Friday, March 31, 2017

Gods, gods, everywhere are gods, blocking the scenery...

To turn now to a brief survey of the religious character of the early Roman Empire as context in which to view early Christianity, the first thing to note is the sheer plurality of divine beings to which people directed various kinds of reverence. It was “A World Full of Gods.” Indeed, there were deities of various kinds and various spheres. There was, for example, the traditional Roman pantheon of deities presided over by Jupiter, who was often identified as and with Zeus, the chief deity in the Greek traditional pantheon. But, in addition to these gods, by the time of the earliest Christianity the Romans had adopted or allowed other deities as well that originated from various parts of the empire. There was a virtual cafeteria of Roman-era deities from the many nations. And, as in a cafeteria, you did not have to restrict yourself to any one or any number of gods. Indeed, any such exclusivity was deemed utterly bizarre.— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, pages. 44–45

<idle musing>
Reminds me of "the thousand gods of Hatti"—a phrase used to describe the number of deities the Hittite Empire had in their pantheon. In the ancient world, you literally could not turn around without bumping into a deity. They were more ubiquitous than fire hydrants are in modern cities.

And those crazy Christians said that they weren't really gods, which was bad enough. What was worse is that they refused to offer anything to them. It's one thing to say they don't exist, but it's another thing altogether to say that they were actually evil spirits bent on destroying humanity.

Those early Christians. They were crazy. Or, they were correct. Take your pick, but realize that if they were correct, you need to watch out for the deities you are worshiping in your own life. God brooks no rivals.

Just an
</idle musing>

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