Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anachronistic Monotheism

For a while, I have been reconsidering ancient Jewish and, therefore, early Christian conceptions of God. Our conceptions of "monotheism" just does not always (and in fact rarely) seems to fit the bill. Ken Schenck from Indiana Wesleyan University and I have been posting here and there on this issue. I have tried to shift the question away from "were ancient Jews monotheistic?" to "how monotheistic were ancient Jews?" The rephrasing suggests a spectrum of positions, and, in fact, we find that ancient Jews had a variety of viewpoints of other gods' existence and who those other gods were and where they fit in the continuum of divine life. Today, Ken has posted what I would consider a more nuanced handling of much of the evidence that shifts us away from modern (and therefore anachronistic) conceptions of "monotheism" altogether. The question is not "whether" or "how." Instead, our terminology of, conceptions of, or definitions of "monotheism" is wrong. Perhaps we out to drop the terminology altogether (as Paula Fredriksen has advocated), since it obscures the dynamics of ancient Jewish and Christian conceptions of the divine, and especially divine "power."

See his post on "Defining First Century Monotheism" here. See my extensive past discussion of "How Monotheistic Were Ancient Jews?" here.

1 comment:

Ken Schenck said...

I think that's a great way to put it!