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One god (part 1)
One god (part 1)
First broadcast date12/03/1976
AbstractProgram tracing the birth and history of monotheism in the Mediterranean, despite fundamental differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In this first part, dating back to ancient polytheism, historians Bernard Blumenkranz and André Vauchez explain how it is Judaism that has been the catalyst for the conversion to monotheism, tracing, through the landscapes of the Mediterranean or the Catacombs of Rome, the history of the Jewish people and its diaspora. But, more than elsewhere in the Mediterranean, social life is marked by the Christian rituals: baptism, marriage, burial ... Paul was the great apostle of Christianity spreading his apostolate throughout the Mediterranean world.
- ORTF - Coproduction
- RAI - Coproduction
- Europe 1 (EUR1) - Coproduction
BroadcasterFTV - F3
- Abraham , ancestor of the monotheisms
- Saint Paul
Primary themeReligious Practices
- Art, Culture and Knowledge / Languages and literatures
- Historical heritages / Judaism
- Historical heritages / Arab and muslim worlds
- Art, Culture and Knowledge / Fine arts / Painting
- Art, Culture and Knowledge / Fine arts / Sculpture
Credits / Cast
- Quilici Folco - Director
Period of events
- From -5000 to -1000
- Israël - Centre - Jerusalem
- Tunisia - Chotts and desert - Djerba
- Egypt - Upper Egypt
Media running time28m45
- Thousands of people. According to statistics, more than a billion, with more or less fervor and conviction, express their belief in a single god.
- They are Christians, Jews, Muslims. Everywhere they are present.
- But they all have a common ancestor, Abraham, who is on the porch of cathedrals
- and to whom God would have said, according to the Bible: "I will make of you a great nation", and to the Quran: "You shall guide my people."
- And Jerusalem is still the witness of the three revelation’s approaches. That mosque covers the rock where according to Jewish tradition, Abraham would have had a contact with God,
- and where according to Islam, Mohammed would have set foot to rise towards Allah.
- Muslims, here as in Mecca, come to touch that stone.
- A hundred meters away, the Wailing Wall along which Jews pray for two millennia in memory of their destroyed temple.
- And not far away, Christians follow the Via Dolorosa that goes to Golgotha and the Sepulchre of Christ.
- And this confrontation is everywhere in the Mediterranean landscapes.
- But these religions, have they not been subjected to the influence of the cultural history of the Mediterranean?
- Probably. Traces of the past are there, material. Thus in Kairouan the mosque has borrowed its capitals to a Roman building.
- And in Rome this church is embedded at the heart of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. These are just few of thousand examples.
- More over, the past survives in behaviors. In Corsica, a few kilometers away from these standing stones, remnants of pagan cults, appear in a Christian a belief in nature forces.
- This is the egg of the Ascension Day.
- What is it?
- When the weather is rough, when it’s stormy, we put it at the window and the storm should stop.
- And this egg never rots. If we open it next year it will be preserved. Because it comes from the Ascension Day.
- It has been blessed?
- It was born, layed, on the Ascension Day.
- Each herd has a ewe, the kindest one, we give it this small bell, inside there is some blessed bread of Saint-Roch.
- Here in Italy, at the foot of the rocks on the same site of a sacred spring to which the Romans in ancient times devoted a cult of fertility,
- Catholic believers come on pilgrimage to pray for the fruitfulness of their homes.
- In Greece, those Orthodox Christians, who on Easter Eve slaughter sheeps and with blood trace a sign of the cross at the doors of their home, repeat cruel rites of their ancestors.
- These animal sacrifices that appeared in both the cult of Mithra and in these magnificent sculptures in the Panathenaic Parthenon.
- Barely 70 to 80 generations are between us and these Mediterranean peoples who created these Greek and Roman civilizations that marked us so deeply.
- These peoples had an Olympus populated with countless deities rich from stories dealing with the myth.
- But 400 years before our era, they had already dealt with major issues that concern man and his fate in their philosphy.
- They had erected these temples for their deities, these extraordinary buildings around which huge crowds gathered, prayed, sacrificed, listened to the oracle. As in Delphi.
- So how did they achieve such an exclusive monotheism?
- This is Jewish religion that has been the catalyst for this transformation.
- What does remain today in the Mediterranean? Dispersed communities such as the one of Djerba.
- In Rome certainly, still on the side of the Tiber in front of Vatican, there is a large synagogue and the streets of the Old Quarter.
- In Carpentras, hotspot for Provencal Judaism, there is a small but lively community.
