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Chapter 1 In the Beginning

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1 Chapter 1 In the Beginning
A History of God Chapter 1 In the Beginning

2 Theologian Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence with A History of God. "All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences." They each have in common an emphasis upon the overriding importance of compassion.

3 A History of God A History of God details the history of the three great monotheistic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Also included in the book are Buddhism and Hinduism. The evolution of the idea of God is traced from its ancient roots in the Middle East up to the present day.

4 Polytheism Polytheism is the belief in or worship of multiple deities, such as gods and goddesses. Many religions have a belief in polytheism: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Ancient Greek Polytheism, Chinese folk religion, Neopagan faiths and Anglo-Saxon paganism.

5 Ancient Religion The religions of Babylonia and Assyria are the earliest attestation of Ancient Semitic religion, in particular Mesopotamian mythology. As with other ancient cultures in Mesopotamia and elsewhere, the predominant religious model in the area was polytheism, a belief in many gods.

6 Jewish History Traditionally Jews around the world claim descent mostly from the ancient Israelites, who settled in the land of Israel. The Israelites traced their common lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.

7 Canaan Canaan is an ancient term for a region encompassing modern-day Israel and Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, plus adjoining coastal lands and parts of Jordan, Syria and northeastern Egypt.

8 Canaanite God El In the Canaanite religion, El or Il, was the supreme god, the father of humankind and all creatures and the husband of the Goddess Asherah as attested in the tablets of Ugarit.

9 Abraham Abraham, in the Book of Genesis, is the founding patriarch of the Israelites. He is widely regarded as the patriarch of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and the founder of monotheism.

10 Abraham’s God Abraham’s God appears close as a friend and sometimes even assumes human form. Abraham can share a meal with God, argue with God. God was close and familiar.

11 Issac Isaac was the only child of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau. He is regarded as one of the patriarchs of the Jewish people.

12 Child Sacrifice God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Issac. Abraham took the knife and raised his hand to kill his son. At the last minute, an angel prevented him from doing so. Instead of Isaac, Abraham sacrificed a ram.

13 Jacob Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, the grandson of Abraham and Sarah. Jacob wrestles all night with an angel. What does it mean?

14 Moses Moses , Hebrew lawgiver, probably b. Egypt.
The prototype of the prophets, he led his people in the 13th cent. BC out of bondage in Egypt to the edge of Canaan.

15 God of Moses: Yahweh God of Moses is NOT the familiar God of Abraham.
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Horeb. God identifies himself as a mystery: Yahweh

16 God of Elijah Elijah was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC.
God is identified as a divine entity who is not only capable of anger and punishment but can be quiet, gentle, and transcendent.

17 Axial Age: 800 BC to 200 BC The axial age [800 BC to 200 BC] during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India and the West.

18 Axial Age: China In China, many individual thinkers, such as Confucius and Lao-Tse began to reflect on the ethical and metaphysical implications of human existence. From their teachings arose Confucianism and Daoism.

19 Axial Age: India Hinduism Buddhism Jainism

20 Axial Age: Palestine In Palestine, the prophets Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Deutero-Isaiah made their appearance. Birth of Monotheism in the Middle East.

21 Axial Age: Ancient Greece
Greece produced Homer, the philosophers Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato, the tragic poets, Thucydides and Archimedes.

22 Plato’s God God is transcendent-the highest and most perfect being-and one who uses eternal forms, or archetypes, to fashion a universe that is eternal and uncreated. Among the divine Forms [eternal ideas], the Good represents supreme reality.

23 Aristotle’s God God, the highest being (though not a loving being), engages in perfect contemplation of the most worthy object, which is himself. He is thus unaware of the world and cares nothing for it, being an unmoved mover.

24 Aristotle’s and Plato’s God
Imitating God: Wisdom is the highest of human virtues. Wisdom is expressed in contemplation of philosophical truth. Aristotle and Plato make us divine by thinking, imitating God.

25 Conclusion: Axial Age In the new ideologies of the Axial Age, human life contained a transcendent element. In different cultures the transcendent was interpreted differently.

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