We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Hellenistic Deities

Before Alexander the Great began the conquest of the East, in 334 B.C.E., contacts between the Greek and Jewish worlds had been limited and informal. Once Palestine became part of Alexander's empire, Jewish culture was exposed to the process of Hellenization and to Hellenistic views of deity. By this time in history, the older Greek religion with its worship of the Olympian deities had been exposed to new impulses and developments. Three of these are of background interest for understanding how some early Christian conceptions developed and were received.

First of all, the conquests of Alexander with their imposition of a common language and exposure to a common, potentially shared, culture which transcended national borders and other isolating boundaries ignited the sparks of ecumenicity. In limited ways, the idea of an all-encompassing religion based on a monotheistic theology and a concept of the universal commonalty of all humans began to be expressed.

Secondly, mystery cults, based on the worship of ancient deities such as the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Dionysius, and the Persian Mithras, became much more widespread. One joined these semi-secret groups voluntarily and underwent elaborate initiation rituals. Such associations provided their members with a sense of belonging and community, highly charged emotional experiences, the opportunity to devote themselves to a single deity, a realization of present salvation and a promise of future total redemption, and a sense of sharing in the life and fate of the deity, often in sacramental form.

Thirdly, ruler cults were characteristic of the eastern Mediterranean throughout the Greco-Roman period. Such cults were based on worship, sacrifice, and devotion offered to the ruler as divine. This veneration of a human figure paralleled the older Egyptian belief in the pharaoh as the god Horus, but there had not been a cult with sacrifice to and worship of the living pharaoh. In Greece, there was a history of hero cults venerating prominent figures, but only after their death, and Greek myths contained accounts of mortals having become divine after death. Alexander the Great played an important role in the development of the ruler cult. He was reportedly declared a “son of Zeus” at the oracle of Zeus-Amun in Libya and elsewhere and demanded that his divinity be acknowledged. Many of the rulers following Alexander proclaimed themselves as divine, imprinting their coins with such epithets as epiphanes (“[God] manifest”) or even theos epiphanes (“God manifest”). The cults of these rulers as “man-god” required that they be treated as a traditional deity. The ruler cult was more widely prevalent in the eastern than the western Mediterranean world.

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2018. All Rights Reserved. Privacy policy and legal notice