Roman Gods

A Conceptual Approach


Michael Lipka

The book is concerned with the question of how the concept of "god" in urban Rome can be analyzed along the lines of six constituent concepts, i.e. space, time, personnel, function, iconography and ritual. While older publications tended to focus on the conceptual nature of Roman gods only in those (comparatively rare) instances in which different concepts patently overlapped (as in the case of the deified emperor or hero-worship), this book develops general criteria for an analysis of pagan, Jewish and Christian concepts of gods in ancient Rome (and by extension elsewhere). While the argument of the book is exclusively based on the evidence from the capital up to the age of Constantine, in the concluding section the results are compared to other religious belief systems, thus demonstrating the general applicability of this conceptual approach.

Ovid in Exile

Power and Poetic Redress in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto


Matthew McGowan

In response to being exiled to the Black Sea by the Roman emperor Augustus in 8 AD, Ovid began to compose the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto and to create for himself a place of intellectual refuge. From there he was able to reflect out loud on how and why his own art had been legally banned and left for dead on the margins of the empire. As the last of the Augustan poets, Ovid was in a unique position to take stock of his own standing and of the place of poetry itself in a culture deeply restructured during the lengthy rule of Rome's first emperor. This study considers exile in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto as a place of genuine suffering and a metaphor for poetry's marginalization from the imperial city. It analyzes, in particular, Ovid's representation of himself and the emperor Augustus against the background of Roman religion, law, and poetry.

Romanising Oriental Gods

Myth, Salvation and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras


Jaime Alvar

The traditional grand narrative correlating the decline of Graeco-Roman religion with the rise of Christianity has been under pressure for three decades. This book argues that the alternative accounts now emerging significantly underestimate the role of three major cults, of Cybele and Attis, Isis and Serapis, and Mithras. Although their differences are plain, these cults present sufficient common features to justify their being taken typologically as a group. All were selective adaptations of much older cults of the Fertile Crescent. It was their relative sophistication, their combination of the imaginative power of unfamiliar myth with distinctive ritual performance and ethical seriousness, that enabled them both to focus and to articulate a sense of the autonomy of religion from the socio-political order, a sense they shared with Early Christianity. The notion of 'mystery' was central to their ability to navigate the Weberian shift from ritualist to ethical salvation.

The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East

In the Hellenistic and Roman Periods


Ted Kaizer

A ‘Near Eastern religion’, along the lines of ‘Greek religion’ or ‘Roman religion’, is hard to distinguish for the Classical period, since the religious cultures of the many cities, villages and regions that constituted the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman periods were, despite some obvious similarities, above all very different from each other. This collection of articles by scholars from different disciplines (Ancient History, Archaeology, Art-History, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Oriental Studies, Theology) contributes to our quest for understanding the polytheistic cults of the Near East as a whole by bringing out the variety between the different local and regional forms of worship in this part of the world.


Edited by Stanley E. Porter

What does it mean to study Paul the Apostle as Jew, Greek, and Roman? The framing of the question exposes the fact that the distinctions themselves involve a complex of ethnic, social, and cultural designations. Paul is both a complicated individual of the ancient world, because he combines in his one personage features of life in each of these cultural-ethnic (and even religious) areas of the ancient world, and one of many people of that world who evidenced such complexity. This volume, Paul: Jew, Greek, and Roman, explores a number of the important and diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious dimensions of the multi-faceted background of Paul the Apostle. Some of the treatments are focused and specific, while others range over the broad issues that go to making up the world of the Apostle.

Reading Religions in the Ancient World

Essays Presented to Robert McQueen Grant on his 90th Birthday


Edited by David Edward Aune and Robin Darling Young

Astutely reading the writings of early Christianity as part of the lively conversation of the Graeco-Roman world, Robert M. Grant helped reshape the study of the New Testament and early Christianity for scholars in the United States and Europe. Reading Religions in the Ancient World honors his work with sixteen essays by his colleagues and students, arranged under the headings of Classical Studies, New Testament Studies and Patristic Studies. These essays reflect and extend the research interests of the honoree; signal the breadth and depth of Professor Grant’s own scholarly interests and productivity; and contribute to each of these important aspects of religion in the ancient world.

