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A History of God. Chapter 1 In the Beginning. Theologian Karen Armstrong. Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence with A History of God .

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a history of god

A History of God

Chapter 1

In the Beginning

theologian karen armstrong
Theologian Karen Armstrong
  • Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence with A History of God.
  • "All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences."
  • They each have in common an emphasis upon the overriding importance of compassion.
a history of god1
A History of God
  • A History of Goddetails the history of the three great monotheistic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
  • Also included in the book are Buddhism and Hinduism.
  • The evolution of the idea of God is traced from its ancient roots in the Middle East up to the present day.
  • Polytheism is the belief in or worship of multiple deities, such as gods and goddesses.
  • Many religions have a belief in polytheism: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Ancient Greek Polytheism, Chinese folk religion, Neopagan faiths and Anglo-Saxon paganism.
ancient religion
Ancient Religion
  • The religions of Babylonia and Assyria are the earliest attestation of Ancient Semitic religion, in particular Mesopotamian mythology.
  • As with other ancient cultures in Mesopotamia and elsewhere, the predominant religious model in the area was polytheism, a belief in many gods.
jewish history
Jewish History
  • Traditionally Jews around the world claim descent mostly from the ancient Israelites, who settled in the land of Israel.
  • The Israelites traced their common lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.
  • Canaan is an ancient term for a region encompassing modern-day Israel and Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, plus adjoining coastal lands and parts of Jordan, Syria and northeastern Egypt.
canaanite god el
Canaanite God El
  • In the Canaanite religion, El or Il, was the supreme god, the father of humankind and all creatures and the husband of the Goddess Asherah as attested in the tablets of Ugarit.
  • Abraham, in the Book of Genesis, is the founding patriarch of the Israelites.
  • He is widely regarded as the patriarch of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and the founder of monotheism.
abraham s god
Abraham’s God
  • Abraham’s God appears close as a friend and sometimes even assumes human form.
  • Abraham can share a meal with God, argue with God.
  • God was close and familiar.
  • Isaacwas the only child of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau.
  • He is regarded as one of the patriarchs of the Jewish people.
child sacrifice
Child Sacrifice
  • God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Issac.
  • Abraham took the knife and raised his hand to kill his son.
  • At the last minute, an angel prevented him from doing so.
  • Instead of Isaac, Abraham sacrificed a ram.
  • Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham and Sarah.
  • Jacob wrestles all night with an angel. What does it mean?
  • Moses , Hebrew lawgiver, probably b. Egypt.
  • The prototype of the prophets, he led his people in the 13th cent. BC out of bondage in Egypt to the edge of Canaan.
god of moses yahweh
God of Moses: Yahweh
  • God of Moses is NOT the familiar God of Abraham.
  • The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Horeb.
  • God identifies himself as a mystery: Yahweh
god of elijah
God of Elijah
  • Elijah was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC.
  • God is identified as a divine entity who is not only capable of anger and punishment but can be quiet, gentle, and transcendent.
axial age 800 bc to 200 bc
Axial Age: 800 BC to 200 BC
  • The axial age [800 BC to 200 BC] during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India and the West.
axial age china
Axial Age: China
  • In China, many individual thinkers, such as Confucius and Lao-Tse began to reflect on the ethical and metaphysical implications of human existence.
  • From their teachings arose Confucianism and Daoism.
axial age india
Axial Age: India
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism
axial age palestine
Axial Age: Palestine
  • In Palestine, the prophets Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Deutero-Isaiah made their appearance.
  • Birth of Monotheism in the Middle East.
axial age ancient greece
Axial Age: Ancient Greece
  • Greece produced Homer, the philosophers Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato, the tragic poets, Thucydides and Archimedes.
plato s god
Plato’s God
  • God is transcendent-the highest and most perfect being-and one who uses eternal forms, or archetypes, to fashion a universe that is eternal and uncreated.
  • Among the divine Forms [eternal ideas], the Good represents supreme reality.
aristotle s god
Aristotle’s God
  • God, the highest being (though not a loving being), engages in perfect contemplation of the most worthy object, which is himself.
  • He is thus unaware of the world and cares nothing for it, being an unmoved mover.
aristotle s and plato s god
Aristotle’s and Plato’s God
  • Imitating God: Wisdom is the highest of human virtues.
  • Wisdom is expressed in contemplation of philosophical truth.
  • Aristotle and Plato make us divine by thinking, imitating God.
conclusion axial age
Conclusion: Axial Age
  • In the new ideologies of the Axial Age, human life contained a transcendent element.
  • In different cultures the transcendent was interpreted differently.