of legislation and of cultural formation in the Hebrew view of history. In the main, the Hebrews learn all the cultic practices and observances that they are to perform for Yahweh.

Scholars are in bitter disagreement over the origin of the the Yahweh religion and the identity of its founder, Moses. While Moses is an Egyptian name, the religion itself comes from Midian. In the account, Moses lives for a time with a Midianite priest, Jethro, at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Midianites seem to have a Yahweh religion already in place; they worship the god of Mount Sinai as a kind of powerful nature deity. So it's possible that the Hebrews picked up the Yahweh religion from another group of Semites and that this Yahweh religion slowly developed into the central religion of the Hebrews. All scholars are agreed, however, that the process was slow and painful. In the Hebrew history, all during the migration and for two centuries afterwards, the Hebrews follow many various religions unevenly.

The Mosaic religion was initially a monolatrous religion; while the Hebrews are enjoined to worship no deity but Yahweh, there is no evidence that the earliest Mosaic religion denied the existence of other gods. In fact, the account of the migration contains numerous references by the historical characters to other gods, and the first law of the Decalogue is, after all, that no gods be put before Yahweh, not that no other gods exist. While controversial among many people, most scholars have concluded that the initial Mosaic religion for about two hundred years was a monolatrous religion. For there is ample evidence in the Hebrew account of the settlement of Palestine, that the Hebrews frequently changed religions, often several times in a single lifetime.

The name of god introduced in the Mosaic religion is a mysterious term. In Hebrew, the word is YHWH (there are no vowels in biblical Hebrew); we have no clue how this word is pronounced. Linguists believe that the word is related to the Semitic root of the verb, "to be," and may mean something like, "he causes to be." In English, the word is translated "I AM": "I AM THAT I AM. You will say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent you."

For a few centuries, Yahweh was largely an anthropomorphic god, that is, he had human qualities and physical characteristics. The Yahweh of the Torah is frequently angry and often capricious; the entire series of plagues on Egypt, for instance, seem unreasonably cruel. In an account from the monarchical period, Yahweh strikes someone dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant; that individual, Uzza, was only touching the ark to keep it from falling over (I Chronicles 13.10).

But there are some striking innovations in this new god. First, this god, anthropomorphic or not, is conceived as operating above and outside nature and the human world. The Mosaic god is conceived as the ruler of the Hebrews, so the Mosaic laws also have the status of a ruler. The laws themselves in the Torah were probably written much later, in the eighth or seventh centuries. It is not unreasonable, however, to conclude that the early Mosaic religion was a law-based religion that imagined Yahweh as the author and enforcer of these laws. In fact, the early Hebrews seemed to have conceived of Yahweh as a kind of monarch. In addition, Yahweh is more abstract than any previous gods; one injunction to the Hebrews is that no images of Yahweh be made or worshipped. Finally, there was no afterlife in the Mosaic religion. All human and religious concerns were oriented around this world and Yahweh's purposes in this world.

As the Hebrews struggled with this new religion, lapsing frequently into other religions, they were slowly sliding towards their first major religious and ethical crisis: the monarchy. The Yahweh religion would be shaken to its roots by this crisis and would be irrevocably changed.

The Prophetic Revolution (800 - 600 BCE)

Wearied from over two centuries of sporadic conflict with indigenous peoples, broken by a ruinous civil war, and constantly threatened on all sides, the disparate Hebrew settlers of Palestine began to long for a unified state under a single monarch. Such a state would provide the organization and the military to fend off the war-like peoples surrounding them. Their desire, however, would provoke the first major crisis in the Hebrew world view: the formation of the Hebrew monarchy.

In the Hebrew account of their own history, the children of Israel who settled Palestine between 1250 and 1050 BC, believed Yahweh to be their king and Yahweh's laws to be their laws (whether or not this is historically true is controversial). In desiring to have a king, the tribes of Israel were committing a grave act of disobedience towards Yahweh, for they were choosing a human being and human laws of Yahweh and Yahweh's laws. In the account of the formation of the monarchy, in the books of Samuel , the prophet of Yahweh, Samuel, tells the Israelites that they are committing an act of disobedience that they will dearly pay for. Heedless of Samuel's warnings, they push ahead with the monarchy. The very first monarch, Saul, sets the pattern for the rest; disobedient towards Yahweh's commands, Saul falls out with both Samuel and Yahweh and gradually slips into arbitrary despotism. This pattern—the conflict between Yahweh and the kings of Israel and Judah—becomes the historical pattern in the Hebrew stories of the prophetic revolution.

