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Radical Change Confucianism and Taoism (China) Pre-Socratics (Greece) Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism (India) Yahwehism (Hebrews) Zoroastrianism (Persia)

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Presentation on theme: "Radical Change Confucianism and Taoism (China) Pre-Socratics (Greece) Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism (India) Yahwehism (Hebrews) Zoroastrianism (Persia)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Radical Change Confucianism and Taoism (China) Pre-Socratics (Greece) Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism (India) Yahwehism (Hebrews) Zoroastrianism (Persia)

2 The Persians: Achaemenid Empire (558-330 BCE) Migration of Medes and Persians from central Asia, before 1000 BCE –Indo-Europeans Capitalized on weakening Assyrian and Babylonian empires Cyrus (r. 558-530 BCE) founder of dynasty –“Cyrus the Shepherd” Peak under Darius (r. 521-486 BCE) –Ruled Indus to the Aegean –Capital Persepolis

3 Characteristics 23 Administrative divisions Satraps Persian, but staff principally local System of spies, surprise audits –Minimized possibilities of local rebellion Standardized currency for taxation purposes Massive road building, courier services


5 Zoroastrianism Persian origins in dispute religion similar to the Aryans Persians: Indo-Europeans

6 Pre-Zoroastrian Religion personified natural forces terrestrial, atmospheric, celestial

7 The Axial Age ca. 600 B.C. change in all major cultures the Iron Age more complex societies nomadic vs. sedentary lifestyle

8 Zoroaster history uncertain date uncertain location uncertain

9 Zoroaster writings: the Gathas part of the Avesta traditional date: before 500 B.C. new dating: before 1100 B.C. –based on linguistic evidence, not ancient stories

10 The Gathas poems language difficult and archaic unsystematic

11 Zoroaster, con’t intellectual and ethical monotheist dualist tendencies –a world divided between Good and Evil –between the god and his enemy

12 Zoroaster, con’t revelation from Ahura Mazda Lord of Wisdom modest and uncomplicated monotheism emphasis on a cosmic struggle

13 Ahura Mazda Aingru Mainyu light matter (truth, soul, mind) (lie, body, flesh) The Physical World The Cosmic World Spenta Mainyu

14 Cosmic Struggle followers of Wisdom followers of the Lie

15 Ahura Mazda one god lofty and abstract

16 Ahura Mazda, con’t “He that in the beginning thought, “Let the blessed realms be filled with lights, he it is, who by his wisdom created Right...I have conceived of thee, Oh, Mazda, in my thought that you are, the First who is also the Last, the Father of Good Thought, the Lord to judge the actions of life.”

17 The World a battleground between Good and Evil humans have a choice helped by angelic spirits –Good Thought, Right Action, etc. tempted by devils and demons

18 For the Good prosperity in the present life immortality and eternal reward destruction of the world by fire final judgment reward: blissful heaven or a fiery hell

19 A New Religion Zoroaster condemned the old, bloody cults intended his religion to be a universal, salvationist religion offered one god to all of mankind intended for the individual, not the group

20 Individual Responsibility right thinking and right conduct –Good thought, good words, good deeds not a function of the “nation” first religion to recognize the individual human –morality and ethics –individual responsibility

21 Spread slowly mostly Persia –changed by the MAGI –following his death

22 Importance fundamental influence on Judaism Babylonian Captivity Pharisees Christianity

23 Hebrew religion / Judaism traditional history Abraham from Ur, in Sumer basis in fact ?? Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford History of the Biblical World


25 Jewish Scriptures record traditional history relationship between Yahweh and His People –the Chosen People

26 Hebrew bible the Torah the Prophets the Writings

27 Hebrew bible: Origins difficult and complex owes much to Mesopotamian models but also Egyptian literature and Canaanite religion

28 Historical Source ?? very little of it is considered historical by Biblical scholars, archaeologists, and historians but often all which is available use with caution

29 Focus not “historical” in the usual sense focus is religious –often magnified all out of proportion complied over hundreds of years –erratic and inconsistent

30 Traditional history the Patriarchal Period the Judges the Monarchy the Babylonian Captivity

31 Early events Genesis –cosmological myth, not history –invented genealogy, not history actual history –wanderings of semi-nomadic tribes –Semitic speaking –patriarchally organized “Abraham and his descendants”

