Rise of monotheism as witnessed by Tom Holland and Finbarr Barry Flood

  • Pathikrit Sen Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 23, 2015 16:39 IST

Monotheistic religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism strive to be different from each other because they are remarkably alike and have overlapping histories as well as conventions, said experts at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

British novelist Tom Holland and American historian Finbarr Barry Flood discussed the rise of the three one-God faiths and the end of polytheism in most parts of the world, India being one of the exceptions.

"In India the ancient gods have not been banished," said Holland in conversation with Byzantine history expert Peter Frankopan.

"What Krishna said in Mahabharata continues to provide spiritual insight to millions of people, not only in India, but across the world."

The Hindustan Times-sponsored session, "The End of Antiquity and the Rise of Monotheism", focused on the origins and evolution of the monotheistic religions in a journey through space and time.

The Abrahamic faiths invented and imposed rituals and rules regarding attire, food and everyday habits among followers to set themselves apart from the rest, the panelists said.

"Islam at least acknowledges the existence of the other two monotheistic religions," Holland said.

Flood named the Great Mosque of Damascus and Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock as sites where different religions have flourished at different times, with each trying to obliterate evidences of its predecessors' existence.

For instance, historians say the Dome of the Rock is situated in the centre of the Temple Mount- the site where once the Jewish Second Temple stood that was destroyed in 70 CE (Common Era) by the Romans, who built a temple to Jupiter on the site.

During the Byzantine era, Jerusalem was primarily Christian, but that changed with the Persian invasion in 614 followed by the Muslim siege of Jerusalem in 637, and the Dome of the Rock was constructed by the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik between 689 and 691 CE.

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