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Radical Change. Confucianism and Taoism (China) Pre-Socratics (Greece) Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism (India) Yahwehism (Hebrews) Zoroastrianism (Persia). The Persians: Achaemenid Empire (558-330 BCE). Migration of Medes and Persians from central Asia, before 1000 BCE Indo-Europeans

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Radical Change

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radical change
Radical Change
  • Confucianism and Taoism (China)
  • Pre-Socratics (Greece)
  • Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism (India)
  • Yahwehism (Hebrews)
  • Zoroastrianism (Persia)
the persians achaemenid empire 558 330 bce
The Persians: Achaemenid Empire (558-330 BCE)
  • Migration of Medes and Persians from central Asia, before 1000 BCE
    • Indo-Europeans
  • Capitalized on weakening Assyrian and Babylonian empires
  • Cyrus (r. 558-530 BCE) founder of dynasty
    • “Cyrus the Shepherd”
  • Peak under Darius (r. 521-486 BCE)
    • Ruled Indus to the Aegean
    • Capital Persepolis
  • 23 Administrative divisions
  • Satraps Persian, but staff principally local
  • System of spies, surprise audits
    • Minimized possibilities of local rebellion
  • Standardized currency for taxation purposes
  • Massive road building, courier services
  • Persian
  • origins in dispute
  • religion similar to the Aryans
  • Persians: Indo-Europeans
pre zoroastrian religion
Pre-Zoroastrian Religion
  • personified natural forces
  • terrestrial, atmospheric, celestial
the axial age
The Axial Age
  • ca. 600 B.C.
  • change in all major cultures
  • the Iron Age
  • more complex societies
  • nomadic vs. sedentary lifestyle
  • history uncertain
  • date uncertain
  • location uncertain
  • writings:the Gathas
  • part of the Avesta
  • traditional date: before 500 B.C.
  • new dating: before 1100 B.C.
    • based on linguistic evidence, not ancient stories
the gathas
The Gathas
  • poems
  • language difficult and archaic
  • unsystematic
zoroaster con t
Zoroaster, con’t
  • intellectual and ethical monotheist
  • dualist tendencies
    • a world divided between Good and Evil
    • between the god and his enemy
zoroaster con t1
Zoroaster, con’t
  • revelation from Ahura Mazda
  • Lord of Wisdom
  • modest and uncomplicated monotheism
  • emphasis on a cosmic struggle

Ahura Mazda

Spenta Mainyu


The Cosmic World

(truth, soul, mind)


The Physical World

(lie, body, flesh)

