Rabbijn Firestone is hoogleraar Middeleeuwse Joodse en Islamitische Studiën aan de Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Ook is hij a senior fellow van de Center for Religion and Civic Culture aan de Universiteit van Southern California.
Bekijk zijn CV en andere informatie.
Op 18 juni 2006 hield prof. Reuven Firestone voor de Vrienden van het Levisson Instituut een lezing getiteld
"If there is only one God, why are there so many monotheisms?"
Lees of download de volledige tekst in PDF-formaat.

All believers in one God derive their spiritual existence from the same deity, whatever that deity is called. Monotheism began as a unifying system. And yet from the earliest annals of religious history, we observe monotheists arguing, fighting and warring with one another over which understanding of God and the divine will is really  true. Such observation almost requires us to ask: Is there something about the nature of monotheism that encourages conflict?


If we want to know about monotheism, we need to begin at the beginning, and the story begins with the emergence of monotheism. It seems to have taken monotheism quite a while to emerge as a belief system in the long intellectual history of humanity. There is still some controversy among scholars over exactly when, where and how monotheism emerged. I intend to explore the change in thinking about divinity, from a multiplicity of Gods to one God, a change that current Biblical scholarship places sometime around the 6th century BCE or later. While my approach certainly includes theological issues, I want to be clear that I am not interested here in the theological problematic of "truth" in relation to God. I am working now as a historian, not a theologian, so in theory, I could arrive at the same conclusion whether I am a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or none of the above.

There is wide agreement among biblical scholars and historians of religion that the Israelites did not suddenly come upon the notion of the One God. It was, rather, a process.

And in fact, Israel may not have been the only community working on the issue of monotheism. There is that pesky Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaton whose reign seems to reflect, at the very least, a kind of henotheism in which only one God is worshipped while not denying the existence of other Gods. Some consider him to have been a true monotheist. But his theology did not catch on. It died with him.

Lees of download de volledige tekst in PDF-formaat.