Jewish Identity in the Greco-Roman World

Jüdische Identität in der griechisch-römischen Welt


Jörg Frey, Daniel R. Schwartz and Stephanie Gripentrog

The articles discuss various aspects of Jewish identity in the Greco-Roman period. Was there a common ‘Jewish’ identity, and how could it be defined? How could different groups develop and maintain their identity within the challenge of Hellenistic and early Roman culture? What about the images of ‘others’? How could some of those ‘others’ adopt a Jewish lifestyle or identity, whereas others, abandoned their inherited identity? Among the questions discussed are the translation of Ioudaios, Jewish and universal identity in Philo, the status of women and their conversion to Judaism, the participation of non-Jews in the temple cult, the practice of Emperor worship in Judaea, and the image of Egypt and the Nile as ‘others’ in Philo. Two articles enter the debate whether Jewish identity had an ongoing influence within early Christianity, in Paul and in the rules known as the Apostolic Decree.


Ivana Petrovic

This study investigates the reception of contemporary religion in Hellenistic poetry and analyses the treatment of the cult of Artemis—taken as paradigmatic—in Theocritus’ second Idyll and Callimachus’ Hymns.
Both Theocritus and Callimachus display a lively interest in contemporary religion in all its facets and each dwells upon an aspect of the cult of Artemis absent in earlier poetry: Theocritus depicts her as a goddess of magic, and Callimachus as a city-goddess. These are precisely the features of her cult that gained prominence in the Hellenistic period.
The monograph aims to advance scholarly understanding of the integration and transformation of religious motifs in Hellenistic literature.

Die vorliegende Monographie untersucht die Rezeption der zeitgenössischen Religion in der hellenistischen Dichtung, und zwar am Beispiel
des Artemiskultes, wie er sich im zweiten Idyll des Theokrit und in den Hymnen des Kallimachos abbildet.
Die Analyse zeigt, daß beide Dichter nicht nur
großes Interesse an der zeitgenössischen Religion in allen ihren Facetten haben, sondern darüber hinaus jeweils Aspekte des Artemiskultes
akzentuieren, die in der hellenistischen Zeit
besonders markant sind: Theokrit zeichnet Artemis als eine Göttin der Magie, wogegen Kallimachos Artemis’ Zuständigkeitsbereich ausdifferenziert, wobei er neben der Natur und Jagd vor allem die Stadtgöttin in den Vordergrund stellt. Neben der poetischen Inszenierung der religiösen Phänomene liegt der besondere Schwerpunkt auf der literarischen Umsetzung und neuen Kontextualisierung im Gedichtcorpus.

Instructions for the Netherworld

The Orphic Gold Tablets


Alberto Bernabé and Ana Isabel Jiménez San Cristóbal

Orphic gold tables are key documents for the knowledge of rites and beliefs of Orphics, an atypical group that configured a highly original creed and that influenced powerfully over other Greek writers and thinkers. The recent discovery of some tablets has forced a noteworthy modification of some points of view and a review ofthe different hypothesis proposed about them. The book presents a complete edition of the texts, their translation and some fundamental keys for their interpretation, in an attempt at updating our current knowledge on Orphic ideas about the soul and the Afterlife stated in those texts. The work is improved with an appendix of iconographic annotations in which some plastic representations in drawings are reproduced related to the universe of tablets, selected and commented on by Ricardo Olmos.

Judaism in the Roman World

Collected Essays


Martin Goodman

Judaism in the Roman World deals with the religious lives of Jews in the Roman world from late Second Temple times to the Later Roman Empire.
The studies collected here analyse a series of issues important in the development of Judaism in this period: the role of the Temple and pilgrimage in the first century CE; the attitude of Jews to the physical texts of the Torah and to the scribes who produced them; the extent of variety and change within Judaism before and after 70 CE and the nature of the evidence for particular types of Judaism; the role of synagogues and images in Jewish worship; and relations between Jews and Christians in the early centuries.
This book should be particularly useful to students of ancient Judaism and those interested in Christian origins.