Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Basic Worldview:
104 Why Christianity?

History of Judaism Study

Introduction, Purpose, Definitions and Terminology
Timelines: Jewish and Gentile Writings and Thought
Eliminating Potential Sources of Complex Monotheism
Was Jewish Complex Monotheism Borrowed from the Greeks?
The Hebrew Bible Teaches Complex Monotheism - Part 1
The Hebrew Bible Teaches Complex Monotheism - Part 2
Complex Monotheism after the Close of the Hebrew Bible
Philo Affirms Complex Monotheism in Pre-rabbinic Judaism
Criteria of Biblical Monotheism, Christianity & Pre-Rabbinic Judaism
New Testament Christianity as a Sect of Judaism
When Was Complex Monotheism First Rejected?
Simple & Complex Monotheism before the Rabbinic Period
What Separates Biblical Judaism & New Testament Christianity?
God's Sovereign Choice of Abraham & His Offspring
Summary, Conclusions, and Implications

Timeline of Important Jewish Religious Writings

One critical question concerning modern Judaism and Christianity relates to how these two religions developed their differing understandings of God. A conventional perspective on the history of these ideas is typically articulated along the following lines:

Judaism has always believed in a Simple Monotheistic conception of God since the earliest biblical periods. Christianity emerged as an attempt to combine various aspects of Hellenistic (Greek) polytheism and Jewish monotheism. In response to this, Judaism simply maintained its existing and long-standing biblical prohibitions against Complex Monotheism and remained faithful to the biblical Jewish faith of one God, one person.

One of the purposes of this study will be to perform a historical investigation into whether this conventional perception is valid or not. Did ancient, biblical Judaism subscribe to Simple Monotheism? Did Christianity arrive at Complex Monotheism by incorporating non-biblical (non-Jewish) views borrowed from Hellenistic religious thought? Did Judaism, after the time of Christianity, simply faithfully maintain an existing commitment to a pre-Christian Simple Monotheism which defined Judaism from its very inception?

Answering these questions and evaluating the conventional explanation involves an informed understanding of the history of these religious ideas. With this in mind, it is important to construct a timeline of relevant history including the dates of critical religious texts for both biblical and non-biblical religions.

There are several important text sources for Jewish and Christian theology which we will discuss over the course of our study. They include: the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), the Targums (Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible), the New Testament, early (extra-biblical) Christian writings, and the Talmud.

In scholarly circles, the books of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) are generally considered to have been written over a large span of time dating from perhaps 1200-100 BC.

Hebrew BibleHebrew Bible, also called Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament, or Tanakh, collection of writings that was first compiled and preserved as the sacred books of the Jewish people. It constitutes a large portion of the Christian Bible...Except for a few passages in Aramaic, appearing mainly in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, these scriptures were written originally in Hebrew during the period from 1200 to 100 bce. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Old Testament – The oldest material in the Hebrew Bible – and therefore in the Christian Old Testament – may date from the 13th century BCE.[3] This material is found embedded within the books of the current Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, which reached their current form at various points between the 5th century BCE (the first five books, the Torah) and the 2nd century BCE – wikipedia.org

A more traditional dating commonly used by Jews and Christians alike identifies Moses as the author of the earliest biblical books and the post-exilic Jews as the authors of the final books. This would place the origin of the Hebrew Bible between the time of Moses (near the 14th century BC) and the generations that returned from the Babylonian exile under the leadership of figures such as: Zerubbabel, Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah (between 586 BC and the mid-400’s BC).

Moses – Moses, Hebrew lawgiver, probably b. Egypt. The prototype of the prophets, he led his people in the 13th cent. BC out of bondage in Egypt to the edge of Canaan…Through him God promulgated the Law, including the Ten Commandments, the criminal code, and the whole liturgical law…All this is recounted in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The authorship of these and Genesis (collectively called the Pentateuch) has been ascribed to Moses since earliest times; hence they are called the Books of Moses. Columbia Encyclopedia

Pentateuch – Pentateuch (Gk., penta, ‘five’, + teuchos, ‘book’). The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, also known as Torah (for Hebrew names see each book): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Pentateuch contains the history of the Jewish people from the creation of the world until the death of Moses. Traditionally it was believed to be a single document revealed by God to Moses and written down by him. – The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

Pentateuch – Pentateuch (Gk. Five scrolls) First five books of the Bible, traditionally attributed to Moses, and in Judaism referred to collectively as the Torah (Law). The Pentateuch comprises the five Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Composed over a very long period (possibly 1000 years or more), they were probably collected in their present form during the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews during the 6th century bc. – World Encyclopedia

MosesMoses, Hebrew Moshe (flourished 14th–13th century bc), Prophet of Judaism… Authorship of the first five books of the Bible (see Torah) is traditionally ascribed to him. – Encyclopedia Britannica

It is important to note that the earliest texts of the Hebrew Bible (the books of the Pentateuch) were written very early in the history of the Jewish people, anywhere from the 14th century BC to perhaps several centuries later. While scholars date some of the material in these books to later periods, traditional Jews and Christians will largely date the biblical material to the timeframe indicated in the texts themselves. The dates of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob become an important marker for the onset of Israelite, biblical history. Abraham’s life is typically placed at some point between around 2000 and 1850 BC.

JudaismAbraham (perhaps 19th or 18th–17th centuries BCE) did not discover this God, but entered into a new covenant relation with him, in which he was promised the land of Canaan and a numerous progeny. God fulfilled that promise through the actions of the 13th-century-BCE Hebrew leader Moses: he liberated the people of Israel from Egypt, imposed Covenant obligations on them at Mt. Sinai, and brought them to the promised land.” – Encyclopedia Britannica

Abraham – The patriarch Abraham (c. 1996 BC-1821 BC) started with humble beginnings as a son of Ur. Abraham is now regarded as one of the most influential people in all of history. The world's three largest monotheistic religions—in fact possibly monotheism itself—found their beginnings with him. Over 3 billion people in the modern world cite Abraham as the "father" of their religion. – Encyclopedia of World Biography

Abraham – Abraham Also known as Abram; first of the patriarchs of Israel. His kind of life, depicted in Gen. 11–25, might be that of about 2000 to 1500 BCE, but the Abraham of the stories is an individual merchant from the Hittite realm typical of a people who migrated from the urban civilization of Ur into Palestine. – A Dictionary of the Bible

In his book, Sommer employs the Documentary Hypothesis to identify and date Hebrew biblical texts. The Documentary Hypothesis attempts to identify various, hypothetical text traditions within the Hebrew Bible which are commonly referred to as J, E, P, and D texts. For the purpose of our study it will be important to note that the J traditions are considered the oldest material, originating either from the time of Moses or between 950 and 850 BC.

