"Of Gods and Men" is a research paper I wrote for my humanities class not too long ago. The thesis of the thing is essentially that Greek religion – that is to say, the mystery religions of Greece that were adopted by the Hellenists – heavily influenced the development (if not the invention) of Christianity. I for one find the subject extremely interesting (hence my noding of it): that long list of gods, goddesses, and demigods many of us are forced to learn about in elementary school may not be so far removed from the Jesus Christ many of us are forced to learn about in Church. . .

I noded the paper, and here is the Of Gods and Men Table of Contents. But before jumping in, here are some highlights and then some caveats.

Two points that I researched and then discussed in this paper are particularly intriguing to me:

Firstly, most of us think of Greek religion as being the worship of that crazy mishmash of gods taught in elementary school. As I studied the subject of mystery religions, I was surprised to find that it wasn't like that at all; rather, cults formed around a single god and the worshippers engaged in esoteric rituals surrounding that god for the purpose of. . .well, nobody really knows, exactly. Dionysus had a cult, Demeter had a cult, Orpheus had a cult, and so on. In most of the cults, the members engaged in the acting out some kind of story in which the cult's god was the protagonist. Other than that, however, the rituals and creeds varied widely: in the cult of Orpheus, one was to be pure and unsullied. In the cult of Dionysus, one was to periodically get utterly soused in the worship of the god (being drunk was construed as possession by Dionysus). The reason that a discussion of the mystery cults was a major component of my paper was because the A) Jews just before the rise of Christianity were heavily exposed to the mystery cults and B) many of the rituals in the mystery cults are intriguing similar to rituals in Christianity (so similar, in fact, that some have gone as far as to claim that Christianity started out as a mystery religion!). Even if you aren't interested in the subject of Greek religion's relationship to Christianity, the bits in my paper about the rites and creeds mystery cults are extremely interesting and might make for some neat reading.

Another thing that I discovered in researching my paper that I found to be extremely interesting were the existance certain uncertainties in Judaism and Greek mystery religion of the era just before Jesus. The uncertainties in Greek religion are the polar opposite to those in Judaism, and Christianity answers the problem by kind of combining the two. The section in my paper on this, too, might offer some quick, interesting reading. . .

Finally, some caveats and admonitions I feel obligated to offer. For one, I wrote and researched this over a five-day period. My school's library and my local library are both pathetic, I didn't have time to visit one of the big libraries that are a bit farther away, and though I have many books on certain aspects of this topic, I hardly have enough; therefore, some parts of this paper don't contain as much information as I would have liked. Secondly, before I started writing it, I decided that I should use a very simple style for quick and easy consumption, rather than using the more poetic style I tend to use when writing my essays and fictions. I regret this last decision immensely. This, coupled with the fact that the introduction sucks eggs (so much so that I am embarrassed to node it), have caused me to resolve to fully rewrite and revise the thing at a later date.

Right, then. Of Gods and Men Table of Contents.

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