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(mŏn`əthēĭzəm) [Gr.,=belief in one God], in religion, a belief in one personal god. In practice, monotheistic religion tends to stress the existence of one personal god that unifies the universe. The term is applied particularly to JudaismJudaism
, the religious beliefs and practices and the way of life of the Jews. The term itself was first used by Hellenized Jews to describe their religious practice, but it is of predominantly modern usage; it is not used in the Bible or in Rabbinic literature and only rarely
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, ChristianityChristianity,
religion founded in Palestine by the followers of Jesus. One of the world's major religions, it predominates in Europe and the Americas, where it has been a powerful historical force and cultural influence, but it also claims adherents in virtually every country of
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, and IslamIslam
, [Arab.,=submission to God], world religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded in the 7th cent., Islam is the youngest of the three monotheistic world religions (with Judaism and Christianity). An adherent to Islam is a Muslim [Arab.,=one who submits].
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, as well as ZoroastrianismZoroastrianism
, religion founded by Zoroaster, but with many later accretions. Scriptures

Zoroastrianism's scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta [Pahlavi avesta=law, zend=commentary].
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. Some eastern religions, notably Vaishava, Saiva, Sikhism, and some Hindu sects, tend to promote the omnipotence of one particular god within the pantheon, and thus display some monotheistic characteristics. Monotheism arose in opposition to polytheismpolytheism
, belief in a plurality of gods in which each deity is distinguished by special functions. The gods are particularly synonymous with function in the Vedic religion (see Vedas) of India: Indra is the storm god, Agni the fire god, Vayu the wind god, Yama the god of
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, the belief in many gods. Monismmonism
[Gr.,=belief in one], in metaphysics, term introduced in the 18th cent. by Christian von Wolff for any theory that explains all phenomena by one unifying principle or as manifestations of a single substance.
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, or nondualism between the physical and the spiritual, presupposes unity but deemphasizes personal monotheism. See also GodGod,
divinity of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as many other world religions. See also religion and articles on individual religions. Names for God

In the Old Testament various names for God are used.
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the belief in the doctrine that there is only one God; religious belief systems based on this doctrine. Of the major world religions, only JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY and ISLAM, are monotheistic, and they share a common root. According to Lenski and Lenski (1970), although rare in hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies, conceptions of a ‘supreme being’ become widespread in agrarian societies. Monotheism and a belief in a personal ethical God, however, appear only in the Near East. PARSONS regards the appearance of monotheism as a decisive developmental step encouraging the development of ‘ethical universalism’. WEBER's account of the Jewish conception of the jealous God, Yahweh – ‘Thou shall have no other gods but me’ – and the notion of the ‘chosen people’, is that these conceptions were a response to the vulnerability of the tribes of Israel to foreign domination, problems ‘explained’ by the PROPHETS as a supreme God punishing his people for worshipping false gods.



a system of religious beliefs based on the idea of the existence of only one god, in contrast to polytheism, the belief in many gods. In theological literature monotheistic religions include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. However, the concept of monotheism is relative, since no religion is consistently monotheistic.

Monotheism appears very late in the historical development of religion. During the period of the dissolution of tribal-clan social structure and the formation of the early states, the gods of different tribes became joined in a single “pantheon,” in which the god of the strongest tribe usually occupied the leading place. In some instances, the priests of this god strove to make him the only or supreme god (Babylonian Marduk, for example); in other cases, kings attempted to counterpose the cult of one god to the traditional priestly cults (the religious reform of Amenhotep IV in Egypt).

Relatively strict monotheism first arose and gained predominance among the Hebrews in the middle and second half of the first millennium B.C., when priests of the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem established their religious monopoly. The strict monotheism introduced in Arabia in the seventh century A.D. formed the basic dogma of the Muslim religion. Thus, the evidence of modern science refutes the assertion of theologians (including the school of Pater W. Schmidt) that monotheism is the original age-old religion of humanity (the theory of protomonotheism) and that other forms of belief are only divergences from the original “true” religion.


Tokarev, S. A. Religiia v istorii narodov mira. Moscow, 1964.


the belief or doctrine that there is only one God
References in periodicals archive ?
The minister urged exchange of views among scholars of monotheistic religions and their cooperation in joint cultural and scientific projects.
His lofty words were echoed by none other than Al Tayeb, Egypt's top imam and the head of the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning, Al Azhar, when he responded that the ground has been paved for monotheistic religions to play their role in realising equality, justice and human rights."
During this decade there was a short lived moment when some Temiars chose to convert to this monotheistic religion.
This effort to isolate Arabia from outside religious influences and from local monotheistic impulses is crucial for al-Azmeh's interpretation of the rise of Islam.
He also urged consensus between all monotheistic religions and cultures.
Three major monotheistic religious--Judaism, Christianity and Islam--are considered in the course of examining these beliefs and paranormal belief systems of today, and make for an intriguing survey of how belief in God and the afterlife evolves.
Kemp (emeritus, Egyptology, Cambridge U.) has been conducting research and excavation at Amarna since the 1970s, investigating the enigmas of the city that was for a short time the capital of the radical pharaoh Akhenaten--who introduced monotheistic worship of Aten, the sun--and his chief consort Nefertiti.
I never dreamt in my life that I would be attacking a monotheistic religion, and I would not have done so had it not been for the fact that Geller and Spencer and other racists are attacking Muslims and Islam.
HM the King wished the new Pope continuous good health and happiness and success in reinforcing the values of justice, coexistence and tolerance between all people through respecting monotheistic religions and promoting dialogue between them.
He added that Al Quds is not a ground for Israelis but a Muslim land and all heavenly religions are monotheistic and all prophets were preaching the Islam teachings, saying that the nation should work and adhere to the orders of the Almighty and the Sunna of his Prophet Mohammed so that the Almighty to help it restore the Al Aqsa Mosque and liberate it from occupation.
Christianity A monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus, considered the Son of God and the saviour of humanity.
If art were monotheistic it would solely believe in an