Primitive Monotheism -- By: Norman L. Geisler

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 01:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Primitive Monotheism
Author: Norman L. Geisler


Primitive Monotheism

Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D.

The Problem Of Early Monotheism

The Bible teaches that monotheism was the earliest conception of God. The very first verse of Genesis is monotheistic: ”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). All the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, reflect an early monotheism (Gen. 12–50). This reveals one God who created the world and who, therefore, is prior to, more than, and different from the world. These are the essential elements of theism or monotheism.

Likewise, long before Moses, Joseph clearly believed in a moral monotheism. His refusal to commit adultery was because it would be a sin against God. While resisting the temptation of Potiphar's wife he declared: ”How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9).

The other book in the Bible that reflects an ancient pre-Mosaic period, Job, clearly has a monotheistic view of God. There is good evidence that the book of Job was set in pre-Mosaic patriarchal times (see below). It speaks of an ”almighty” (see 5:17; 6:14; 8:3, etc.) personal God (cf. 1:7–8) who created the world (38:4) who is sovereign over it (42:1–2).

What is more, Romans 1 affirms that monotheism preceded animism and polytheism, affirming that ”what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is for ever praised” (Rom. 1:19–25).

Frazer's Thesis Of A Late Monotheism

The e...

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