Aingru Mainyu

cosmic struggle
Cosmic Struggle
  • followers of Wisdom
  • followers of the Lie
ahura mazda
Ahura Mazda
  • one god
  • lofty and abstract
ahura mazda con t
Ahura Mazda, con’t
  • “He that in the beginning thought, “Let the blessed realms be filled with lights, he it is, who by his wisdom created Right...I have conceived of thee, Oh, Mazda, in my thought that you are, the First who is also the Last, the Father of Good Thought, the Lord to judge the actions of life.”
the world
The World
  • a battleground between Good and Evil
  • humans have a choice
  • helped by angelic spirits
    • Good Thought, Right Action, etc.
  • tempted by devils and demons
for the good
For the Good
  • prosperity in the present life
  • immortality and eternal reward
  • destruction of the world by fire
  • final judgment
  • reward: blissful heaven or a fiery hell
a new religion
A New Religion
  • Zoroaster condemned the old, bloody cults
  • intended his religion to be a universal, salvationist religion
  • offered one god to all of mankind
  • intended for the individual, not the group
individual responsibility
Individual Responsibility
  • right thinking and right conduct
    • Good thought, good words, good deeds
  • not a function of the “nation”
  • first religion to recognize the individual human
    • morality and ethics
    • individual responsibility
spread slowly
Spread slowly
  • mostly Persia
    • changed by the MAGI
    • following his death
  • fundamental influence on Judaism
  • Babylonian Captivity
  • Pharisees
  • Christianity
hebrew religion judaism
Hebrew religion / Judaism
  • traditional history
  • Abraham from Ur, in Sumer
  • basis in fact ??
  • Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford History of the Biblical World
jewish scriptures
Jewish Scriptures
  • record traditional history
  • relationship between Yahweh and His People
    • the Chosen People
hebrew bible
Hebrew bible
  • the Torah
  • the Prophets
  • the Writings
hebrew bible origins
Hebrew bible: Origins
  • difficult and complex
  • owes much to Mesopotamian models
  • but also Egyptian literature and Canaanite religion
historical source
Historical Source ??
  • very little of it is considered historical by Biblical scholars, archaeologists, and historians
  • but often all which is available
  • use with caution
  • not “historical” in the usual sense
  • focus is religious
    • often magnified all out of proportion
  • complied over hundreds of years
    • erratic and inconsistent
traditional history
Traditional history
  • the Patriarchal Period
  • the Judges
  • the Monarchy
  • the Babylonian Captivity
early events
Early events
  • Genesis
    • cosmological myth, not history
    • invented genealogy, not history
  • actual history
    • wanderings of semi-nomadic tribes
    • Semitic speaking
    • patriarchally organized
  • “Abraham and his descendants”
earliest possible date
Earliest Possible Date
  • Exodus
  • Ramses II
  • the Hapiru (Habiru)
  • the “divine Plan”
  • a tribal god, a war god
  • comes to demand exclusive worship
  • “no gods in front of me”
  • not monotheists
    • henotheists
    • monolatry
  • a local god of the Sinai
  • Some similarities with Baal and El
  • adopted by Moses
    • an Egyptian
    • or at least someone with an Egyptian name
  • a covenant
the law and the promised land
The Law and the Promised Land
  • Yahweh gave the Law
  • The Hebrews invade Palestine
  • the Hebrews killed everyone and everything to attain the Land
    • at the direction of Yahweh
    • divinely sanctioned genocide
    • “dedicated to Yahweh”
archaeological evidence
Archaeological evidence
  • inconclusive
  • no hard evidence for the biblical story
  • end of the Bronze Age
    • general upheaval
    • the Sea Peoples
early hebrew organization
Early Hebrew Organization
  • patriarchal
  • tribal
  • not a specific, related ethnic group
  • common denominator: Yahweh
fundamental changes
Fundamental Changes
  • adoption of monarchy
  • replacing old, tribal leaders
  • Gideon: no thanks
  • Saul: doesn’t know any better
yahweh only
Yahweh, Only ??
  • unable to maintain exclusive worship
  • sedentary lifestyle: complimentary deities
  • adopted many Canaanite gods
    • Yahweh got angry
  • adopted many Canaanite rituals
    • bloody sacrifice of living things
    • Yahweh was happy
    • traditional date: 1020-1000 B.C.
  • beginning of “historical period”
  • perhaps, perhaps not
  • succeeded by “David”
    • Archaeological evidence is in dispute
    • Jerusalem
    • united the tribes?
    • power vacuum in the area
  • by slaughter and invasion
  • by murder and marriage
  • “he was a man after God’s own heart”
  • Gulf of Aqaba to Syria
  • destruction of tribal institutions
the northern kingdom
The Northern Kingdom
  • destroyed by Sargon II, in 721 B.C.
  • Assyrian Empire
  • “ten northern tribes” disappear
the southern kingdom
The Southern Kingdom
  • destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar
  • 598 and 587
  • the Babylonian Captivity
development of monotheism
Development of monotheism
  • monarchy and captivity
  • time of great stress
  • evolution of Hebrew religion
the prophets
The Prophets
  • contemporary with the monarchy
  • representing older, Stone Age values
  • against the changes of the Iron Age
the prophets con t
The Prophets, con’t
  • supported the Yahweh-only idea during exile
  • Jeremiah and Ezekiel
  • Cyrus the Great
    • Persian conquest of Babylon
    • freed exiles
    • rebuilt temple in 538 B.C.
    • beginnings of monotheism
the prophets1
The Prophets
  • spokesmen for the older religion of the desert and the Stone Age
  • perceived by some as especially holy
    • soon claimed to be the ONLY spokesmen for Yahweh
    • excluding even the priests of Jerusalem
  • began to give unsolicited advice
    • political and social reformers
the prophets con t1
The Prophets, con’t
  • preservers of the Plan
  • the covenant
  • the salvation of a Faithful Remnant
  • destruction for all others
the prophets con t2
The Prophets, con’t
  • attacked the monarchy
  • attacked the priests
  • attacked the status quo
  • all are the very model of evil
  • punishment for wrongdoing
    • delivered by other nations
principal implications
Principal Implications
  • Yahweh controls other nations
  • Yahweh, therefore, controls the destiny (The History) of ALL Peoples
    • an instrument to chastise and punish His Chosen People
  • afterthought: justice and mercy
divine interventionist policy
Divine Interventionist Policy
  • to punish His People
  • and..incidentally...to punish evil and preserve the Good
  • introduction of a universality element
yahweh only1
  • Josiah: 621
  • cult of Yahweh
  • Deuteronomy
  • first hint of monotheism
yawehism 500 b c
Yawehism: 500 B.C.
  • fundamentally different
  • a universalist god and a limited number of people
  • more restricted than Zoroastrianism
  • Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities
  • victory for other gods???
  • what to do to maintain the covenant???
    • keep the Law more scrupulously
    • keep it more exactly
    • even if only a FEW will be saved in the kingdom of God
ezekeial and second isaiah
Ezekeial and Second Isaiah
  • justify the ways of God to Man
  • more rigorous obedience to the Law
  • looking forward to a New Kingdom
    • earthly
    • for the Righteous Few
  • influenced by Zoroastrianism
    • During and after the Babylonian Captivity
some books for you
Some Books for you
  • Mary Boyce. A History of Zoroastrianism
  • Robert M. Seltzer. Religions of Antiquity
  • Norman Cohn. Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come. The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith
  • P. Davies. In Search of Ancient Israel
  • I. Finkelstein. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Sacred Texts.
  • Richard Elliott Friedman. Who Wrote the Bible
  • K.L. Knoll. Canaan and Israel in Antiquity
  • A.S. van der Woude. The World of the Old Testament
  • B.S.J. Isserlin. The Israelites
  • William F. Albright. Pretty much anything….
  • Ancient Religions bibliography online:


more books
More books
  • William G. Dever. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?
  • William G. Dever. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?
  • William G. Dever. Did God Have A Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (…and his extensive bibliography)
  • M.P. Lemche. Early Israel
  • D.B. Redford. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
  • A. Ben Tor. The Archaeology of Ancient Israel
  • Susan Ackerman. Under Every Green Tree: Popular Religion in Sixth Century Judah