By Luke Timothy Johnson
The query of Christianity’s relation to the opposite religions of the area is extra pertinent and hard this day than ever prior to. whereas Christianity’s old failure to understand or actively have interaction Judaism is infamous, Christianity’s much more shoddy checklist with recognize to “pagan” religions is much less understood. Christians have inherited a nearly 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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Additional resources for Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity
In looking at a religion, ancient or modern, we do not need to have im mediate access to the "founding experience" or the "ultimate power," but can learn some things about them from the way in which life has been organized, especially in the allocation of time and space and in the logic of community practices. We can, in other words, work from the organization of life to experi ences and convictions. 19 In fact, religious behavior need not regard itself as "religion" in order to be analyzed as such.
17 Because religion was public, it was also necessarily political in character. Mat ters of religion were also matters of state. Membership in colleges of priests came about through election or selection by political bodies and officers, and the priestly works of determining sacred days, organizing the leitourgia of the great festivals, carrying out sacrifices, and, above all, ensuring through the auspices that circumstances were favorable for the initiation of any great venture, such as going to war, were matters of critical importance for the political order.
54 De fenders of providence faced the same challenges as did the defenders of God's justice within monotheistic systems, namely, the evidence to the contrary sug gesting that the evil go unpunished and that the good do not prosper. 57 Both allegorical interpretation and the search for an ordering principle supe rior to the anthropomorphic gods, however, remained within the framework A Preliminary Profile of Greco-Roman Religion 39 and depended on the normative status of polytheism. They did not represent a rejection but rather a refinement of the religious system that pervaded Greco Roman culture and gave it definition.