A conversation lead me back to this paper from seminary. It was fun to write and an area of interest for me. It is titled, “Monotheism and Israel” It was 17 pages and I know that no person reading this will read all 17 pages at one browse, so I ll break it up over a few days. I hope this informs you as much as it did me.
The ancient Near East provides a lush history of culture and influence on the West. The ancient civilizations are a fascinating area of study of which we can gain a greater understanding of humanity, history, and religion. The study of the Christian faith stems back to the culture and life of the ancient Near East, therefore, the study of the ancient Near East proves beneficial to 2.1 billion people currently on Earth. A study of this culture will also provide a refreshing point of view for those studying and teaching the Bible. If one studies the Old Testament without studying the culture of the ancient Near East, that individual could misunderstand the context of the scriptures and thus the heart and mission of God. This being said, one must raise this question about the nation of Israel: What was Israel’s greatest contribution to the societies of the ancient Near East and thus, the world? The following essay will attempt to answer this question by stating that Israel’s greatest contribution to the ancient Near East and modern society is monotheism.
The understanding that Israel was a superpower that controlled the world is absurd when observing history. Israel was by no means a superpower or a massive empire for any stretch of time. This misconception is common amongst individuals of the anti-intellectual Christian faith. It is important to distinguish that Israel was what history says it was, not what popular evangelicals wish it had been. One must be careful in understanding that Israel’s political and economical power was not based on their sociological influence. Israel’s political and economical power must be observed in the context of the political and economical powers of the ancient Near East. In order to determine the political and economical success of ancient Near Eastern nations, one must account for the nation’s size, longevity, and influence that the nation had on its surrounding culture.