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Origin of Monotheism, or Was Moses an Egyptian Priest of Aten?


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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2012 4:57:05 PM PST
Good question. Where's Rachel?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2012 5:39:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2012 5:41:45 PM PST
CDaniels says:
If one believes in monotheism, yes, they may be considered essentially the same. On the other hand, one can believe in monism and still be an atheist. Personally, I believe monotheism probably was invented and re-invented several times in several different places. The distinction of the Hebrew Bible is that it placed an emphasis on the written word, the scriptures themselves, and not its monotheism. (although of course believers want to make the ancient Hebrews 'special' in their monotheism)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2012 5:43:04 PM PST
Rachel says:
No;

Monism says that there is one god above others.
Monotheism says that there is JUST one GD.

Rachel

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2012 5:44:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 4:18:44 PM PST
Rachel says:
Not as an atheist!

You can be a polytheist and a Monist and have one god above the others like Ra.

Rachel

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 5:48:28 PM PST
Lupus says:
An interesting essay written from Voltaire regarding Moses and the Book of Exodus. Did Moses really existed? Did he wrote Pentateuch? Click the link below, read it and think whatever you want. It is easy to read and you cannot find it in any contemporary edition because this one, as many other parts, has been omitted.
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/v/voltaire/dictionary/chapter335.html

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2012 5:51:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2012 5:52:14 PM PST
Rachel says:
Wolf:

that is true. We know more about Buddha or Mohammed than we know about Moses.

Did you meet your great great grandparents? Do they tell you stories about them. If there is no material about them that means you relatives did not exist?

Rachel

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 5:58:50 PM PST
Lupus says:
I quoted Voltaire. Those are questions raised in his essay. By the way did you read it?

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 9:35:45 PM PST
Menkaure says:
Rachel says:
"No asn atheist you can be a polytheist, and have one god above the others like Ra."

Uh, no. An atheist believes in no gods or supernatural beings at all. Zero. A person can not be an atheist and a polytheist at the same time.

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 9:58:54 AM PST
So Bibel god is a Monist?

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 10:04:33 AM PST
Man, I need to learn to spell.

Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 3:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Bible God clearly says there are other gods.

Bible God believes in Monism.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 10:54:21 AM PST
*So Bibel god is a Monist?

No. The ideas of monism didn't exist. They are more of a product of Greek philosophy. God was a being but not all of creation. Creation was something that god directed by fiat.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 11:09:41 AM PST
I think the point here is:
Monism says that there is one god above others.
In Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 3 God is saying the same thing.

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 12:26:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 1:32:38 PM PST
(Please excuse the length of what follows. I tried to make it as tidy as possible.)

"Other than Egypt there seems to be little sources for the one god religion."

The idea that there is one supreme overarching "Holy Spirit" or "Godhead" who transcends individual "gods" has been an integral part of most Hindu thought for a very, very long time. Longer than the Bible has been around, easily, and probably from well before Akhenaten.

Talking about Hinduism is a bit dicey because it's almost a case of, ask 10,000 Hindus what they believe, and you'll get 10,000 different stories, but my first sentence is a good generality to start from.

One could fairly well describe Hinduism as BOTH monotheistic and polytheistic, employing a sort of fusion of two rather different "theisms," a fusion which fits pretty well with at least one of the descriptions of "monism" described by previous writers on this thread.

Thus leading me to my "trade and travel" hypothesis of the origins of Biblical cultures. Egypt was at the western end of the Fertile Crescent, Iraq and Elam (southeastern Iran, later to become the original Persia after the Indo-European invasion) at its eastern end. In between was Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and south central/southeastern Turkey, the homelands of the West Semites, generally lumped together in the Bible as "Canaanites," from whom the 6th century BC Post-Exilic redactors/editors of the Bible wished to clearly distinguish themselves.

My hypothesis begins with the proposition that there really was a person or persons who can be clearly identified with Abraham and his kin (or could, if we knew all the missing details about them.) They were East Semites from somewhere along the Euphrates whose culture originated in southern Iraq, among people who were native to the region before the Sumerians migrated southward from the vicinity of Samarra, around 80 miles north of Baghdad.

