collapse

* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?  (Read 6724 times)

Elizabeth

  • Sr. Apprentice
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 96
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« on: February 27, 2014, 10:31:50 am »
I have struggled with this in the past, as I was raised Christian and am once again part of a Christian faith (Orthodox).

I can no longer accept just have faith as an answer, because I keep coming back to square one.

How did YHWH, one of the sons of El in the Canaanite pantheon, become Creator and Ultimate God?

In Deut. 32:8, sons of God is used when it is said that YHWH was given his portion, by El Elyon (Almighty God). I have read many studies on this issue, both to prove it and disprove it. This one disputes the polytheistic view, and the citations seem sound: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/05-deuteronomy/text/articles/heiser-deut32-bs.htm

Obviously, anyone coming from the Christian side will want to dispute that YHWH was tribal. But evidence seems to strongly point this way.

Does anyone have any resources that may be helpful?
Quote
“I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” - Neil Gaiman

Allaya

  • Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2013
  • Location: Out of My Mind
  • Posts: 876
  • Country: no
  • Total likes: 31
    • View Profile
  • Religion: It's Complicated
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her/hers
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 10:45:12 am »
Quote from: Elizabeth;141124
I have struggled with this in the past, as I was raised Christian and am once again part of a Christian faith (Orthodox).

I can no longer accept just have faith as an answer, because I keep coming back to square one.

How did YHWH, one of the sons of El in the Canaanite pantheon, become Creator and Ultimate God?

In Deut. 32:8, sons of God is used when it is said that YHWH was given his portion, by El Elyon (Almighty God). I have read many studies on this issue, both to prove it and disprove it. This one disputes the polytheistic view, and the citations seem sound: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/05-deuteronomy/text/articles/heiser-deut32-bs.htm

Obviously, anyone coming from the Christian side will want to dispute that YHWH was tribal. But evidence seems to strongly point this way.

Does anyone have any resources that may be helpful?

 
You may find the book When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone to be quite illuminating. In short...the usual: warfare, forced assimilation, and a priestly caste hellbent on preserving their gravy-train.
Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.  — Shirley Chisholm
No doubt the truth can be unpleasant, but I am not sure that unpleasantness is the same as the truth.  — Roger Ebert
It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their livelihood depends upon them not understanding it. — Upton Sinclair (adapted)
People cannot be reasoned out of an opinion that they have not reasoned themselves into. — Fisher Ames (adapted)

DavidMcCann

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Nov 2013
  • Posts: 147
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 01:43:52 pm »
Quote from: Elizabeth;141124
How did YHWH, one of the sons of El in the Canaanite pantheon, become Creator and Ultimate God?
In Deut. 32:8, sons of God is used when it is said that YHWH was given his portion, by El Elyon (Almighty God). I have read many studies on this issue, both to prove it and disprove it.


I think your interpretation of that passage is correct. The site you refer to is run by an evangelical college: there's enough of my ancestors in me to distrust protestants (especially that sort) automatically ;)

Also there are so many other pointers in the OT, even after years of Jewish editing.
1. Yahweh tells Moses "I am the God of Abraham", not "I am God the Father" and Moses asks for his name. The Israelites cross the Red Sea singing "Who is like thee, Yahweh, among the Gods?"
2. Jephthah treats Yahweh and Kemosh as equivalents. (Judges 11)
3. Ahab and Jehoshaphat consult all the prophets, only one of whom is a prophet of Yahweh.
4. The kings of Israel put up inscriptions to El, Asherah, and Yahweh.
etc.

It was a slow process, taking from the 8th to the 5th century. A good source is The origins of Biblical Monotheism, by Mark S. Smith.

The first step seems to have been equating Yahweh to Hadad (Baal). The myth of Hadad and Yam become that of Yahweh and Leviathan. Psalms were recycled: 29 has passages that come straight from old Canaanite texts. The New Year festival was transferred from Hadad to Yahweh.The Mishnah describes the libation of water from the sacred spring during the prayers for the winter rains at the Feast of Tabernacles; Lucian describes an identical ritual for Hadad at Hierapolis.

Personally I take Jesus as turning the Jews from the false elevation of Yahweh back to the true worship of God. He teaches his disciples to pray "Our Father": is Yahweh ever addressed as father? In Canaanite texts Ilu/El is Father of Mankind. On the cross, he prayed "Eli", not "Adonai". But this view is very controversial.
Minorities are almost always in the right.
They haif said. Quhat say they? Lat thame say!

