Deification in ancient Christian era

25 August 2015
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Jewish and Christian Attitudes to the Ruler Cult
There was a dual attitude towards the ruler-cult where a mass of people and elite educated Jews did not find a certain degree of participation in particular times.  Jews, were respected as a people with an old venerable religion unlike the Christians, who were perceived to be especially disloyal.  Animal sacrifices played an important part in Jewish religious practices.  The disloyalty of Christians attracted the attention of the authorities.  Christians worshipped God alone. The earliest private deification (we have evidence) is by Cicero and Tullia. In Egypt, only the Pharaoh was ranked with the gods. This belief developed and as a result of preserving the body intact as an earthy anchor for the ka and ba. Pyramid texts were discovered  in the pyramid and were an important part of the exaltation of the soul to the gods which were called coffin texts because of their use. The concern about the afterlife was intense in Egypt. Isis an idolized Egyptian deity was a savior goddess who had delivered her consort Osiris from the underworld.  Her cult was widespread throughout the Mediterranean world.  In the Roman period Mithras, of Iranian origin, deus invictus it appealed to soldiers, entirely masculine. The mystery which Plato referred to was that of the Eleusinian mysteries.  Orphics were not an organized cult but they honored Orpheus.  Pythagoreans were described by Plato to be similar to the Orphics but honoring Apollo.  Plato gave the idea of soul as the essential self that can exist independently of the body which fully developed also in Judaism and Christianity.

Also, God, in philosophical terms, was expressed by many important men in the past. Aristotle described God as immaterial, eternal, and of substance whose only activity is a direct intuitive knowledge not of anything external of himself, a perfect, living and intelligent being.  Below God were the heavenly bodies, alive and divine.  Below the heavenly bodies were gods, human beings and animals. First principle is “nous”, second principle is nous but its intellect is extrinsic.  Plotinus, the final step is taken, the first principle the one is beyond being/second hypothesis, the intellectual principle (nous) emerges out of the first without changing or affecting it/ third, the psyche emerges from the second.

The Egyptian Hermetists
The 2nd and 3rd centuries the contact with the One God could be attained by a new class of men and among them were the teachers of Gnosis.  From their writing there are two forms: the philosophical (concerned with theology and fate of the soul) and the technical which are the magical texts. He is a priest and imparting ancient wisdom. The hermetic corpus presents a God who, on the one hand, is beyond words and imagination, he is the first of all entities, eternal, unbegotten, creator of all this, master and father cannot be detected in anything in this cosmos, he is both invisible and wholly visible, he is the source of all things; all things that exist are in him.  Anthropos was created in the image of the father as a brother of the demiurge the second god.  One part of us is ουσιωδης and the other υλικος.  Τhe return to god has been described as a journey with these three stages: gnosis (the awakening), logos (process of attaining maturity), and nous (vision of the divine intellect). Deification of the likeliness to God as the goal of the spiritual life, concept of participation, the metaphor of the soul’s ascent is all of Platonic origin. But, in the development of the idea and its distinctive vocabulary it was Christianity that led the way.