Essay, Research Paper
Greek gods vs. Judeo-Christian God
Whenever we refer to the literature from which the Greek god’s come from, we refer to it as mythology, i.e. Sophocles’, Oedipus Rex. And yet, when we refer to the literature of the Judeo-Christian God, the Bible, this is not referred to as mythology. Both pieces of literature were written around the same time period, and yet, in modern day, we read one book to help teach us daily lessons, and we read the other for purposes of pleasure. I began to wonder why the stories of the Greek god’s, that were worshipped by the Greeks of the time, came to be known as mythology, and not as a religious book, like the Bible. So, I examined what the books were centered around: the Greek gods and the Judeo-Christian God, and I noticed a definite contrast between the traits of the Greek gods, and the traits of the Judeo-Christian God. In comparing the Greek gods to the Judeo-Christian God, I found many subtle differences, but I am only going to concentrate on three major differences: the difference between the way they love humans, if they are one God or several gods, and if they have a singular presence or an omnipresence.
In Oedipus Rex , there are several references about the way that the Greek god’s interacted with man, and how the god’s treated them.
The god of plague and pyre
Raids like detestable lightning through the city,
And all the house of Kadmos is laid waste,
All emptied, and all darkened: Death alone
Battens upon the misery of Thebes (64 6).
In this quote we see that there is a specific god of “plague and pyre” that has raided the city. This shows that not all god’s are of pure motive, and that they can be out to hurt humans, instead of help them. The Greek god’s also show little concern with what man has to say. “The god dismissed my question without reply;/ He spoke of other things” (76 19). They show little concern with what is happening with man, and show no love, or compassion toward mankind. Looking in the Bible now, in the book of Ephesians, we find these verses:
” But, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:4-5).
We can see in these verses that the Judeo-Christian God has a great love for man, and has saved them despite all of their wrong doings. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro 5:8). This verse shows that God’s love for man is an unconditional love, and despite the fact that all men have sinned against him, he still loved man so much that he sent his son to die on the cross. Thus, giving man the gift of eternal life.
Another difference between the Greek god’s and the Judeo-Christian God is that the Greek god’s are plural, and God is one. In Oedipus Rex there are several references to the plethora of Greek god’s. There are references to “Helios (the sun god)” (74 5), “Phoibus (the god of light and purity)” (65 90), “Delphi (the god of gold and shadow)” (66 7), and” Athene, the immortal daughter of Zeus,/ And to Artemis her sister” (66 18), to name a few. This shows that the Greeks had a god for almost everything. But, in the Bible it is made very clear that God is one. “A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one” (Ga 3:20). God is infinite, according to the Bible, so can there be many Gods? Not according to the Christian beliefs. “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (De 6:4). It is the belief of Christians that there cannot be more than one God, because, if there were, there would have to be some difference between them, and the one could not be what or where the other was.
The last major difference between the Greek gods and the Judeo-Christian God is that the Greek god have a singular presence, and God has an omnipresence. “To visit the altars of the gods, bearing/ These branches as suppliant, and this incense” (77 81). This shows that the Greek god’s are not omnipotent, but have a singular presence. Because, in order to visit them, you must go to their place of being.
I have sent Creon,
Son of Monoikeus, brother of the Queen,
To Delphi, Apollo’s place of revelation,
To learn there, if he can,
What act or pledge of mine may save the city (64 52).
In this instance we see that Oedipus has sent Creon to seek advice from the god Apollo, and in order to get advice from him, he must go to his place of being. Christians believe that their Judeo-Christian God is omnipotent. To say that God is omnipotent means that there can be no real barriers to God’s knowing or acting.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses (Ps 135:6).
According to the Christian belief , in order for God (singular) to do all of these things at once, he must be omnipotent. There is no other explanation to how one God could do all of these things, except for omnipotence.
So, it is very plain to see that the Greek gods and the Judeo-Christian God are very dissimilar, with the Greek gods being hard-hearted towards man, while the Judeo-Christian God loves man more than anything else. The Greek gods being plural, while the Judeo-Christian God is singular. And, the Greek gods have a singular presence, and the Judeo-Christian God in omnipotent.