By Luke Timothy Johnson
The query of Christianity’s relation to the opposite religions of the realm is extra pertinent and tough at the present time than ever ahead of. whereas Christianity’s historic failure to understand or actively have interaction Judaism is infamous, Christianity’s much more shoddy list with admire to “pagan” religions is much less understood. Christians have inherited an almost unanimous theological culture that thinks of paganism by way of demonic ownership, and of Christian missions as a rescue operation that saves pagans from inherently evil practices.
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Extra resources for Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity
The rise of National Socialism under the leadership of Adolf Hitler in twentieth-century Germany had obvious pseudoreligious traits. zo In the twenty-first-century Western world, patterns of addiction among individu als can easily be described in terms of Wach's description: the addictive sub stance serves as that which functionally "is perceived to be ultimate" and organizes time and space around itself with ruthless efficiency. z l Contempo rary group activity involving collegiate or professional sports-one thinks of the World Cup competition in soccer-lends itself to religious analysis: the patterns of a ctivity especially among certain fans can only be called religious in their "pe culiar intensity" and their perceived "ultimacy" for those involved.
Hellenistic Judaism in the first century, both within and outside Palestine, is of exceptional importance to any analysis of the relations between Greco Roman religion and early Christianity, in two ways. First, it serves as a reminder of how complex and subtle were the modes of cultural and religious cross fertilization in the period of the early empire. Even for this most highly defined and resistant tradition, there was a variety of ways in which the dominant Hellenistic culture was negotiated, so that for some Jews, totally loyal to their heritage, it was perfectly natural to think of their own religion as a form of philosophy and as the best of Mysteries.
It is not at all clear whether any way of organizing the data is useful. 94 3 - A PRELIMINARY PROF ILE OF G RECO- ROMAN RELIGION The more we learn about the ancient Mediterranean world, the more com plex and sprawling the topic of Greco-Roman religion appears. 4 I begin with the aspects of religion that are most visible and obvious, hoping that my broad generalizations will gain some depth and nuance from subsequent chapters. Even this preliminary discussion makes no pretense of comprehensiveness.
Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity by Luke Timothy Johnson