The Rise of Monotheism Global History and Geography I name

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The Rise of Monotheism

Global History and Geography I Name: ___________________

E. Napp Date: ___________________
The first humans were Animists. They believed in the existence of spirits in nature. They worshipped many gods. They were polytheistic. However, over time, some people began to question the existence of many gods. Akhenaton, an Egyptian pharaoh, worshipped Aton. He believed that Aton was the only true god and creator of the universe. After his death, the old religion was restored and his religion was abandoned.
Approximately 3500 years ago, in ancient Persia (Iran), the prophet, Zoroaster also began preaching a new religion. His religion, Zoroastrianism, was the official religion of Persian from 600 B.C. to 650 A.D. It is now one of the world’s smallest religions. Zoroastrians believe that there is one God (monotheism) called Ahura Mazda (the God of goodness and light). Zoroastrians believe that Ahura Mazda created the world. They also believe that fire represents Ahura Mazda’s light or wisdom. Their Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta. Zoroastrians believe that the universe is a battleground between two forces, good and evil. People are free to choose whom they will follow. However, those who lead good lives will eventually go to Heaven, while others will be doomed to Hell. The beliefs of Zoroastrianism clearly affected people’s view of an afterlife.

  1. Who was Akhenaton and what did he believe? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. Why do you think his religious ideas were abandoned after his death? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Who was Zoroaster and what did he believe? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What is the most significant contribution of Zoroastrianism to the world’s religions? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Abraham was the leader of a Middle Eastern people called the Hebrews. The Hebrew people believe that God called Abraham’s family to worship one God and to leave Mesopotamia. Historians believe this happened 3500 years ago. For many years, the Hebrew people wandered the desert as nomads but when a famine occurred, they traveled to Egypt. In Egypt, the Hebrew people were enslaved by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Eventually, Moses became an important leader of the Hebrew people in Egypt. Sometime between 1300 B.C. and 1200 B.C., Moses led his people out of Egypt. As the Hebrews wandered the desert to the east of Egypt, Moses climbed Mount Sinai to pray. The Hebrew people believe that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. These rules told the Hebrew people to live peacefully with God, each other, and other people. The commandments became the roots of the religion called Judaism. Today, we call the Hebrew people Jews.
Judaism is the original of the three Abrahamic faiths, which also includes Christianity and Islam. Jews believe that there is only one God with whom they have a covenant or agreement. In exchange for all the good that God has done for the Jewish people, the Jewish people must keep God’s laws and try to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives. Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible. Their spiritual leaders are called Rabbis. Jews worship in Synagogues.

  1. Who was Abraham and what was he asked to do? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. Why did the Hebrew people migrate to Egypt? What happened to them in Egypt? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Who was Moses and what did he do? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What do the Hebrew people believe happened to Moses on Mount Sinai? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. What is the Torah? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  6. What are the fundamental beliefs of Judaism? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity share a belief in

  1. the central authority of the Pope

  2. a prohibition of the consumption of port

  3. reincarnation and the Four Noble Truths

  4. monotheism and ethical conduct

Jewish religions and cultural identity has been greatly influenced by

  1. Ramadan and the concept of reincarnation

  2. the Torah and the Diaspora

  3. the New Testament and the Four Noble Truths

  4. the Koran and the code of bushido

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Pyramid in Egypt are examples of

  1. architectural accomplishments that reflect religious beliefs

  2. the influence of Buddhist architecture on conquered nations

  3. ancient architectural monuments no longer in use

  4. the influence of cultural diffusion on contemporary architecture

When the ancient Jews were in captivity in Egypt, Yahweh visited a series of plagues on the Egyptians in order to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues was the killing of every firstborn son in the land. Jews were warned ahead of time and marked their houses so that they would be spared. The angels of death saw the markings over the front doors of the Jew's houses and "passed over" those houses, sparing the firstborn sons living within. Jewish people have commemorated this with the festival of Passover ever since.


  1. What is Passover? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Word Bank:

Kami, Polytheism, Zoroastrianism, Monotheism, Moses, Abraham, Ten Commandments, Animism, Torah, Judaism, Shintoism

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