Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quote - Religion in the Ancient World

A nice summary by John Kloppenborg, in his interesting little book on Q: The Earliest Gospel:

In the twenty-first century we usually think of religion as a discrete and identifiable aspect of culture and distinguish it from economics, politics, education, and other cultural domains. Yet in the ancient Mediterranean languages there is no word at all that is equivalent to our abstract term "religion." There are words for altars, sacrifices, prayers, and temples and words for attitudes towards gods (piety, impiety, fear). But there was no collective word that gathers all of these into a single domain, distinguishable from the city, the empire, the army, trade and professional associations, and other social institutions. Religion in the ancient world was embedded in these institutions. (pg. 85)

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