The concept of “monotheism” is among the most fundamental ideas that shape both scholarly and public understandings of religion. Yet, as with the term “religion” itself, the meaning of monotheism is far from constant. This instability has grown out of and contributed to its efficacy within distinctive and shifting power situations across traditions, time periods, and geographies. In particular, this descriptor of divinity has been a constitutive component of such Western ideological agendas as Aryanism, religio-cultural evolutionism, and colonization.
Critical assessment of the term monotheism and attention to the shifting power relations inherent in its genealogy cuts across many disciplines and time periods. Faculty from nine departments whose work focuses on such diverse areas as ancient Mediterranean religions, early Christianity, and Asian religions are involved in this initiative.