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Pagan And Jewish Monotheism According To Varro, Plutarch, And St Paul: The Aniconic, Monotheistic Beginnings Of Rome’s Pagan Cult—Romans 1:19–25 In A Roman Context

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Chapter Summary

In the opening to his Letter to the Romans, Paul argues that current pagan thinking in Rome and elsewhere in the Graeco-Roman world is a distortion of an aniconic and monotheistic religion originally shared by all. Paul tries to build common ground between the Jews and pagans, which lies not in Jewish monotheism, but in monotheism as such. It is not surprising then that Paul sketches the outlines of this monotheism not by reference to the Jewish scriptures but with the aid of general Greek philosophy. Paul acknowledges that pagan religion started off well but suffered deterioration. This historiography is remarkably similar to that of the antiquarian of Roman religion, Varro. Among Graeco-Roman authors, however, Varro is the exception in tracing Roman religion itself back to aniconic beginnings. In this, he is followed by Plutarch, who also taught at Rome and who referred to Varro by name in various writings.

Keywords: Graeco-Roman world; Jewish monotheism; Jewish scriptures; pagan; Paul; Plutarch; Roman religion; Varro



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