Whatever the causes, a group of religious leaders during the eighth and seventh centuries BC responded to the crisis created by the institution of the monarchy by reinventing and reorienting the Yahweh religion. In Hebrew, these religious reformers were called "nivea," or "prophets." The most important of these prophets were Amos, Hosea, Isaiah (who is actually three people: Isaiah and "Second Isaiah" [Deutero-Isaiah], and a third, post-exilic Isaiah), and Micah. These four, and a number of lesser prophets, are as important to the Hebrew religion as Moses.

The innovations of the prophets can be grouped into three large categories:


Whatever the character of Mosaic religion during the occupation and the early monarchy, the prophets unambiguously made Yahweh the one and only one god of the universe. Earlier, Hebrews acknowledged and even worshipped foreign gods; the prophets, however, asserted that Yahweh ruled the entire universe and all the peoples in it, whether or not they recognized and worshipped Yahweh or not. The Yahweh religion as a monotheistic religion can really be dated no earlier than the prophetic revolution.


While Yahweh is subject to anger, capriciousness, and outright injustice in the earlier Mosaic religion, the Yahweh of the prophets can do nothing but good and right and justice. Yahweh becomes in the prophetic revolution a "god of righteousness"; historical events, no matter how arbitrary or unjust they may seem, represent the justice of Yahweh. The good and the just are always rewarded, and the evil are always punished. If there is any evil in the world it is through the actions of men and women, not through the actions of Yahweh, that it is committed.


While the Mosaic religion was overwhelmingly concerned with the cultic rules to be followed by the Israelites, the prophets re-centered the religion around ethics. Ritual practices, in fact, become unimportant next to ethical demands that Yahweh imposes on humans: the necessity of doing right, showing mercy, punishing evil, and doing justice.

There still, however, is no afterlife of rewards and punishments in the prophets, but a kind of House of Dust, called Sheol, to which all souls go after their death to abide for a time before disappearing from existence forever. There is no salvation, only the injunctions to do justice and right in order to produce a just and harmonious society.

The historical origins of these innovations are important to understand. The monarchy brought with it all the evils of a centralized state: arbitrary power, vast inequality of wealth, poverty in the midst of plenty, heavy taxation, slavery, bribery, and fear. The prophets were specifically addressing these corrupt and fearsome aspects of the Jewish state. They believed, however, that they were addressing these problems by returning to the Mosaic religion; in reality, they created a brand new religion, a monotheistic religion not about cultic practices, but about right and wrong.

Post-Exilic Religion (800-600 BCE)

The most profound spiritual and cognitive crisis in Hebrew history was the Exile. Defeated by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, the Judaean population was in part deported to Babylon, mainly the upper classes and craftsmen. In 586, incensed by Judaeans shifting their loyalty, Nebuchadnezzar returned, lay siege to Jerusalem, and burned it down along with the Temple. Nothing in the Hebrew world view had prepared them for a tragedy of this magnitude. The Hebrews had been promised the land of Palestine by their god; in addition, the covenant between Yahweh and Abraham promised Yahweh's protection. The destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the deportation of the Judaeans, shook the Hebrew faith to its roots.

The literature of the Exile and shortly after betrays the despair and confusion of the population uprooted from its homeland. In Lamentations and various Psalms, we get a profound picture of the sufferings of those left in Judaea, who coped with starvation and massive privation, and the community of Hebrews wandering Babylon. In Job, a story written a century or so after the Exile, the central character suffers endless calamities— when he finally despairs of Yahweh's justice, his only answer is that Yahweh is not to be questioned.

But Hebrew religion shifted profoundly in the years of Exile. A small group of religious reformers believed that the calamaties suffered by the Jews were due to the corruption of their religion and ethics. These religious reformers reoriented Jewish religion around the Mosaic books; in other words, they believed that the Jews should return to their foundational religion. While the Mosaic books had been in existence since the seventh or eighth centuries BC, they began to take final shape under the guidance of these reformers shortly after the Exile. Above everything else, the Torah, the five Mosaic books, represented all the law that Hebrews should follow. These laws, mainly centered around cultic practices, should remain pure and unsullied if the Jews wished to return to their homeland and keep it.

