Coping With the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology

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BRILL, May 10, 2011 - Religion - 593 pages
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Inspired by a critical reconsideration of current monolithic approaches to the study of Greek religion, this book argues that ancient Greeks displayed a disquieting capacity to validate two (or more) dissonant, if not contradictory, representations of the divine world in a complementary rather than mutually exclusive manner. From this perspective the six chapters explore problems inherent in: order vs. variety/chaos in polytheism, arbitrariness vs. justice in theodicy, the peaceful co-existence of mono- and polytheistic theologies, human traits in divine imagery, divine omnipotence vs. limitation of power, and ruler cult. Based on an intimate knowledge of ancient realia and literary testimonia the book stands out for its extensive application of relevant perceptions drawn from cultural anthropology, theology, cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
Chapter One Many Gods Complications of Polytheism
23
Chapter Two The Gods Divine Justice or Divine Arbitrariness?
151
Chapter Three One God Three Greek Experiments in Oneness
239
Chapter Four A God Why is Hermes Hungry?
309
Chapter Five God the Question of Divine Omnipotence
379
Chapter Six Playing the God did the Greeks Believe in the Divinity of their Rulers?
439
Epilogue
493
Appendices
499
Bibliography
561
Index of Passages Cited
577
Greek Words
584
General Index
587
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About the author (2011)

Henk S. Versnel, Ph.D. (1970) in Classics (Leiden), is Emeritus Professor in Ancient History (University Leiden). He has published extensively on Greek and Roman myth, ritual, magic and religion, including two volumes on "Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion" (Brill, 1990 and 1993).

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