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- The Role of Religion in History & Society
What the Modern World Needed Before it could be Born.
Historic Moments SERIES
There was no Bible until the late 1500's for the modern man. There was no Bible before the 300's, until people got together and declared what books would be a part of the Bible and what would not. That is speaking of the New Testament and the Old Testament together. But what people don't realize is that during Roman Times, the Time of Christ, there were non Jewish religions afoot that were essentially monotheistic -- Mithraism, Manichaeism, the Roman Religions that was focused on one diety -- the Sun (Sol Invictus). And of course, there was Judaism ---- along with this "street religion" called Christianity. The world was ready for a focusing on a "simpler" hierarchy of gods. The Western World, especially was about to experience a new change in consciousness.
The Greek Septuagint
The Old Testament was not completely written until a couple hundred years before Christ. The Greek Septuagint put the scriptures together in Alexandria Egypt around 70 AD. So, the world was just the world as history passed and the OT and the NT were being written and put together. The world had not changed in a demonstrable way all that time.
Moses on the Mount with the Top 10
But the question is still a good one. How did the world get impacted by the Old Testament? Because of the Old Testament, the idea of One God became established in the mind of man. The fact that this ancient land existed, because of the tradition of Moses, and because the idea of "many" gods, or polytheism prevailed around the world, the idea of one God had a substantial effect. The existence of the 10 commandments and the ideas and laws in the books of Deuteronomy showed Moses and the Aaronic priesthood to be originators of a "civilized" or organized approach to society. These days people ridicule the supposedly harsh laws that were set out to order criminal, civil and personal conduct. They neglect to think about that setting these issues down in books was quite forward thinking. Sanitation laws and cleanliness were emphasized in those books long before these things were put down in formal laws in other places.
The Civilizing Effect of Not Having a new god at every 7-11
This is not to say that there were not laws and systems that were written down in other countries, but the idea that one God dictated these things was brand new on the planet. If you will look around, you can see that the idea of monotheism did have a "civilizing" effect. This forum is too brief to elaborate on this, but most everyone would agree that the overall effect of monotheism has been an improvement over a world where every turn in the river, or mountain peak would exhibit a new deity for that part of the country.
Don't be having Sex with the gods, they're made of Marble
The New Testament unseated Roman poilytheism and Greek polytheism. What Christianity has done for mankind is broadly, to declare that the individual can have a relationship with God, and in that relationship, man can directly secure the blessings of the Creator. This plainly declares that the Soul of the Individual is of paramount importance to each person. With polytheism, mankind got to "react" to the crazy conduct of the charioteering gods, having sex, killing, eating and generally messing with the unimportant individual. So, we have Monotheism of God and Individuality of Man, as having a Soul which was "attached" to God. If there were no Bible, the world would not be as modern. Most inventions arose from the individuated marketplace called "freedom". Democracy became the good Greek idea which pertained mostly to the singular citizen, voting and fighting for himself. This concept of freedom came from the societies in which man felt special under the care and eyes of God.
After 1000 Years of Dark Ages, then Modernity Took Hold
Modernity is very important, but if we did not have modernity, we would have societies in which the poor would still be in a vast underclass "slaves" and the upperclass would enslave them. The modern democratic state would not exist because it would not yet have had the "experimental setting" in which modern government and philosophies to develop. The leaps that arose in the western world from the 1300's to the 1800's would not have occurred if mankind were not free to be inventive in social constructs which liberated him to function in groups large and small, and form a new concept called a "corporation"; an idea which would bridge neighborhoods, national borders, foreign languages and foreign armies. Truly this topic covers volumes and volumes, but it is fun to contemplate and give serious thought to, even in the Hubpages format.