32 Earliest Possible Date Exodus Ramses II the Hapiru (Habiru) the “divine Plan”

33 Yahweh a tribal god, a war god comes to demand exclusive worship “no gods in front of me” not monotheists –henotheists –monolatry

34 Yahweh a local god of the Sinai Some similarities with Baal and El adopted by Moses –an Egyptian –or at least someone with an Egyptian name a covenant

35 The Law and the Promised Land Yahweh gave the Law The Hebrews invade Palestine the Hebrews killed everyone and everything to attain the Land –at the direction of Yahweh –divinely sanctioned genocide –“dedicated to Yahweh”

36 Archaeological evidence inconclusive no hard evidence for the biblical story end of the Bronze Age –general upheaval –the Sea Peoples

37 Early Hebrew Organization patriarchal tribal not a specific, related ethnic group common denominator: Yahweh

38 Fundamental Changes adoption of monarchy replacing old, tribal leaders Gideon: no thanks Saul: doesn’t know any better

39 Yahweh, Only ?? unable to maintain exclusive worship sedentary lifestyle: complimentary deities adopted many Canaanite gods –Yahweh got angry adopted many Canaanite rituals –bloody sacrifice of living things –Yahweh was happy –traditional date: 1020-1000 B.C.

40 Saul beginning of “historical period” perhaps, perhaps not succeeded by “David” –Archaeological evidence is in dispute –Jerusalem –united the tribes? –power vacuum in the area

41 Expansion by slaughter and invasion by murder and marriage “he was a man after God’s own heart” Gulf of Aqaba to Syria destruction of tribal institutions


43 The Northern Kingdom destroyed by Sargon II, in 721 B.C. Assyrian Empire “ten northern tribes” disappear

44 The Southern Kingdom destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar 598 and 587 the Babylonian Captivity

45 Development of monotheism monarchy and captivity time of great stress evolution of Hebrew religion

46 The Prophets contemporary with the monarchy representing older, Stone Age values against the changes of the Iron Age

47 The Prophets, con’t supported the Yahweh-only idea during exile Jeremiah and Ezekiel Cyrus the Great –Persian conquest of Babylon –freed exiles –rebuilt temple in 538 B.C. –beginnings of monotheism

48 The Prophets spokesmen for the older religion of the desert and the Stone Age perceived by some as especially holy –soon claimed to be the ONLY spokesmen for Yahweh –excluding even the priests of Jerusalem began to give unsolicited advice –political and social reformers

49 The Prophets, con’t preservers of the Plan the covenant the salvation of a Faithful Remnant destruction for all others

50 The Prophets, con’t attacked the monarchy attacked the priests attacked the status quo all are the very model of evil punishment for wrongdoing –delivered by other nations

51 Principal Implications Yahweh controls other nations Yahweh, therefore, controls the destiny (The History) of ALL Peoples –an instrument to chastise and punish His Chosen People afterthought: justice and mercy

52 Divine Interventionist Policy to punish His People punish evil and preserve the Good introduction of a universality element

53 Yahweh-Only Josiah: 621 cult of Yahweh Deuteronomy first hint of monotheism

54 Yawehism: 500 B.C. fundamentally different a universalist god and a limited number of people more restricted than Zoroastrianism

55 Disasters Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities victory for other gods??? what to do to maintain the covenant??? –keep the Law more scrupulously –keep it more exactly –even if only a FEW will be saved in the kingdom of God

56 Ezekeial and Second Isaiah justify the ways of God to Man more rigorous obedience to the Law looking forward to a New Kingdom –earthly –for the Righteous Few influenced by Zoroastrianism –During and after the Babylonian Captivity

57 Some Books for you Mary Boyce. A History of Zoroastrianism Robert M. Seltzer. Religions of Antiquity Norman Cohn. Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come. The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith P. Davies. In Search of Ancient Israel I. Finkelstein. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Sacred Texts. Richard Elliott Friedman. Who Wrote the Bible K.L. Knoll. Canaan and Israel in Antiquity A.S. van der Woude. The World of the Old Testament B.S.J. Isserlin. The Israelites William F. Albright. Pretty much anything…. Ancient Religions bibliography online:

58 More books  William G. Dever. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?  William G. Dever. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?  William G. Dever. Did God Have A Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (…and his extensive bibliography)  M.P. Lemche. Early Israel  D.B. Redford. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times  A. Ben Tor. The Archaeology of Ancient Israel  Susan Ackerman. Under Every Green Tree: Popular Religion in Sixth Century Judah

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