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Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195043914
ISBN-10: 019504391X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A brief but very useful study..."---Booklist

"Highly impressive study of Hellenistic religions....What we have in this slim volume is a extraordinary distillation of Martin's creative and finely honed thinking about a subject he loves and has been musing over for years. It is a valuable book, a pleasure to read, while at the same time a challenge to grasp and work through."--Critical Review

"An excellent and much-needed survey."--Akmadam [sic], Eckerd College

"An excellent introduction for undergraduates, especially those studying the history of religion; scholars will appreciate its many insights."--Classical World

"A good, basic introduction to the subject....More up-to-date than any alternative...Excellent bibliographies...Recommended not only for introductory courses on ancient religion but also for the general reader as well."--Classical Bulletin

"A useful overview for students and professors needing a quick fix on major Hellenistic philosophical and religious movements, and fun to read, with useful maps and bibliography."--David Soren, University of Arizona

"Martin presents a useful introduction to the difficult world and belief systems of the Hellenistic age and his attempts to systematize it are perceptive and timely. Hellenistic Religions fulfills a long-standing need for a wide-ranging and thoughtful introduction to this important subject."--The Historian

"A useful summary of the basic tenets of the major Hellenistic religions. A helpful introduction for students of the Bible."--Frank Thielman, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"An excellent text for a course in Hellenistic history or ancient religion."--W. Jeffrey Tatum, Florida State University

"This book achieves a good balance of evidence and theory/explanation, is well-written, and is historically perceptive. I plan to use it again."--Larry J. Alderink, Concordia College

About the Author

Luther H. Martin is at University of Vermont.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 19, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019504391X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195043914
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We had to read this book in a religion class in college, and I really enjoyed it. The text provides a good overview of a number of the major religious movements concurrent with the beginnings of Christianity. If you're interested in learning more about the ancient world, more than what you can find in the Bible, give this book a try...
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By HH on March 12, 2016
Format: Paperback
In this small book Martin attempts to provide an overview of the many and varying Hellenistic religions, a useful outline as well as a framework for further study. He begins with a discussion of Apuleius's "Metamorphoses", since it reveals the everyday life of the Hellenistic world, and as a morality play juxtaposes the hedonistic existence of the world with the peace and joy of the religious life. Many of the older Hellenic religions and practices are briefly characterized, together with their transformation under the influences and borrowings from the cults and mysteries introduced from the East and from Egypt, especially that of Isis. This process of borrowing and intermingling characteristic of the period is generally termed syncretism. But Martin argues that is more than the random byproduct of political internationalism; it is a purposeful development of a coherent system, comparable to that of Ptolemaic cosmology. Yet the Hellenistic religions were in the process of transformation -- from piety to mystery to gnosis. Under these three categories, the richness and complexity of religious experience -- oracles, divination, astrology, magic, as well as Christianity, Judaism, Mithraism -- are touched upon. The book is an excellent introduction for undergraduates, especially those studying the history of religion; scholars will appreciate its many insights.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this work, Luther Martin provides an important introduction to religious trends in the Hellenistic world. He covers early Christianity, Hellenistic reforms in Judaism, Mithraism, and various mystery religions. The work is detailed and worth reading.

One difficulty in this book is that he discusses the entire Hellenistic period as if it was entirely homogeneous. It would be more interesting to look at trends and how they develop. However, this is just an introduction so this is not a fatal flaw.

On the whole though, this is a detailed overview of Hellenistic religious thought and will be important to students the history of religion for a long time to come. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Martin shows that despite the diversity of story elements and rituals, the common, universal theme in mystery religions is encountering and, in some sense, "transcending" determinism, Fate, or Necessity.
He doesn't emphasize consuming a sacrament as a common, universal theme.
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