Judaism

Judaism had a profound effect on social development in that part of the world. It ‘provided for the first time a moral reference point which would help people to rebel against their rulers on the grounds of individual conscience' (Brazier, 2001, p.30). Displacement of the Jewish tribes contributed to the sense of further psychological separation from the divine world (the purpose). The Hebrew kaddosh means otherness, a radical separation. Seraphim (high ranking angels) were crying ‘Yahweh is other! Other! Other!'. This facilitated a turn towards the personal, the internal, which is a necessary step of individualisation. The deed became more important than the creed, and that led to valuing debate and freedom of thought. However, although monotheism won, the previous stage was still prevalent which, combined with the social circumstances, lead to a limited individualisation within the nation (a phenomenon that has re-occurred throughout history, as in 19th century Europe). Israelites were very reluctant to give up the cult of other gods. In fact, it is difficult to situate The Old Testament within a purely monotheistic framework. Although there is only one creator, Heaven is inhabited by a number of supernatural beings (angels and archangels who are helping an omnipotent God, Satan who is making a wager with the all knowing God, etc.). The very idea of the covenant ‘only made sense in a polytheistic setting. The Israelites did not believe that Yahweh, the God of Sinai, was the only God, but promised, in their covenant, that they would ignore all the other deities and worship him alone. It is very difficult to find a single monotheistic statement in the whole of the Pentateuch. Even the Ten Commandments delivered on Mount Sinai take the existence of other gods for granted...' (Armstrong, 1993, p.31).