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Big Bad Voodoo

What was first monotheistic religion?

112 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Marduk? Ever been true monotheistic God?

Ahura Mazda? Same question as above.

Akhenatnens Aten? Seems to me that there is debate is Akhenathen or Zarathushtra first monotheist.

It seems to me that is hard to tell since no one realy agree when Zarathushtra lived.

Yahwe? (Judaism. Btw is chatolic Yahwe monotheistic because of holy trinity in the first place?)

From wiki:

Two examples of monolatrism developing from polytheism are the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, as well as the rise of Marduk from the tutelary of Babylon to the claim of universal supremacy.

In Iran, Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda appears as a supreme and transcendental deity. Depending on the date of Zoroaster (usually placed in the early Iron Age), this may be one of the earliest documented instances of the emergence of monism in an Indo-European religion.

In the ancient Near East, each city had a local patron deity, such as Shamash at Larsa or Sin at Ur. The first claims of global supremacy of a specific god date to the Late Bronze Age, with Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten (speculatively connected to Judaism by Sigmund Freud in his Moses and Monotheism). However the date of the Exodus is disputed, and its not definitive whether the setting of the biblical Exodus event is prior to or following Akhenaten's reign. Furthermore it is not clear to what extent Akhenaten's Atenism was monotheistic rather than henotheistic with Akhenaten himself identified with the god Aten.

Currents of monism or monotheism emerge in Vedic India earlier, with e.g. the Nasadiya Sukta. In the Indo-Iranian tradition, the Rigveda exhibits notions of monism, in particular in the comparatively late tenth book, also dated to the early Iron Age, e.g. in the Nasadiya sukta.

Ethical monotheism and the associated concept of absolute good and evil emerge in Zoroastrianism and Judaism, later culminating in the doctrines of Christology in early Christianity and later (by the 7th century) in the tawhid in Islam. In Islamic theology, a person who spontaneously "discovers" monotheism is called a ḥanīf, the original ḥanīf being Abraham.

So Shamash at Larsa or Sin at Ur?

In the end what was most influental monotheism that influenced other religion?

Akhenatens aten was all but not influental.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Melo

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Monotheism can involve a variety of Conceptions of God:

Deism posits the existence of a single god, the Designer of the designs in Nature. Some Deists believe in an impersonal god that does not intervene in the world, while other Deists believe in intervention through Providence.

Monism is the type of monotheism found in Hinduism, encompassing pantheism and panentheism, and at the same time the concept of a personal god.

Pantheism holds that the universe itself is God. The existence of a transcendent being extraneous to nature is denied.

Panentheism is a form of monistic monotheism which holds that God is all of existence, containing, but not identical to, the Universe. The one God is omnipotent and all-pervading, the universe is part of God, and God is both immanent and transcendent.

Substance monotheism, found in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance.

Trinitarian monotheism is the Christian doctrine of belief in one God who is three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.Wiki

I found my question about Christhian trinity. Anyway didnt knew that Deists are Monotheistics.

What do you think about substance monotheism? Wierd isnt?

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Posted (edited)

Maybe this should be in the religion subforum. ^_^

Edited by Melo

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Posted (edited)

Judaism is generalized as the first widespread monotheistic religion.

"The ancient roots of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age polytheistic Ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, a syncretization with elements of Zoroastrianism and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible."

Although in ancient Greece, there existed Ontology.

Ontology essentially means the study of one, in relation to one.

Historically, Heraclitus and Parmenides are credited with discussing the metaphysics involved in Ontology before the time of Stoicism and Neoplatonism. Although technically not a religion, one could imagine that it contributed to most concepts of modern monotheism.

However, Zoroastrianism is an ancient Iranian religion that follows the teachings of Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra. He's credited as being a wise and insightful philosopher. Philosophers of such renown like Socrates were eager to study his teachings, but alas the Peloponnesian War got in the way. Followers of Zoroastrianism are known as Magi; or Magicians - and they all believed in one transcendent god, Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism emerged around 2000 BC out of Indo-Iranian religious systems; I imagine pagan ones at that, so I would cite it, as it was one of the worlds largest religions in ancient times, as the predecessor to ancient Judaism.

Edited by Drayno

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Maybe this should be in the religion subforum. ^_^

Not really, your problem is that you have formulated the question wrong, what do you mean by Influential? What is your definition of monotheism (not as easy as it looks because if we take religions by their own definitions Hinduism is monotheistic, Christianism not)? And so on.

Somebody who keeps harping on Philosophy should be able to ask more precise questions.

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I thought Zoroastrianism was a dualistic religion, with a "good" entity, Ahura Mazda, and an equal and opposite "evil" entity, Ahriman.

