Religion & Beliefs

Judaism: Not Always A Monotheism?

The conversation about Paganism caused me to time-travel, back to my freshman year of college, when I learned that Judaism did not begin as a monotheistic faith. It began (say many scholars) as a Monolatry. I remember thinking that this … Read More

By / February 20, 2007

The conversation about Paganism caused me to time-travel, back to my freshman year of college, when I learned that Judaism did not begin as a monotheistic

faith. It began (say many scholars) as a Monolatry.

I remember thinking that this made a lot of sense.

A Monolatry is not a faith that professes to believe in only one god. It’s a faith that professes to worship only one god.

If you imagine a completely Pagan world, and the philosophical shift(s) the Jews had to make in order to become Jews, it makes a lot of sense that they would’ve gone through a transitional phase that didn’t require them to believe that the entire rest of the universe was totally insane.

According to this site:

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.

You know how we always hear about “the god of the Egyptians”. Well, there was one.

I bring this up today because I like the idea of a Monolotry, and in fact, I think maybe we’ve come full circle in our age of complexity and openness. In order for me to be both a real pluralist and a real Jew, I have to be able to respect people of other faiths and I want to believe that their faiths have real meaning for them.

I don’t want to just fake it all the time.

“Um, yeah… I’m a pluralistic progressive gal, so I’m sure your faith is meaningful for you (too bad it’s so damnwrong).”