Nyktelios

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 562
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 04:42:58 pm »
Quote from: Elizabeth;141124
I have struggled with this in the past, as I was raised Christian and am once again part of a Christian faith (Orthodox).

I can no longer accept just have faith as an answer, because I keep coming back to square one.

How did YHWH, one of the sons of El in the Canaanite pantheon, become Creator and Ultimate God?

In Deut. 32:8, sons of God is used when it is said that YHWH was given his portion, by El Elyon (Almighty God). I have read many studies on this issue, both to prove it and disprove it. This one disputes the polytheistic view, and the citations seem sound: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/05-deuteronomy/text/articles/heiser-deut32-bs.htm

Obviously, anyone coming from the Christian side will want to dispute that YHWH was tribal. But evidence seems to strongly point this way.

Does anyone have any resources that may be helpful?

 
Politics, basically. As a group or tribe gets more power, they elevate their own localized deity to universal status.  I think it's similar to how localized minor Egyptian gods would become major state gods when a new dynasty came to power, and often like in Egyptian context, the new prominent deity gets identified with the old, as Horus, Ra, and Amun overlap and blend together quite a bit. It doesn't really bother me, personally. I think it's all the same at the core.

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 05:13:52 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;141125
You may find the book When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone to be quite illuminating. In short...the usual: warfare, forced assimilation, and a priestly caste hellbent on preserving their gravy-train.

 
Honestly, a lot of the historiography in that book is kind of a disaster, with a lot of theories and guesses presented as though they were evidence-supported historical fact, but yeah, there's some interesting ideas in there.
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 05:16:45 pm »
Quote from: DavidMcCann;141145
I think your interpretation of that passage is correct. The site you refer to is run by an evangelical college: there's enough of my ancestors in me to distrust protestants (especially that sort) automatically ;)

Also there are so many other pointers in the OT, even after years of Jewish editing.


I know I have said this to you in other threads but IT IS A JEWISH BOOK IT IS A JEWISH BOOK IT IS A JEWISH BOOK
(Okay, it is a compendium of numerous Jewish books.)
Your bizarre anti-Jewish quasi-scholarship is consistently divorced from fact.

Quote
Personally I take Jesus as turning the Jews from the false elevation of Yahweh back to the true worship of God. He teaches his disciples to pray "Our Father": is Yahweh ever addressed as father? In Canaanite texts Ilu/El is Father of Mankind. On the cross, he prayed "Eli", not "Adonai". But this view is very controversial.

 
It is controversial because it is not fact-based and is essentially anti-Semitic, Christian-supercessionist hokum.
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Yei

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 574
  • Country: au
  • Total likes: 147
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Mexica Reconstructionism
  • Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 05:59:42 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;141156
Politics, basically. As a group or tribe gets more power, they elevate their own localized deity to universal status.  I think it's similar to how localized minor Egyptian gods would become major state gods when a new dynasty came to power, and often like in Egyptian context, the new prominent deity gets identified with the old, as Horus, Ra, and Amun overlap and blend together quite a bit. It doesn't really bother me, personally. I think it's all the same at the core.

 
The thing is though, how was YHWH able to become the only god. Few other priesthoods went so far. Those that tried failed, like Akhenaten.

The political motives must have been broadly similar, so what allowed YHWH to take over, but not Aten?

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 06:04:11 pm »
Quote from: Rob;141167
The thing is though, how was YHWH able to become the only god. Few other priesthoods went so far. Those that tried failed, like Akhenaten.

The political motives must have been broadly similar, so what allowed YHWH to take over, but not Aten?

 
The Roman Empire, mostly?  It kind of comes down to temporal power, a lot of the time.
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Yei

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 574
  • Country: au
  • Total likes: 147
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Mexica Reconstructionism
  • Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 06:12:21 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;141171
The Roman Empire, mostly?  It kind of comes down to temporal power, a lot of the time.

 
I meant in the first place. Before the Roman Empire.

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10213
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 270
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 06:25:08 pm »
Quote from: DavidMcCann;141145
Personally I take Jesus as turning the Jews from the false elevation of Yahweh back to the true worship of God. He teaches his disciples to pray "Our Father": is Yahweh ever addressed as father? In Canaanite texts Ilu/El is Father of Mankind. On the cross, he prayed "Eli", not "Adonai". But this view is very controversial.

This is the one of the weirder interpretations I've heard. As far as I can tell it pure speculation which is probably at least one reason why it is very controversial.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 06:55:38 pm »
Quote from: Rob;141175
I meant in the first place. Before the Roman Empire.

