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The Rise of Monotheism in Ancient Israel: Biblical and Epigraphic Evidence

Christopher A. Rollston
Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Studies
Emmanuel School of Religion

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Abstract

Christianity is an heir to the Jewish monotheism of the late Second Temple Period. However, based upon an inductive analysis of the Old Testament evidence, it is readily apparent that ancient Israelite religion was not originally monotheistic. Rather, during the centuries of the Old Testament period, monotheism developed gradually. In addition to the biblical material, Iron Age Hebrew epigraphic evidence and various other types of ancient Near Eastern evidence are employed within this article, as these provide a window on the broader cultural context of ancient Israel. Ultimately, therefore, this article suggests that the monotheistic faith of Israel was a final product of a long process of development and revelation. Of course, normative Christianity has consistently accepted the monotheism, and the Stone-Campbell Movement stands firmly within this tradition.

 
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Volume 23 Issue 1

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Spring 2020

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