henotheism

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

An 1835 portrait of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling by Joseph Karl Stieler, from the collection of the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, Germany. Von Schelling coined the German word Henotheismus, from which henotheism is derived.

From German Henotheismus, coined in the 19th century by German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854) from Ancient Greek ἕν (hén) (stem of εἷς (heîs, one)) + German Theismus (theism) (ultimately from Ancient Greek θεός (theós, god)).

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Noun[edit]

henotheism (countable and uncountable, plural henotheisms)

  1. Belief in or worship of one deity without denying the existence of other deities.
    • 1867, [Friedrich] Max Müller, “Semitic Monotheism”, in Chips from a German Workshop, volume I (Essays on the Science of Religion), London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 38167901, pages 353–354:
      There is one kind of oneness which does not exclude the idea of plurality; there is another which does. [] If, therefore, an expression had been given to that primitive intuition of the Deity, which is the mainspring of all later religion, it would have been—'There is a God,' but not yet 'There is but "One God."' The latter form of faith, the belief in One God, is properly called monotheism, whereas the term of henotheism would best express the faith in a single god.
    • 1898, Shamsul Ulama, Syed Ali Bilgrami, “Introduction”, in A Short Guide to the Cave Temples of Elura. With an Introduction, Madras: Reprinted by H. Plumbe, at the Lawrence Asylum Press, OCLC 28284527, page 3:
      [T]he form of worship presented to us in these most ancient documents [the Hindu Rigveda] of the Aryan people is what Professor Maxmüller [i.e., Max Müller] calls Henotheism, viz., the deity invoked for the time being is regarded as supreme, is extolled above the rest and is made the recipient of the worshipper's highest praises and most fervent supplications.
    • 1999, Simon Price, “Gods, Myths and Festivals”, in Religions of the Ancient Greeks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, published 2004, ISBN 978-0-521-38201-4, page 11:
      In both ethnography/anthropology and ancient history scholars have sometimes sought to 'rescue' polytheism by arguing for an element of monolatry or henotheism, in which the power of one god in the pantheon is proclaimed as supreme. But the manoeuvre is conditioned by a Judaeo-Christian evaluation of monotheism. The terms 'polytheism' and 'monotheism' are best abandoned to the theologians.
    • 2017, James Hankins, “Marsilio Ficino and Christan Humanism”, in Jens Zimmermann, editor, Re-envisioning Christian Humanism: Education and the Restoration of Humanity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-877878-3, page 72:
      This new, enriched and reoriented Christian Platonic theology would then have the moral and intellectual resources to absorb the partial visions of Judaism and Islam and pagan henotheisms, preserving the best things in them and discarding the false and inferior things.

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