- We still practice the religious service, that is to say the prayer on Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday night.
- The Mediterranean does not seem to have been favorable to Judaism. It is not even in the Mediterranean that Judaism was born but further to the east on the plains of Chaldea.
- There are about 4,000 years, where lived along rivers heirs peoples of Sumer, God would have revealed himself to Abraham, man of Semitic race, as the Bible reports it.
- Abraham, historical or legendary character?
- He said to him: "Go away! Leave your country, your family, your father's house for the land that I will show you." And for centuries these tribes that are not yet a people will wander.
- A symbol can be seen here. The desert is the place of the ordeal, the purification. Walking more than finding the Promised Land, it is the quest of God.
- Not quite, the Bible that tells us about those journeys is not only a book of religion but it is also a history book that archeology disputes in some cases but confirmed in others.
- For example, Hebrews certainly met Jericho on their way, one of the oldest cities in the Middle East, but much earlier than the Bible says and it’s not them who destroyed it.
- Among the tribes a group will create: the Children of Israel.
- In the countries they pass through, beliefs are linked with idols. But their god, Yahweh, which simply means "it is", their god seems to follow them.
- For 400 years, they will live on the banks of the Nile. And probably because they are immigrants, probably because they are minorities fallen into servitude,
- they become stronger against the authority of the Pharaoh in a society in which religion permeates all activities.
- But according to the Bible, the Israelites' god didn't abandon them. At the peak of their misery, he helps them to flee Egypt. And in the Sinai desert he made an alliance with Moses.
- "If you keep my covenant, you shall be my personal property among all peoples."
- This alliance, Moses will have to defend it against his people returned to the worship of the golden calf.
- During the century, more than once the Israelites will be attracted by foreign deities.
- Then will arise prophets to bring them back to the observance of their law, rigid law that guarantees solidarity and purity of the chosen people living in this temple.
- Religious law but that will give the Jews, already widespread in the Mediterranean, an ethnic and national identity.
- But these communities, were there many in the Mediterranean?
- I like the way you ask the question. It already implies your knowledge of the existence of a diaspora.
- You have a Jewish population dispersed around the Mediterranean having all sorts of occupations without any specialization.
- You would have imagined seeing only merchants, wholesale merchants, moneylenders, who knows what else? Traditional trades. No.
- You find butchers and bakers and then you find people unnamed, normal little people.
- They were exempt from the Roman worship. They were the only ones with a different religion that was lawful.
- In Rome, as in most cities of the Mediterranean countries, there was a large Jewish community.
- Less important and less ancient than those of Alexandria and Antioch but still a sizeable community, with around 30,000 people at the time of early Christianity.
- And all these people mostly spoke Greek, and Latin was spoken by only about one tenth of the community.
- Here we are at the entrance of the catacomb of Via Nomentana in Rome, one of the three Jewish catacombs of ancient Rome.
- These catacombs date back to the 1st century AD. What characterizes these catacombs is that they have a very special decoration.
- We see only a very small number of iconographic motifs, the cabinet which contains the Torah scrolls, and fruits or vegetables that refer to the liturgical rites:
- citron or pomegranate for example, the palm that was used in some religious ceremonies. There is also the shofar, the ram's horn, in which we blew on the day of the new year.
- The menorah that is a reminder of the great seven-lamp lampstand of the Temple of Jerusalem,
- which will be brought in Rome by Titus in 70, after the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans and the destruction of the temple.
- If in the diaspora there is an assimilation, in Judea the occupation continues to exacerbate the national feeling and conflicts, and this is why Titus demolished the temple.
- 60 years later a new uprising led to the final collapse of Israel.
- Here in Masada, Jews fought for the last time and prefered to commit suicide than to fall into the hands of Roman legionaries.
- Jews have no more lands. They multiply their community in the Mediterranean until the pressure of a Christianity that became powerful gradually rejects them.
- They suffer persecutions, they are pointed out with clothing and distinctive signs.
- They lock themselves in ghettos, they give up languages spoken around them to return to Hebrew. They are the only ones who retained the language of their origins.
- As you have the Bar Mitzvah in two months, you must learn the Parsha, you understand? That is to say, to sing.
- And this is why the people of the diaspora that spread in the West had only one desire, to return to the cradle of its spiritual and political establishment in the Mediterranean.
- It comes back in the name of the voice that promised this land 4,000 years ago to a group of shepherds, while a very large majority lost its faith.
- There is still the ethnic link, there is the feeling of belonging to a community. But going back in history cannot be done smoothly.
