Old Testament Vs Hellenic Divine Intervention Essay

Old Testament Vs. Hellenic Divine Intervention Essay, Research Paper

Old Testament vs. Hellenic Divine Intervention

The Old Testament and Hellenic texts we have studied have numerous

examples of divine intervention. The range and complexity in human affairs that

these interventions occur have similar, yet different attributes. Both texts

describe divine intervention as a way of explaining “why things happen(ed) and

being “chosen” by God or gods to fulfill a destiny. Both also see divine

intervention as something that can not be understood by humans; God or the gods

have their reasons why people are “chosen” and why certain gifts, events, and

catastrophes happen and we will never understand the reasoning. Differences in

the texts stem from the reasons they are the same; why certain people are chosen,

why events happen, etc.

The range and complexity in human affairs of divine intervention as

described in the Hellenic texts and the Old Testament are similar because of the

interference in human affairs, yet they are different because of why certain

people are chosen to fulfill a destiny. For instance, in the Old Testament, God

chooses Noah and his family to be the only survivors after the flood that wipes

out the earth. His destiny was to build the ark and take a pair of every living

creature to help repopulate the earth after everything is wiped out. This is

similar to Oedipus at Colonus, in the Hellenic texts, because the gods choose

Oedipus to save the city of Colonus from his own sons. They differ because God,

in the Old Testament, chooses rather blindly. He does not choose people for any

reason except that is who He wanted. If He does choose, it is based on goodness

or loyalty to Him. The gods of Hellenic texts, like in Oedipus at Colonus, the

gods choose Oedipus because of his wisdom and his family line. The Hellenic

texts choose based on prestige, family, and honor. Another example of this is

the story “Joseph” in the Old Testament. Joseph was chosen to be a powerful

ruler in Egypt for no reason whatsoever, just because God wanted him to be. In

The Illiad, this would never happen, Achilles is chosen to defeat Hector because

of his prestige, honor, and family line. Achilles is not chosen because Zeus

just wanted him to. Not just anybody could have killed Hector, it had to be

someone famous.

In the Old Testament, divine intervention, especially in “Genesis,”

plays a very important part. For example, in “The Creation of the Universe,”

God wills everything into being. “God said, ?Let there be light,’” (Genesis

1:5) “Then God said, ?Let the earth produce growing things,’” (Genesis 1:11)

“God said, ?Let the earth bring forward living creatures,’” (Genesis 1:24).

These things, and others, are a way to explain why we have light, plants,

animals, etc. Also in “Genesis,” in the story of “Adam and Eve,” the punishment

that mankind receives for Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit explains man’s

hardships. “To the woman he said: ?I shall give you great labour in

childbearing…… You will desire your husband, but he will be your master,’”

(Genesis 3:16). “To the man he said: ?…. the earth shall be cursed. You

will get your food from it only by labour all the days of your life; it will

yield thorns and thistles for you,’” (Genesis 3:17- 18).

The Hellenic texts are different because certain events, good or bad,

may only happen because of a god’s fondness or dislike for a mortal, or just for

the gods’ own amusement. An instance of this occurs in The Illiad, when Paris

and Menelaus are in combat in Book Three, Aphrodite saves Paris from defeat, and

takes him away to his bedroom. She interfered because of her fondness of Paris

for her own amusement. Also, in The Illiad, Zeus’s fondness of Hector results

in Hector’s almost invincibility through most of the story. Zeus protects him

in every way, except when the other “chosen one,” Achilles, comes into battle,

which results in Achilles killing Hector.

There are; however, several examples in which the Hellenic texts are

similar to the Old Testament in respect to divine intervention. For instance,

in Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus is destined to become king

of Thebes only to be exiled from Thebes to fulfill a greater destiny. “No

sickness can destroy me, nothing can. I would never have been saved from death-

I have been saved for something great and terrible, something strange. Well let

my destiny come and take me on its way!” (Oedipus the King, p. 246 lines 1594-

1598). “The gods are about to raise you to your feet- till now they were bent

on your destruction.” (Oedipus at Colonus, p. 306 lines 432-434).

The Old Testament and Hellenic texts’ acts of divine intervention are

similar because both texts rely greatly on these acts. They are included to

explain the unexplainable. They are very different because of the ways God

intervenes and the ways the gods intervene. God does not intervene because it

is a “game” to Him, like the gods in Hellenic texts do. The gods choose

honorable, wise, royalty, type of people to fulfill important destinies, while

God chooses based on nothing, and if He does, it is based on loyalty and

goodness. In these ways the Hellenic texts and the Old Testament compare a



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