SGL: B Ruml
Motivations to take the course
Background in the Bible
Harvard: Shaye Cohen, Culture and Belief 39 (2013) ruml.com/thehebrewbible (link)
Yale: Christine Hayes, Intro to Hebrew Bible (2006) oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145 (link)
The mainstreaming of monotheism about 450 BCE meant that YHWH was the source of everything, including evil. The far more satisfying alternative was a second antagonistic force which came to be personified as Satan.
The "democratization" of Israelite religion following the final redaction of the Torah (400-350 BCE) and the focus on the study of scripture as a means of personal piety created for the first time the idea of an individual's relationship with YHWH.
The prophets' traditional formula (reward the righteous; punish the wicked) was therefore applied to individuals as well as to the community. But divine justice was clearly not being delivered during one's lifetime. The more satisfying alternative was that divine justice is delivered after death.
afterlife with just deserts
Trojan War: 1200 BCE
Homer(s): 850-700 BCE
First written Homer: 700 BCE
Golden Age (Pericles): 460 - 430 BCE
Plato: c.425 - 348 BCE
Aristole: 384 - 322 BCE
where's the division?
which was written earlier? when?
portrayal of God
King James: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
NRSV: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters."
JSB: "When God began to create heaven and earth -- the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water -- God said 'Let there be light'; and there was light."
creation as order, separation
note comfort with conflict (this is not history!)
Each nation had its guardian diety;
A nation's power reflected the power of its God;
One god may defeat another (e.g., 1 Kings 18);
The exodus is portrayed as establishing YHWH's superior power;
Covenant as fundamental to the Israel/YHWH relationship;
A jealous God, especially with repect to idolatry;
BUT actual religious practice was polytheistic (Jerimiah 44);
Constant exhortation means it continued unabated;
Was YHWH weaker than the Babylonian god? NO!
YHWH was using Babylon for his own purposes: to punish!
A focus on purging all foreign things (e.g., foreign wives)
YHWH now seen as a chief god over the inferior gods of the nations
Belittling those gods led to refusing to call them gods
"Monotheism thus became a by-product of patriotism"
"Discovery" of Deuteronomy in the Temple (622);
Major reform: centralization of worship in the Temple;
Cut short by Josiah's death in battle;
The Torah as the binding set of commandments;
Focus on group solidarity: prohibition of inter-marriage;
Democratization of worship; emergence of the synagogue;
religion as belief
the divine realm as transcendent
evil as an independent force
the afterlife as just deserts
salvation as redemption from sinful embodiment