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How did Monotheism Develop?

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==The New Monotheism==
Perhaps more critical to monotheism is not what occurred in the period of Judah and Israel but what happened afterwards. In 587 BC, Jerusalem was sacked, which constituted a major crisis for the Jewish population of Judah.<ref>For a history on the exile of the Jews from Judah see: Lipschitz, Oded, and Joseph Blenkinsopp, eds. 2003. ''Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period’’’’. Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns.</ref> Many elites were taken to Babylon and this began a long period of the Jewish diaspora in places such as Mesopotamia (i.e., Iraq) that lasted until after World War II. We see soon after this period a greater emphasis on Yahweh, while other gods are now depicted in a negative light and Yahweh is mentioned as the only god.<ref>For indication of monotheism during the post-Babylonian exile period and its predecessors see: Schneider, Laurel C. 2008. ''Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity''. London, [England] ; New York: Routledge.</ref> In other words, the theology began to be monotheistic by at least after the period of the exile in Babylon. This could be due to the fact that the main temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem was destroyed, negating any way to properly worship the god. Regardless, what is clear is monotheism only began to obtain greater traction after the destruction of the temple to Yahweh in Jerusalem.
Perhaps also critical to these developments were other religious changes occurring to the Near East from the period of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) and later. This period introduces a new god, Ahura Mazda, to the wider Near East. While this may not seem significant, this god began to be associated with the emerging religion of Zoroastrianism.<ref>For information about Zoroastrianism see: Boyce, Mary. 1996. ''A History of Zoroastrianism''. 3rd impression, with corrections. Handbuch Der Orientalistik. Erste Abteilung, Der Nahe Und Mittlere Osten, 13. Bd., Religion, 1. Abschnitt, Religionsgeschichte des Alten Orients, Lfg. 2, Heft 2A. Leiden ; New York: E.J. Brill.</ref> This faith eventually (i.e., this is unclear how this religion develops or when it develops its main tenants) becomes likely the earliest faith which depicts a single good god fighting an evil deity (Angra Mainyu) in a great cosmic struggle affecting the whole world (i.e., a universal faith). Furthermore, this good vs. evil struggle is also depicted in the eventual resurrection of the dead during a judgment day on Earth, where the good go to a type of heaven. What this suggests is that Judaism, or at least very likely Christianity, may have been influenced by Zoroastrianism’s concepts of good vs. evil, as the major tenants that Christianity adopts, such as the concept of God vs. Satan and judgment day, were already present in Zoroastrianism.
What is also telling is that monotheism only appears to emerge during a period when larger states and empires were present. In fact, all religions that we can call monotheistic, or more accurately universal religions (i.e., a religion relevant to all people and not just a population group; e.g., Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Manichaeism) develop at a time of large scale empires where kings were now being called “king of kings” and seen as unifiers of many people.<ref>For the concept of “king of kings” and larger unification of multiple populations during the period of the large empires see: Shayegan, M. Rahim. 2011. ''Arsacids and Sasanians: Political Ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia''. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.</ref> In essence, before a single or universal god became the norm, the concept of a universal king or emperor became well established. This likely makes the idea of a single political unity more palatable for multiple population groups. We know universal empires sought to unify people through a common government and other common cultural links, including through the economy.<ref>For information about emerging concepts of universalism in empires see: Cline, Eric H., and Mark W. Graham. 2011. ''Ancient Empires: From Mesopotamia to the Rise of Islam''. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.</ref> Therefore, it may not be a surprise that universal empires helped to create philosophies of universal religions and ideas, as the ideas of greater unity between populations had already become well established. On the other hand, during the period when Yahweh, for instance, was the chief god in Judah, we see no evidence that this god was considered the only god and certainly he was only associated with the Jewish people. In essence, the mental constructs of god in the pre-Babylonian exile period (i.e., before the 6th century BC) do not appear to incorporate God as being the only god. The development seems to happen later, perhaps under the presence of empires and/or the desire to transform an existing religion due to changes in political circumstances such as the loss of Jerusalem.

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