God in Abrahamic religions
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Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called "Abrahamic religions" because they all accept the tradition that God revealed himself to the patriarch Abraham. The theological traditions of all Abrahamic religions are thus to some extent influenced by the depiction of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, and the historical development of monotheism in the history of Judaism.
The Abrahamic God in this sense is the conception of God that remains a common attribute of all three traditions. God is conceived of as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and as the creator of the universe. God is further held to have the properties of holiness, justice, omni-benevolence and omnipresence. Proponents of Abrahamic faiths believe that God is also transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time and therefore not subject to anything within his creation, but at the same time personal and involved, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures.
The development of monotheism during Classical Antiquity was a process of complex interaction between philosophical and religious traditions, specifically between the philosophical monotheism of The One in Platonism and the strict monolatrism of Second Temple Judaism, giving rise to syncretized traditions such as Hellenistic Judaism.
The split between Pharisaic/Rabbinic Judaism and Early/Proto-orthodox Christianity was a slowly growing chasm between Christians and Jews in the first centuries of the Christian Era. Even though it is commonly thought that Paul established a Gentile church, it took centuries for a complete break to manifest. However, certain events are perceived as pivotal in the growing rift between Christianity and Judaism. Some scholars propose a model which envisions a twin birth of Proto-Orthodox Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism rather than a separation of the former from the latter. For example, Robert Goldenberg asserts that it is increasingly accepted among scholars that "at the end of the 1st century CE there were not yet two separate religions called "Judaism" and "Christianity".
Daniel Boyarin proposes that nascent Christianity and Judaism in late antiquity were intensely and complexly intertwined. The theological split of Judaism and Christianity was complete with the development of the Athanasian Creed during the 4th century and its widespread adoption as Christian orthodoxy by the 6th century. The radical monotheism of Islam (tawhid) as formulated in the 7th century is a reaction to the preceding centuries of Christological debate. The Qur'an makes this explicit by commenting on Christian doctrine, as in sura 2:116,
- "And they (Christians) say: Allāh has begotten a son (children or offspring). Glory be to Him (Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth, and all surrender with obedience (in worship) to Him."
For this reason, early Islam was long considered one of many Christological heresies in medieval Christianity, for example by John of Damascus (born c. 676) in his Fount of Wisdom. It was only with the Crusades of the High Middle Ages that Islam came to be considered a separate religion.
The conception of God in Rabbinical Judaism is strictly monotheistic. The god of Israel in the Torah is known by two principal names, YHWH being God's "personal name", used when God is depicted as an active character, while Elohim is used when God is depicted more as an impersonal or abstract principle. However according to the documentary hypothesis whilst the hypothetical Jahwist source; the hypothetical Deuteronomist, Elohist, and Priestly source documents all contain numerous uses of the personal name Yahweh, the Jahwist source document is the only one to use the personal name Yahweh prior to Exodus 3. The proper name YHWH, probably historically "Yahweh" came to be avoided for tabuistic reasons in Second Temple Judaism, around the 3rd or 2nd century BC. From that time, occurrence of the name in scripture was replaced by Adonai "my Lord" in liturgy.
Christianity originated within the realm of Second Temple Judaism and thus shares most of its beliefs about God, including his omnipotence, omniscience, his role as creator of all things, his personality, Immanence, transcendence and ultimate unity and supremacy, with the innovation that Jesus of Nazareth is considered to be in one way or another, the fulfillment of ancient prophecy or the completion of the Law of the prophets of Israel.
Most Christian denominations believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the incarnation of God as a human being, which is the main theological divergence with respect to Judaism and Islam. Although personal salvation is implicitly stated in Judaism, personal salvation by grace and a recurring emphasis in right beliefs is particularly emphasized in Christianity, often contrasting this with a perceived over-emphasis in law observance as stated in canon Jewish law, where it is contended that a belief in an intermediary between man and God is against the Noahide laws, and thus not monotheistic.
