Science: Archaeology and the Idea of One God

The Story:

Scott Stripling, professor of Biblical Archaeology and Church History at the Bible Seminary in Houston Texas, with assistance from Gershon Galil, former chair of the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa, in modern Israel, has announced a finding that, if confirmed in peer review, could be of great importance in understanding the history of ancient Israel.

The Finding:

Stripling and his team have unearthed a tablet at Mount Ebal with writing on it — a Hebrew text in an archaic proto-Canaanite script. They believe the tablet dates to 1200 BC.

If that date is confirmed, the text is older than the previous record holder for the oldest Hebrew text in Israel. Further, this text includes the tetragrammaton conventionally transliterated as YHWH, the name of God, said to be derived from the phrase “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). Again, if the dating holds up, this pushes back the first known use of the tetragrammaton by 500 years.

Strange New Worlds:

One theory — put forward almost a century ago by the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and adopted by many students of Biblical history since — is that monotheism began with an Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, and that the historical Moses was a follower of Akhenaten. After Akhenaten’s death circa 1334 BCE, there was a reaction, as the old order recreated the multiplicity of older gods in Egypt and sought to bury the idea that there is only One. The historical Moses, threatened by that reaction, led a group of Akhenaten loyalists out of the country, toward what we know as Israel.

The Stripling claims are broadly consistent with the chronology the Akhenaten theory implies.


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