- The small sect that is the root cause of the dominant religion of the Mediterranean is Jewish though.
- Yes. And anniversaries of the life of its founder do not only punctuate the Mediterranean schedules but those of the whole western world.
- Birth of Christ that the Gospels situate in Bethlehem in these landscapes that seem unchanged.
- Death celebrated in the streets of cities in Corsica and Spain, with tragic processions.
- In Mediterranean more than elsewhere social life remains marked by the Christian ritual. Rite of introduction to life, baptism.
- Sacrament of marriage, today as much a social ceremony as a religious one.
- Death accompanied by the blessing of the church.
- And that mass, which in many villages of the Mediterranean still unites the community.
- But what was the message that had such a resonance?
- "I didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it." By a law of love, Christ replaces a law of obligation.
- The son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a price for the multitude.
- "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone ! "
- "Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for they shall be satisfied."
- He speaks to the poor. He cures the sick people. He says: "I am the source of life." But he also says: "Man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man."
- And his message seems subversive to Jewish authorities, as it is difficult to follow it for his own companions.
- After a last supper with his disciples, he will be betrayed by one of them and abandoned by the others.
- Condemned by Jewish courts as a blasphemer because he pretends to be the son of God, he is handed over Romans.
- Crucified, dead, buried, he seems to be nothing anymore.
- But the Hallelujah is going to emerge in the night of Easter: Christ is resurrected.
- "If Christ is not resurrected," will tell his disciples, "our preaching is vain, vain as our faith." Through this resurrection salvation is offered to all.
- And this is this testimony that will spread his disciples.
- The early Christians were strictly speaking Judeo-Christians. They lived within the Jewish community. Their story was part of Jewish history.
- And this is at the end of the Second Temple period that separation begins to take place. Jesus is not of this world anymore. These are the disciples who act now.
- There is St. Paul who's been here, who stayed for months and even years and worked perhaps in another environment than St. John.
- It seems that St. John has worked in a rather very conservative Jewish environment. While Paul has worked with the Greeks.
- Amongst Greeks but not without difficulties. For example, in the Ephesus theater, some did not accept the announcement of a single god, those who worshiped Artemis.
- It is in this short time, between 48 and 60, that the future of Christianity and its expansion in the Mediterranean is decided.
- Paul understood and he convinced the apostles that it was essential to free the message of Christ from the Jewish ritual and a nationalist idea.
- "There are no more Jews or Greeks," they proclaim, "there are no more circumcised, barbarians, neither slaves nor free men, neither men nor women."
- Christ is all in all. Jews will go with the synagogue. Beyond the book, he wants to recapture the spirit.
- For 20 years, he will travel the Mediterranean of Asia Minor, in Greece, Corinth,
- from Greece to Malta, he takes advantage of the resources offered to him by the Roman peace and his Roman citizenship. The map of his travels proves it.
- And it is because the first disciples spoke to the men of the Mediterranean that the symbolism of the parables of Christ refers to the daily life of the Mediterranean.
- The world of fishermen. "As he walked along the sea from Galilee, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, throwing a net into the sea",
- he said to them," Come after me and I will make you fishers of men. The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and brings fishes of all kinds.
- When full, the fisherman withdraws it. And sitting on the shore, they choose the good ones and they throw the bad ones."
- World of shepherds. "I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheeps.
- If a man has a hundred of sheeps and one of them gets lost, does not he leave in the mountain the other 99 to go for the one that is lost?
- And if he has the joy to find it, I tell you the truth, it is more a joy for it than for the 99 that did not get lost."
- "The kingdom of God is like a man who throws his seed on the ground, whether he sleeps or is standing, the seed germinates and grows.
- I sent you to reap what didn’t give you any trouble. Others had difficulties and you entered into what cost them a lot of troubles." And the bread becomes a symbol of life.
- You are blessed, God of the universe. You who gives us this bread, fruit of the earth and of the work of human hands. We present it to you. It will become the bread of life.
- "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which hid in three measures of flour makes the whole mass rises."
- "I am the true vine, my Father is the wine-grower. Every branch in Me that does not produce a fruit is taken away. Every branch that produces is pruned to produce more." The wine becomes the blood of Christ.
- You are blessed, God of the universe. You who gives us this wine, fruit of the vine and of the work of human hands. We present it to you. It will become the wine of the eternal kingdom.
- This insertion of Christianity at the heart of the Mediterranean peasantry we find it today in this popular ceremony in Italy.
- Everyone here brings his horse, his lamb, all these creatures that God has created, will say the priest, and that participate in the work of man, are equal before God.
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