Intrustions of History

As I read more and more about the history of Christianity and of Judaism, the more I discover the standard, mainstream evangelical church teaching seems to be … well, limited. Not wrong, per se, but there is a major chunk of knowledge it seems to be ignoring and ignoring the fact it’s ignoring it. :-/

It is hard for a church in a white, affluent area of Sydney to quite understand how radical Jesus was. The society of first-century Israel was very different from what most people know, and this means a lot of his teaching and actions require translation. But at the same time, the further back one goes in the Old Testament, the less reliable it is a record of history. We know that the Penteteuch were constructed from multiple earlier documents, and were really only set in their final form about 400BC (during the time of The Return). We also know that Joshua, Judges, Kings and Chronicles were also the product of multiple earlier works and multiple edits. Sometimes this can be seen, if you’re aware it happened.

But the big thing is that the Israelites were actually fairly clearly a polythiestic society prior to The Return. It’s just that the priestly editors did their best to paper over that.

And this bothers me.

There is some archeaological evidence that Yahweh was one of a pantheon of gods extant in Palestine. For some reason, He took hold in the peoples that became the Hebrews. But they never became really monothiestic until exposed to Zoroastrianism in Babylon during The Exile. Then they brought it back to Jerusalem to create an early version of the Judaism we know today.

That could be argued that it is mere history. And usually I would agree. I just wish we were more willing to explore it in Church.


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