Missing Religious Ontologies in Ancient Polytheism

Reblogging for future reference.


Below is a brief paper that I wrote for my “Greek Religion” seminar last quarter, where I address some of the ontologies of religion (e.g. sacred texts, church, dogma) that appear to be absent from ancient Greek polytheism. I discussed some of these religious ontologies in my earlier review of Zaidman and Pantel on this blog. In the paper I argue that the religious functions that these ontologies serve were not being unmet by polytheism, rather than that they are harder to identify, because of the fact that polytheism was often far more hermeneutically flexible than monotheism.

Monotheistic religions like Christianity often come with a prepackaged set of religious texts, doctrines, and denominations. Ancient polytheism, in contrast, was far more fluid. One could practice Greek religion, as well as Egyptian religion, while also being able to join a wide range of different philosophical schools, without breaching any particular religious boundaries. That…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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