The First Monotheisms. Pharoah Amenhotep IV in Egypt (1375 BC) Aton. 1. Zoroaster in Persia (Iran) . Babylonian captivity. Israel’s monotheism. 2. Israel’s henotheism. Jews read back monotheism into Torah. 3. Greek logos. Christianity : a Greek/Jewish synthesis. Islam.
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1. Zoroaster in Persia (Iran)
2. Israel’s henotheism
3. Greek logos
a Greek/Jewish synthesis
Spreads through the Levant and
the Mediterranean as part of the
Roman Empire (Europe, Western Civilization)
The Jews develop new type of monotheism where a personal God has a special relationship to a particular people (covenant).
Nomadic desert people develop a God that is not associated with one place, but is a God that follows them where the go. Better, a God that leads them to find pastures or toward a promised land.
Logos = spark of divine reason that dwells in each person (seeking a unifying principle in religion)
Greeks eventually personified the logos as Zeus; sang hymns of praise to him and prayed to him.
The Greeks never created a monotheism of their own, but instead Greek-speaking Jews adopted Christianity and it spread to non-Jews (gentiles) in the Mediterranean and Levant.
Described reality as being crafted from
a single uncreated material:
Thales: all is water.
Anaximenes: all is air.
How did this happen?
Empedocles posited 2 opposing forces shaping the 4 basic elements of the universe.
Love (or Harmony) tend to bring them together to create new things.
Hate (or Strife) tend to separate and dissolve things.
Cycle: unity & dissolution
Creation by Craftsmanship
Nous is “mind”. It is infinite and separate from matter. It is
what set matter in motion and allows it to change and
The Demiurge is divine, creative reason that shapes matter in space (the receptacle). It shapes matter to make it
resemble perfect “ideals” or “forms”, but matter is
stubborn and resists (hence, evil exists). The Demiurge
is a principle, not a personified god.