Some evidence for the previous paragraph includes:

(1) A passage from a letter of the Assyrian king Sennacherib to King Hezekiah, quoted in 2 Kings 19:12 and Isaiah 37:12, and referring to, as translated in the Jerusalem Bible, "the Edenites that were at Tel Basar." Sounds interesting similar to Bazra to me. The context of the quote, however, places Tel Basar/Thelasar (KJV) among cities from northeastern Iraq/south central Turkey, the northernmost extensions of the Euphrates watershed. Significantly including Haran, by the way.

Many Jews and most Muslims believe that Abraham's original Ur was identical with the region of Edessa in northeast Mesopotamia, now known as Şanlıurfa, in southern Turkey, and please don't ask me how it's pronounced. Well, due to the proximity of Edessa to Haran, and the central importance of Haran to the narrative of the patriarchs of Genesis, I can see why they might want to think so, but I still harbor the strong suspicion that the historical basis of Abraham was a person or persons from the older civilizations of southern Iraq. See also:

(2) Comparing and contrasting the Eden narrative with Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh and the Babylonian Enuma Elish, we find some similarities among all three, but the latter writing, a big puff piece for the Babylonian chief god Marduk, we find to be a bloody tale of violence and conquest by Marduk. In Gilgamesh, we find a much more peaceful narrative, much closer to gods who can remind us of the "gardener god" of Genesis.

This points towards Abraham's people as being originally among those very same Pre-Sumerian indigenous Southern Iraqis I mentioned earlier.

Well, north or south, maybe it's a moot point. But it seems clear to me that the origins of the Hebrews/Israelites lie in Mesopotamia, not in "Canaan." Abraham, if he existed, was an Iraqi. To which I might add, I'm pretty sure that somebody very much LIKE him must have existed, and decided early on to "go west, young man." Which first meant going north, to the top part of the arch of the Fertile Crescent.

...Which brings me back to the other great primordial civilization of Western Asia, namely modern-day Pakistan/northwest India. In the days of Abraham, or shortly thereafter, Hinduism was being formed out of the fusion of the culture of the Indo-European migrants into the Indus Valley, and the original Harappan / Mohenhjo-Daro culture (apparently very peaceful and prosperous, BTW, almost like a lost "golden age" society, before the "Aryans" moved in.)

Now, at this point, I could go on and on about the parallels between the development of Hinduism and the origins of Judaism, but I think I'd probably bore even myself to tears if I did. But here are some things we know:

-- Before the advent of agriculture, and the consequent development of civilization as we know it, people moved around a lot more than they did after they had farms to protect. This pattern diminished somewhat after the rise of the earliest civilizations, and it rather changed in character, becoming more of a trade-oriented mesh of cultural interpenetrations. But it never really went away.

The ancestors of the Hindus and the ancestors of the Hebrews surely knew each other much better than we usually imagine. For that matter, the ancestors of the Hindus and the Egyptians almost certainly knew more of each other than we can imagine.

Somewhat parenthetical: By the time of Jesus, even the Chinese, the most isolated of the great ancient civilizations, were in on the game. A small cadre of Chinese traders were living in Alexandria, and at one point Jesus appears to be quoting/paraphrasing from the Tao Te Ching. Others have found some traces of Hinduism and Buddhism in early Christian thought. Well, Jesus grew up just four miles from the trade center of Sepphoras. Perhaps he travelled and studied in India, as some people think, but he need not have. All the ideas and legends of civilized Eurasia passed by his doorstep.

-- The period of the 18th and 19th dynasties of Egypt, and the Second Intermediate Period before it, saw a lot of turmoil in and around Egypt. Among other things, we have:

--The Second Intermediate period saw the rule of Egypt by foreigners ("Hyksos" in the Egyptian language.) These were invaders from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean; Canaanites, basically. In my opinion, these were the "Pharoahs who knew Joseph" alluded to in Exodus, by contrast with the Pharoahs of Moses' time. They were all West Asians, so they knew how to get along fairly well with Joseph's people.

