Here's the thing. These two peoples/cultures inhabited basically the same world - empires, metals, lots of war, slavery, annihilation--but despite that sameness they came to very different conclusions about a matter most fundamental to a culture's worldview: the question of whether to place one God or many gods at the center of the cosmic order
Wouldn't there have to be some fundamental difference between the cultures to account for such different ways of seeing the fundamental order of the world?
The Greeks saw the world of the divine beings as consisting of a whole diversity of gods having dealings (not always admirable) among each other. A many-ness, and a strong flavor of amorality.
So we can presume that at least to the Hebrews, the difference between believing in One God or in many gods was of the utmost importance.
Which leads me to wonder:
Is that issue truly fundamental in terms of how a culture perceives reality? And if so, what can account for these two cultures choosing so differently on this matter despite inhabiting the same basic world?
Did their cultures give them basically different ways of thinking? If so, what was that difference?
Or did they come to have different needs, or different senses of the nature of life, growing perhaps out of different historical experiences?
For example, the Greeks had a pretty good won-loss record in the cruel intersocietal game, the brutal struggle for power that accompanied the rise of civilization. It is a Greek (Thucydides, whom I have quoted in just about every one of my books and in many of my public lectures), who put these words into the mouths of the Athenians, describing the way of the world:
"The strong do what they can, while the weak suffer what they must."
The Greeks were feeling like winners in that game. The Greeks had themselves overpowered another group of human beings to possess the land we call Greece (if I remember correctly the narrative about the spread of Aryan peoples out from a central area in the Eurasian landmass).
One might think of the Greeks as the kind of "We're # 1" rowdy group in the locker-room, boasting and spraying champagne around.
For them, there was not a lot of reason to question whether the world is good the way it is or in need of moral improvement through a power that can restrain the brutal consequences of intersocietal anarchy. For the Greeks, there had been considerable rewards for indulging the impulse to come out on top in a contest for dominance.
It was rather otherwise for the Hebrews.
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