Early Hebrew traditions are argued to be dualistic, with a male God and a female Goddess, ruling co-equal.

I'd probably pick Atenism as the first recorded, clear, monotheistic religion/god.

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Posted (edited)

I thought Zoroastrianism was a dualistic religion, with a "good" entity, Ahura Mazda, and an equal and opposite "evil" entity, Ahriman.

Early Hebrew traditions are argued to be dualistic, with a male God and a female Goddess, ruling co-equal.

I'd probably pick Atenism as the first recorded, clear, monotheistic religion/god.

The presence of twin spirits; Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, means Zoroastrianism is dualistic, yes. But in the trend of most monotheistic religions, the evidence of two opposing sides shouldn't reduce its status as a monotheistic religion. Similar to Christianity, Ahura Mazda is God, and Ahriman is the embodiment of negativity; Satan. Although its opposition to monasticism is a good departure from Christianity's tenants.

Since Atenism came about under Ahemhotep IV around 1400 BC, it does have a very prominent age. Zoroastrianism's indications of existence came apparent in 600 BC to the western world in its recorded history. However, Zoroastrianism existed in oral traditions in the Iranian culture, I'm sure - from pagan-esque religions as far back as 2000 BC. So it is hard to place an exact age. Both are great examples of pre-Judaistic religions, however.

Edited by Drayno

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Not really, your problem is that you have formulated the question wrong, what do you mean by Influential? What is your definition of monotheism (not as easy as it looks because if we take religions by their own definitions Hinduism is monotheistic, Christianism not)? And so on.

Somebody who keeps harping on Philosophy should be able to ask more precise questions.

Who said Im a good in asking questions? :P

How can Hinduism be monotheistic?

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Who said Im a good in asking questions? :P

How can Hinduism be monotheistic?

Well, see here: All Hindu gods are reincarnations of Brahma, so the same person, therefore monotheistic.

Now, The Christian God is three persons, father son and the bird, therefore as much monotheistic as Hinduism... or as polytheistic.

See, not as easy as you formulate it.

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Posted (edited)

Well, see here: All Hindu gods are reincarnations of Brahma, so the same person, therefore monotheistic.

Now, The Christian God is three persons, father son and the bird, therefore as much monotheistic as Hinduism... or as polytheistic.

See, not as easy as you formulate it.

What we do know is that wordplay is important in asking a philosophical question. As you said, the notion of an inherent spirit, or one god, divided up in various corporeal, or non-corporeal forms is as monotheistic as polytheism, or vice versa.

So let us ask. What makes a monotheistic god? Is it "His" various forms? Are they integral to his structure, or can he exist in those forms on a whim, for he is an all powerful god? And if "He" is all powerful, what are his powers or limitations? Do we define a monotheistic god based on said powers or limitations, or the lack thereof? What led these people in ancient Iran to be swayed by a "prophet" known as Zoroaster? What led the people of the middle-east to adapt the teachings of the "prophet" Jesus, despite the grasp of the roman empire? What led the people of the middle-east, again to accept the teachings of the "prophet" Muhammad? What led the people to embrace the underworld and death that was apparent in every day life; the struggle of society on a river, that was Egypt?

It seems that most monotheistic religions have similar catalysts; people who are pioneers in thought, and the conditions of the lives the people live. And as the conditions of people's lives are directly influenced by the harshness or bounty of their environment, we can consider this a major factor. For example, the differences of Egypt and Sumeria, and their stances on life. Sumer was bountiful do to the Tigris-Euphrates rivers, whereas Egypt had chaos with the Nile; flooding, droughts. Thus, the Egyptians had a very keen fascination with death, and theorized about the afterlife; and we can attribute this train of thought that influenced the Egyptian culture as been influenced by the chaos of the environment.

Edited by Drayno

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The presence of twin spirits; Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, means Zoroastrianism is dualistic, yes. But in the trend of most monotheistic religions, the evidence of two opposing sides shouldn't reduce its status as a monotheistic religion. Similar to Christianity, Ahura Mazda is God, and Ahriman is the embodiment of negativity; Satan. Although its opposition to monasticism is a good departure from Christianity's tenants.

Since Atenism came about under Ahemhotep IV around 1400 BC, it does have a very prominent age. Zoroastrianism's indications of existence came apparent in 600 BC to the western world in its recorded history. However, Zoroastrianism existed in oral traditions in the Iranian culture, I'm sure - from pagan-esque religions as far back as 2000 BC. So it is hard to place an exact age. Both are great examples of pre-Judaistic religions, however.

But the Zoroastrian deities are equal, while Satan is simply the greatest of the servants, and completely within God's power.