 
No, I mean, this is the thing: Christianity was just an offshoot sect of Judaism without the context of the Roman Empire and the Pauline conversion of Gentiles; Judaism's strict monotheism was partially codified in relationship to existing under the occupation of polytheist military powers like the Roman Empire, and was further solidified in the post-Temple period; Christianity's further identification of the God YHVH as the perfect, infinite One comes partially from interaction with the ideas of Neoplatonists again via the Empire's crossroads of Mediterranean-wide ideas; and Christianity's widespread primacy and cultural power to declare their God the One God comes about because of Constantine, and their joining up with the political and military machine of said empire.

Before the Roman Empire's involvement, it was a lot murkier.  Even the period of increasingly strict monotheism (rather than henotheism) in Judaism, post Babylonian Captivity, posited a YHVH Who made all things, but wasn't so infinite He couldn't come have a chat with a mortal human.  We have to remember, too, that the Judaism most of us interact with is modern, rabbinical Judaism, which is not the same as the Judaism of 2000 years ago; it's been developing and evolving and in conversation with other religions this whole time.  Conflating archaic Judaism and modern Judaism is a common mistake that comes from a modern Christian tendency to treat Judaism as "done," as a project and people of the past that were fulfilled and superseded by Christianity, and therefore a static relic of history.
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Sefiru

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Nov 2013
  • Location: In the walls
  • Posts: 2008
  • Country: ca
  • Total likes: 466
    • View Profile
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 07:00:12 pm »
Quote from: Rob;141167
The thing is though, how was YHWH able to become the only god. Few other priesthoods went so far. Those that tried failed, like Akhenaten.

The political motives must have been broadly similar, so what allowed YHWH to take over, but not Aten?


As I recall, Karen Armstrong's A History of God touches on this process (which I also find fascinating). From what I remember reading, one thing that happened with Yahweh that didn't happen with Aten was the absorbing attributes from other tribal gods, and thus gradually growing larger in scope until he hit critical mass for omnipotence.

Yei

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 574
  • Country: au
  • Total likes: 147
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Mexica Reconstructionism
  • Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 07:12:01 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;141183
No, I mean, this is the thing: Christianity was just an offshoot sect of Judaism without the context of the Roman Empire and the Pauline conversion of Gentiles; Judaism's strict monotheism was partially codified in relationship to existing under the occupation of polytheist military powers like the Roman Empire, and was further solidified in the post-Temple period; Christianity's further identification of the God YHVH as the perfect, infinite One comes partially from interaction with the ideas of Neoplatonists again via the Empire's crossroads of Mediterranean-wide ideas; and Christianity's widespread primacy and cultural power to declare their God the One God comes about because of Constantine, and their joining up with the political and military machine of said empire.

Before the Roman Empire's involvement, it was a lot murkier.  Even the period of increasingly strict monotheism (rather than henotheism) in Judaism, post Babylonian Captivity, posited a YHVH Who made all things, but wasn't so infinite He couldn't come have a chat with a mortal human.  We have to remember, too, that the Judaism most of us interact with is modern, rabbinical Judaism, which is not the same as the Judaism of 2000 years ago; it's been developing and evolving and in conversation with other religions this whole time.  Conflating archaic Judaism and modern Judaism is a common mistake that comes from a modern Christian tendency to treat Judaism as "done," as a project and people of the past that were fulfilled and superseded by Christianity, and therefore a static relic of history.

 
I'm not sure if you understood my question. I was not asking about the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Nor was I discussing the differences or similarities between modern and ancient Judaism. Nor did I suggest that Judaism was 'done' or anything of the sort. What I was interested in was understanding the shift in ancient (pre-Roman) Jewish thinking that moved them religiously from polytheism towards monotheism in the first place, when many other religions have not followed this pattern.

yewberry

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 1775
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2014, 07:24:10 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;141125
You may find the book When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone to be quite illuminating. In short...the usual: warfare, forced assimilation, and a priestly caste hellbent on preserving their gravy-train.


There are far, far better history books on the subject that don't indulge in specious reasoning and outright fabrication.  Sefiru's recommendation is a good, accessible one.

Brina

Valentine

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 79
    • View Profile
  • Religion: get free; get others free; make new life in the aftermath
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: How did a tribal god (YHWH) become God of All?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2014, 08:03:28 pm »
Quote from: Rob;141185
I'm not sure if you understood my question. I was not asking about the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Nor was I discussing the differences or similarities between modern and ancient Judaism. Nor did I suggest that Judaism was 'done' or anything of the sort. What I was interested in was understanding the shift in ancient (pre-Roman) Jewish thinking that moved them religiously from polytheism towards monotheism in the first place, when many other religions have not followed this pattern.

