[b-hebrew] God vs gods

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Aug 25 01:34:21 EDT 2005

The identification of specific gods in one culture with specific gods of
another culture was by no means universal. Of course, when state-supported
official cults made such identifications, such as the Roman state's almost
total "adoption" of the Greek gods, these identifications became widespread
and appear in many written sources. But on a more local level, many people
may have understood the identifications differently. Obviously, identifying
Zeus with the chief deity of any culture seemed "natural, and so most
manifestations of Baal were identified with Zeus. But not all. The Tyrian
Melqart, for instance, was identified with Hercules. The identification of
YHWH with Zeus would have been possible in times and places in which
cultural conflict between Jews and "Greeks" was at a minimum. Using a modern
analogy, "allah" means "god" in Arabic; "Allah" is the Muslim "God". In most
of the western world today, when a Jew or a Christian uses "Allah", he means
"the MUSLIM God", not his own. A Muslim, on the other hand, would emphasise
that Allah and the Jewish and Christian God are the same (most theologians
would probably agree). On the other hand, Jews and Christians in the
Arabic-speaking world regularly use "Allah" simply as an Arabic translation
of "God".

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "George Athas" <gathas at hotkey.net.au>

> Dictionary of Deities and Demons (DDD) has a good article on "Zeus", with
an extensive bibliography. For the identification with Baal Shamaim (or Baal
Shamem), see:
> J. Teixidor, The Pagan God: Popular Religion in the Greco-Roman Near East
(Princeton, 1977), 27.
> Cf. Josephus, Antiquities 8.145-147.
> I note the article also says that some associated Zeus with YHWH,
including some diaspora Jews.
> Best regards,
> Lecturer in Biblical Languages
> Southern Cross College
> Sydney, Australia
> (Moving to a post at Moore Theological College from Jan 1)

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