Saturday, February 06, 2010

Quote from Alan Segal

From Life after Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion, p.179. Segal is a genius, and the usual idiosyncratic professor. I once heard him read an SBL paper from his lap top, no doubt finished on the plane (if indeed it was finished :-). He is hilarious and generally on the list for a party of any significance at a scholarly convention. Jewish scholar of all things Jewish, including the New Testament, professor at Columbia in New York.
"Though many think that dualism and monotheism are opposing phenomena, dualism actually seems to be a consequence of some difficulties with monotheism. From the perspective of ethics, monotheism is in opposition to polytheism, not to dualism. Once there is one god, he or she must be the author of all evil as well as good. Indeed, one might argue that dualism is not a stage on the way to monotheism so much as a stage beyond it, a strategic retreat from monotheism governed by the recognition that monotheism makes the explanation of evil problematic. In these dualisms, good will eventually conquer evil."

This passage appears in his treatment of Zoroastrianism.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

And atheism is "polytheistic" (man in God's image)?

Jared said...

Ah yes, I recall that passage--since I was his TA for his Life after Death class...twice.

Marc said...

In The New Testament and the People of God Wright describes 10 different types of dualism and shows which ones are compatible with Jewish thought and which aren't.

He argues strongly that cosmological duality (i.e. Platonism) is neither compatible with biblical Judaism nor with biblical Christianity. The physical universe is not "a bad idea from which we must escape" or a "stage" on which we perform in order to enter heaven.

Obviously this is radically different from most Christian thought (including Lewis' who was a platonist) but it seems many modern theologians are catching on to the idea of new creation as our ultimate destination and not heaven.

Ken Schenck said...

Wright tends to exaggerate the good points he makes. The fact that Philo was a Jew shows that a Jew could be a dualist. This is a common weakness of his thinking across the board. He turns "most of the times" into "this is the only way."

Anonymous said...

how did Jewish monotheism relate to Roman Polytheism?