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Well, see here: All Hindu gods are reincarnations of Brahma, so the same person, therefore monotheistic.

Now, The Christian God is three persons, father son and the bird, therefore as much monotheistic as Hinduism... or as polytheistic.

See, not as easy as you formulate it.

I did not know that about Brahma. Learning Moment!!!!

People freak out when I point out that Christianity is a tri-part godhood. If you get right down to it, the angels fill the places of the various lesser gods of such pantheons as the Romans and Greeks and Egpytians.

The Norse Odin can be seen as a Monotheistic godhood also, as his people/children/followers only had the powers he allowed them to have. It is a stretch, but philosophy knows no hard limits.

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What we do know is that wordplay is important in asking a philosophical question. As you said, the notion of an inherent spirit, or one god, divided up in various corporeal, or non-corporeal forms is as monotheistic as polytheism, or vice versa.

So let us ask. What makes a monotheistic god? Is it "His" various forms? Are they integral to his structure, or can he exist in those forms on a whim, for he is an all powerful god? What led these people in ancient Iran to be swayed by a "prophet" known as Zoroaster? What led the people of the middle-east to adapt the teachings of the "prophet" Jesus, despite the grasp of the roman empire? What led the people of the middle-east, again to accept the teachings of the "prophet" Muhammad? What led the people to embrace the underworld and death that was apparent in every day life; the struggle of society on a river, that was Egypt?

It seems that most monotheistic religions have similar catalysts; people who are pioneers in thought, and the conditions of the lives the people live. And as the conditions of people's lives are directly influenced by the harshness or bounty of their environment, we can consider this a major factor. For example, the differences of Egypt and Sumeria, and their stances on life. Sumer was bountiful do to the Tigris-Euphrates rivers, whereas Egypt had chaos with the Nile; flooding, droughts. Thus, the Egyptians had a very keen fascination with death, and theorized about the afterlife; and we can attribute this train of thought that influenced the Egyptian culture as been influenced by the chaos of the environment.

I would doubt that. It most probably all started with one "spirit" or god with a scope on a small tribe. With the evolution of society many tribes banded together or had a cultural interchange each bringing "their god" and that is how polytheism started. Egypt, Sumeria and similar are pretty late in the game. Try the time of Gobeliki Tepe, or 6000 years prior to Egypt and Sumeria.

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Even some polytheistic religions were basically monotheistic - there were many gods but you only worshipped your patron god.

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Posted (edited)

If we are to include as allowed in our definition of Monotheism, the worship of various incarnations of one god (as in Christianity and Hinduism), then the earliest monotheistic religion was probably an unnamed pantheistic worship of nature/the universe as god. We might call it 'paganism' or 'shamanism', but it was essentially monotheistic - even if 'god' did (or could) incarnate in various forms in nature.

As for the most influential - that can be debated according to how one defines 'influential'. Judaism caused Christianity and Islam to come into being, so is it the most influential? Or is Christianity more influential because of it's global impact? I think this question is far more subjective than "which was first".

Edited by Leonardo

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Posted (edited)

I would doubt that. It most probably all started with one "spirit" or god with a scope on a small tribe. With the evolution of society many tribes banded together or had a cultural interchange each bringing "their god" and that is how polytheism started. Egypt, Sumeria and similar are pretty late in the game. Try the time of Gobeliki Tepe, or 6000 years prior to Egypt and Sumeria.

Or it was various social groups interpreting the world around them. I don't think the idea of polytheism emerged simply because of cultural exchange. It would be more fitting that polytheism emerged when people attempted to characterize the elements of their environment; for example, in Greek polytheism, Apollo is the sun personified, or in Norse mythology, Thor is thunder personified. This has some correlation with that I said about Egypt and its fascination with death. The chaos of the environment led to the adoption of death as a major theme in the Egyptian culture. So environments do have much more to do with the evolution of faith than you would think; and this is demonstrated by all those who added characteristics inherent with human nature to objects in nature; the sun, rivers, the oceans, the moon, etc.

The mere idea that they could personify the environment only contributed to ideas of faith. Each region of the world has an abundance of origin myths; like Indo-Iran's pagan religious system before it was introduced to the ideas of the "prophet" Zoroaster. Except these rudimentary interpretations we've both cited grow with the size of the civilization.

