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Henotheism - the future of belief
01-12-2018, 01:10 AM
Post: #1
Hi all,
I felt obliged to share this phenomenal essay 'On Henotheism' by Wim van den Dungen.

In it, he describes the sociological and neurological implications of monotheism, polytheism and henotheism.

Coming from a monotheistic background myself, but struggling with reconciling the beliefs and experiences of other gods and religions, that essay has been a true blessing for me to read.

http://sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/henotheism.htm#def
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01-12-2018, 04:13 AM
Post: #2
I think I'll read that through next time I turn on my comp.

Thank you for any post. I feel like I learn a lot from just lurking!
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01-18-2018, 08:15 AM (This post was last modified: 01-18-2018 08:27 AM by Felan.)
Post: #3
I have a background in monotheism and I have no trouble with other gods (little g). We have to understand that terms like polytheism and monotheism are relatively new. Ancient peoples didn't think exactly like we do.

Take Psalm 82, for instance. It straight up says that GOD (elohim) stands in the midst of the gods (elohim) and passes judgment. This works with what we call monotheism because elohim did not connotate for the ancient Hebrews like GOD does for us today. All one needs is for one of the Gods to be supreme, to be non-usurpable (is that a word?) and you can have the basic "monotheistic" system that presents in the Abrahamic faiths. The rest of the "gods" become created appointees with varying functions from the "gods of the nations" (spiritual authorities over regions; E.G. the Prince of Persia in Daniel) to messengers (malakim, angelos).

(note: the non-usurpable chief deity makes this a system that is not henotheism, which if I recall, is characterized by chief deities that CAN be overthrown.)
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01-18-2018, 09:37 PM
Post: #4
That paper's a damn mess.

Don't make me put my wizard shit on. I mean fucking business when I've got my wizard shit on.
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01-19-2018, 01:27 AM
Post: #5
(01-18-2018 08:15 AM)Felan Wrote:  I have a background in monotheism and I have no trouble with other gods (little g). We have to understand that terms like polytheism and monotheism are relatively new. Ancient peoples didn't think exactly like we do.

Take Psalm 82, for instance. It straight up says that GOD (elohim) stands in the midst of the gods (elohim) and passes judgment. This works with what we call monotheism because elohim did not connotate for the ancient Hebrews like GOD does for us today. All one needs is for one of the Gods to be supreme, to be non-usurpable (is that a word?) and you can have the basic "monotheistic" system that presents in the Abrahamic faiths. The rest of the "gods" become created appointees with varying functions from the "gods of the nations" (spiritual authorities over regions; E.G. the Prince of Persia in Daniel) to messengers (malakim, angelos).

(note: the non-usurpable chief deity makes this a system that is not henotheism, which if I recall, is characterized by chief deities that CAN be overthrown.)

Interesting insight, felan.

The author above does not seem to define henotheism as containing a chief diety that can be overthrown. I think Max Muller technically coined the term in the 50s, though I can't currently confirm that is how he defined it either.
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01-19-2018, 04:01 AM
Post: #6
a deity that can be overthrown or not be overthrown is not a defining characteristic of henotheism. judaism was henotheistic throughout most of its history as illustrated by psalm 82 above, but especially in second period, solomon’s temple had more than just el but el was primary. and in that same way henotheism is hardly new it’s thousands of years old. catholic ecumenism in some definitions is henotheistic so....
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01-19-2018, 11:11 AM
Post: #7
It was coined by Friedrich Schelling but Muller made it more well known. The idea of being able to "overthrow" a chief deity comes from the idea of divine equity among the various Gods, even though only one is worshipped at a time (but may be swapped out later). In some cases it seems that this equity is because the gods are seen as parts of a whole. It also comes from the application of the term to Canaanite and Greek systems where the chief deity does get changed.

It is a useful metric in order to distinguish such a system from monotheism, where the chief deity is a lone creator and thus unassailable (all other beings being its creations), and the only one to be worshipped.

The idea that Judaism was henotheistic for most of it's history is, to me, and over statement. As with all people groups, there was no monolith. Sure some Hebrews may have fit the term, some were straight polytheists and some were obviously what we would call monotheistic. I think we need to be careful not to paint past peoples with broad brushes.
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01-21-2018, 01:16 AM
Post: #8
second temple period is catagorically “henotheistic “ mountains of scholarship state this. not even controversial as an idea. a primary creator deity is not unusual by any metric that is not classical greco roman polytheism which unfortunately paints far too broad a brush of its own and has been greatly and thankfully discredited when used to apply to non western religious tendencies. many non western traditions and even pre roman traditions of western europe do not fit the model of polytheism you’re touting. chinese religious tendencies on the buddhist daoist continuum have a great multitude of spirits, saints, bodhisattvas and a well studied and established celestial and underworld hierarchy as well as a primary creator deity who is worshiped above all other spirits. in fact many prayers of a daoist nature call upon the venerated shen to pray unto the jade emperor which after a fashion is extremely similar to catholcism especially when considering many shen are elevated ancestors (the elevated dead) - and this tendency was called for a long time polytheistic but in fact is not - more of a cult of spirits - that fits into an overarching hierarchy. either the term polytheism precludes a creator deity or most of what is described as polytheism isn’t polytheist by your own definition.
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