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Two Gods in HeavenJewish Concepts of God in Antiquity$
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Peter Schäfer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181325

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181325.001.0001

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Two Gods

Two Gods

(p.134) Conclusion Two Gods
Two Gods in Heaven

Peter Schäfer

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about how Judaism has continuously wrestled with finding a way of expressing its notion of God with ever-greater precision over the course of its long history. The chapter explains how Judaism's expression applies to its founding document, the Hebrew Bible, as well as to all postbiblical literature. It emphasizes that monotheism is nothing more than an ideal that was pursued again and again, yet seldom achieved. Whereas YHWH, the tribal God of Israel, was never able to assert himself unchallenged even in the Hebrew Bible, the sources discussed in the chapter prove that for postbiblical Judaism until far into late antiquity, the idea of one single God is an ideal that does not stand up to an unbiased review. The Jewish heaven was by no means always content with one God, but, despite all trends to the contrary and manifold attempts to keep these trends at bay, was often populated with two gods or a number of divine powers.

Keywords:   Judaism, Hebrew Bible, postbiblical literature, monotheism, YHWH, Jewish heaven, divine power, God of Israel

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