A State Under God Cannot Be Idolized
When we begin our course in the development of Western civilization, I like to use the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, to show what a merging of religious worship and imperial authority looks like. For the epic begins and ends with an image of what the Mesopotamians considered wondrous: the city walls. They needed walls, of course, to protect the stores of grain from marauders, and that is why they needed a centralized bureaucracy too, because only power vested in one man and his servants could manage the systems of canals and drainage ditches that made irrigation in those plains possible.
The contrast with God’s revelation to the Hebrews can hardly be starker. The f . . .