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The classic epic The Odyssey and the Old Testament show many differences in the Greek and Hebrew religions. The Greek religion is polytheistic and the Hebrew religion is monotheistic. In comparing the nature of the gods there are many differences. In comparing the relationships between Odysseus and Athena on one hand, and Job and God on the other, we can discern differences between the religious attitudes of the Greeks and Hebrews. These differences include, one God versus many, and childish gods versus a loving God.
In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus deals with many Gods while in the Old Testament Job deals with one God. Homer states, “the master of heaven and high thunder, Zeus, went to his place among the Gods”(101). This is a reference that the Greek religion is a polytheistic religion. The quote continues to state that Athena forewarns Odysseus of the “woes” that he will encounter (101). She proceeds to warn him because she cares about him. Athena cares about Odysseus just as God cares about Job. God respects Job, for he says, “no one on earth is like him-he is a truly good person, who respects me and refuses to do evil” (Job 1.8). Because Job has never done anything to disrespect God, God loves Job and doesn’t want any harm to happen to him. Although the books are different, the concern the gods have for their people is similar.
Greek gods acted in a childish manner some of the time. Poseidon, the God of the sea, wanted to destroy Odysseus (Book V). His actions were immature and uncalled for because he is supposed to be a god, which is not how he behaved. The gods are also jealous. Calypso states, “a hard-hearted lot you are, you gods, and as jealous as jealous can be!”(bookV). If the gods are supposed to be rulers then why are they jealous? Jealousy is not a godly trait. One can see in the Old Testament that the Hebrew God is never jealous. When conversing with Satan, God says, “All right, Satan, do what you want with anything that belongs to him, but don’t harm Job”(Job1.12). God is not jealous because first of all, that is not his nature. Secondly, he knows that Job is his loyal servant. In the two books the gods act differently according to their nature.
In conclusion, it is important to notice the differences and similarities in the two pieces of literature. The relationships between Odysseus and Athena and Job and God are similar in some ways. Both Athena and God care for their loyal subjects. In the Odyssey there are different gods and in the Old Testament there is only one God. Some of the gods in the Odyssey have childish traits, while in the Old Testament, God acts in a godly fashion.
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Ancient Greek religion, Epic Cycle, Deities, European mythology, Greek mythology, Odyssey, Odysseus, Athena, Divinity, El, Calypso, Odyssean gods
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