Features of Biblical Religion Developing 800 - 400 BCE

Written tradition: compilation of Torah, historical works, prophecy, wisdom

--a later, more developed stage or Israelite religion or revolutionary change?


1. Monotheism: only one deity

2. Centralization of worship

3. "Historically rooted" mythology

4. Individualism

5. Text-centered


1. Deuteronomic

a. legal treaty between nation and G-d

b. G-d's promises are conditional on national obedience

c. monotheistic: a "name" theology

e. G-d has little contact with the human realm

f. Emphasis on hearing, instruction

g. Individuals exhorted to love G-d

h. militant: Canaan and all it represents is the enemy

i. text-centered: little interest in priestly cult

2. Priestly-cultic

a. also monotheistic and centered on one shrine

b. sacrificial cult is unconditional covenant

c. "glory" rather than "name" rests on Throne

d. Implied immanence: glory dwells among Israelites in the Temple

e. More physical: seeing, touching, smelling

f. Sacrifices emphasized over prayer in atonement

g. Cultivation of mystery

i. Moral and ritual purity: separation

j. Sabbath memorializes creation

3. Wisdom

a. Value on education: training the young

b. Maxims for correct living

c. Philosophical concerns with suffering and the meaning of justice

d. Emphasis on nature and cosmos rather than cult and covenant

e. World reflects unity and harmony