Re: re. explanatory coherence

Ton Maas (
Thu, 7 Aug 1997 08:20:28 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102809b00f17690132@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 08:20:28 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: re. explanatory coherence

>At 04:44 PM 8/6/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>Aaron Lynch wrote:
>>> Aaron Lynch responding to Alex Brown:
>>> HISTORY, by Rodney Stark (Princeton University Press, 1996). There you
>>> will
>>> find considerable evidence of how the Roman Empire became
>>> predominantly
>>> monotheistic because of a monotheism that OUT-POPULATED polytheism. It
>>> did
>>> so by growing at 40% per decade, compounded over several hundred
>>> years. The
>>> extra babies and extra proselytizing of the Christians accounts for
>>> this
>>> growth.
>>It is one thing to account for the spread of monotheism in a loose
>>collection of polytheistic societies. But where did monotheism come
>>from in the first place? The conceptual explanation Alex Brown proposes
>>seems to me the sort of thing we need for that one.
>Aaron Lynch responding to Bill Benzon:
>Actually, the explanation is not merely about the spread of monotheism in a
>loose collection of polytheistic societies. It is also about how it spread
>in specific regions, such as the city of Rome itself.
>It would be interesting to know how Hebrew monotheism occurred in its first
>host or first few hosts, but I have not proposed a specific model of who
>did the creative thinking or how. A great deal of very ancient information
>seems to be lost here.

Two thing may be relevant to consider:

The fact that the bible describes the history of a monotheistic people,
doesn't necessarily imply that they were monotheistic all the way. It just
means that they "saw the light" at some point and then faced the job of
rephrasing their whole history accordingly. That's the stuff of "history" I
guess. The original inspiration about monotheism might have arisen from
disruptions between people and location (after all, most animistic and
polytheistic religions are closely connected to locations or physical
objects in it). So both big-scale conquest and being forced to move to
unknown places may offer this inspiration. It is interesting to point out
that Judaism still has ties to location (the Promised Land), although to
some Jews this doesn't necessarily coincide with Israel as a physical
object, while both Christianity and the Islam (or Buddhism for that matter)
have severed all ties to place. You can be a Christian, a Muslim and a
Buddhist (and even a Jew) anywhere.


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