Isaiah 43:10, The Beginning of Monotheism
Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.
//Have I blogged about this topic before? I can’t remember.
It’s a question that often comes up: When did Israel switch from polytheism to monotheism? And the answer is, there was no abrupt change in beliefs; it gradually evolved, from polytheism (worshipping many gods) to monolatrism (worship of only one of these gods) to henotheism (recognition of one supreme god, far above all the rest) to monotheism (belief that only one god exists).
Yet we do have a sort of “enlightenment” age in the Bible, as seen in the second part of Isaiah. Monotheism comes of age here, during the exile in Babylon (the second half of Isaiah was written much later than the first, by one or two different authors).
At this point, the author seems to delight in the discovery of a single God, repeating multiple times in the chapters from 43 to 45 words like There is no God besides Me. Chapter 41:29 reads exultantly, about other gods, Behold, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty wind.
Ray Vincent calls this stage a “kind of liberating atheism,” reducing the powers-that-be to a single God. See his book here.