Characteristics Of Greco-Roman Religions

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1. The Greco-Roman world fostered many different types of religions. There was a conglomerate of pagan or polytheist religions to which most people in the Greco-Roman world adhered, Judaism and early Christianity excepted. It is important to understand Greco-Roman religion and its distinctive features to appreciate the New Testament fully.
To begin, Greco-Roman polytheism included many different religions and sects. And Greco-Roman religions were not exclusive. There were multitudes of gods and goddesses; the worship of one particular god or set of gods did not prohibit a person from worshipping others. Religious influences permeated the Hellenistic world, so exclusive adherence to one cult or sect was very uncommon. Additionally, gods were localized. Various towns, cities, even individual families adopted their own deities. This shows the breadth and tolerance of Greco-Roman religion. Furthermore, there were few if any religious doctrines or sacred written scriptures adopted by these polytheists. Thus, there was no uniform code of behavior like in Christianity or Judaism. Instead of professing certain beliefs or studying scripture, many of these religions participated in cult practice, like sacrifices, whereby they would care for the gods. Finally, Greco-Roman paganism operated under a hierarchy. The one unknown god was at the top, the
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A thoughtful art critic knows that to appreciate a work of art, he must have an understanding of the time period in which it was created. Likewise, the student who studies the New Testament must understand the time period in which the New Testament books were written. Greco-Roman religions and influences contributed to how and what New Testament authors wrote. Thus, when reading the New Testament, knowing about Greco-Roman culture and religiosity provides a solid foundation for interpreting the
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