Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

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Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Grammatron » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:30 pm

I was having a conversation with a friend regarding Akhenaten and him being a sort of, proto-monotheist. As a Pharaoh he did outlaw worship of all gods but one. My friend countered that it's not really monotheism as there were other gods, they were just not worshiped. A valid point.

My very limited and cursory look into early Judaism revealed a bit of conflict on the matter. While the worship is of one god, it doesn't explicitly state it's the only god in existence and further states not to worship other gods as they are not meant for Israelites. An implication of their existence.

My question (if it has answer) at what point Judaism went from only worship this god to there is only one god to worship. And if the former is true then how was that different from the system Akhenaten tried to implement.
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Doctor X » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:01 pm

I am not certain it ever did.

The biblical Judaism is a set of Judaisms from different time periods--some anachronistically applied to the past such as the P author having only his Noah save two animals since there will be no need for sacrifices prior to the establishment of the temple in Jerusalem--which can contradict one another and, ultimately, represent a tiny minority of what people, in general, believed at any given time.

You have outside of the biblical texts evidence for worship of many different deities from objects to prayers. In the extant biblical texts you have surviving remnants of polytheism and then more properly henotheism--"many gods but our god is our god." Even then, the henotheism varies where "our god" is "locative"--as in has his land and within his land is primary all the way to "our god kicks everyone's ass."

Sooooooooo . . . can I give a shorter answer as to when the YHWH-only became premiere? Probably the post-exilic period; however, there is no clear demarcation.

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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Anaxagoras » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:32 pm

I'm no expert in the Bible, but don't the 10 commandments mention that god is jealous? Always kind of struck me as an odd quality for god to have if there's only one god.
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Doctor X » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:50 pm

Well, indeed. Depends on which set of commandments you choose as your Decalogue, but you will find a whole lot of other passages in the biblical texts which include:

    1. References to the sons of the gods--בני אלהים.
    2. The Moabite god--most likely Chemosh--kicking his ass.
    3. Specific identification of YHWH as one of the "sons of the gods" below an epithet "Most High" identified as the traditional "Big Daddy" god El.
    4. Scattered references to a number of gods, particularly as theophorics or names with a god name in it.

outside of the biblical texts you have prayers to these gods and iconography of them.

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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Grammatron » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:59 pm

Thank you for the thorough replies!

This reads to me like early Judaism(s) and Akhenaten were not that far off.
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:40 pm

The notion of worshiping only one god (at least under normal circumstances) is not all that exceptional.

The Hindus have folks who do that too.
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Grammatron » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:46 pm

Abdul Alhazred wrote:The notion of worshiping only one god (at least under normal circumstances) is not all that exceptional.

The Hindus have folks who do that too.


Certainly, but in the case of Akhenaten it's not just worship of one god but banning any worship or temples for any god except Aten.

In Year 5 of his reign, Amenhotep IV took decisive steps to establish the Aten as the sole god of Egypt: the pharaoh "disbanded the priesthoods of all the other gods...and diverted the income from these [other] cults to support the Aten". To emphasize his complete allegiance to the Aten, the king officially changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten or 'Living Spirit of Aten.'
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby gnome » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:09 pm

If the laws prevailed, the other gods would vanish in a puff of Fides Creatrix Divinitatis.
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Re: Judaism, Monotheism, and Akhenaten

Postby Doctor X » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:03 pm

Grammatron wrote:This reads to me like early Judaism(s) and Akhenaten were not that far off.


One thing to tease from the various Exodus narratives and the Deuteronomistic History of Samuel-Kings is the very odd repeating story where Big Daddy does something Smitey, "the sons of Israel"--not a YHWH theophoric!--rejoice, then start worshiping other gods. Over and over again.

Why?

The mythic figures of David and especially Solomon are particularly silly in this regard. YHWH talks to them. They have witnessed YHWH engineer mass-slaughter. Then they decide to worship other gods?

When the texts actually start to match known history--there are historical kings though I doubt there was ever a "united monarchy--and the history does not match the polemic. It is, as I suggested, like having Newt Gingrinch [Stop that.--Ed.] write a biography of Bill Clinton. He cannot kill Bill off from Fournier's gangrene [We do not recommend "the Googling" of that.--Ed.] in 1993, of course, but he can certainly slant the narrative.

Long story short, the narratives condemn what people did.

--J.D.
Mob of the Mean: Free beanie, cattle-prod and Charley Fan Club!
"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out."--Don
DocX: FTW.--sparks
"Doctor X wins again."--Pyrrho
"Never sorry to make a racist Fucktard cry."--His Humble MagNIfIcence
"It was the criticisms of Doc X, actually, that let me see more clearly how far the hypocrisy had gone."--clarsct
"I'd leave it up to Doctor X who has been a benevolent tyrant so far."--Grammatron
"Indeed you are a river to your people.
Shit. That's going to end up in your sig."--Pyrrho
"Try a twelve step program and accept Doctor X as your High Power."--asthmatic camel

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