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This volume presents in new English translations the scattered fragments and testimonies regarding Hermes Thrice Great that complete Brian Copenhaver's translation of the Hermetica (Cambridge, 1992). It contains the twenty-nine fragments from Stobaeus (including the famous Kore Kosmou), the Oxford and Vienna fragments (never before translated), an expanded selection of fragments from various authors (including Zosimus of Panopolis, Augustine, and Albert the Great), and testimonies about Hermes from thirty-eight authors (including Cicero, Pseudo-Manetho, the Emperor Julian, Al-Kindi, Michael Psellus, the Emerald Tablet, and Nicholas of Cusa). All translations are accompanied by introductions and notes which cite sources for further reading. These Hermetic texts will appeal to a broad array of readers interested in western esotericism including scholars of Egyptology, the New Testament, the classical world, Byzantium, medieval Islam, the Latin Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
A compelling comparison of the gospels and Greco-Roman mythology which shows that the gospels were not perceived as myths, but as historical records Did the early Christians believe their myths? Like most ancient-and modern-people, early Christians made efforts to present their myths in the most believable ways. In this eye-opening work, M. David Litwa explores how and why what later became the four canonical gospels take on a historical cast that remains vitally important for many Christians today. Offering an in-depth comparison with other Greco-Roman stories that have been shaped to seem like history, Litwa shows how the evangelists responded to the pressures of Greco-Roman literary culture by using well-known historiographical tropes such as the mention of famous rulers and kings, geographical notices, the introduction of eyewitnesses, vivid presentation, alternative reports, and so on. In this way, the evangelists deliberately shaped myths about Jesus into historical discourse to maximize their believability for ancient audiences.
Can Pauline soteriology be categorized as a form of deification? This book attempts to answer this question by keen attention to the Greco-Roman world. It provides the first full-scale history of research on the topic. It is also the first work to fully treat the basic historical questions relating to deification. Namely, what is deity in the Greco-Roman world? What are the types of deification in the Greco-Roman world? Are there Jewish antecedents to deification? Does Paul consider Christ to be a divine being? If so, according to what logic? How is Pauline deification possible in light of ancient Jewish "monotheism"? How is deification possible with a strong notion of creation? Although a rigorously historical study, no attempt is made to avoid theological issues in their historical context. Deification, it is argued, provides a new historical category of perception with which to deepen our knowledge of the Apostle's religious thought in its own time. This book is intended for an academic audience. The range of topics discussed here should interest a wide-array of scholars in the fields of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Classics, and Patristics.
Perhaps no declaration incites more theological and moral outrage than a human's claim to be divine. Those who make this claim in ancient Jewish and Christian mythology are typically represented as the most hubristic and dangerous tyrants. Their horrible punishments are predictable and still serve as morality tales in religious communities today. But not all self-deifiers are saddled with pride and fated to fall. Some who claimed divinity stated a simple and direct truth. Though reviled on earth, misunderstood, and even killed, they received vindication and rose to the stars. This book tells the stories of six self-deifiers in their historical, social, and ideological contexts. In the history of interpretation, the initial three figures have been demonized as cosmic rebels: the first human Adam, Lucifer (later identified with Satan), and Yaldabaoth in gnostic mythology. By contrast, the final three have served as positive models for deification and divine favor: Jesus in the gospel of John, Simon of Samaria, and Allogenes in the Nag Hammadi library. In the end, the line separating demonization from deification is dangerously thin, drawn as it is by the unsteady hand of human valuation.
About the Contributor(s): M. David Litwa (PhD) is currently an instructor in Greek at the University of Virginia. He is author of We Are Being Transformed: Deification in Paul's Soteriology (de Gruyter, 2012) and Iesus Deus: The Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God (Fortress, forthcoming).
What does it mean for Jesus to be "deified" in early Christian literature? Although the divinity of Jesus was a topic of profound and contested discussion in Christianity's early centuries, believers did not simply assert that Jesus was divine; in their literature, they depicted Jesus with the specific and widely-recognized traits of Mediterranean deities. Relying on the methods of the history of religions school and ranging judiciously across Hellenistic literature, M. David Litwa shows that at each stage in their depiction of Jesus' life and ministry, early Christian writings from the beginning relied on categories drawn not from Judaism alone, but on a wide, pan-Mediterranean understanding of deity: how gods were born, how they acted to manifest power, even how they died-and, after death, how they were taken up into heaven and pronounced divine. Litwa's samples take us beyond the realm of abstract theology to dwell in the second- and third-century imagination of what it meant to be a god and shows that the Christian depiction of Christ was quite at home there.
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