Is Monotheism not an Old Testament idea?

Consider this quote from an essay contained in The HarperCollins Study Bible, entitled Israelite Religion by Ronald Hendel:

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
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Early biblical texts seem to acknowledge that gods of other nations exist (see Deut 32.8).  The nations each have their own god, but Yahweh is Israel‘s god.  This seems to be the earliest sense of the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20.3).  Yahweh is Israel’s high god, who delivered his people from slavery and oppression, and he is entitled to Israel’s exclusive worship and loyalty.  Other national gods exist, but Yahweh is Israel’s god and is the greatest god.  This type of worship is sometimes called monolotry (the worship of one god without denying the existence of others) or henotheism (belief in one god without denying the existence of others).  A more thoroughgoing monotheism, which denies the existence of other gods, is the product of the prophetic and Deuteronomistic critique that developed during the eighth through the sixth centuries BCE.

Here is Deuteronomy 32:8 (NRSV):

When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixethe boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods.

Christians will obviously interpret this differently, and their Bibles likely contain a different translation of the above verse.  Just goes to show you how different a picture you can construct of history and religion when not confined within the boundaries of faith.

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12 responses to “Is Monotheism not an Old Testament idea?

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