Monotheistic religions have a problem in the modern era. Perhaps one could say that Monotheism in general has that same problem.

Christianity is a religion whose holy scriptures are in Classical Greek. The Catholic Church holds Latin in esteem, but a lot of the individual words in Christian jargon are either Greek, such as “Eurcharist”, or Greek-language inspired, such as “grace”.

The Qu’ran is seen by many as exhibiting many of the same ideas that Plato did in the “Republic”, and ideas of other Greek philosophers as well. It structurally can be seen to resemble Hesiod’s “Theogony”, with stories and praises in between.

The Talmud is a work assembled by the Pharisees, and the basis of all Judaism after the 6th Century CE. But a trained reader literate in Herodotus’ “Histories” and the Homeric Epics will see some direct (and uncredited) quotations from these texts throughout the many-volumed compendium.

Some scholars even go so far as to say that monotheism itself is not a Jewish or a Deuteronomic invention—but a Greek concept, which the Jews borrowed!

So what is the problem? We are all Greeks. We as believers are not ourselves. Perhaps deep inside, we are actually all worshipping those twelve Olympian gods and goddesses instead of that One G-d many of us know and love. Right?

Not really!

Let’s face reality. All of the ancient cultures, from which the monotheistic religions sprung, existed prior to a contact with Ancient Greece, in whatever form. These cultures had distinctions that made them clearly different from Greek culture on many accounts. They already had their bases founded, and Hellenism had nothing to do with their formation.

According to many accounts, David was King over Israel before the first word of the “Iliad” was put into writing (10th and 7th-8th centuries BCE, approximately). David and Solomon are the heroes of Ancient Israelite culture, and were champions that had values that were imparted to Judah and Israel before anyone who lived there could have heard of “Achilles” or “Odysseus”.

Greece came into contact with Israel and Judaism after the Babylonians and the Persians had imparted a fair share of their cultures onto Judaism already. Greek details were indeed imparted onto the Jewish religion. It is futile to deny that. Thales’ morning prayer was that he thanked the gods that he was created a Greek, not a barbarian, a free man, not a slave, and a man, and not a woman—and ANYONE who has paged through a Siddur (Jewish prayer book) in the first few pages will recognize that an almost identical formula was used for the Rabbinic morning blessings.

But if the essence was already formed of a Jewish religion, after a diaspora dominated by Babylon and Persia, why would that essence suddenly be replaced with a Greek one? The values are already formed, and they are kept, consistently. Those same holy texts used from before any contact with Hellenism still remain as the basis.

The only Greek details that are imparted are those relevant to the essence of the Jewish religion.

A person at my synagogue once questioned me as to why before the primary prayer service (the “Amidah”) one steps backward three times, and then forward three times. I gave an answer related to Moses’ ascension to Sinai, and the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“That’s better than the answer I heard before”, he said.

“And what was that?”

“That it was a Greek custom”.

I had an epiphany, and the reason I write this particular column, in what I realized then. Greek custom or no Greek custom, those two sets of three steps would have never survived for millennia if they somehow had no significance to the original basis of Judaism.

But what about Christianity and Islam? They portray Hellenism to varying degrees, and it is also very futile to argue that Christianity is not inherently Hellenic, because its scriptures are written in Greek. But in both of these, the essence is the same monotheistic essence of Judaism with the same heroes, and with more heroes as well.

Islam also carries elements over from both Judaism and Christianity, and prior Arabic cultures as well. Aristotle, Hesiod, Theogony, Plato—as important as they are to Islamic culture and being, they are certainly not the basis, and neither are many of their values, which are created from the ground up, and not cloned from Greece.

It could indeed be true that Hellenism wraps all of us. Maybe it is not “We are all Greeks”, as P.B. Shelley expressed. My revision: “we all seem like Greeks”—to scholars, perhaps. But we all know what is at our core—and it is something separate from the identity forged on Mount Olympus. And only we—the believers—can decide what culture or basis our religion is formed on…and not scholars of Hellenism or Religion.

About Gabe Lezra

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. Ezekiel 25-17.
    by BV Bhagavat Maharaja & Isa das
    Which religion is that? You may ask, and rightly so. Most academic and news articles usually talk about the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even though these three religions share a common theological precept that there is one GOD ([1]El Kana) and no other, they are anything but unified in describing the path that the devotee must take to reach that one and only GOD.

    Today we have attempts by all three religions to create interfaith harmony through theological fiats at ecumenical conferences that draw people’s attention to the things that unify these three religions as opposed to their differences.

    Hinduism (Vedic Religion, Sanatan Dharma) would like to join this dialog and be recognized as Monotheistic.

    Hinduism (Vedic Religion Sanatan Dharma) appears to be a polytheistic theological conception where a pantheon of deities ([3]Angels) are worshiped, it is actually a systematic process of elevating each individual soul over one birth or millions ([4]Transmigration; Jewish) to greater and greater levels of faith in the divine existence of the one original and infallible GOD ([1]Kana).

    In the Bhagavad Gita which is the book that many consider the Bible of the Vedic Religion, Lord Sri Krishna (Kana) who is understood to be GOD ([5]Allah), The Supreme Personality of Godhead explains.

