[b-hebrew] mono- v's poly- theismin the torah

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Jul 29 10:34:24 EDT 2005

James C Read wrote:
> you have admitted that certain passages in the tanak acknowledge all other
> gods to be lifeless and this is certainly the tradtional and modern
> understanding of the hebrew scriptures in their entirety.

It is the traditional.  It is not the modern understanding of the
Scriptures in their

> I personally have good reason to believe that the original authors of the
> books of the tanak are as tradition holds Moses, Joshua, etc etc. 

I am not sure what your reasons are, but since it is clear (see below) that
you are not versed in the current theories regarding the various books, it is
possible your beliefs are partially due to lack of exposure to modern 

> While there
> are scholars who disagree with this opinion it is certainly clear that the
> books were written in this general chronological order and so their true
> authors is irrelevant for my question which follows:

No, it is not clear.  For example, it is generally believed that Joshua is much 
later than Judges and that some Psalms are very early, predating many of the
prior books.  Within the Pentateuch itself there are generally believed to be
four sources of which one (the Priestly) may date very late (and even those 
who date it early, date it later than some other sources) while other Pentateuch
sources date very 

> If what you say is true then we would expect to see a gradual change in the
> scriptures which reflects a general change in hebrew thinking in this regard.
> We would expect this gradual change to range from a pantheon of gods with only
> one true and rather jealous god to be worshipped to a totally montheistic
> concept with all other gods being considered as man-made creations.
> At one point in time do you place this shift to have been complete?

It is generally believed that this happened during the Persian period.
 For example,
Ezra Nehemiah attribute to Cyrus a belief in God, but it is clear
(from archeological
sources) that his dynasty did not believe in Yahweh.  On the other
hand, during the
Persian period, we find in Elephantine a Temple of Yahweh worshippers who 
worshipped Yahweh alongside other gods.  That is my understanding, in any case.

Yitzhak Sapir

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