Documentary Hypothesis – The documentary hypothesis (DH) (sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis[1]), holds that the Pentateuch (the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors). The number of these is usually set at four, but this is not an essential part of the hypothesis. The documentary hypothesis assumes that the text of the Torah as preserved can be divided into identifiable sources that predate its compilations by centuries, the Jahwist (J) source being the oldest, dating to as early as the 10th century BCE, along with the Elohist (E), the Deuteronomist (D), and the Priestly source (P), dating to the 8th to 6th centuries. The final compilation of the extant text is dated to either the 6th or 5th century BCE. – wikipedia.org

Bible – The medieval tradition of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Torah) came under philological scrutiny with the development of Biblical criticism in the 18th century. H. B. Witter, Jean Astruc (1753), and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1803) separated the Pentateuch into two original documentary components, both dating from after the time of Moses. Others hypothesized the presence of two additional sources. The four documents were given working titles: J (Jahwist/Yahwist), E (Elohist), P (Priestly), and D (Deuteronomist). Each was discernible by its own characteristic language, and each, when read in isolation, presented a unified, coherent narrative…The documentary hypothesis, at least in the four-document version advanced by Wellhausen, has been controversial since its formulation, and not all biblical scholars accept J, E, D, and P as meaningful terms. Critics question the existence of separate, identifiable documents, positing instead that the biblical text is made up of almost innumerable strands so interwoven as to be hardly untangleable. The J document, in particular, has been subjected to such intense dissection that it seems in danger of disappearing. The hypothesis dominated biblical scholarship for much of the 20th century, and, although increasingly challenged by other models in the last part of the 20th century, its terminology and insights continue to provide the framework for modern theories on the origins of the Torah. – wikinfo.org

Jahwish – The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the four major sources of the Torah.[1] It is the oldest source, whose narratives make up half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus, plus fragments of Numbers. J describes a human-like God, called Yahweh (or rather YHWH) throughout…It was generally accepted that J was the earliest of the four sources, that it was a product of the court of Solomon c.950 BCE… –  wikipedia.org

JE – JE is a hypothetical intermediate source text of the Torah postulated by the DH. It is a combination and redaction of the Jahwist (J) and Elohist (E) source texts. According to this hypothesis, J was composed c. 950 BC, E was composed c. 850 BC, and the two were combined into JE c. 750 BC. JE was combined into the Torah c. 400 BC. – wikipedia.org

Old TestamentIn the 10th cent. B.C. the first of a series of editors collected materials from earlier traditional folkloric and historical records (i.e., both oral and written sources) to compose a narrative of the history of the Hebrews who now found themselves united under David and Solomon. Stemming from differing traditions originating among those living in what was later the northern kingdom of Israel and those in the southern kingdom of Judah, we can trace two dominant compilations, known as the E (preferring the epithet "Elohim" for God) and the J (preferring the epithet "Yahweh"), respectively. These were combined by a Judaean some time after the fall of the northern kingdom and are to be found inextricably associated in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings. According to scholars, this combined JE narrative is the bulk of the earlier Old Testament.Columbia Encyclopedia

ElohistThe Elohist (E) is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis. Its name comes from the term it uses for God: Elohim. It portrays a God who is less anthropomorphic than YHWH of the earlier Jahwist source ("J").[1] Since the end of the 19th century, it has been argued that the Elohist was composed in northern Israel (Ephraim) c 850 BC, combined with the Yahwist to form JE c 750 BC, and finally incorporated into the Torah c 400 BC.[1] – wikipedia.org

Priestly SourceThe Priestly Source (P) is one of the sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the bible. Primarily a product of the post-Exilic period when Judah was a province of the Persian empire (the 5th century BCE) – wikipedia.org

Deuteronomist – The Deuteronomist, or simply D, is one of the sources underlying the Hebrew bible (the Old Testament). It is found in the book of Deuteronomy, in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings (the Deuteronomistic history, or DtrH) and also in the book of Jeremiah. (The adjectives Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic are more of less interchangeable: if they are distinguished at all, then the first refers to Deuteronomy and the second to the history).[1] The Deuteronomists are seen more as a school or movement than a single author.[2] It is generally agreed that the DtrH originated independently of both the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers (the Tetrateuch or Priestly source) and the history of the books of Chronicles; most scholars trace all or most of it to the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), and associate it with editorial reworking of both the Tetrateuch and Jeremiah.[3] – wikipedia.org

In our study, we will use the traditional dates for the Hebrew scriptures rather than those used by the Documentary Hypothesis. However, these designations and dating (along with the dating of the Pentateuch) will become more important later in our study as we discuss Sommer’s book and the Jewish conceptions of God presented in various passages and books of the Hebrew bible.

As we move forward in time from the origination of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament), we next arrive at the creation of the Septuagint. The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek between 250 and 132 BC.

Septuagint – Septuagint [Lat.,=70], oldest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made by Hellenistic Jews, possibly from Alexandria, c.250 BC – Columbia Encyclopedia

Septuagint - a Greek version of the Jewish Scriptures redacted in the 3d and 2d centuries B.C. by Jewish scholars and adopted by Greek-speaking Christians. – Columbia Encyclopedia

Septuagint – Septuagint (‘LXX’). The most influential of the Greek versions of the OT. Jewish tradition ascribes its origin to the initiative of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285–246 BC), who wanted a translation of the Hebrew Law and engaged 72 translators (hence the title ‘Septuagint’) for the work. The name was gradually attached not just to the Pentateuch but to the whole OT. It seems to be the work of a number of translators, working in different places over a long period; it was probably complete by 132 BC. – The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Septuagint –Septuagint, abbreviation Lxx, the earliest extant Greek translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew, presumably made for the use of the Jewish community in Egypt when Greek was the lingua franca throughout the region. Analysis of the language has established that the Torah, or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), was translated near the middle of the 3rd century bc and that the rest of the Old Testament was translated in the 2nd century bc. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Besides being translated into Greek, the Hebrew Bible was also translated into Aramaic. These translations, called Targum (Targums, Targumim) date to around the first century AD.