--There was a mind-bogglingly enormous volcanic eruption in the Aegean brought on a sort of "nuclear winter" that may have disrupted every civilization touched by the darkening of the skies; is this the origin of Moses' "plague of darkness?" Which, along with the first Passover, doesn't fit terribly well with the "red tide" hypothesis I mentioned in my earlier post. Well, we need not believe that all the "plagues of Egypt" described in Exodus actually happened in Moses' time, if we believe in a historical Moses, to believe they may have had SOME historical root.

--Sometime not long after, the Dorian invasion of Greece dealt the final death blow to the Pelasgian/Mycenaean/Minoan civilizations of Greece and the Aegean, and set the "Sea Peoples" into motion into Egypt and the eastern shore. At around the same time as the origins of the tales of Moses and Joshua, the Philistines were setting up shop around the Gaza strip. "Philistine," and later "Palestine," are most likely derived from the same root as "Pelasgian."

Postscript to the previous paragraph: somebody before me on this thread is giving the Greeks more credit than they can possibly deserve. By the time the Old Testament was being cast into its final form, they were still only minor players in West Asian culture. Sure, Greek-speaking Jews gave us the Septuagint, but scholars who have studied the Dead Sea Scrolls seem pretty clear that the Septuagint is a pretty straightforward translation of the original Hebrew, and that the translators did no apparent editing to cater to Greek tastes. The Greeks had an enormous influence on the development of the New Testament, almost none on the Old.

-- To summarize as best as I can, the core ideas we associate with monotheism/monism may have begun in Pakistan and spread to Iraq, or may have begun in Iraq and spread both east and west from there. The LEAST plausible hypothesis to me is that the whole idea began in Egypt and moved east from there.

Now of course, there's quite a bit of internal evidence in the Old Testament that monotheism among the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews didn't exactly HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, if you know what I mean. But that's a very long story, and not necessarily all that relevant to the original question, so I'll leave it for another day, if ever.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 2:23:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 4:05:31 PM PST
Mens Sana says:
Elagabalus,
It has received little attention, but there is an Egyptian pedestal inscription in a Berlin museum that indicates "Israel" was in Canaan some 200 years before the Merneptah stele.

An article on the inscription is available in Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 2012

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 4:06:12 PM PST
Rachel says:
Wolf:

is that question to me. Yes, I have read all Voltaire.
Since we was anti- Church and he was afraid to be kicked out of France3, he also used the Hebrew Canon to attack the Church!

Rachel

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 4:15:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2012 1:18:33 PM PST
Rachel says:
Spiritiual architect:

If you are talking to me post this to me. I am an honest adversary, I will not hurt you!
Post and use my name.

Wrong: The Bible recognizes that they are idolaters and that GD is telling the Jewish people: not to follow those idolaters.

Yes, they are other gods for other people, that is recognized in the Bible.

*If there were only monotheism at the time, there was then NO need to say "you shall not have other gods." I am Gd your Gd who took you out of Egypt. Thou shaLl not have other gods than I. Thou shall not use my name in vain. Meaning do not lie and say I swear to GD x or Y.

The Christians changed those commandments, to a different order because they do no tie themselves to the coming out of Egypt. Whether we can prove this or not that another story. and It tires me that people like Dickerson want to twist my history and attack my people.

As for monism, yes there is a discussion in Hebrew about the first use of the GD in plural. Probably because of Monism, but advising the Jewish people to disregard that, and go straight to Monotheism.

Rachel

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 4:20:11 PM PST
Rachel says:
Plus for everybody;

I did not explain myself well in a post.

Am atheist is a non- believer.

You can be a polytheist and a monist at the same time.

Rachel

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 10:22:54 AM PST
Dear Rachel.

The former post was a statement for everyone.

As for you... If your children were going outside to play and you told them to stay away from the Xelcelberters, why would you do that if you knew there were no such things as Xelcelberters?

Were you only joking?

