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The Gods Must Die: A Theme In Isaiah And Beyond

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Chapter Summary

The idea that gods die seems at first to be countercultural in an ancient near eastern context, not least because of well-placed statements that divide the gods and humanity on the very issue of immortality. While the popularizing of the 'dying and rising god' theme by Sir James Frazer and others has made the idea of the dying god more familiar, it has little to contribute to this chapter. This chapter considers several biblical texts, beginning with three in Isaiah, that exhibit in one way or another the theme 'the god(s) must die'. It shows that there is an element of refraction involved in the way that the theme appears in some of the texts - in the sense that humans who aspire to godlikeness come under the same sentence. Within the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 82 is the text that most strikingly imposes sentence of death upon non-Israelite gods.

Keywords: isaianic texts; non-isaianic texts; theme 'the god(s) must die'



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