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"GOD"

Post  AgathonZante on Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:07 pm

While the Greek philosophers like Socrates and Plato clearly wrote about their belief in the Greek Gods, there were also times when they used the word "God," the singular name for divinity, assuming the works have been translated accurately. What do the philosophers mean by this? Obviously, they were not monotheists, so what do they mean, or to whom are they referring, when they say "God?"

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Re: "GOD"

Post  DavidMcCann on Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:50 pm

When Greeks used the word "god' they were often referring to "any god you care to name". Xenophon quotes Socrates as referring on different occasions to ho theos "god", hoi theoi "the gods", and to theion "the divine" without any obvious difference in sense.

But it is possible to believe that the cosmos originated with one god without being a monotheist in the sense of denying the rest. Maximus of Tyre wrote "there is one God, the ruler and father of all things, and many gods, children of God, ruling together with him." This is, after all, the normal belief in African and Indian religions today.

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Re: "GOD"

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Fri Jul 03, 2015 6:53 pm

To be fair, though, Plato was a monotheist. There are different kinds of monotheism. The kinds we are used to in the West are of the Abrahamic sort, which means there are no Gods, just God. This originates in the Israelite tribe's rejection of old Semitic gods. The word "monotheism" tends to get a bad connotation because of this. Read about Proclus, he would strike people nowadays as pretty "pluralistic."
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Re: "GOD"

Post  Bacab on Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:34 pm

Yes, there were Greek monotheists, especially if we use the definition for monotheism that we apply to Christianity, which actually accepts a multiplicity of divine beings in the forms of angels and which are even venerated (there are churches and even whole prayers dedicated to them, very much like how there were different prayers to the Greek gods).

However, even with a strict definition of monotheism we do find Greek monotheists like Antisthenes and possibly Anaximander, Heraclitus and Anaxagoras as well, who only had one God or godlike entity like the Apeiron, Nous or Logos in their system and no other. But yes, if we follow the definition applied to Christianity, then Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were monotheists, as they believed in a hierarchy of gods with a Supreme God who created everything. You should read books like Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity, God in Greek Philosophy and Greek Philosophers as Theologians: The Divine Arche to see how monotheism, even in its strict sense of believing in just one God, was actually fairly common among the ancient Hellenes.
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Monotheism

Post  Lumpino5 on Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:33 am

Interesting is book by Iamblichus of Chalcis, Theurgy or the Ehgyptian mysteries. There was many different gods, but a one supreme Spirit too.

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Re: "GOD"

Post  cypris on Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:13 pm

The first time I encountered an ancient Greek source referring to a singular "God" was in the phenomenal 1971 adaptation of The Trojan Women. I was really perplexed by it.

The explanation that always made the most sense to me was that God (Theos) actually referred to Zeus (Dios) at least in some instances. I don't know if that's any truth to that interpretation though.

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Re: "GOD"

Post  Erodius on Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:59 pm

cypris wrote:The first time I encountered an ancient Greek source referring to a singular "God" was in the phenomenal 1971 adaptation of The Trojan Women. I was really perplexed by it.

The explanation that always made the most sense to me was that God (Theos) actually referred to Zeus (Dios) at least in some instances. I don't know if that's any truth to that interpretation though.

Doubtful – unless he or some other specific divinity had just been mentioned in the passage immediately prior.

The general term 'god' to the Greeks typically referred to the nonspecific concept of divinity in general – and, as such, might be better translated 'divinity' in these contexts.

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