Beyond categorization “pagan monotheism” and the study of ancient religion

Common Knowledge 18 (3):451-463 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The term “pagan monotheism” was coined to describe monotheistic tendencies in Greco-Roman religion. Its usefulness has been strongly disputed on various grounds: for introducing a cognitive perspective on ancient religion, which was basically ritualistic; for implicitly taking Christianity as the norm by which to measure classical religion; and for confusing scholarly categories by classifying phenomena as monotheistic that are much better described as henotheistic. This article suggests that these arguments have been attempts to create a supposedly objective and universal scholarly vocabulary, while that new vocabulary would serve to obscure the history and ideological origin of the concepts it promoted. Arguing for a reflective, hermeneutical approach that incorporates an awareness of the origin and charged meanings of our concepts into scholarship, the author proposes methodological pluralism as a way out of these unfruitful terminological debates. Each concept sheds light on some aspects of reality while obscuring others. In particular, the often-criticized ambiguity and fuzziness of the term “pagan monotheism” may help us to formulate questions that otherwise would remain marginal in studies of ancient religion

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,139

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-11-02

Downloads
29 (#516,369)

6 months
7 (#328,545)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

The measure of all gods: Religious paradigms of the antiquity as anthropological invariants.A. V. Halapsis - 2018 - Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research 14:158-171.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Monist.[author unknown] - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 21 (2):403-405.

Add more references