The larger the social group, the larger the collected psychology of the people is. The larger the amount of people, the harder it is to control them. The more organized the religion; taking ideas that people had lived with for centuries, and adapting them to fit the mold of the social customs that are prevalent at the time, the easier it is to unite the people under one faith. Guiding the transition of a regional pagan religious system to something more categorical or organized is simply measured by the growth of an idea of one generation, coupled with the idea that the aforementioned idea will eventually become overthrown by an idea that is more widely accepted; as was the case with monotheistic faiths versus polytheism, when monotheism overthrew it. And as is the case in our contemporary times with science dissuading religion to a degree; the more acceptable idea grows and adapts.

Edited by Drayno

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Or it was various social groups interpreting the world around them. I don't think the idea of polytheism emerged simply because of cultural exchange. It would be more fitting that polytheism emerged when people attempted to characterize the elements of their environment; for example, in Greek polytheism, Apollo is the sun personified, or in Norse mythology, Thor is thunder personified. This has some correlation with that I said about Egypt and its fascination with death. The chaos of the environment led to the adoption of death as a major theme in the Egyptian culture. So environments do have much more to do with the evolution of faith than you would think; and this is demonstrated by all those who added characteristics inherent with human nature to objects in nature; the sun, rivers, the oceans, the moon, etc.

To understand Greek polytheism you first have to understand ancient Greece. It is the best example of a pantheon that expanded at the same rate the people started to identify as "Greek". The attributes did not come before the inclusion in a pantheon but rather after when it came to the time of distinguishing between the gods. The god at the beginning was life, and because of that mostly feminine. But then we are 20-30,000 years before the Greek and the Egyptians or Sumerians.

Funnily the god that most influenced our Western/Middle Eastern religions is a regression of that. The Thunder God made God Father.

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To understand Greek polytheism you first have to understand ancient Greece. It is the best example of a pantheon that expanded at the same rate the people started to identify as "Greek". The attributes did not come before the inclusion in a pantheon but rather after when it came to the time of distinguishing between the gods. The god at the beginning was life, and because of that mostly feminine. But then we are 20-30,000 years before the Greek and the Egyptians or Sumerians.

Funnily the god that most influenced our Western/Middle Eastern religions is a regression of that. The Thunder God made God Father.

You Greeks had a greatly justified interpretation of god, saying that it was life. :)

Out of all monotheistic diatribes, examples, or sources - I agree with the ancients who say that god is life.

It's simplistic, but as Emerson would say, there is beauty in simplicity.

In the time before the Greeks the Egyptians, and the Sumerians, who knows?

There is a marvelous window of opportunity when it comes to imagining what they thought.

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I'll betcha the first Monotheistic religion was probably SUN worship. You crawl , shivering, out of the cave and stand before the sun.. you stretch.. you feel it's life giving warmth and say ooodagamomba!*

... ( Thank GOD it's Morning!*) :P Then.. since your chief, you make everybody do it.. but , they don't seem to mind because he's such a wonderful GOD . ^_^

I think it still influences religions to this very day? sun/son LIGHT is very popular in religious writings?

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People freak out when I point out that Christianity is a tri-part godhood. If you get right down to it, the angels fill the places of the various lesser gods of such pantheons as the Romans and Greeks and Egpytians.

And if you look at Catholicism in particular, it's very polytheistic in a certain way. Just like lots of polytheistic religions and animistic religions have gods and spirits for everything and anything - Catholicism has "patron saints" of all sorts of things that you pray to for whatever it is you wish for. It's like a religion with thousands of mini-Gods for anything the Catholic Church thinks needs a mini-God for praying to for.

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Well, see here: All Hindu gods are reincarnations of Brahma, so the same person, therefore monotheistic.

No, QM.

All Hindu Gods do not originate from Brahma.

The Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are seen as the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer.

It is said that Vishnu is the paramatman or the Supreme being/God. Everything else. including Brahma and Shiva originated from him.

But, Hinduism is an amalgamation of various regional faiths that existed in the Indian subcontinent.

There are arguments within Hinduism itself regarding the origins of the gods since different religious texts tell different things.

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I'd wager the first true form of monotheism was what we call "Atenism," from the reign of the heretic king Akhenaten in Dynasty 18 Egypt. It certainly didn't start out that way because on Akhenaten's own early monuments certain deities like Horus, Re-Horakhty, and Maat are prominently displayed. Technically speaking one would define the early stages of Atenism as henotheism. However, by all appearances it did indeed develop into monotheism. Akhenaten eventually denied all other deities and recognized and venerated only the Aten. In the prayer known as the Great Hymn to the Aten, Akhenaten literally refers to the Aten as "the sole god."

This hardly means every single person in Egypt during Akhenaten's time towed the line and worshiped only the Aten themselves. By all accounts Atenism was more fantasy than reality, and this version of pharaonic religion died pretty much the same moment Akhenaten himself did. Still, it developed into a true form of monotheism, if only in the mind of Akhenaten (and his elite toadies, of course).

