I do not understand what Larry Hurtado, summarizing a forthcoming scholarly article, means when he writes of the 2nd Temple period:
I engage the terminological issue of whether and/or how “monotheism” can be a suitable term for ancient Jewish religious tradition. As the typical dictionary meaning of the term = belief that only one god exists, “monotheism” obviously is problematic. It’s hard to find ancient Jews (or Christians) who denied the existence of all other divine beings. Instead, for them the issue was the validity of worshipping any deity other than the one deity of the biblical tradition.
What does “divine” mean in this context? In response to my question about the relation between YHWH and other divine beings, Hurtado replied: “Whenever Isaiah 40-55 is to be dated (likely sometime during the 6th century?), you have there already the assertion that one deity (YHWH) created all else, including other heavenly beings (esp. Isa 45:12). YHWH is creator, never created, and YHWH there is ascribed universal creator role.” Are we to think, therefore, that 2nd Temple Jews conceived of a pantheon of deities, with YHWH being the top, and only worship-worthy, god? Did they understand these “divine” beings as gods or as created supernatural servants of YHWH? I think there’s a difference, but perhaps the explicit formulation of the difference is a later development. As Richard Bauckham might phrase it, was the monotheism of 2nd Temple Judaism inclusive or exclusive?
Regardless, it’s clear why Christianity, and later Judaism, were compelled to clarify its understanding of God and the doctrine of creation through the creatio ex nihilo. Creation from out of nothing represents the decisive philosophical break from all mythological understandings of divinity and the world. Only until the Church made this break was it possible for her to properly articulate her faith in the Theanthropos and the One God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.