TargumTargum an ancient Aramaic paraphrase or interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, of a type made from about the 1st century ad when Hebrew was ceasing to be a spoken language. – The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Targum (Biblical Literature) – Targum, (Aramaic: “Translation,” or “Interpretation”), any of several translations of the Hebrew Bible or portions of it into the Aramaic language. The word originally indicated a translation of the Old Testament in any language but later came to refer specifically to an Aramaic translation. The earliest Targums date from the time after the Babylonian Exile when Aramaic had superseded Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews in Palestine. It is impossible to give more than a rough estimate as to the period in which Hebrew was displaced by Aramaic as a spoken language. It is certain, however, that Aramaic was firmly established in Palestine by the 1st century ad, although Hebrew still remained the learned and sacred language. Thus the Targums were designed to meet the needs of unlearned Jews to whom the Hebrew of the Old Testament was unintelligible. The status and influence of the Targums became assured after the Second Temple was destroyed in ad 70, when synagogues replaced the Temple as houses of worship. – Encyclopedia Britannica

There are chiefly two important Targums, the Targum Onkelos and the Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel. Targum Onkelos translates the Pentateuch. It was written at around the middle of the first century AD. The Targum Jonathan was written by Jonathan ben Uzziel who was one of the Tannaim (rabbis of the early Talmudic era). It was written between 80-200 AD and translates the books of the prophets. Note that both of these Targum post-date the life of Jesus. They are Jewish translations used in the synagogues that are either contemporary to New Testament texts or from slightly later than the New Testament texts. Thus, the Targum are a useful attestation to Jewish interpretations of the Hebrew Bible during the New Testament period.

OnkelosOnkelos , 2d cent. AD, translator of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, his work later being given the title Targum Onkelos (see Targum). A proselyte, he gained the respect of the leading Hebrew scholars of his day. His translation became almost as authoritative a text as the Pentateuch itself. Columbia Encyclopedia

Targum – Two "official" Targumim – The two most important targumim for liturgical purposes are: Targum Onkelos on the Torah (The Law), Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Nevi'im (The Prophets). These two targumim are mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud as targum didan ("our Targum"), giving them official status. In the synagogues of talmudic times, Targum Onkelos was read alternately with the Torah, verse by verse, and Targum Jonathan was read alternately with the selection from Nevi'im (i.e. the Haftarah). – wikipedia.org

Targum – The best known, most literal, and possibly the earliest Targum is the Targum of Onkelos on the Pentateuch, which appeared in its final revision in the 3rd century ad. Other Targums include the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, the Samaritan Targum, and the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Jonathan ben UzzielJonathan ben Uzziel is known as the author of Targum Jonathan. He is also said to have written a book of kabbalah known as Megadnim. He was one of the 80 tannaim who studied under Hillel the Elder. – wikipedia.org

The Tannaim – The Tannaim were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. – wikipedia.org

Targum – Targum Jonathan. 1. The Official Targum to the Prophets: Like the Targum Onelos to the Pentateuch the Targum to the Books of the Prophets gained general recognition in Babylonia in the third century; and from the Babylonian academies it was carried throughout the Diaspora. It originated, however, in Palestine, and was then adapted to the vernacular of Babylonia…Jonathan b. Uzziel is named as Hillel's most prominent pupil (comp. Jew. Encyc. vi. 399, s.v. Hillel); and the reference to his Targum is at all events of historical value, so that there is nothing to controvert the assumption that it served as the foundation for the present Targum to the Prophets. It was thoroughly revised, however, before it was redacted in BabyloniaThis shows that as early as the beginning of the fourth century the Targum to the Prophets was recognized as of ancient authority. Hai Gaon apparently regarded Joseph as its author, since he cited passages from it with the words "Rab Joseph has translated" (commentary on ohorot, quoted in the "'Aruk"; see Kohut, "Aruch Completum," ii. 293a, 308a)…The Targum to the Prophets is undoubtedly the result of a single redaction. – Jewish Encyclopedia

The other important first century religious text is the New Testament. Though some scholars suggest that certain books were written in the early second century, the books of the New Testament are generally considered to have been written during the mid to late first century AD.

The New Testament – New Testament the distinctively Christian portion of the Bible, consisting of 27 books of varying lengths dating from the earliest Christian period. The seven epistles whose authorship by St. Paul is undisputed were written c.AD 50-AD 60; most of the remaining books were written in the era AD 70-100, often incorporating earlier traditions. All were written in the koinē idiom of the Greek language. – Columbia Encyclopedia

Biblical literatureThe New Testament consists of 27 books, which are the residue, or precipitate, out of many 1st–2nd-century-ad writings that Christian groups considered sacred. – Encyclopedia Britannica

The New TestamentThe original texts were written beginning around AD 50 in Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the eastern part of the Roman Empire where they were composed. All of the works which would eventually be incorporated into the New Testament would seem to have been written no later than the mid-2nd century. – wikipedia.org

According to early Christian writers and historians of the first few centuries of the church, the New Testament books were composed by eight authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude. It is important to note that of these eight men only Luke may not have been Jewish. However, early Christian historians like Irenaeus (120-202 AD) inform us that Luke’s writings contained the teachings of Paul who was a Jewish man trained as a Pharisee.

Irenaeus, Saint - c.125-c.202, Greek theologian, bishop of Lyons, and Father of the Church. Born in Asia Minor, he was a disciple of St. Polycarp. - Columbia Encyclopedia

Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. - Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, CHAP. I

Saint Paul the Apostle – Paul was a Greek-speaking Jew from Asia MinorAlthough the exact date of his birth is unknown, he was active as a missionary in the 40s and 50s of the 1st century ad. From this it may be inferred that he was born about the same time as Jesus (c. 4 bc) or a little later. He was converted to faith in Jesus Christ about ad 33, and he died, probably in Rome, circa ad 62–64. Until about the midpoint of his life, Paul was a member of the Pharisees, a religious party that emerged during the later Second Temple period. What little is known about Paul the Pharisee reflects the character of the Pharisaic movement. Pharisees believed in life after death, which was one of Paul’s deepest convictions…Pharisees were very careful students of the Hebrew Bible, and Paul was able to quote extensively from the Greek translation. – Encyclopedia Britannica

For more information on the origin and canonization of the New Testament texts, please see our articles on “The New Testament Canon” (in the Bible Translations and Manuscripts section of our website) and our “Why Christianity?” More information on the historical dating and reliability of the New Testament as well as the Hebrew Bible can be found in the “Introduction” and “Judaism and Christianity” sections of our “Why Christianity Study.”

The next important set of textual material that we will discuss in this study is the Talmud. The Talmud is composed of two parts: the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah is the earliest of the two and it was written down sometime around 200-220 AD. (This is the onset of the third century.) The second part of the Talmud, the Gemara, is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law. It is dated to 500 AD.