 
Ah!  Yes, I was responding to a different understanding of your question, some, though also saying that that shift toward strict monotheism wasn't all the way baked before interaction with the Romans.
A lot of the scholarly theories about the Jewish shift from henotheism toward monotheism--because before it's henotheistic, maybe the people who would eventually be what we'd call Jews were polytheistic, but you can't really call them Jews and it's not clear who and what they were that far back--really are about adversarial interaction with polytheist neighbors.

You see some of this in the triumphal aspects of the older portions of Jewish scripture, like the Canticle of Miriam in what we now call the book Exodus, where YHVH triumphs over the Gods of Egypt in a way that makes it explicit that this is a real God beating other real Gods.  You see it, too, in both places the Commandments (ten or otherwise) show up--a distinction between "don't worship false Gods" and "don't worship other (real) Gods, or at least not before Me" where it's clear the mindset is one where only one God is to be worshipped, but other peoples have their other Gods, and those are real too.

(Some of this may also be related to some scholarly theories that suggest that "Hebrews" weren't really an identifiable people before Judaism, that they were essentially a diverse confederation of people who escaped slavery in Egypt or liberated their territories from Egyptian control, since there's almost no written Egyptian record of enslaving a particular ethnic group or taking in a huge slave population or of a people called "Hebrew," and "almost no written Egyptian record" is a really rare thing.  So the whole group of people who became Jews may have primarily formed as an identity based on "we escaped from the control of these powerful polytheists, and were rescued by this one particular God who decided to adopt us as a nation," and then developed into a more cohesive, distinct identity over time.)

Part of the big shift--and I know I've posted about this in other conversations--comes from the Babylonian Captivity.  Roughly, the Jews who were in Babylon had to police the borders of their identities much more while in diaspora, and in reaction against polytheistic conquerors, and formed a much more...sharply-defined-apart? community identity.  They had to fight to hold onto who they were and learned to see themselves as very different from their oppressors, who worshiped other Gods.  When they returned home to Canaan, they were horrified to discover that the Jews who had been able to stay had adapted differently--among other things by integrating and adopting some of the religious practices of their neighbors, like doing honor to Asherah and Ba'al Hadad. So there was a push, in part motivated by the pain of being conquered and taken away from home, to sharpen the lines between "us" and "them" that resulted in the purging of honoring Gods other than YHVH from Jewish practice, which made messes especially in a lot of familis where there was intermarriage.  And a lot of what we now recognize as the Hebrew Bible was codified in that aftermath period, and by the people invested in the purging.  (Consider the story of Abraham smashing the (Mesopotamian) idols of false Gods before heading to Canaan to worship El Shaddai.)

As to when the increasingly strict ban on worshiping other Gods became the notion of other Gods being false--when that sort of changed over--there's not a lot of good hard information on it.  It may have just been a natural progression from refusing to honor other Gods to refusing those Gods the honor of being considered real.  Some of it happened after the occupation recorded in the Hanukkah story, where the Temple was defiled and the followers of the Maccabees rebelled against being required to worship foreign Gods, and after their rebellion they were the ones restoring the Temple and its rites.  Some of it happened with the Roman occupation.  It's hard to pinpoint it as a moment.

Is that...more along the lines of what you were asking about, or am I aiming in the wrong direction again?
"Let be be finale of seem." - Wallace Stevens, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream"
"There isn't a way things should be.  There's just what happens, and what we do."
- Terry Pratchett, "A Hat Full of Sky"

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
48 Replies
5167 Views
Last post January 21, 2012, 01:58:36 pm
by SatSekhem
7 Replies
1880 Views
Last post May 27, 2012, 08:07:41 pm
by Annie Roonie
1 Replies
786 Views
Last post June 16, 2012, 08:05:27 pm
by Dragonoake
21 Replies
3333 Views
Last post October 12, 2014, 07:34:07 pm
by SunflowerP
8 Replies
1420 Views
Last post October 12, 2015, 09:22:24 pm
by Seax_Blade

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 36
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 2
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* Shop & Support TC

The links below are affiliate links. When you click on one of these links you will go to the listed shopping site with The Cauldron's affiliate code. Any purchases you make during your visit will earn TC a tiny percentage of your purchase price at no extra cost to you.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall