Ideas of God in antiquity and the historical impossibility: biblical authors didn’t write about God
“In the Old Testament there is no God, there is no worship to God, there is only fearful obedience to an individual named Yahweh who belongs to the group of Elohim, beings in flesh and blood who are never defined as ‘gods’ in spiritual terms.” –
Content in a flash
4. Elohim and the ideas of God in antiquity: Certainties or lack of them? – We reflect on the disappointing reality: theology has passed doubts for certainties in order to secure power and control;
5. Ideas of God in antiquity: the historical impossibility – Polytheism being at the origins of the creation of the Bible and the lack of spiritual topics in the strongly supports the dissonance between God and Elohim;
5.2. Idea of God in antiquity, the great absentee: The Bible does not talk about God.
4. Ideas of God and Elohim: Certainties or lack of them?
It is important to be aware that when we speak of ancient languages such as Hebrew, it is possible, and in fact, common, to come across terms whose original meaning remains simply unknown to all living beings.
Now, this does not mean that philologists have no clue of their possible meaning. Very often they have some clues, they manage to trace back the general or approximate idea of what the term could have meant originally, but they cannot be sure. This is the case with the Hebrew word Elohim: אֱלֹהִים
Scholars tell us that the Hebrew words אל(‘el), אלה(‘eloah) and אלהים(‘elohim) are part of a range of words so vast that today no one knows how the divine concept was expressed by the ancients.
Religions were probably born long before large scale collective rules and codes of conduct as well as identities (by language, nation or other type of group) had established themselves; hence we do not know how the concept of divine was conceived before societies were centralized and religions started to suffer political influences.
However, – this is the subject of discussion – for reasons that we will analyze in detail in the upcoming articles, theology (and not philology) has arbitrarily decided that Elohim means God.
In reality the original, concrete meaning of the term Elohim: אֱלֹהִים is unknown to everyone today and will never be known by anyone. That is, until aliens reveal themselves or land again on our planet. Until then, its true meaning will remain a mystery. There is no doubt about this and we will see why in the next paragraphs. (Check the article: Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) – 3 of 5 : Etymology and (biblical) alien plurality)
Theologians have passed off as certainties what certainties were not, like the arbitrary idea that Elohim means God. Not only that, but they have apparently managed to convince everyone that it is the Bible itself carrying those certainties.
We find everything in the Bible, except certainties. It is not certain that Elohim means God; indeed, as we will see soon, it is patently false.
If theologians were intellectually honest, they would at least clarify that there is no philological certainty about the Hebrew word which would mean “God”, Elohim (אֱלֹהִים). Why don’t they say that?
Well, because they can’t keep power with ifs and buts. Power needs to dispense certainties. And this is what theology did: it flaunted false certainties in a vain attempt to hide the truth from itself and from others.
5. Ancient Ideas of God: The historical impossibility
As mentioned above, theology (and not philology) has arbitrarily decided that Elohim means God.
Below, four reasons why this is not true:
- Ideas of God in antiquity: At the beginning of history God did not exist.
In fact the as:
“God : the supreme or ultimate reality; the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe.”
Now, such an idea of God at the time when the Bible was written, simply, did not exist. Such idea of God was born and consolidated much later with Greek thought, in particular with the and post-Platonic schools of thought. We will explore this in detail in the next article of this series.
At the beginning of recorded history humans never spoke about “God”,, in the plural form and the concept of “divine” it was always linked to the idea of superhumans arriving from elsewhere. Sumerian-Akkadian gods, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu and Japanese deities all have origins beyond our planet.
In brief, the ancient Sumerians who started writing the Bible, did not think of God but of the gods, they did not tell us about God in the Bible but about the , “those who from heaven to earth came”
- Ideas of God in antiquity: The Bible does not talk about God.
Early Judaism was in fact not monotheistic, but rather polytheists or henotheist. The Jews of the origins believed in the existence of many gods, but they also thought they had to worship only one, , and they kept this notion for centuries.
Today Judaism is strictly monotheistic, but the transition from henotheism to monotheism is widely recognized, and we know that was presumably triggered by the catastrophic events of the .
It is very clear from the biblical stories how Jews of the origins did NOT perceive Yahweh as the universal, unique and absolute God, neither they ever wondered about the possible existence of a God endowed with modern neo-platonic attributes such as omnipotence or eternal life.
Since monotheism did not exist at the time when Bible was written, no words could exist in the Hebrew Bible that makes sense of “God” as we understand it today in the western world.
Yes, we are literally saying that in the (Hebrew) Bible there is no God, now or never. How is this possible if it is enough to open one of the many bibles we have at home to see God splashed everywhere?
The reason is, from a certain moment on, the monotheistic thought imposed itself on the previous polytheistic religions, and both Jews and Christian theologians and philologists started to falsely and arbitrarily translate “Elohim” with “God” in order to facilitate the transition and avoid losing credibility.
It is enough to repeat a lie often and aloud for it to turn into truth.
3.The Bible doesn’t care about transcendence
The extent of the propaganda work carried out by the major religions over the centuries convinced the world that the Bible is a text that has to do with God, love, spiritual worlds, transcendence and redemption.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Old testament, to start with, is a very concrete text, written by authors who never deal with those topics. In it there is no form of transcendence, mysticism or sacredness whatsoever. It never speaks of redemption, never elaborates “divine” or “sacred” attributes as understood since the Greek thought onwards, never speaks of an eternal and transcendent divinity or life; it doesn’t even approach topics like the afterlife.
The Old Testament simply tells the story of a Hebrew family(Jacob’s one) and its vassalage relationship with one of the , Yahweh(יַהְוֶה).
4. Ideas of God: Is Christianity really monotheistic?
Indeed, the First Council of Nicaea defined the Roman Apostolic Catholic three hundred years after Christ. During those three hundred years many different versions of Christianities circulated and not all of them were strictly monotheistic.
Not only that, but it was actually St. Paul the Apostle himself, apostle and father of the Church who speaking about Jesus took the same henotheistic Jewish positions of the origins when, in his first letter to the Corinthians clarified that there are other gods but the Christians only have one, Jesus:
“And in reality, even if there are called gods both in heaven and on earth , and in fact there are many gods and many lords, but for us there is only one.” –
5.1 Thunder in clear sky – the Jews idea of God
Perhaps we should ask them if those books are about God.
what , professor at the Italian Rabbinic College, Director of the Rabbinic Office in Rome and new chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Turin says when questioned about the knowledge of God from the Jews perspective:
“It is not possible, therefore, at least from this perspective, to speak of evidence with respect to our knowledge of God. Abraham himself, who had the monotheistic intuition, had this intuition through the investigation of nature, according to our tradition.
That is, he saw the world and felt that it was not possible that there was no architect of the world. Yehuda Ha-Levi, another medieval philosopher, answering this question posed by the king of the Kazari, said that we believe in the Lord who brought us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah, events of which we have witnessed. But instead be careful not to say that we believe in the Lord who created the world. Because although all of us, at least the Jews, are convinced of this fact, nobody has witnessed it.”
Here makes a crucial and clear distinction between different events: the creation of the world and events related to the Exodus. What is important to grasp here is the intellectual honesty demonstrated by Yehuda when he claims that yes, Jews believe in the Lord who brought them out of Egypt and gave them the Torah () because those are events they have witnessed.
On the other hand, it cannot be technically affirmed, deems Yehuda, that they believe in the Lord that created the world, because this latter event has not been witnessed by anybody.
If there are two gods, “the Lord who brought Jews out of Egypt” and “the Lord who created the world”, clearly none of them can be the benevolent God of the universe invented by monotheistic theology.
Ideas of God
When asked if Judaism has investigated the question about the certainty of “God”, Ariel di Porto explained:
“The question that arises is a question that in Judaism is actually quite recent. Interest in the fundamental principles of Judaism, in the principles of faith, is a question which is, considering the antiquity of the Jewish tradition, quite recent.
That is, both in the text of the Bible itself and within the first elaborations of the Rabbis we don’t really find much on this question Eh … precisely this question appears in the history of the Jewish religion quite recently and is addressed in the fundamental texts of medieval Jewish philosophy. This question, in the Jewish tradition, at least initially, does not exist. “
It does not exist?! How come “this question, in the Jewish tradition, at least initially, does not exist” if their very own books (the Bible) should be speaking of God? Indeed, Jewish doctrine confirms that biblical authors did not speak of God.
How come the question of a Universal God“is a fairly recent question in Jewish tradition”, given that their very own books (the Bible) should be speaking about him?
The reason is, in fact, that the Bible never speaks of God but has always been used as a propaganda tool to spread the crowd controlling message of the existence of a single, almighty God.
5.2. The great absentee; The Bible does not talk about God
Did you also think – like virtually everybody around the globe – the Bible was about God? If yes, you are in for a major shock. There is no God whatsoever in the Bible.
We could say that some people can find God in the Bible, so be it. But it must equally be said that history has amply demonstrated how more often what man has found in this collection of ancient books is power more than anything else.
“However, despite the plausibility that some biblical texts at the beginning did not have God in the strict sense as protagonist, these writings have been subsequently used and therefore preserved by those who wanted to speak of God.
These texts were then re-edited, recast, revised and corrected several times by those who were interested in speaking of God, and then subsequently variously interpreted by those who wanted to talk about God. In other words, the Bible is the witness and the fruit of a long search for God not yet finished. Such research has never been univocal, uniform, peaceful and error-free. History testifies to us an absolutely varied research, often equivocal, multifaceted, violent and full of missteps.”
“…the Bible is the witness and the fruit of a long search for God not yet finished.”
But how, haven’t they found him yet? Yet, according to the theologians it should be right there, among those “sacred” pages.
If the Bible is the witness and the fruit of a long search for God not yet finished, why did they tell us that the Bible was about God?
…to be continued
What you can expect from the next section:
In our next section we will reflect on the Church’s role in handling the term “Elohim”, we will study its etymology to support our thesis and bring examples to show that Elohim mentioned in the bible are several beings and not a single almighty one.
“The question that arises [about the existence of God] is a question that in Judaism is actually quite recent. This question, in the Jewish tradition, at least initially, does not exist.” –