So the central character of post-Exilic Jewish religion is reform, an attempt to return religious and social practice back to its original character. This reform was accelerated by the return to Judaea itself; when Cyrus the Persian conquered the Chaldeans in 539, he set about re-establishing religions in their native lands. This included the Hebrew religion. Cyrus ordered Jerusalem and the Temple to be rebuilt, and in 538 BC, he sent the Judaeans home to Jerusalem for the express purpose of worshipping Yahweh . The reformers, then, occupied a central place in Jewish thought and life all during the Persian years (539-332 BC).

Beneath the surface, though, foreign elements creeped in to the Hebrew religion. While the reformers were busy trying to purify the Hebrew religion, the Persian religion, Zoroastrianism, creeped into it among the common run of people. Why this happened is anyone's guess, but Zoroastrianism offered a world view that both explained and mollified tragedies such as the Exile. It seems that the Hebrews adopted some of this world view in the face of the profound disasters they had weathered.

Zoroastrianism, which had been founded in the seventh century BC by a Persian prophet name Zarathustra (Zoroaster is his Greek name), was a dualistic, eschatological, and apocalyptic religion. The universe is divided into two distinct and independent spheres. One, which is light and good, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of light and good; the other, dark and evil, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of dark and evil. The whole of human and cosmic history is an epic struggle between these two independent deities; at the end of time, a final battle between these two deities and all those ranged on one side or the other, would permanently decide the outcome of this struggle. The good deity, Ahura-Mazda, would win this final, apocalyptic battle, and all the gods and humans on the side of good would enjoy eternal bliss.

Absolutely none of these elements were present in Hebrew religion before the Exile. The world is governed solely by Yahweh; evil in the world is solely the product of human actions—there is no "principle of evil" among the Hebrews before the Exile. The afterlife is simply a House of Dust called Sheol in which the soul lasts for only a brief time. There is no talk or conception of an end of time or history, or of a world beyond this one. After the Exile, however, popular religion among the Judaeans and the Jews of the Diaspora include several innovations:


After the Exile, the Hebrews invent a concept of a more or less dualistic universe, in which all good and right comes from Yahweh, while all evil arises from a powerful principle of evil. Such a dualistic view of the universe helps to explain tragedies such as the Exile.

Eschatology and Apocalypticism

Popular Jewish religion begins to form an elaborate theology of the end of time, in which a deliverer would defeat once and for all the forces of evil and unrighteousness.

Concurrent with the new eschatology, there is much talk of a deliverer who is called "messiah," or "anointed one." In Hebrew culture, only the head priest and the king were anointed, so this "messiah" often combined the functions of both religious and military leader.


Popular Judaism adopts an elaborate after-life. Since justice does not seem to occur in this world, it is only logical that it will occur in another world. The afterlife becomes the place where good is rewarded and evil eternally punished.

While the reformers resist these innovations, they take hold among a large part of the Hebrew population. And it is from this root — the religion of the common person — that a radical form of Yahwism will grow: the religion of Jesus of Nazareth.

Sources: The Hebrews: A Learning Module from Washington State University, ©Richard Hooker, reprinted by permission.

* * * * * * * * *

Monotheism of the Ancient Hebrews:
Evolved, Invented, Stolen or Revealed?

by Rich Robinson |September 03, 1987

Most Jewish people, whether observant or not, know the clarion call: "Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad": Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Whatever else may be in question, we all agree that in the Jewish religion there is only one God.

Yet there is disagreement as to the origin of Jewish monotheism. Some believe the Tanakh is a tangle of barely related but cleverly edited documents. When that tangle is unraveled, the evolution of ancient Israel's religion is uncovered. According to this theory, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were polytheists, and monotheism did not emerge until later.

Another viewpoint suggests a type of "quantum leap" in Israel's religion. Adherents believe Moses was a brilliant innovator who gave birth to the monotheistic faith.
The Evolution of Monotheism: Hard Fact or High Fashion?

The evolutionary approach to understanding religion is rooted in the 18th century. It wasn't until the 19th century however, that Julius Wellhausen developed and popularized the theory. Two schools of thought were particularly influential in this development.

First, Wellhausen applied the "dialectical" system which he borrowed from the German philosopher Hegel. In Hegel's system, one factor--the thesis--interacts with another--the antithesis--to produce something newer and higher--the synthesis. According to Wellhausen, the "pre-prophetic" faith of Israel (i.e. that of the patriarchal and Mosaic periods) was the thesis, and the later "prophetic" faith was the antithesis. The "priestly" faith (which Wellhausen considered normative Judaism) was the synthesis. According to this approach, monotheism did not appear until the days of the prophets in the 8th century B.C.E.

