Discussion “Origins of Judaism”
Judaism being the oldest of the Abrahamic Faiths fundamentally set the precedence for the eventual evolution of Christianity and Islam. So it is important we attempt to establish the historicity of the Judaic religious stories to establish it authenticity and thus examine how it was eventually adopted by Christians and Muslims..
Historical archives tell us that the Judaic as we know it today was not original, unique, nor a revelation from God in Heaven. In fact there has never been any historical or archaeological evidence to prove the historicity of the stories in the Torah, the Bible or the Quran. But every probability shows that the stories were based on the legends, or folk lore/MYTHS of the more ancient peoples that inhabited the Middle Eastern countries of that time such as ancient Mesopotamia that existed in the Neolithic Period some 10,000 years ago or the Zoroastrian that flourished in the 2nd millennium BC and whose prophet lived in the 10 century BC. This discussion will attempt to show the origins of the roots of such religious legends and folklore from much older civilisations, so as to dissociate it from historicity.
(1) The origins of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age ***polytheistic Ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, a syncretisation [to attempt to combine different or opposing principles,] with elements of Babylonian religion and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. During the Iron Age I the Israelite religion became distinct from other Canaanite religions due to the unique monolatristic (proto-monotheistic) worship of Yahweh.
During the 8th century BCE, worship of Yahweh in Israel stood in competition with many other cults, described by the Yahwist faction collectively as Baals. Thus the worship of monotheistic Yahweh evolved after intellectual battles were settled.
[Judaism thus evolved from a polytheistic Semitic religion into a monotheistic worship of Yahweh….Judaic monotheism did not originate from a revelation of God, nor a diktat of God. It was the Jewish adoption of beliefs of a more ancient religion.
Besides, the concept of monotheism was already a concept adopted by the Zoroastrian beliefs as illustrated: Zoroastrians believe that there is ***one universal, transcendent, supreme god, Ahura Mazda, or the “Wise Lord”. (Ahura means “Being” and Mazda means “Mind” in Avestan language). Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas and also consciously uses a masculine word for one concept and a feminine for the other, as if to distract from an anthropomorphism of his divinity. Some Zoroastrians claim Ahura Mazda as the uncreated Creator to whom all worship is ultimately directed, thereby formulating a panentheistic faith with a transcendent divinity, widely believed to have influenced the theology of Isma’ilism. Zoroaster claimed that Ahura Mazda is almighty, though not omnipotent. Hence the adoption of monotheism from more ancient beliefs was a common foundation for the emergence of new religions.]
(2) Ancient Mesopotamian religion was the **first recorded. Mesopotamians believed that ***the world was a flat disc, surrounded by a huge, holed space, and above that, heaven. They also believed that water was everywhere, the top, bottom and sides, and that the universe was born from this enormous sea. In addition, Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic.
(3) During the Babylonian captivity of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE (Iron Age II), certain circles within the ****exiled Judahites in Babylon redefined pre-existing ideas about monotheism, election, divine law and Covenant into a strict monotheistic theology which came to dominate the former Judah in the following centuries.
[So it was the determination of the Judahites (Jewish Men) that shaped the adoption of monotheism in Judaism from polytheism. But what logic or religious doctrine determined monotheism was a superior form of worship to that of polytheism? Polytheism accepts a hierarchy of gods in a similar way as The Abrahamic faiths accept the hierarchy of Angels that are accepted by the Zoroastrians as will as the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. So polytheists accept the hierarchy of gods just as the Jews, Christians, and Muslims accept their Angels as mythical ethereal figures to complete their heavenly hierarchy.
It is all a matter of which mythology is adopted by each community in their search for their identities and roots and their gods.
(4) Judaism was significantly influenced by Zoroastrianism.
The concept of ****monotheism was already a concept adopted by the Zoroastrian beliefs as illustrated: Zoroastrians believe that there is ***one universal, transcendent, supreme god, Ahura Mazda, or the “Wise Lord”. (Ahura means “Being” and Mazda means “Mind” in Avestan language).
The view of angels in Judaism was influenced by Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian ***mythology describes a cosmic clash between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman—forces of good and evil with their armies of angels and devils.
(5) Talmud is dated to 1342 CE.
Rabbinic writings offer various ideas on when the Torah was composed. The revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai is considered by most to be the revelatory event. According to dating of the text by Orthodox rabbis, this occurred in 1312 BCE; another date given for this event is 1280 BCE.
The Talmud (Gittin 60a) presents two opinions as to when the Torah was written by Moses. One opinion holds that it was written by Moses gradually over many years as it was dictated to him, and finished close to his death, and the other opinion holds that Moses wrote the complete Torah in one writing close to his death, based on what was dictated to him over the years.
The Talmud (Menachot 30a) says that the last eight verses of the Torah that discuss the death and burial of Moses could not have been written by Moses, as writing it would have been a lie, and that they were written after his death by Joshua. Abraham ibn Ezra and Joseph Bofils observed that phrases in those verses present information that people should only have known after the time of Moses. Ibn Ezra hinted, and Bonfils explicitly stated, that Joshua wrote these verses many years after the death of Moses. Other commentators do not accept this position and maintain that although Moses did not write those eight verses it was nonetheless dictated to him and that Joshua wrote it based on instructions left by Moses, and that the Torah often describes future events, some of which have yet to occur.
The Talmud (tractate Sabb. 115b) states that a peculiar section in the Book of Numbers (10:35–36, surrounded by inverted Hebrew letter nuns) in fact forms a separate book. On this verse a midrash on the book of Mishle (English Proverbs) states that “These two verses stem from an independent book which existed, but was suppressed!” Another (possibly earlier) midrash, Ta’ame Haserot Viyterot, states that this section actually comes from the book of prophecy of Eldad and Medad. The Talmud says that God dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Deuteronomy in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b).
All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin. Present-day Reform and Liberal Jewish movements all reject Mosaic authorship, as well as most shades of Conservative Judaism.
(6) The essential requirements for the authenticity of the Torah, the Bible and the Quran is to establish the historicity of the Holy Text. We have already shown that polytheism or monotheism was a choice made by the priests of the day and probably influenced by the concept of mythical monotheism in Zoroastrianism, i.e., a human decision, and not a revelation or a mandate of god.
The total basis of Judaism is based on a Myth:
The founding myth of the Israelite nation is the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under the guidance of Moses, followed by the conquest of the Promised Land (Canaan). *However, there is little or **no archaeological or **historical evidence to support these accounts, and although they may in part originate as early as the 10th century BCE, according to the Wellhausen hypothesis they reached something like their present form only in the 5th to 4th centuries BCE, when they are alleged to have been edited to comply with the theology of Second Temple Judaism. [This lack of historical or archaeological evidence must place Exodus into the realms of legends or folklore. Thus there is sufficient doubt of the historicity of the stories in the Torah to question whether it was really a revelation of God or of Man.
There is sufficient evidence to show that the Abrahamic Faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam evolved by adopting beliefs and religious practices and myths of more ancient religions of the time. Most of their religious stories has no evidence of proof of History or Archaeology and can best be only accepted as myths or folklore. Based on this, it is time theologians took another more critical look at the historicity of their Holy literature.