Synopses & Reviews
Based on primary sources, this volume provides a comprehensive overview of religious institutions, beliefs, and practices in the Graeco-Roman world from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E. Rather than focusing on Hellenistic religions as a backdrop for Christianity, the author composes a well-balanced portrait of the social and conceptual nature of these religions, presenting Christianity as one of the many religious alternatives that existed in that period. Covering hellenistic piety, the mystery cults, and the gnostic traditions, Martin provides an integrated view of Hellenistic religion as a coherent system of religious thought defined by shifting views of fate. He demonstrates the role of religion in two fundamental transformations of the Hellenistic world view--the change from the archaic to the Ptolemaic understanding of the universe and the shift in relative importance of masculine and feminine god-images--and concludes with a discussion of the impact of late Hellenistic religion on Christianity.
The only single volume to offer a comprehensive and interpretive framework for Hellenistic religions, this masterful survey is an indispensable resource for history, religion, and classics courses.