Second, Wellhausen applied certain aspects of Darwinism to the area of religion. He believed that Israel evolved through primitive phases of religion in much the same way as the species evolved through biological phases of organic growth and development.1

This is a thumbnail sketch of Wellhausen's reconstruction, which has survived (with modifications) to the present day: Israel's religion evolved first through animism, defined by Webster as "the attribution of conscious life to nature or the natural object." (An animist would believe there is life and personality residing in running water or swaying tree boughs.) After animism came polytheism, the belief in many gods. Polytheism was then followed by totemism, "the belief that the members of a clan or tribe are related to some group of plants or animals"2 as descendants. Ancestor worship followed totemism, and developed into belief in a local tribal deity...which finally evolved into monotheism.

Wellhausen influenced most critical thinking about the Bible from his day until modern times. Unfortunately, his influence was based on assumptions and philosophies which had little to do with historical evidence. The recent upsurge in modern archaeology has shown Wellhausen's viewpoint to be arbitrary and outdated. Popular Jewish writer, Herman Wouk, rightly remarks, "The main thing, probably, was that in 1875 evolution was in the air.... A theory that imposed evolution on Old Testament religion radiated chic and excitement, even though it stood the Bible on its head."3

Genesis 12:6 provides an example of how Wellhausen's thinking colored the text. The verse reads, "And Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh." If Wellhausen was correct, this clearly demonstrates animism. How? "Moreh" would signify "teacher," from "horah," (to teach), because the devout could hear the oak tree speak through the rustling of its leaves--as with the oaks of Zeus at Dodona.4 Yet the text says nothing about trees speaking to Abram; nor does it imply that he ever expected to receive messages from that, or any other tree.
The Changing of the Guard

All support for Wellhausen's theory of reconstruction crumbled with advances in modern archaeology and comparative ancient history. Old Testament scholar Roland Harrison comments, "...it is now evident from the comparative study of ancient Near Eastern literature and from archaeological sources that animism disappeared from the oriental world centuries before the Hebrew patriarchs appeared upon the historical scene."5

If animism is discounted from the life of the patriarchs, totemism must follow. Totemism involves people regarding themselves as descendants of their "totem animal." Neither Egypt nor Mesopotamia, the two civilizations where Abraham and Moses were nurtured, show any evidence of totemmistic belief. Furthermore, "in view of the absence from the Old Testament writings of the two most important elements in any totemistic system, namely, the claim of descent from the totem and its ceremonial sacrifice among certain tribes,"6 there is no reason to assume totemism was ever part of Israel's religion.

But what of the idea that Abraham worshipped a tribal deity and that monotheism came much later? Judges 11:24 is offer cited to support this theory. Jephthah is pictured negotiating with the Ammonites: "Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the YHVH our God has driven out before us, we will possess it." Wellhausen's followers see this as evidence that Jephthah believed in the existence of the Ammonite god. Others see the text in a different light: "Jephthah is not speaking as a theologian but as a foreign diplomat, negotiating with them in terms which they could understand as he appealed to their sense of fair play."7

Kenneth Kitchen, Egyptologist at the University of Liverpool in England, offers these remarks: "Unilinear evolution is a fallacy. It is valid only within a small field of reference for a limited segment of time, and not for whole cultures over long periods of time. Intertwined with the multi-coloured fabric of change are lines of continuity...that show remarkable consistency from early epochs."8

The scenario of evolutionary development in the Jewish faith is absolutely unsubstantiated. But even more interesting than the apparent weaknesses in that theory is the indication that there has been a universal devolution from a faith in one God to the various primitive forms of religion mentioned above. Recent findings in comparative history and anthropology indicate that:

Most, if not all, pre-literary people have a belief in a Supreme Being which most scholars call a High God to distinguish him from the lesser divinities....It is interesting to note that among some of the most backward peoples of the world clear and high ideas of God are to be found. W. Schmidt of Vienna built up a whole theory on it: that the original religious concept of man in his primeval state was monotheism which later became corrupted into polytheism.9

Among the "primitive" peoples who believe in a supreme High God, we find such examples as "the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the Pygmy tribes of the Congo and the tribes of Tierra del Fuego."10
Elohim versus YHVH?