The Talmud – The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד talmūd "instruction, learning", from a root lmd "teach, study") is a central text of mainstream Judaism, in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh. The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature. – wikipedia.org

Although it was first written down at around 200-220 AD, the current form of the Talmud comes to us in two forms: The Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud was first written down between 375-500 AD. The present form of the Babylonian Talmud dates to between 500-700 AD.

Talmud – The Talmud Bavli consists of documents compiled over the period of Late Antiquity (3rd to 5th centuries).[9]…Talmud Bavli (the "Babylonian Talmud") comprises the Mishnah and the Babylonian Gemara, the latter representing the culmination of more than 300 years of analysis of the Mishnah in the Babylonian Academies. The foundations of this process of analysis were laid by Rab, a disciple of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. Tradition ascribes the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud in its present form to two Babylonian sages, Rav Ashi and Ravina. Rav Ashi was president of the Sura Academy from 375 to 427 CE. The work begun by Rav Ashi was completed by Ravina, who is traditionally regarded as the final Amoraic expounder. Accordingly, traditionalists argue that Ravina’s death in 499 CE is the latest possible date for the completion of the redaction of the Talmud. However, even on the most traditional view a few passages are regarded as the work of a group of rabbis who edited the Talmud after the end of the Amoraic period, known as the Saboraim or Rabbanan Savora'e (meaning "reasoners" or "considerers"). The question as to when the Gemara was finally put into its present form is not settled among modern scholars. Some, like Louis Jacobs, argue that the main body of the Gemara is not simple reportage of conversations, as it purports to be, but a highly elaborate structure contrived by the Saboraim, who must therefore be regarded as the real authors. On this view the text did not reach its final form until around 700. – wikipedia.org

The Jerusalem Talmud was also first written down at around 375 AD. Its present form dates to about 425 AD.

TalmudTraditionally, this Talmud was thought to have been redacted in about the year 350 CE by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in the Land of Israel. It is traditionally known as the Talmud Yerushalmi ("Jerusalem Talmud"), but the name is a misnomer, as it was not prepared in Jerusalem. It has more accurately been called The Talmud of the Land of Israel.[7] Its final redaction probably belongs to the end of the fourth century, but the individual scholars who brought it to its present form cannot be fixed with assurance. By this time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem the holy city of Christendom. In 325 CE Constantine, the first Christian emperor, said "let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd.”[8] This policy made a Jew an outcast and pauper. The compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud consequently lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended. The text is evidently incomplete and is not easy to follow. The apparent cessation of work on the Jerusalem Talmud in the fifth century has been associated with the decision of Theodosius II in 425 CE to suppress the Patriarchate and put an end to the practice of formal scholarly ordination. – wikipedia.org

Jerusalem TalmudTraditionally, the redaction of this Talmud was thought to have been brought to an abrupt end around 425 C.E., when Theodosius II suppressed the Patriarchate and put an end to the practice of formal scholarly ordination. It was thought that the compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended, and that this is the reason why the gemara do not comment upon the whole Mishnah.[1] In recent years scholars have come to doubt the causal link between the abolition of the Patriarchate and the seeming incompletion of the final redaction. However, as no evidence exists of Amoraim activity in Palestine after the 370s, it is still considered very likely that the final redaction of the Palestinian Talmud took place in the late fourth or early fifth Century.[2] – wikipedia.org

In the sense that “The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably” and “is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law,” this means that much of the essential material contained in the Talmud comes from a period no less than 300 years after 70 AD. Even though we may date the original writing of the Mishnah to 200-220 AD, the material contained in it includes debates and discussions which took place after 70 AD by a group of rabbis called the Tannaim.

The Mishnah – The Mishnah or Mishna (Hebrew: משנה, "repetition", from the verb shanah שנה, or "to study and review", also "secondary"[1](derived from the adj. שני)) is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah" and the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism.[2] It was redacted c. 220 CE by Judah haNasi when, according to the Talmud, the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the possibility that the details of the oral traditions dating from Pharisaic times (536 BCE – 70 CE) would be forgotten. It is thus named for being both the one written authority (codex) secondary (only) to the Tanakh as a basis for the passing of judgment, a source and a tool for creating laws, and the first of many books to complement the Bible in a certain aspect. The Mishnah is also called Shas (an acronym for Shisha Sedarim - the "six orders"), in reference to its six main divisions.[3] Rabbinic commentaries on the Mishnah over the next three centuries[4] were redacted as the Gemara, which, coupled with the Mishnah, comprise the Talmud. The Mishnah reflects debates between 70-200 CE by the group of rabbinic sages known as the Tannaim.[5] – wikipedia.org

Rabbi Yehuda haNasi, (or Judah I; Hebrew: יהודה הנשיא‎, pronounced Y'huda haNasi, lit. "Judah the Prince"), also known as Rebbi and Rabbenu HaQadosh (Hebrew: רבינו הקדוש‎, "Our Holy Rabbi"), was a key leader of the Jewish community of Judea toward the end of the 2nd century CE, during the occupation by the Roman Empire. He is best known as the chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah. He was of the Davidic line, the royal line of King David, hence the title nasi, meaning prince.[1] The title nasi was also used for presidents of the Sanhedrin.[2] (In modern Hebrew, it usually means "President"). Rabbi Judah haNasi died on 15 Kislev in 188CE or 219CE. Judah haNasi was born in 135. According to the Midrash, he came into the world on the same day that Rabbi Akiva died a martyr's death.[3] – wikipedia.org

Tannaim – The Tannaim (Hebrew: תנאים, singular תנא, Tanna) were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 130 years. It came after the period of the Zugot ("pairs"), and was immediately followed by the period of the Amoraim. The root tanna (תנא) is the Talmudic Aramaic equivalent for the Hebrew root shanah (שנה), which also is the root-word of Mishnah. The verb shanah (שנה) literally means "to repeat [what one was taught]" and is used to mean "to learn". The Mishnaic period is commonly divided up into five periods according to generations. There are approximately 120 known Tannaim…The Mishnaic period is commonly divided into five periods according to generations of the Tannaim. – wikipedia.org

TannaimThe generations of the Tannaim included:

First Generation: Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai's generation (c. 40 BCE-80 CE).

Second Generation: Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua's generation, the teachers of Rabbi Akiva.

Third Generation: The generation of Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues.

Fourth Generation: The generation of Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda and their colleagues.

Fifth Generation: Rabbi Judah haNasi's generation.

