Being or having the only one

Thinking about the origins of exclusivity, various biblical suggestions as to how to deal with idolaters spring to mind like a gazelle in wellington boots:

  • Exodus 34
    12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
    13 but ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
    14 for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  • 2 Samuel 5
    18 The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Reph’a-im.
    19 And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
    20 And David came to Ba’al–per’azim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Ba’al–per’azim.
    21 And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.
  • 2 Kings 23
    15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth–el, and the high place which Jerobo’am the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
    16 And as Josi’ah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.

The problem is that these are not relativist, so I’m fishing around for pre-1750 (I’m fine post-) glosses on an adaptation of this meme that runs as follows: your God/Book/temple is pretty much like our one, but we need to destroy it anyway in order to leave us with the only one. I’m pretty slow this week, but I can’t think of anything in the Western Christian or Jewish traditions, and I dutifully burnt my Koran ages ago ;-)

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  1. The animals went in two by two, hurrah! hurrah!
    The animals went in two by two, hurrah! hurrah!
    The animals went in two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo
    And they all went into the ark, for to get out of the rain.

  2. I don’t think I’m going to find anything. More fruitful probably to approach it by looking at the problems early Roman collectors faced with fakes (false idols in another guise). Printing and other forms of reproduction change the fetish from having the original object to having the only example – it’s not particularly meaningful to possess woodcuts and the introduction of movable type dooms the original

  3. You’ll find it makes more sense if you take a step back and view pre- and post-printing styles as quasi-religious activity.

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