In a second theory, Moses is seen as the originator or discoverer of the concept of one God.
Exodus 6:3 is cited as evidence for this: "and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, YHVH, I did not make Myself known to them." Eminent scholar William Foxwell Albright referred to YHVH as "the name given his God by Moses" (though not in specific reference to Exodus 6:3).11 Albright spoke of "the identification of Yahweh with the God of the Fathers."12 He believed Moses invented the worship of YHVH, or as he put it, "Yahwism." The patriarchs worshipped their gods under various rubrics such as El Shaddai. Later, these gods were considered one and the same God.
Closer inspection of material from other ancient cultures removes the legs from this table as well. People, places, things and single deities were often referred to by more than one name. For instance, there are five alternate names for the Egyptian god Osiris: Osiris, Wennofer, Khent-amentiu, Lord of Abydos and nuter (god). "The same phenomenon," writes Kenneth Kitchen, "may be observed in Canaan, Old South Arabia, and among Hurrians and Hittites." The list goes on and on to include multiple names for places and objects.13 In more recent literature, the Koran parallels the Bible's alternating of names. Allahu (the same as Elohim) is used interchangeably with Rabbu (the same as Adonay, which is the traditional Jewish substitution for the name YHVH).14

In the ancient world, a name expressed character. The various names of God are important keys to understanding some of his attributes. Elohim refers to God in his character of Creator and Lord of mankind, whereas YHVH generally is used where God's covenant relationship is implied. The famed 12th century Jewish poet and philosopher Judah Halevi recognized this when he defined Elohim as the divine name in general, whereas Adonay specified the God of revelation and covenant."15 The patriarchs knew both names, but the full implication of God's character implicit in the name YHVH had not yet been revealed to them.

There is no evidence from the ancient world to support the idea that Moses invented "Yahwism," but could it be that Moses borrowed the idea of monotheism?
Was the Sun the "One"?

Some say Israel borrowed monotheism from another culture's deity, e.g. "the Egyptian Sun God" or from Zoroastrianism. There is no evidence to substantiate such a theory.

The examples above were suggested in a letter to the editor of ISSUES, and they demonstrate the lack of evidence for the "borrowing" theory. Zoroaster's dates are somewhere between 660 and 541 B.C.E.--well over half a millennium after Moses. No scholar dates the rise of Israel's monotheism that late. Zoroastrianism is therefore disqualified as an influence. Even without the conclusive discrepancy in dating, Zoroastrianism's tendency towards dualism (belief in two independent powers standing in opposition) is a far cry from the monotheism of biblical faith. The other example was the Egyptian sun god. No doubt this refers to the "solar monotheism" of King Akhenaton. Akhenaton's dates are anywhere from 1387-1366 or 1367-1350 B.C.E.--roughly the time of Moses.16 The history of Akhenaton's "monotheism" is as follows:

When Akhenaton came into power, he banned the worship of all gods other than the sun god, Aton. As Alan Richard Schulman points out, "...this was not monotheism. Although Aton, a manifestation of the sun, was a universal god, he was worshipped only by Akhenaton and his wife Nefertiti. Everyone else in the land worshipped Akhenaton himself as a god, and there is no indication that he ever denied his own divinity."17 Despite Akhenaton's mandate, Egyptians continued to worship numerous manifestations of the sun.

Akhenaton's brief religious rebellion failed. Polytheistic tendencies continued during his reign and returned to prominence after his death. It is unlikely that Akhenaton's unsuccessful attempt became the source of Israel's monotheism. Yet, similarities between the ancient "Hymn to Aton" and Psalm 104 still raise questions. Egyptologist Barbara Mertz explains, "These similarities do not mean that there is a direct connection between Atonism and Hebrew monotheism, or that Moses learned about God at the court of Amarna. Rather, the Aton hymns and the psalm represent two examples of a literary tradition which flourished throughout the Near East over a vast span of time."18
A Final Explanation

Fragments of a similar story in numerous cultures corroborate rather than undermine universal truths. The "monotheism" of Akhenaton was the result of a human instinct to believe in one God. As was mentioned, monotheistic underpinnings seem to exist even among modern primitive peoples.

The very clues used to imply borrowing seem to serve as evidence that monotheism was a universal impulse. The notion that monotheism evolved is a product of 19th century philosophy. It is insupportable in light of evidence provided by linguistics, archaeology, comparative ancient history and anthropology. The potpourri of primitive or sophisticated polytheism, pantheism and pick-your-own-theism appears to be a devolution from primal monotheism.