If there were no other Gods then GOD would not need to worry about it. Unless GOD is super egotistical.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 10:33:49 AM PST
@PAII ~ They say if you want to sell a movie, the plot needs to fit on a 3x5 card.
Everyone here is trying to sell a movie, but you brought the whole film.
Great post. Keep up the good work.

Rachel too has written some long post that are good reads [see Noahs Flood]. So I would venture to say that she, like I, enjoys a good story too. So why don't you start a new thread about monotheism not being an overnight sensation. You should have at the very least, a readership of two.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 10:49:27 AM PST
"... "plague of darkness?" Which, along with the first Passover, doesn't fit terribly well with the "red tide" hypothesis"

PAII ~ Since you brought up the plagues... Possible scientific explanation for the Exodus:

The volcano of Thera went off between 1650 - 1450 BCE [depending on whom you are reading].
The Exodus should have occurred at the time of the eruption [1628?].

In Africa a few years back - though it was NOT a major eruption - all the tell tale signs [plagues] mentioned in Exodus occurred.
This included the fact that gasses rose off a lake at night and killed everyone on ground level.
The poor in Egypt slept mostly on rooftops.
The Egyptian "first born" slept on beds not more than 3 feet off the ground - generally next to the Nile River.
Of course not just the first born - but everyone who slept near the ground would have died.
But the book of Exodus - written after the fact - only mentions the first born.
That does not mean that there were many others that died who were not first born.
As has been pointed out - it is the victors write the "history".

The tidal wave associated with the eruption could have caused the waters in the Sea Of Reeds to "part" - thus enabling a crossing at one of its shallow points. Whereas when the chariots tried to cross they could have been stuck in the mud with waters rising [returning]. And thus a large part of the Egyptian army drowning.

A god wanting to take a group of people out of a city center - and turn them into nomads that he could control - could have foreseen what was coming.
~

"The lake had changed, too. It was now shallower; plants and leaves floated in it; and its formerly picturesque blue hue had darkened into RUST."

http://science.howstuffworks.com/lake-nyos.htm

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 11:13:24 AM PST
You are correct that Aten and Adon are not the same word. People also overlook the fact that Adon in the Bible is used when referring to humans, i.e as in 'my lord' when addressing a superior. It is hardly ever used to refer to a Deity.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 7:30:50 PM PST
*Am atheist is a non- believer.

Atheism the faith and belief that there is no god. There is basically no accountability for human actions beyond this world. It would be more interesting to get some ideas of ethics of that religion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 7:34:29 PM PST
*As for you... If your children were going outside to play and you told them to stay away from the Xelcelberters, why would you do that if you knew there were no such things as Xelcelberters?

There are many visions and versions of god. Most critics simply say he is the angry guy of the old testament. Still god is also first cause. I like the third or formal cause which is why is the universe the way it is. What created this DNA chain to be me and that one you. Why do we have these set of laws and not some other set. More importantly is the source of will. How do we get this seemingly something from nothing where we through our will can animate matter in service of perception.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 7:43:49 PM PST
*Rachel too has written some long post that are good reads [see Noahs Flood]. So I would venture to say that she, like I, enjoys a good story too. So why don't you start a new thread about monotheism not being an overnight sensation. You should have at the very least, a readership of two.

I think the Bible is a collection of myths histories and moral lessons. It is a human creation to catalog experience and morals through time. It is a time when people had to deal with problems that we take for granted. No doubt they did not have the same ideas of cause and effect that we do. They simply saw lying angers god and he pushes us with those effects. I think people of all times wrestled with the same basic problems that the Bible is a series of moral lessons and a moral disposition to best deal with those problems.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2012 7:47:56 PM PST
Why do the stories of Exodus have to be a single narrative but a composite of stories that could have happened over many years and can be unconnected events. From a historical perspective that is should be compared with the works of Homer which tell a story that was a narrative for events that happened at least a half millennium before. We are not dealing with written stories. Yes there are histories but retelling past event as we do but to use past events to reinforce some message that is more important.
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Discussion in:  History forum
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Initial post:  Jan 27, 2010
Latest post:  Mar 19, 2012

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