Others have mentioned Zoroastrianism. This would not be correct. The founder of this religion, Zorothustra (Zoroaster in Greek) was not a monotheist himself. Almost nothing is known of this man. He is speculated to have been born somewhere in the northeast of ancient Iran, in perhaps what is now Turkmenistan, and some scholars believe his birth might date back to around 1000 BCE. This is not at all certain, however. It's only speculation, at best. Akhenaten died over 300 years before that, so on timeline alone Atenism is older. However, the worship of Ahuramazda was far from monotheistic at first. In fact, Ahuramazda was one of numerous deities in the ancient Persian religion, albeit a very important deity. Zoroastrianism was practiced especially by Persian royals and nobles, particularly beginning with Darius I, but even the royals and nobles did not regard Ahuramazda as the only god--just the most important of them. For much of its history this religion was a form of monolatry. It did not become monotheistic until much later in time.

Some have also posited Judaism, which would also be incorrect. To the earliest Hebrews dating back to the very dawn of the Iron Age, Yahweh was actually not the only deity. This, too, was centuries after the time of Akhenaten. I know the Old Testament paints a different picture, but one must strip away the outer layers of paint to reveal the truth beneath. Damn, is that a kickin' analogy or what? Judaism didn't develop into a true form of monotheism until the post-exilic period, when Cyrus the Great freed the Hebrew elite from Babylon and sent them back home. Even at that point Judaism was still in a developmental stage. I'd state that Judaism slowly developed from monolatry to henotheism to monotheism, "slowly" being the operative word.

Therefore, my vote is still Akhenaten's Atenism, as miserable and short-lived a failure as his venture into monotheism was.

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No, QM.

All Hindu Gods do not originate from Brahma.

The Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are seen as the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer.

It is said that Vishnu is the paramatman or the Supreme being/God. Everything else. including Brahma and Shiva originated from him.

But, Hinduism is an amalgamation of various regional faiths that existed in the Indian subcontinent.

There are arguments within Hinduism itself regarding the origins of the gods since different religious texts tell different things.

Which would even befit my pet theory that all polytheistic religions are an amalgam of religions apported by different groups forming a society. That makes it more likely that all religion started as monotheistic (or mono-spiritual, if you prefer).

Sorry, not the expert on Hinduism, just can repeat what I read. And yes, somehow I mixed up Brahma with Vishnu.

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Thank you all. Some realy good posts. Very informative.

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Marduk? Ever been true monotheistic God?

Ahura Mazda? Same question as above.

Akhenatnens Aten? Seems to me that there is debate is Akhenathen or Zarathushtra first monotheist.

It seems to me that is hard to tell since no one realy agree when Zarathushtra lived.

Yahwe? (Judaism. Btw is chatolic Yahwe monotheistic because of holy trinity in the first place?)

From wiki:

Two examples of monolatrism developing from polytheism are the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, as well as the rise of Marduk from the tutelary of Babylon to the claim of universal supremacy.

In Iran, Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda appears as a supreme and transcendental deity. Depending on the date of Zoroaster (usually placed in the early Iron Age), this may be one of the earliest documented instances of the emergence of monism in an Indo-European religion.

In the ancient Near East, each city had a local patron deity, such as Shamash at Larsa or Sin at Ur. The first claims of global supremacy of a specific god date to the Late Bronze Age, with Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten (speculatively connected to Judaism by Sigmund Freud in his Moses and Monotheism). However the date of the Exodus is disputed, and its not definitive whether the setting of the biblical Exodus event is prior to or following Akhenaten's reign. Furthermore it is not clear to what extent Akhenaten's Atenism was monotheistic rather than henotheistic with Akhenaten himself identified with the god Aten.

Currents of monism or monotheism emerge in Vedic India earlier, with e.g. the Nasadiya Sukta. In the Indo-Iranian tradition, the Rigveda exhibits notions of monism, in particular in the comparatively late tenth book, also dated to the early Iron Age, e.g. in the Nasadiya sukta.

Ethical monotheism and the associated concept of absolute good and evil emerge in Zoroastrianism and Judaism, later culminating in the doctrines of Christology in early Christianity and later (by the 7th century) in the tawhid in Islam. In Islamic theology, a person who spontaneously "discovers" monotheism is called a ḥanīf, the original ḥanīf being Abraham.

So Shamash at Larsa or Sin at Ur?

In the end what was most influental monotheism that influenced other religion?

Akhenatens aten was all but not influental.

Thanks in advance.

The first true monotheistic religion was Christianity. No other major religious tradition prior to that practiced monotheism.

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