History shows ancient Israel as a unique example of a monotheistic nation. Monotheistic tendencies could be found everywhere, but Israel alone made the transition from tendency to theocracy. Such uniqueness demands an explanation. The monotheism of ancient Israel, a nation not only surrounded, but frequently ensnared by polytheistic neighbors, is a mystery. The answer is not a "genius for religion" (as is often suggested). Scripture is a witness to the Hebrew tendency toward apostasy--a fact which led Jewish prophets of old to express anger and anguish over the spiritual condition of Israel.

This author has found no reasonable explanation other than that given by the Tanakh; Israel's monotheism was received as a direct revelation from God. We see no evidence to indicate that Israel invented, discovered or borrowed monotheism. As to faith in the God of the Shema, Moses was not a brilliant innovator, nor was he a bold adventurer. He was not a pragmatic plagiarizer either. He was the humble worshipper of the God who is no invention or discovery, but who is real and who created us...the God who not only expects certain things of us, but who also invites us into a relationship with himself.


1. Roland Kenneth Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1969), 352.

2. Ibid, 354.

3. Herman Wouk, This Is My God, (Doubleday & Co.: Garden City, 1961), 316.

4. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. (Moody Press Chicago, rev. ed. 1974; orig. ed. 1964), 145.

5. Harnson, 383.

6. Ibid, 388.

7. Ibid, 389-90.

8. Kenneth A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 1966), 113-14.

9. Edward G. Newing, "Religions of Pre-literary Societies," pp. 11-48 in Sir Norman Anderson, ed., The World's Religions, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 4th rev. ed. 1975; orig. ed. 1950), 38.

10. Ibid, 38, see note 8.

11. William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process, (Doubleday & Co.: Garden City, 2nd. ed. 1957; orig. ed. 1940), 258-59.

12. Ibid, 271.

13. Kitchen, 121.

14. Archer, 120.

15. Ibid, 121-22.

16. Archer, 144. See also Alan Richard Schulman, "Akhenaton,"> in the Encyclopedia Judaica Vol. 2:487-88.

17. Schulman, 487-88.

18. Barbara Mertz, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphics: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt, (Dodd, Mead & Co.: New York, rev. ed. 1978; orig. ed. 1964), 224 ff.

* * * * * * * * *


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Image on a pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription "Yahweh and his Asherah"

Yahwism was the religion of ancient Israel, centered around a god named Yahweh.[1] Yahweh was one of many gods and goddesses of the pantheon of gods of the Land of Canaan, the southern portion of which would later come to be called the Land of Israel. Yahwism existed parallel to Canaanite polytheism, and in turn was the monolatristicprimitive predecessor stage of modern Judaism, in its evolution into a monotheistic religion.

Despite modern Judaism and Yahwism both being the veneration of Yahweh, there are clear distinctions between the two belief systems. Unlike the religions that would descend from it, Yahwism was characterized by henotheism/monolatrism, which recognized Yahweh as the national god of Israel,[2] but nevertheless did not explicitly deny the existence of other gods of ancient Semitic religion, such as BaalAsherah, and Astarte — though this did not always allow their individual worship in conjunction to Yahweh.

The exact transition between what is now considered monolatristic Yahwism and monotheistic Judaism is somewhat unclear, however it is evident that the event began with radical religious amendments such as the testaments of Elijah and the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah and had been fulfilled by the end of the Babylonian captivity, where the recognition of Yahweh as the sole god of the universe had finally secured a majority of the Jewish people (see Deutero-Isaiah). Some scholars believe that monolatry was also encouraged by religious reforms of David during the United Monarchy; however, the United Monarchy and the actions of David are a subject of heavy debate among archaeologists and biblical scholars.[3]


The centre of ancient Israel's religion through most of the monarchic period was the worship of a god named Yahweh, and for this reason the religion of Israel is often referred to as Yahwism.[1] Yahweh, however, was not the original god of Israel; it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name "Israel",[4] and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic name (i.e., one incorporating the name of Yahweh).[5]

Most historians see Israel emerging in the hill country of Palestine in the late Bronze/early Iron ages circa 1200 BCE (an arbitrary date with which archaeologists mark the division between these two ages),[6] and many, while cautioning that the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is not necessarily a reliable guide, believe that the shared religion of Yahweh played a role in this emergence.[7] This early Israel was a society of rural villages, but in time urban centers grew up and society became more structured and more complex, and in the 9th century BCE Israel was founded as a kingdom with its capital at Samaria.[6]

