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The Evolution of the Idea of God; An Inquiry Into the Origins of Religions
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1901. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... CHAPTER IX. THE GODS OF ISRAEL. The only people who ever invented or evolved a pure monotheism at first hand were the Jews. Individual thinkers elsewhere...
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1901. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... CHAPTER IX. THE GODS OF ISRAEL. The only people who ever invented or evolved a pure monotheism at first hand were the Jews. Individual thinkers elsewhere approached or aimed at that ideal goal, like the Egyptian priests and the Greek philosophers: entire races elsewhere borrowed monotheism from the Hebrews, like the Arabs under Mohammad, or, to a less extent, the Romans and the modern European nations, when they adopted Christianity in its trinitarian form: but no other race ever succeeded as a whole in attaining by their own exertions the pure monotheistic platform, however near certain persons among them might have arrived to such attainment in esoteric or mystical philosophising. It is the peculiar glory of Israel to have evolved God. And the evolution of God from the diffuse gods of the earlier Semitic religion is Israel's great contribution to the world's thought. The sacred books of the Jews, as we possess them in garbled forms to-day, assign this peculiar belief to the very earliest ages of their race : they assume that Abraham, the mythical common father of all the Semitic tribes, was already a monotheist ; and they even treat monotheism as at a still remoter date the universal religion of the entire world, from which all polytheistic cults were but a corruption and a falling away. Such a belief is nowadays, of course, wholly untenable. So also is the crude notion that monotheism was smitten out at a single blow by the genius of one individual man, Moses, at the THE HEBREWS POLYTHEISTS x8i moment of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. The bare idea that one particular thinker, just escaped from the midst of ardent polytheists, whose religion embraced an endless pantheon and a low form of animal-worship, could possibly have invented a pure monotheistic cult, is...
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