Since the nineteenth-century rediscovery of the Gilgamesh epic, we have known that the Bible imports narratives from outside of Israelite culture, refiguring them for its own audience. Only more recently, however, has come the realization that Greek culture is also a prominent source of biblical narratives.
Greek Myth and the Bible argues that classical mythological literature and the biblical texts were composed in a dialogic relationship. Louden examines a variety of Greek myths from a range of sources, analyzing parallels between biblical episodes and Hesiod, Euripides, Argonautic myth, selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Homeric epic.
This fascinating volume offers a starting point for debate and discussion of these cultural and literary exchanges and adaptations in the wider Mediterranean world and will be an invaluable resource to students of the Hebrew Bible and the influence of Greek myth.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part I: The Hebrew Bible; Chapter 1: Iapetos and Japheth: Hesiod’s Theogony, Iliad 15.187-93, and Genesis 9-10; Chapter 2: Euripides’ Ion and the Genesis Patriarchs; Chapter 3: Jason, Hera, Medea, and Aietes; Jacob, Rebecca, Rachel, and Laban: Argonautic Myth and Genesis 27-33; Chapter 4: Euripides’ Hecuba and Jael (Judges 4-5); Part II: New Testament; Chapter 5: The oath that cannot be taken back: Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.751-2.400, Mark 6 and Matthew 14 (cf. Iliad 19; Genesis 27); Chapter 6: Luke 24 and Homer: Odyssey 3, Iliad 24, and Postponed Recognition; Chapter 7: Euripides’ Alcestis and John’s Lazarus (John 11:1-44, 12:1-8); Chapter 8: Hesiod’s Theogony and the Book of Revelation 4, 12, and 19-20; Chapter 9: Ovid’s Palace of the Sun (Metamorphoses 2.1-30) and Revelation 4; Chapter10: Retrospective Prophecy and the Vision in Aeneid 6, Ovid, and Revelation; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index
Bruce Louden is Professor in the Department of Language and Linguistics, the Humanities Program, and Philosophy, at the University of Texas at El Paso, USA.
"This remarkable book undertakes to show that Greek myths were available to the writers of the Hebrew Bible and of the New Testament to serve both as models and as foils for their own religious purposes, just as John Milton adapted classical myths to make them fit Satan. Louden brings to light quite unexpected congruences from Homer to Euripides and shows repeatedly how old polytheistic stories could be reshaped as Biblical narratives about a single god, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation. Our picture of the complex dialog between Judaeo-Christian and pagan literature will never be quite the same."
- Richard Janko, University of Michigan, USA
"I thoroughly enjoyed reading Greek Myth and the Bible and am impressed by its detailed and highly original arguments. It never occurred to me that stories in the Old and especially New Testaments bore so many similarities to Greek and Roman myths. While skeptics like me might be unwilling to see direct influence of Greek and Roman texts on the scriptural writers, Old and New, Louden has demonstrated, and remarkably so, that stories in both traditions have been shaped by earlier strata of traditional tales and in ways that allow for a monotheistic faith."
- James J. Clauss, University of Washington, USA, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019
"This is an extraordinary book that has much to tell us both about Greek myth and legend and their reappearances in different guises throughout biblical narratives ... Louden's book is a revelation and allows us to view biblical stories in new ways."
- Robert J. Rabel, University of Kentucky, USA, Classical Journal 2020