Sixth Generation: The interim generation between the Mishnah and the Talmud: Rabbis Shimon ben Judah HaNasi and Yehoshua ben Levi, etc. – wikipedia.org

One of the leading figures of the second generation of the Tannaim was Gamliel of Yavneh who became prince (nasi) of the Sanhedrin at around 80 AD. We will discuss the significance of Gamliel (or Gamaliel II) later in our study.

Rabban Gamaliel – Rabban Gamaliel II (also spelled Gamliel, Hebrew: רבן גמליאל דיבנה‎) was the first person to lead the Sanhedrin as Nasi after the fall of the second temple, which occurred in 70 CE. Gamliel was appointed nasi approximately 10 years later. Gamaliel II was the son of Shimon ben Gamaliel, one of Jerusalem's foremost men in the war against the Romans,[2] and grandson of Gamaliel I. To distinguish him from the latter he is also called Gamliel of Yavne. – wikipedia.org

Using this kind of historical information, scholars commonly divide Jewish history into various periods. These periods include: Biblical Judaism, Hellenistic Judaism, rabbinic Judaism, and Modern Judaism.

Judaism – In any case, the history of Judaism here is viewed as falling into the following major periods of development: biblical Judaism (c. 20th–4th century BCE), Hellenistic Judaism (4th century BCE–2nd century CE), rabbinic Judaism (2nd–18th century CE), and modern Judaism (c. 1750 to the present). – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hellenistic Judaism - Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism. The major literary product of the contact of Judaism and Hellenistic culture is the Septuagint translation from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic to Koine Greek, which began in the 3rd century BCE in Alexandria. The decline of Hellenistic Judaism in the 2nd century CE is obscure. It may be that it was marginalized by, absorbed into or became Early Christianity....mainstream Judaism began to reject Hellenistic currents by the second or third century A.D., outlawing use of the Septuagint, see also Council of Jamnia. - wikipedia.org

Between the writing of the New Testament texts and the Talmud, we also have various Christian writers whose documents are not considered canonical by Christians. The earliest non-canonical Christian writers and historians are commonly called the Apostolic Fathers. Their lives and writings date between the middle of the first century AD to the late second century AD. Together with the New Testament these men provide valuable information on Christian theology at this early period.

The Apostolic FathersThe Apostolic Fathers are a small number of Early Christian authors who lived and wrote in the second half of the first century and the first half of the second century.[1][2] They are acknowledged as leaders in the early church, although their writings were not included in the New Testament. They include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. The label "Apostolic Fathers" has been applied to them since the seventeenth century to indicate that they were thought of as being of the generation that had personal contact with the Twelve Apostles. Thus they provide a link between the Apostles—who had personal contact with Jesus—and the later generations of Church Fathers, which includes the Christian apologists, defenders of orthodoxy, and developers of doctrine.  – wikipedia.org

Patristic Literature (Christianity) –

The works of the Apostolic Fathers contain the earliest patristic literature.

The Apostolic Fathers -

According to conventional reckoning, the earliest examples of patristic literature are the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers; the name derives from their supposed contacts with the Apostles or the apostolic community…They all belong to the late 1st or early 2nd century… – Encyclopedia Britannica

Apostolic Father – authors of early Christian works dating primarily from the late 1st and early 2nd centuries. Their works are the principal source for information about Christianity during the two or three generations following the Apostles. They were originally called apostolic men (Apostolici)… These writers include Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Barnabas, Papias…Letter to Diognetus [Mathetes]…taken as a whole their writings are more valuable historically than any other Christian literature outside the New Testament. – Encylopedia Britannica

To be fair to both Jews and Christians, we will use the traditional dates for the Jewish and Christian writings. We can place the relevant historical facts into a chart as follows.

History of Religions and Religious Texts Chart:

1. Biblical Judaism – The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament)
Judaism of the Biblical Period: circa 2000-400 BC.
Traditional Date: all books: circa 1500-400 BC; Pentateuch: 1500-1300 BC
(Scholarly Date: J material: circa 950 BC; E material: circa 850 BC; P material: 400’s BC; D material: 500’s BC.)

2. The Septuagint (LXX)
Date: 250 BC (Pentateuch) to 132 BC (completion of all books.)

3. The New Testament
Date: between 50-100 AD.

4. The Targum
General Dates: beginning in late 6th century BC through the early centuries AD.
Important Targum:
Targum Onkelos: dated to the middle of the first century AD and translating the Pentateuch.
Targum Jonathan (ben Uzziel): dated between 80-200 AD.
(Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: dated between 2nd century AD and Islamic period.)

5. The Apostolic Fathers
Date: circa 100-200 AD.

6. The Talmud
Date: 200-220 AD
Date of Content: 70-200 AD (and later)

It is important to note the order of these important Jewish and Christian writings. Specifically, we must note that rabbinic writings (and their content) originate from a period after the New Testament texts and in most cases after the Apostolic Fathers of the church. To understand Jewish religious views prior to the onset of the rabbinic period, we will have to rely on other documents. The Talmud will only be able to report on Jewish views from the period after the emergence of Christianity.

It is also useful to keep in mind the common dating of the various periods of Judaism.

1. Biblical Judaism – circa 2000-400 BC
2. Hellenistic Judaism – 400 BC to 2nd century AD
3. Rabbinic Judaism – 2nd century AD to 18th century AD
4. Modern Judaism – 18th century AD to the present

We should also note that (depending on the context of the discussion) the term Hellenistic Judaism may either simply refer to Judaism during the period of Greek prominence in world history or it may be used to refer to forms of Judaism which have been influenced by Greek thought. 

Having plotted the chronology of important Jewish religious texts, we will now turn to the dates of non-Jewish religions and religious writings.

Timeline of Potentially Relevant, Non-Biblical, Gentile Religious Thought and Writings

This study is largely concerned with understanding where the differing theological concepts of modern Judaism and Christianity came from. Because these differences are typically attributed to Christianity incorporating non-biblical, Gentile religious thought, it is valuable to summarize the basic historical data related to other important religious systems.

Hinduism, one of the world’s oldest religions, is really a collective term that we use to refer to a larger set of religious systems that are native to the Indian subcontinent. These somewhat diverse religious systems do share some fundamental beliefs that allow us to group them together somewhat effectively and accurately into a single composite religion (Hinduism.) The development of the religious ideas contained within greater Hinduism began at some point in the middle of the second millennium BC at around the year 1500 BC. These religious systems resulted from interaction between native Indian theology and that of the Aryan culture who invaded their region. However, the earliest sacred texts, which inform us of the details of both Indian and Aryan theology originate between approximately 1000 and 1300 BC. Later texts were written at around 200 BC.

