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Why Was the Emperor Worshiped?

This will be my last post about the worship of the Roman emperor as a god.  I have been trying to make several major points in this thread.   So let me begin by summarizing them:

  • The reason worshiping the man who ruled the empire would not have seemed bizarre to ancient people was that there was not thought to be an enormous chasm between the divine and human realms (as there is for most people today). There were some gods who ...
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The God Julius Caesar

I mentioned in a previous post the scarcely-remembered-these-days Diogenes Poliorcetes (Diogenes, the Conqueror of Cities), who was acclaimed as a divine being by a hymn-writer (and others) in Athens because he liberated them from their Macedonian overlords.   I should point out that this great accomplishment paled with time, and he did some other things that the Athenians did not find so useful or approve of, and the rescinded their adoration of him.

My point was that sometimes military men/political rulers were ...

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35

Rulers as Gods: The Context of Ancient Religion

Why did ancient people in the Greek and Roman worlds sometimes consider political leaders as gods?  That’s the question I’m dealing with in this series of posts.  And I think now, after a good bit of background, I’m able to begin to answer it.

The gods in Greek and Roman thought were considered to be superhuman.  Unlike, say, the (animal-shaped) gods of Egypt, the Greek and Roman gods were literally in human form.   When they appeared here on earth to humans ...

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When Men Became Gods: My Lecture in Denmark

As I indicated earlier, I am in Denmark this week giving talks.  I’m staying in Copenhagen, a fabulous city, but two of my talks are in Odense, an hour and a half (very pleasant) train ride from here.  I am being sponsored by the University of Southern Denmark, which invited me almost a year ago now to give a lecture to students and faculty on the relationship between the Roman Imperial cult (the worship of the Roman emperor as a ...

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The Divine Realm in Antiquity

I have started a thread on my current interest, the relationship of the imperial cult (the Roman worship of the emperors) to the rise of Christology (the understandings of Christ).  Both Caesars (especially deceased ones, but in some parts of the empire, also the living one) and Christ (by most of his followers, now that he too was deceased) were thought of and called “Savior,” “Lord,” “Son of God,” and even “God.”

Most people would know that was true of Christ.  ...

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The Rise of the Roman Empire

I want to suspend for a time – not cancel altogether! – the thread I have been pursuing on how I came to be interested in the textual criticism of the New Testament, which itself is a spin-off (using roughly similar metaphors) of the bigger thread that I started, which at the time of inception I anticipated would be all of two posts long, of why I ended up being equipped to write trade books more than most of my ...

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Roman Religion as the Context for Christianity

I have started to indicate how I laid out my prospectus for my next book The Triumph of Christianity, as I developed the idea this past summer.  Remember: the prospectus was designed to get a publisher (or hopefully more than one) interested in publishing the book, and was based on, and presupposed, already a good bit of research.   The prospectus was to show what the book was to be about, why it is both interesting and important, and how it ...

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Miraculous (Not Virgin) Births in Ancient Pagan Texts

In my previous post I pointed out that there do not appear to be any instances in the other religions of antiquity of a virgin birth – where a woman gives birth without having sex.   In this post I’ll lay out the more typical view of how a “son of God” came into the world.  It very much does involve sex.   Most of the post will deal with one (very funn) story in particular which is emblematic of the rest.    ...

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Widespread Claims of Pagan Virgin Births

I have devoted several posts to the issue of Jesus’ virgin birth, as recounted in Matthew and Luke.  As I pointed out, there is no account of Jesus’ virgin birth in the Gospel of John, and it appears that the idea is actually argued *against* (implicitly) in the Gospel of Mark.   Several readers have asked me (or told me) about the parallels to the virgin birth stories in pagan texts, where a son of God, or demi-god, or, well, some ...

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Male Domination in Antiquity

In this thread I’ve been laying out the view that in Paul’s own churches, women were granted places of prominence, possibly because they had been prominent at times from the very beginning, going back to the ministry of Jesus. But eventually women were silenced – as evidenced in the Pastoral epistles and the interpolation of 1 Cor. 14:35-36 by a later copyist of Paul’s letter. I continue this line of thought again by referring to the discussion of my Introduction ...

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