    “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” BG 7:19

    “I am in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul ([6]Lord in the heart; Jewish). As soon as one desires to worship the demigods ([3]Angels), I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.” BG 7:21

    “Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” BG 7:22

    In these verses Lord Sri Krishna explains how the worship of the Demigods in the pantheon is for less intelligent persons who want the temporary material pleasures of the world and not the eternal spiritual pleasures of eternal spiritual life on HIS Spiritual Planet ([7]The Garden Of Eden). Furthermore HE explains that it is actually HE who provides such temporary material benefits by empowering the Demigods to provide them. Hence directly or indirectly all Human beings are worshiping that one Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    There are many other evidences in the Vedic Scriptures of Lord Sri Krishna’s position as the original Supreme Personality of Godhead , and as the source of, even Mahavishnu ([8]Metatron), Brahma ([9]Abraham), and Siva ([10]Shiva;Judaism) what to speak of lesser demigods like Indra, Ganesha, and Durga ([11]Jewish)

    We find in the Vedas this definition of God all religions can agree on.
    The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
    Sri Isopanisad Verse One

    The point of this brief monograph is to give the reader an insight into the real nature of the Vedic Religion which in reality is monotheistic as opposed to polytheistic. The so called display of polytheism is only a device to appeal to the widest array of souls having a human experience.
    God is always inviting us “Back home back to Godhead”


    [1] The most holy of all names of God for a Jew is KNA or KANA, Rabbi’s have slapped my face when I have said this name out loud.

    This is considered to be the most intimate name for God in the Old Testament. Where it is translated, “I am a jealous God, have no other gods before you”, the literal Hebrew translation is, “My name is EL KNA, have no other gods before you.”

    [2]From a Vedic (Hindu) view point, Kana is also an affectionate name of Krishna, The pronunciation used above “KRE ShTN” is very similar to the way south Indians pronounce Krishna.

    [3]DEMIGODS AND ANGELS have the same function in both traditions.

    a. The Midrash teaches, “There is no blade of grass that does not have a constellation (Mazal) over it, telling it to grow.” [Sefer Yetzirah 4.6]

    “As commentaries explain, ‘God’s providence works through the angels, but the angels, in turn, work through the stars and planets. As some authorities put it,the angels are, in a sense, like souls to the stars. Thus, for example, some sources speak of the stars as having intelligence, but the commentaries note that this is actually speaking of the angels that are associated with them.'” [Sefer Yetrzirah 4.6]

    b. The Vedic conception is that there are many specially empowered demigods who help manage the affairs of the universe including the planets of our solar system.

    The controlling demigods, although not eternal themselves, function within various posts that exist as long as the universe exists.

    [4]Although the majority of sects within Judaism, Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, theAlawi, the Druze[3] and the Rosicrucians.[4] The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of the Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism and Gnosticism of the Roman era, as well as the Indian religions, is unclear.

    [5]In the “Old Testament” the 5 books of Moses, God explains that He is the beginning to the end. This same idea is expressed in the New Testament. Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. ThisEnglish usage of Alpha is based on the Hebrew Alef. Also in the Hindu (Vedic) scripture, Bagavad Gita, Krishna says “of letters I am A.”

    [6]When the soul is about to descend to this world, it first goes down to the terrestrial Garden of Eden and sees there the glory of the souls of the righteous, and then goes down to Gehinnom and sees the wicked who cry “Woe, woe”, and find no compassion. That holy form (God) stands by him until he emerges into the world, after which it keeps him company and grows up with him.” [The Zohar 43b] [KI TAZRIA (LEVITICUS)]

    [7]Apiryon symbolizes the Palace below which is formed in the likeness of the Palace above. This the Holy one, blessed be He, calls ‘The Garden of Eden,’ for He created it in order to satisfy His own ardent desire for joyous and continual communion with the souls of the righteous who have their abode there-these being those souls who have no bodies in this world. These all ascend and are crowned in that place of perfect delight, and have each their appointed places from whence they can perceive the “loveliness of the Lord”, and partake of all the delicious streams of pure balsam (aparsamon). This aparsamon symbolizes the hidden Supernal Palace, whereas apiryon is the Palace below.” [Zohar 127a Terumah (Exodus)] In other words, there is a Garden of Eden in the eternal spiritual kingdom of God, and there is also a manifestation of the Garden of Eden that exists within the material world.

    [8]Metatron in Origins of the Kabbalah where it is said, “Metatron is therefore not a proper name at all but a designation for the whole category of celestial powers performing a mission.”[Origins of the Kabbalah, III, 6]

    Regarding the revolving sword or flaming sword that revolves, it is said “the manner in which the sword rotates depends on the readiness of the individual attempting to enter. If he is worthy, it becomes the mirror through which he perceives, while if he is not worthy, he is burned out and cut off by the fire of this sword. The one who oversees the sword, preventing the unworthy from entering, is the angel Metatron.” [Meditation and Kabbalah p 80 Chapter 4, Teachings of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia]

    [9]Brahmä is said to have four heads. There is an obscure reference to a four-headed angel in the Talmud. It is said, “Angels are supposed to have no back and four faces, so always to be able to behold God.”[Talmud, cf. Ezek i. 6] Also, many rabbis say that an ancient Abraham, with secondary creative power like Brahma is being referred to when speaking of Brahma.

    There is a description of how the universe was in chaos until Abraham appeared. It is said, “Over the whole, there hovered Tohu (chaos) and as long as Tohu dominated, the whole world was not in being or existence. When did that key open the gates and make the world fruitful? It was when Abraham appeared.” [Genesis II 4]

    [10]Shiva (Judaism)

    Among Sephardic Jews believe that every beracha (blessing) said elevates the neshama, (soul) of the deceased.

    [11]”He summoned to issue from the side of Darkness a kind of female moon, which rules over the night, and is associated with Adonai, the Lord of all the earth. In his days, the moon was magnified and reached her fullness. A thousand mountains rose before her, and she blew them away with a puff. A thousand mighty rivers flowed before her, and she swallowed them at a draught. Her nails reached out in a thousand and seventy directions and her hands in twenty-four thousand, so that nothing could escape her. Thousands of bucklers clung to her hair. From between her feet went forth a youth who stretched from one end of the world to the other with sixty clubs of fire…” [Zohar]