Hinduism - Western term for the religious beliefs and practices of the vast majority of the people of India. One of the oldest living religions in the world, Hinduism is unique among the world religions in that it had no single founder but grew over a period of 4,000 years in syncretism with the religious and cultural movements of the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism is composed of innumerable sects and has no well-defined ecclesiastical organization. Its two most general features are the caste system and acceptance of the Veda as the most sacred scriptures. Columbia Encyclopedia

Hinduism - Hinduism is a synthesis of the religion brought into India by the Aryans (c.1500 B.C.) and indigenous religion. – Columbia Encyclopedia

Hinduism - Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning or founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another, the more so because the finest scholars of Hinduism, including Hindus themselves, have emphasized different aspects of the whole. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - The history of Hinduism began in India about 1500 BC. Although its literature can be traced only to before 1000 BC, evidence of Hinduism's earlier antecedents is derived from archaeology, comparative philology, and comparative religion. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - The earliest literary source for the history of Hinduism is the Rigveda (Rgveda), the hymns of which were chiefly composed during the last two or three centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. The religious life reflected in this text is not that of Hinduism but of an earlier sacrificial religious system, generally known as Brahmanism or Vedism, which developed in India among Aryan invaders. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - Perhaps the defining characteristic of Hindu belief is the recognition of the Veda, the most ancient body of religious literature, as an absolute authority revealing fundamental and unassailable truth. At the same time, however, its content has long been practically unknown to most Hindus, and it is seldom drawn upon for literal information or advice. Still, it is venerated from a distance by every traditional Hindu, and those Indians who reject its authority (such as Buddhists and Jains) are regarded as unfaithful to their tradition. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - The Aryans of the early Vedic period left few material remains, but they left a very important literary record called the Rigveda. Its 1,028 hymns are distributed throughout 10 books, of which the first and the last are the most recent. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - Hindus disagree about the way (marga) to final emancipation (moksha). Three paths to salvation (variously valued but nonexclusive) are presented in an extremely influential religious text, the Bhagavadgita ("Song of the Lord"; c. 200 BC), according to which it is not acts themselves but the desire for their results that produces karma and thus attachment… – Encyclopedia Britannica

Hinduism - The Rigveda ("Wisdom of the Verses") is not a unitary work, and its composition may have taken several centuries. In its form at the time of its final edition it reflects a well-developed religious system. The date commonly given for the final recension of the Rigveda is 1000 BC. During the next two or three centuries the Rigveda was supplemented by three other Vedas and, still later, by Vedic texts called the Brahmanas and the Upanishads (see below Sacred texts: Vedas. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Other great eastern religions all post-date both Hinduism and the great bulk of early Hebrew biblical material. This includes religions like Buddhism and Zoroastrianism, which are both dated to the middle of the 6th century BC. However, the sacred texts which inform us of their beliefs come from much later periods.

Buddhism’s religious doctrines are told to us in texts written sometime between 300 BC and the first century AD.

Buddha – [Skt.,=the enlightened One], usual title given to the founder of Buddhism. He is also called the Tathagata [he who has come thus], Bhagavat [the Lord], and Sugata [well-gone]. He probably lived from 563 to 483 B.C. The story of his life is overlaid with legend, the earliest written accounts dating 200 years after his death (see Buddhist literature).Columbia Encyclopedia

BuddhaThe Buddha was born in the 6th or 5th century BC in the kingdom of the Sakyas, on the borders of present-day Nepal and India. As the son of Suddhodana, the king, and Mahamaya, the queen, the Buddha thus came from a Khattiya family (i.e., the warrior caste or ruling class). – Encyclopedia Britannica

Buddhismreligion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama (or Gotama), who lived as early as the 6th century BC. Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played a central role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Eastern world and during the 20th century has spread to the West. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Buddhism   After the Buddha's death his teachings were orally transmitted until the 1st cent. B.C., when they were first committed to writing (see Buddhist literature; Pali). Conflicting opinions about monastic practice as well as religious and philosophical issues, especially concerning the analyses of experience elaborated as the systems of Abhidharma, probably caused differing sects to flourish rapidly. Knowledge of early differences is limited, however, because the earliest extant written version of the scriptures (1st cent. A.D.) is the Pali canon of the Theravada school of Sri Lanka.Columbia Encyclopedia

Sanskrit Tripitaka – the total canon of the southern schools of Buddhism, somewhat pejoratively dubbed Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) by the self-styled Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) schools; for the latter, the canon constitutes a preliminary body of teachings, analogous to the Old Testament in Christianity. The books of this southern canon were nearly all written in India within 500 years of the time of the Buddha (between about 500 BC and the beginning of the Christian Era). – Encyclopedia Britannica

What can be known about Zoroastrian teaching can only be dated, at the earliest, to the third century AD. However, most of the Zoroastrian literature that still exists today comes from after that time, perhaps even as late as the 9th century AD.

Zoroaster - The student of Zoroastrianism is confronted by several problems concerning the religion's founder. One question is what part of Zoroastrianism derives from Zoroaster's tribal religion and what part was new as a result of his visions and creative religious genius. Another question is the extent to which the later Zoroastrian religion (Mazdaism) of the Sasanian period (AD 224-651) genuinely reflected the teachings of Zoroaster. A third question is the extent to which the sources the Avesta (the Zoroastrian scriptures) with the Gathas (older hymns), the Middle Persian Pahlavi Books, and reports of various Greek authors offer an authentic guide to Zoroaster's ideas. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Zoroaster - A biographical account of Zoroaster is tenuous at best or speculative at the other extreme. The date of Zoroaster's life cannot be ascertained with any degree of certainty. According to Zoroastrian tradition, he flourished "258 years before Alexander." – Encyclopedia Britannica

Zoroastrianism - Religion under the Achaemenids was in the hands of the Magi, whom Herodotus describes as a Median tribe with special customs, such as exposing the dead, fighting evil animals, and interpreting dreams. Again, the historical connection with Zoroaster whom Herodotus also ignores is a hazy one. It is not known when Zoroaster's doctrine reached western Iran, but it must have been before the time of Aristotle (384-322), who alludes to its dualism. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Zoroastrianism - Other sources of Zoroastrianism are Achaemenid inscriptions, the writings of Herodotus, Strabo, and Plutarch, and the commentaries on the Avesta written (6th cent. A.D.) in Pahlavi, a Persian dialect used as a priestly language, under the Sassanids. – Columbia Encyclopedia

