The Higher Aspects of Greek Religion
Farnell, Lewis R., 1977: The Higher Aspects of Greek Religion. Chicago: Aris.
The book analyses the various forms of Greek form of worship. The Greek religion was a personal affair that involved deities as opposed to believing in some natural forces. However, they preferred animatisms. The religion mainly was backed by family ties and they believed in one all mighty and supreme God. However, the society in those times was predominantly infested with Hellenic worship. This form of worship was called theism. The religion practiced offerings and sacrifices. They also worshiped the dead referring to people in the society as “ancestral ghosts”. The book is of the view that religion shapes a nation.
The objective of the writer in writing this book was to elaborate the role of religion in establishing cohesion in society. He views the family as the basic unit of the society that is why he is of the opinion that the Greek religion did well by commanding purity of families to instill collective responsibility. The areas covered to achieve this objective are the areas of politics, marriage, family ties among others. The writer had a degree in “literae humaniore”. He is known as the innovator in the earliest description of his work. He also did extensive studies in different areas such as the archaeology and anthropology. The writer does not qualify to write an article of such magnitude as religion though his previous work in the study of Greece in another perspective was successful.
The work in this book reflects well on the writer. The writer was a lecturer at Oxford teaching religion at the time that religion education was accepted as apart of the education courses in institution of higher learning. Therefore, his work in this book appears to have been intended to make a statement about the role of religion in the society. He wanted the area of study to be important to everyone and he wanted people to accept religion and the role it plays to bring the society together.
The practice of animatisms referred to the creation of the soul or spirits. This feature formed a rebirth for Greek religion. The religion had no violence in its worship or breaking away because of the past. The religion was therefore silent and conservative and did not involve most of the spirituality. The writer compares the emergence of prophet Isaiah and he compares him to prophet Epimenides of Crete who did not come with a prominent role to the spirituality of people, but he was just a system of purification. The teachings at that time aimed to provoke higher thinking among people.
The religion took another shape this time through the dominance of the philosophy at the time. The worship was at this time full of pretense and was never fully practiced. Philosophy protested against the prevailing immorality and the structure of polytheism. This formed a higher level for Hellenic .The religion shape was done by people like Plato whose passion in writing was to correct wrong done in the society. The writer’s emphasis on the metamorphism of religion shows that it has continuously improved.
The writer’s aim in the book mainly was to achieve a highly sophisticated religion. He compared the ancient form of religion and traced the progressive steps it took to become what it was known then. He also analyzed events in time and people who influenced the new shape of religion and their contribution to the religion. However, the writer is biased against the other forms of worship and tends to think that Greek had the highest form of worship. He believed that worship achieved the highest form of intellect because it focused on the soul and emphasized the rebirth of the inner person. Although the worship did not subscribe to the aggressive form of worship, the writer feels the form of worship had achieved some class of higher thought.
In page 25, he states that he only wants to reassert what he claims about Hellenic worship. Hellenic practiced a worship of hearth where they took oaths. The hearth was viewed as the center of which the purification was granted. The writer analyzed the units of their families, which included the aspects of marriage and family life. The writer seemed to defend the religion worship of idolatry and their way of worship. For the negative aspects of the religion, he has an excuse for the practice and compares the religion to that of Minoan, which was, conceived as a mother who had been thought of being a mountain goddess, which means it was not visible to the people.
The religion brought humanism to the lives of people. The religion, encouraged deity to clan thus encouraged collective responsibility to morality. A family was supposed to make sure that they had sexual purity before the religion, which made the religion appear like a cult. The Greek religion had socialized the society to believe in gods’ political power, which controlled greed among members of the society especially of Apollo and Zeus. The writer efforts in this book is of collective aspects in the book that support his preferred position. He is of the view that Greek religion presented the best form of a religion. He considers it to be advanced than even the ancient gospel, which happens to be the Old Testament.
His book talks of the religion and what it stood for but underscores what he has actually believed. He himself calls the religion a cult because the people followed it without questioning its validity. Other authors are of the view that the religion did not evolve to become better, but was introduced to bring about some resilience among people. The Greeks figured that if they wanted to control the Romans, they had to be wise so they introduced a form of religion that would suppress their way of thinking so that they would have control of them. The form of the religion that writer supports and has written about.
Farnell, L. R. (1977). The Higher Aspects of Greek Religion. Chicago: Aris.