Gregory Riley The River Of God Summary

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Gregory Riley’s The River of God: A New History of Christian Origins analyzes the evolution of Christianity, utilizing not only its origins in Judaism, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the competing doctrines established by early Christians, but the elements of religion in ancient civilizations, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Gregory Riley uses the “River of God” as an analogy to the origins and development of Christianity, as well as the guiding principle behind his argument regarding the development of Christianity. Dr. Gregory J. Riley is a professor of New Testament at Claremont School of Theology. Riley acquired his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at the University of California and received his Ph.D. at Harvard University.…show more content…
The metaphorical River of God binds the structure of the book, which sections are both topical in nature, yet follow the progression of Christianity. Riley begins the analysis of the origins of Christianity in the second chapter from the religions of the near east, using these principles to demonstrate their relationship to Christian ideas such as monotheism. From monotheism arose the Trinity, the third chapter of the book. Through the concept of the Trinity is the development of the dualism of God and the Devil, including demons and the end times. This concludes the divine influences of Christianity, and in the second half of the book Dr. Riley explains how humanity influenced the development of Christianity. He explains how the concept of the human soul becomes a major component of Christian doctrine, as well as how human suffering, human perception of themselves, and the subsequent desire for salvation flow into the River of…show more content…
Riley’s hypothesis of the divine influences in Christianity. The divine influence is the beginning of the God of Christianity and is how monotheism arose in cultures where polytheistic religions had long prevailed. This chapter focuses on the concepts of creation in the ancient world (prior to Christianity), the role of gods and humans in the material world, how humans reached heaven, and types of monotheism. These sections are to be expected in an analysis of the relationship between ancient religions to Christianity, but Dr. Riley’s “Greek Science and the Monad” is the most fascinating in the discussion of the divine influences in Christianity. In this section, Dr. Riley declares this to be the origin of the concept of the Christian god, rather than it deriving from the religions of the Near East. Scientific advancements changed how those in ancient Greece viewed the cosmos. The new idea of the cosmos changed how humans viewed their place within the world and how the gods, or at this point, God, fit into it. To summarize this lengthy section of the book, the new idea of the cosmos could not logically allow for multiple gods. There was only one God- an infinite, bodiless, and spiritual entity that encompassed the cosmos, which existed to serve him. From this arose
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