Zoroastrianism - a Persian religion founded in the 6th century B.C. by the prophet Zoroaster, promulgated in the Avesta, and characterized by worship of a supreme god Ahura Mazda who requires good deeds for help in his cosmic struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman. – Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

Zoroaster - circa 628-circa 551 B.C. founder of Zoroastrianism;
  Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

Zoroastrianism - Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BC, the religion contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Zoroaster - c.628 B.C.-c.551 B.C., religious teacher and prophet of ancient Persia, founder of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster, the name by which he is ordinarily known, is derived from the Greek form of Zarathushtra (or Zarathustra) [camel handler?], his Persian name. Zoroaster is believed to have been born in NW Persia…The circumstances of Zoroaster's death are not known. – Columbia Encyclopedia

Zoroastrianism The religious system founded by Zoroaster and set forth in the Avesta, teaching the worship of Ahura Mazda in the context of a universal struggle between the forces of light and of darkness. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

Zoroaster - circa 628-circa 551 B.C. founder of Zoroastrianism; reputed author of the GAthAs, oldest and holiest part of the Avesta (Zoroastrian scriptures). Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

Zoroastrianism - a Persian religion founded in the 6th century B.C. by the prophet Zoroaster, promulgated in the Avesta, and characterized by worship of a supreme god Ahura Mazda who requires good deeds for help in his cosmic struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman. - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

Zoroastrianism - Zoroastrianism's scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta [Pahlavi avesta=law, zend=commentary]...it is written in old Iranian, a language similar to Vedic Sanskrit.Columbia Encyclopedia

Pahlavi Books - The major part of Pahlavi literature is religious, including translations from and commentaries on the Zoroastrian sacred book, the Avesta. Little has survived from pre-Islamic times, and the Bundahishn and Denkart, both Zoroastrian religious works, date from the Islamic period. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Bundahishn - (Pahlavi: Original Creation), Zoroastrian scripture giving an account of the creation, history, and duration of the world, the origin of man, and the nature of the universe. Written in Pahlavi, it dates from the 9th century AD but is based on ancient material from a lost part of the original Avesta and preserves some pre-Zoroastrian elements. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Zoroastrianism -The Avesta consists of fragmentary and much-corrupted texts; Columbia Encyclopedia

Zoroastrianism - The Avesta is, therefore, a collection of texts compiled in successive stages until it was completed under the Sasanians. It was then about four times larger than what has survived. A summary of its 21 books, or Nasks (of which only one is preserved as such in the Videvdat), is given in one of the main treatises written during the brief Zoroastrian renascence under Islam in the 9th century; the Denkart, the 'Acts of the Religion.' It is written in Pahlavi, the language of the Sasanians. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Pahlavi Books - The major part of Pahlavi literature is religious, including translations from and commentaries on the Zoroastrian sacred book, the Avesta. Little has survived from pre-Islamic times, and the Bundahishn and Denkart, both Zoroastrian religious works, date from the Islamic period. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Avesta - also called Zend-avesta, sacred book of Zoroastrianism containing its cosmogony, law, and liturgy, the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathushtra). The extant Avesta is all that remains of a much larger body of scripture, apparently Zoroaster's transformation of a very ancient tradition. The voluminous manuscripts of the original are said to have been destroyed when Alexander the Great conquered Persia. The present Avesta was assembled from remnants and standardized under the Sasanian kings (3rd-7th century AD). – Encyclopedia Britannica

Pahlavi Books - also spelled Pehlevi major form of the Middle Persian language (see Persian language), which existed from the 3rd to the 10th century and was the official language of the Sasanian empire (AD 226-652). It is attested by Zoroastrian books, coins, and inscriptions. Pahlavi books were written in a confusing writing system of Aramaic origin called the Pahlavi alphabet. The major part of Pahlavi literature is religious, including translations from and commentaries on the Zoroastrian sacred book, the Avesta. Little has survived from pre-Islamic times, and the Bundahishn and Denkart, both Zoroastrian religious works, date from the Islamic period. Manuscripts were preserved by the Parsis (Zoroastrians) of Bombay and elsewhere. Pahlavi was superseded by Modern Persian, which is written in the Arabic alphabet. – Encyclopedia Britannica

The lateness of the dates for the origins and earliest texts of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism makes it unreasonable to seek these religions as a source for Complex Monotheism (i.e. “Trinitarian-like”), particularly the Complex Monotheism that Sommer attributes to the earliest written portions of the Hebrew bible.

Among the Greeks there are two important religious systems worth mentioning. The first is archaic Greek religion. This is the religion of the Greek pantheon of gods and the mythology enshrined in Homer’s works. The second is the philosophical, religious thought embodied in the works of well-known thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.

The Greek philosophical understanding of God as exhibited in the works of men like Plato, Aristotle (Plato’s student,) and the Stoics began at around the late 5th century BC. This is after the writing of the final books of the Hebrew bible.

Plato – (born 428/427 bce, Athens, Greece—died 348/347, Athens), Greek philosopher, who with his teacher Socrates and his student Aristotle laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Stoicism – Stoicism, school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium (in Cyprus) c.300 BC – Columbia Encyclopedia

Stoicism – Inspired by the teaching of Socrates and Diogenes of Sinope, Stoicism was founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium c. 300 bc and was influential throughout the Greco-Roman world until at least ad 200. – Encyclopedia Britannica

Greek mythology is much earlier. Along with archaeological evidence, Greek writers such as Homer and Hesiod provide written documents about the Greek mythological religion as early as 700 or 900 BC.

Greek Mythology – Sources of Greek Mythology – Greek mythology is known today primarily from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900–800 BC onward. [4] – wikipedia.org

Greek Mythology – Sources of myths: literary and archaeological – The Homeric poems: the Iliad and the Odyssey…The fullest and most important source of myths about the origin of the gods is the Theogony of Hesiod (c. 700 bc)… Archaeological discoveries – In the succeeding Archaic (c. 750–c. 500 bc), Classical (c. 480–323 bc), and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear to supplement the existing literary evidence… – Encyclopedia Britannica

Homer – Modern scholars are generally agreed that there was a poet named Homer who lived before 700 BC… – Columbia Encyclopedia

Homer – Homer, (flourished 9th or 8th century bce?, Ionia? [now in Turkey]), Greek poet, – Encyclopedia Britannica

HesiodHesiod, fl. 8th cent.? BC, Greek poet. He is thought to have lived later than Homer, but there is no absolute certainty about the dates of his life.Columbia Encyclopedia

Hesiod – Hesiod, Greek Hesiodos, Latin Hesiodus  (flourished c. 700 bc), one of the earliest Greek poets, – Encyclopedia Britannica

Greek history is divided into particular periods. It will be relevant to our study to have some familiarity with these designations. In historical order beginning with the oldest, the eras of Greek history include: The Greek Dark Ages (1200-800 BC), Archaic Greece (800-480 BC), Classical Greece (circa 480-323 BC), and Hellenistic Greece (323BC to either 146 or 30 BC.)