For most Christians, beliefs about God are enshrined in the doctrine of Trinitarianism, which holds that the three persons of God together form a single god. The doctrines were largely formalized at the Council of Nicea and are enshrined in the Nicaene creed. The Trinitarian view emphasizes that God has a will, and that God the Son has two wills, divine and human, though these are never in conflict but joined in the hypostatic union. However, this point is disputed by Oriental Orthodox Christians, who hold that God the Son has only one will of unified divinity and humanity, a doctrine known as Miaphysitism.
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In Islam, God is believed to be the only real supreme being, all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular (tawhid). He is unique (wahid) and inherently one (ahad), all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Qur'an there are 99 Names of God (al-asma al-husna lit. meaning: "The best names") each of which evoke a distinct characteristic of God. All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all-comprehensive divine Arabic name. Among the 99 names of God, the most famous and most frequent of these names are "the Most Gracious" (al-rahman) and "the Most Merciful" (al-rahim).
Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures sing his glories and bear witness to his unity and lordship. According to the Qur'an, "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things" (Qur'an 6:103)
God in Islam is not only majestic and sovereign, but also a personal god: According to the Qur'an, he is nearer to person than person's jugular vein. He responds to those in need or distress whenever they call him. Above all, he guides humanity to the right way, the "straight path".
Islam teaches that God is the same god worshipped by the members of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism (29:46). This is not universally accepted by non-Muslims, as Islam denies the divinity of Jesus Christ as a son of God, Islam views that God does not have any offsprings or descendants, he created all things including prophets such as Jesus Christ. Most Muslims today believe that the religion of Abraham (which now split into Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are of one source, which is The Almighty God.
In the Mormonism represented by most of Mormon communities (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), "God" means Elohim (the Father), whereas "Godhead" means a council of three distinct gods; Elohim, Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit is a spirit and does not have a body. This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered to be physically separate beings, or personages, but united in will and purpose. As such, the term "Godhead" differs from how it is used in traditional Christianity. This description of God represents the orthodoxy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), established early in the 19th century. However, the Mormon concept of God has expanded since the faith's founding in the late 1820s.
The Bahá'í writings describe a monotheistic, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end.
Though transcendent and inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of creation, with a will and purpose that is expressed through messengers termed Manifestations of God. The purpose of creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its creator, through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to humankind. God communicates his will and purpose to humanity through intermediaries, known as Manifestations of God, who are the prophets and messengers who have founded religions from prehistoric times up to the present day.
The Manifestations of God reflect divine attributes, which are creations of God made for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment, onto the physical plane of existence. In the Bahá'í view, all physical beings reflect at least one of these attributes, and the human soul can potentially reflect all of them. The Bahá'í view rejects all pantheistic, anthropomorphic, and incarnationist beliefs in God.
- "Robert Goldenberg. Review of "Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism" by Daniel Boyarin in The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 92, No. 3/4 (Jan–Apr, 2002), pp. 586–588
- Critique of Islam St. John of Damascuss
- W.H.C. Propp, Introduction to Exodus, The Anchor Bible, Doubleday (1999) p. 50
- Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran
- John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
- John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
- "Allah." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
- Bentley, David (September 1999). The 99 Beautiful Names for God for All the People of the Book. William Carey Library. ISBN 0-87808-299-9.
- Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Allah
- Annemarie Schimmel,The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic, SUNY Press, p.206
- Britannica Encyclopedia, Islam, p. 3
- F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
- The term with its distinctive Mormon usage first appeared in Lectures on Faith (published 1834), Lecture 5 ("We shall in this lecture speak of the Godhead; we mean the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."). The term "Godhead" also appears several times in Lecture 2 in its sense as used in the Authorized King James Version as meaning divinity.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, William (1985). The Bahá'í Faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row. p. 74. ISBN 0-06-065441-4.
- Britannica (1992). "The Bahá'í Faith". In Daphne Daume; Louise Watson. Britannica Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. ISBN 0-85229-486-7.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 111. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, John S. (2005). "Unveiling the Hurí of Love". Journal of Bahá'í Studies 15 (1). pp. 1–38.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- Hatcher, William (1985). The Bahá'í Faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row. pp. 123–126. ISBN 0-06-065441-4.
- Saiedi, Nader (2008). Gate of the Heart. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 163–180. ISBN 978-1-55458-035-4.