After the 10th century BCE the tribes and chiefdoms of Iron Age I were replaced by ethnic nation states. In each kingdom, the king was also the head of the national religion and thus the viceroy on Earth of the national god.[8] In Jerusalem this was reflected each year when the king presided over a ceremony at which Yahweh was enthroned in the Holy Temple.[9] The Hebrew Bible gives the impression that the Jerusalem Temple was always meant to be the central, or even sole, temple of Yahweh, but this was not the case.[10] The earliest known Israelite place of worship is a 12th-century open-air altar in the hills of Samaria featuring a bronze bull reminiscent of Canaanite "Bull-El" (El in the form of a bull), and the archaeological remains of further temples have been found at Dan on Israel's northern border and at Arad in the Negev and Beersheba, both in the territory of Judah.[11] ShilohBethelGilgalMizpahRamah, and Dan were also major sites for festivals, sacrifices, vow-making, private rituals, and the adjudication of legal disputes.[12]

During an era of religious syncretism, it became accepted among the Israelite people to consider the Canaanite god El as the same as Yahweh.[13] This is arguably the beginning of the end for Yahwism and the very beginnings of Judaism. Indeed, as this idea became prevalent in the Jewish people's religion, El soon was thought to have always been the same deity as Yahweh, as evidenced by Exodus 6:2–3,[13]

The worship of Yahweh alone began at the earliest with prophet Elijah in the 9th century BCE, and at the latest with prophet Hosea in the 8th; even then it remained the concern of a small party before gaining ascendancy in the exilic and early post-exilic period.[14] The early supporters of this faction are widely regarded as being monolatrists rather than true monotheists,[15] as instead of believing that Yahweh was the only god in existence, they instead believed that he was the only god the people of Israel should worship,[16] a noticeable departure from the traditional beliefs of the Israelites, nonetheless. It was during the national crisis of the Babylonian Exile that the followers of Yahweh went a step further and finally outright denied that the other deities aside from Yahweh even existed, thus marking the transition from monolatrism to true monotheism, and from Yahwism to Judaism.[17] Certain scholars date the start of widespread monotheism to 8th century BCE, and view it as a response to Neo-Assyrian aggression.[18][19][14]

Worship of Baal and Yahweh coexisted in the early period of Israel's history, but they were considered irreconcilable after the 9th century BCE, following the efforts of King Ahab and his queen Jezebel to elevate Baal to the status of national god,[20] although the cult of Baal did continue for some time.[21]

Beliefs and practices

Remains of an altar built by Jeroboam in 931 BC, where Yahweh was worshiped in the form of a bull statue


The Holy of Holies in a ruined temple at Tel Arad, with two incense pillars and two stele, one to Yahweh, and one most likely to Asherah. The temple was probably destroyed as a part of Josiah's reforms

There is a broad consensus among modern scholars that the religion of the Israelites prior to the Babylonian exile was basically polytheistic, involving a plethora of gods and goddesses.[22] Heading the pantheon was Yahweh, whose role as the supreme god is confirmed by such external evidence as the preponderance of Yahwistic names on personal seals from the late 8th to the 6th centuries BCE.[23] Alongside Yahweh was his consort Asherah,[24] although at the 5th century Jewish colony at Elephantine in Egypt Yahweh appropriated the Egyptian goddess Anat as his consort, and the goddess "Anat-Yahu" was worshiped in the settlement's temple.[25] Various biblical passages indicate that statues of Asherah were kept in Yahweh's temples in Jerusalem, Bethel, and Samaria.[26][27]

Below Yahweh and Asherah were second tier gods and goddesses such as Baal, Shamash and Yareah (these two, found in the second level of the pantheon throughout the West Semitic world, are addressed directly in Joshua 10:12), Mot the god of death (who appears in Hosea and Jeremiah as a deity who would punish Judah for its sins on Yahweh's behalf), and the goddess Astarte, all of whom had their own priests and prophets and numbered royalty among their devotees.[28] A goddess called the "Queen of Heaven" was also worshiped: she was probably a fusion of Astarte and the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar,[26] although the phrase is possibly a title of Asherah.[29] A third tier was made up of specialist deities such as the god of snakebite-cures - his name is unknown, as the biblical text identifies him only as Nehushtan,a pun based on the shape of his representation and the metal of which it was made[30] - and below these again was a fourth and final group of minor divine beings such as the mal'ak, the messengers of the higher gods, who in later times became the angels of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.[31]

The idea that Yahweh alone should be worshiped began at the earliest with his 9th century prophet Elijah and more probably with Hosea in the 8th; it remained the concern only of small groups opposed to the mainstream except for a brief period when it was championed by King Josiah, but triumphed in the exilic and early post-exilic periods.[14]


