The Old Testament--and therefore both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible (hereafter simply "Bible" in reference to either one, or to both at once, except where the distinction is relevant)--is riddled with ambiguity between monotheism (the acknowledgment and worship of only one god) and monolatry
(the worship of one god despite the acknowledgment of many).
7), YHWH gradually absorbed the functions of the sun god (note the solar traits of God in many biblical texts) so that there was a development towards monolatry
(not yet monotheism).
Sentiments of monolatry
and monotheism are suggested in C.
(2) However, Israelite folklore accepted inferior deities, and episodes that seemingly describe God's limitations suggest monolatry
rather than monotheism.
Morenz characterized this as henotheism or "monolatry
" rather than monotheism.
He offers a history of humanity's procession from polytheism to monolatry
(worship of only one god among many) to monotheism to (he hopes) a more loving religion.
This exclusivity distinguishes monotheism from henotheism or monolatry
and explains why monotheism is a question of belief, unlike traditional eastern religions, among them the religion of the Old Testament.
It clarifies the meaning of "monolatry
" (monolatria) and "monotheism"; the former being belief in a tribal God who is considered a supreme, transcendent creator, without excluding the possibility of other tribal gods; the latter, belief in one universal God to the exclusion of all others.
Attempts by other scholars to introduce such terms as henotheism or monolatry
were inadequate, Rowley believed, to describe the deep inner logic belonging to Israel's claim that the one Lord God was superior to all other divine or human powers.
Avalos argues that this was due, principally, to the difference between polytheism and the "monolatry
" of Christianity.
What is at issue in this conception of idolatry is not so much whether the false gods are real, but whether they are worshipful; monolatry
rather than monotheism.
The discovery in 1989 of a collection of statues at Luxor established that even before his son Amenophis IV, better known as Akhenaton, the father of Tutankhamun, advocated monolatry
, the worship of only one god, Amenophis III had already assimilated the theory, aligning himself with the Sun God Aton.