1 Corinthians 8:4, Only one God?

 … there is no other God but one.

//Pretty clear, huh? On December 9, 2011, I discussed whether or not Israel was originally polytheistic … believing in multiple gods. For some reason, it seems to rankle people to imagine that religious beliefs evolved over time. But the existence of other gods was originally taken for granted in the Bible. Here’s an example:

Exodus 22:28, Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. As Judaism developed, they came to believe in only one God, but even the Bible supports scholars’ conclusion that polytheism was originally common. The creation story gives plenty of hints:

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is it that was creating the universe alongside God? A bit later, when Adam and Eve ate from the tree, God says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil.” Then comes the tower of Babel, and God says, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” You can find other examples. There existed a “we” in heaven. Christians tend to think of a triune God, a “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” speaking among themselves, but the doctrine of the Trinity hardly existed when these words were penned.

Genesis 14:22, But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth. Here we have a more common explanation of the “we” up in heaven. Abraham’s God is not alone, but he is the Most High god, the big cheese. There existed a council of gods, and the Hebrew God ruled over the council. More about this council tomorrow.

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