Greek History – Traditionally, the Ancient Greek period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, but most historians now extend the term back to about 1000 BC. The traditional date for the end of the Ancient Greek period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. The period that follows is classed as Hellenistic. Not everyone treats the Ancient and Hellenic periods as distinct, however, and some writers treat the Ancient Greek civilization as a continuum running until the advent of Christianity in the 3rd century AD…. Archaic Greece In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. From about the 9th century BC, written records begin to appear.[12] Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography, where every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbours by the sea or mountain ranges.[13] The Archaic period can be understood as the Orientalizing Period, when Greece was at the fringe, but not under the sway, of the budding Neo-Assyrian Empire. Greece adopted significant amounts of cultural elements from the Orient, in art as well as in religion and mythology. Archaeologically, Archaic Greece is marked by Geometric pottery. – wikipedia.org

Archaic GreeceThe Archaic period in Greece (800 BC – 480 BC) is a period of ancient Greek history…Since the Archaic period followed the Greek Dark Ages… – wikipedia.org

Classical Greece – the Classical period corresponds to most of the 5th and 4th centuries BC (the most common dates being the fall of the last Athenian tyrant in 510 BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC). The Classical period in this sense follows the Archaic period and is in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period. – wikipedia.org

Hellenistic Period – Usually taken to begin with the death of Alexander in 323 BC, the Hellenistic period may either be seen to end with the final conquest of the Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC; or the final defeat of the last remaining successor-state to Alexander's empire, the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt in 31/30 BC, after the Battle of Actium.[2] – wikipedia.org

The Greek Dark Ages – The Greek Dark Age or Ages (ca. 1200 BC–800 BC) – wikipedia.org

Hellenic. An adjective meaning ‘Greek’ that in non-technical usage is applied to ancient Greek culture in general, but which in archaeological terminology is more specifically applied to the cultures of Greek-speaking societies from the beginning of the Iron Age (late 11th century bc) to about 323 bc (the death of Alexander the Great). It embraces the Geometric, Archaic, and classical periods. Earlier periods in Greece are ‘Prehellenic’, or Helladic, to which Minoan and Mycenaean art belong; the subsequent period is called Hellenistic. – The Oxford Dictionary of Art

Greek philosophical religion is closely related to Gnosticism. Gnosticism generally refers to various mystical religious schools that were prominent in the Greek world during the late first and early second century AD.

Gnosticism – dualistic religious and philosophical movement of the late Hellenistic and early Christian eras. The term designates a wide assortment of sects, numerous by the 2d cent. A.D.Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001

Gnosticism – philosophical and religious movement prominent in the Greco-Roman world in the 2nd century AD. – Encyclopedia Britannica

“GnosticismChristian ideas were quickly incorporated into these syncretistic systems, and by the 2d cent. the largest of them, organized by Valentinus and Basilides, were a significant rival to Christianity.Columbia Encyclopedia

Gnostic works of literature do not appear until after the New Testament was written. Dating to the second and third centuries AD, Gnostic texts emerged as a result of the rise of Gnosticism’s first major leaders (such as Valentinus.)

Gnosticism – The dualistic phase was reached after the expansion of Gnosticism into the Hellenistic world and under the influence of Platonic philosophy, from which was borrowed the doctrine that a lower demiurge was responsible for the creation of this world. This teaching is to be found in the Apocryphon of John (early 2nd century) and other documents of popular gnosis discovered near Naj' Hammadi in upper Egypt in the 1940s and in the Pistis Sophia, a 3rd-century Gnostic work in Coptic belonging to the same school. The learned gnosis of Valentinus, Basilides (qq.v.), and their schools presupposes this popular gnosis, which, however, has been thoroughly Hellenized and Christianized and sometimes comes very near to the views of Middle Platonism. – Encyclopedia Britannica

We can place this important information within our historical chart of religious texts.

History of Religions and Religious Texts Chart:

1. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament)
Traditional Date: all books: circa 1500-400 BC; Pentateuch: 1500-1300 BC
Scholarly Date: J material: circa 950 BC; E material: circa 850 BC; P material: 400’s BC; D material: 500’s BC.

2. Hinduism
Beginning: 1500 BC
Texts: 1300-200 BC

3. Greek Mythological Religion
Known to us from sources dating from around 900-700 BC

4. Buddhism
Beginning of Religion: circa 563-483 BC
Texts: circa 300 BC and 100 AD

5. Zoroastrianism
Beginning of Religion: circa 6th century BC
Texts: 3rd century through 9th century AD
(NOTE: Writings providing Zoroastrianism’s beliefs do not originate until after the New Testament period.)

6. Greek Philosophical Religious Thought
Beginning in the late 5th century and early 4th century BC

7. The Septuagint (LXX)
Date: 250 BC (Pentateuch) to 132 BC (completion of all books.)

8. The New Testament
Date: between 50-100 AD.

9. The Targum
General Dates: beginning in late 6th century BC through the early centuries AD.

Important Targum:

Targum Onkelos: dated to the middle of the first century AD and translating the Pentateuch.
Targum Jonathan (ben Uzziel): dated between 80-200 AD.

(Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: dated between 2nd century AD and Islamic period.)

10. The Apostolic Fathers
Date: circa 100-200 AD.

11. Gnosticism
Date: circa 100-200 AD.
Texts: circa 200-300 AD.

12. The Talmud
Date: 200-220 AD
Date of Content: 70-200 AD (and later)

This historical chart is important because it provides the possible sources for the Complex Monotheism that is exhibited in first century (AD) Jewish sects like Christianity. Only religions with texts conveying “Trinitarian-like” ideas prior the first century AD, can be considered possible sources of Complex Monotheism in first-century Judaism. Likewise, only religions with texts conveying Complex Monotheism prior to the 6th century could be considered possible sources for Complex Monotheism in the earliest Hebrew bible, which even non-traditional scholars date to the 9th and 10th centuries BC with later redactions in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. At this point, identifying such a source would be preliminary and premature. By looking at additional historical details we can refine our list of potential source candidates for Complex Monotheism and eliminate additional contenders from consideration.