What was the first monotheistic religion?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is no clear agreement among scholars as to which religion was the first monotheistic religion.  This is partly because the candidates are from so long ago.  It is also partly because it is difficult to distinguish between truly monotheistic religions that believe that there is only one god and...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

There is no clear agreement among scholars as to which religion was the first monotheistic religion.  This is partly because the candidates are from so long ago.  It is also partly because it is difficult to distinguish between truly monotheistic religions that believe that there is only one god and other religions such as monolatrous religions that believe that their one god is the only god worthy of being worshipped (with the implication that there are other, lesser, gods).

The two religions that are most commonly cited as the first monotheistic religions are Zoroastrianism and Atenism.   Atenism was the worship of Aten as the one true god in Egypt.  It only really existed during the reign of Akhenaten in the 14th century BC.  Zoroastrianism is a Persian religion.  This was a more enduring religion, but its exact date of origin is hard to pin down.  The link below can only place it sometime in an 8-century period.

Thus, we cannot be sure which monotheistic religion came first because of disputes about what religions are monotheistic and because of the lack of a historical record from that long ago.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team