The practices of Yahwism were largely characteristic of other Semitic religions of the time, including festivals, sacrifices, vow-making, private rituals, and the adjudication of legal disputes.[12] The center of Yahweh-worship lay in three great annual festivals coinciding with major events in rural life: Passover with the birthing of lambs, Shavuot with the cereal harvest, and Sukkot with the fruit harvest.[32] They became linked to events in the national mythos of Israel: Passover with the exodus from Egypt, Shavuot with the law-giving at Sinai, and Sukkot with the wilderness wanderings.[10] The festivals thus celebrated Yahweh's salvation of Israel and Israel's status as his holy people, although the earlier agricultural meaning was not entirely lost.[33]

Prayer played little role.[34]

Animal sacrifices played a big role in Yahwism and Judaism (prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE) on altars, with the subsequent burning and the sprinkling of their blood, a practice described in the Bible as a daily Temple ritual for the Jewish people. Sacrifice was presumably complemented by the singing or recital of psalms, but the details are scant.[35] The rituals detailed in Leviticus 1–16, with their stress on purity and atonement, were actually followed only after the Babylonian exile and the Yahwism/Judaism transition, and that in reality any head of a family was able to offer sacrifice as occasion demanded.[36]

In addition to the sacrificial priests, a great role in Yahwism, and still later Judaism, were played by prophets and epic heroes, reflected in the modern Jewish texts by legends about Samson and Joshua. Worship was performed on literal high places, with the Jerusalem Temple sitting on Mount Moriah/Mount Zion (hence, the Temple Mount), and the Samaritans' temple sitting on Mount Gerizim, although this may just be more of a coincidence than an intentional practice. Talismans and the mysterious teraphim were also probably used. It is also possible Yahwism employed ecstatic cultic rituals (compare the biblical tale of David dancing naked before the Ark of the Covenant) at times where they became popular, and potentially, according to some scholars, even human sacrifice.[37]

Later amendments to Yahwistic practice are difficult to qualify, as there is an unclear scholarly consensus on what explicitly connotes Judaism vs. Yahwism during the generally accepted "transition period" of the Babylonian captivity. According to Biblical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann, “The exile is the watershed. With the exile, the religion of Israel comes to an end and Judaism begins.”[38]

See also



  1. Jump up to:a b Miller 2000, p. 1.
  2. ^ Miller & Hayes 1986, pp. 110–112.
  3. ^ Smith, Mark S. (2003). The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic TextsOxford University Press.
  4. ^ Smith 2002, p. 32.
  5. ^ Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 127.
  6. Jump up to:a b Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 113-114.
  7. ^ Moore & Kelle 2011, p. 126-127.
  8. ^ Miller 2000, p. 90.
  9. ^ Petersen 1998, p. 23.
  10. Jump up to:a b Davies 2010, p. 112.
  11. ^ Dever 2003a, p. 388.
  12. Jump up to:a b Bennett 2002, p. 83.
  13. Jump up to:a b Smith 2001, pp. 141–142, 146–147.
  14. Jump up to:a b c Albertz 1994, p. 61.
  15. ^ Eakin 1971, pp. 70 and 263.
  16. ^ McKenzie 1990, p. 1287.
  17. ^ Betz 2000, p. 917.
  18. ^ Levine 2005, pp. 411–27.
  19. ^ Keel 2007, p. 1276.
  20. ^ Smith 2002, p. 47.
  21. ^ Smith 2002, p. 74.
  22. ^ Sommer 2009, p. 145.
  23. ^ Niehr 1995, p. 54.
  24. ^ Niehr 1995, pp. 54-55.
  25. ^ Day 2002, p. 143.
  26. Jump up to:a b Ackerman 2003, p. 395.
  27. ^ Barker 2012, pp. 154–157.
  28. ^ Handy 1995, p. 39-40.
  29. ^ Barker 2012, p. 41.
  30. ^ Handy 1995, p. 41.
  31. ^ Meier 1999, p. 45-46.
  32. ^ Albertz 1994, p. 89.
  33. ^ Gorman 2000, p. 458.
  34. ^ Cohen 1999, p. 302.
  35. ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005, pp. 158–65.
  36. ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005, pp. 151–52.
  37. ^ Gnuse 1997, p. 118.
  38. ^ "Secrets of Noah's Ark – Transcript"Nova. PBS. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2019.


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