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One God
Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire


S. Mitchell, P. Van Nuffelen, J. North, M. Frede, A. Fürst, C. Markschies, A. Chaniotis, N. Belayche
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  • Date Published: January 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108984966

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About the Authors
  • Graeco-Roman religion in its classic form was polytheistic; on the other hand, monotheistic ideas enjoyed wide currency in ancient philosophy. This contradiction provides a challenge for our understanding of ancient pagan religion. Certain forms of cult activity, including acclamations of 'one god' and the worship of theos hypsistos, the highest god, have sometimes been interpreted as evidence for pagan monotheism. This book discusses pagan monotheism in its philosophical and intellectual context, traces the evolution of new religious ideas in the time of the Roman empire, and evaluates the usefulness of the term 'monotheism' as a way of understanding these developments in later antiquity outside the context of Judaism and Christianity. In doing so, it establishes a framework for understanding the relationship between polytheistic and monotheistic religious cultures between the first and fourth centuries AD.

    • Re-examines monotheistic developments and ideas within pagan Graeco-Roman religion and questions the usefulness of the concept of 'monotheism' outside Jewish and Christian contexts
    • Discusses the latest theoretical approaches
    • Includes chapters by eight leading international scholars of ancient religion and early Christianity
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Whether or not one finds the term pagan monotheism useful, and I do, this volume is … extraordinarily effective in conveying the continuities between paganism, ancient Judaism and Christianity.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108984966
    • length: 249 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the debate about pagan monotheism Stephen Mitchell and Peter Van Nuffelen
    2. Pagan monotheism as a religious phenomenon Peter Van Nuffelen
    3. Pagan ritual and monotheism John North
    4. The case for pagan monotheism in Greek and Graeco-Roman antiquity Michael Frede
    5. Monotheism between cult and politics: the themes of the ancient debate between pagan and Christian monotheism Alfons Fürst
    6. The price of monotheism: some new observations on a current debate about late antiquity Christoph Markschies
    7. Megatheism: the search for the almighty god and the competition of cults Angelos Chaniotis
    8. Deus deum…summorum maximus (Apuleius): ritual expressions of distinction in the divine world in the imperial period Nicole Belayche
    9. Further thoughts on the cult of Theos Hypsistos Stephen Mitchell.

  • Editors

    Stephen Mitchell, University of Exeter
    Stephen Mitchell is Leverhulme Professor of Hellenistic Culture at the University of Exeter. Previous books include A History of the Later Roman Empire AD 284–641 (2007) and, more recently, The Imperial Temple at Ankara and the Res Gestae of the Emperor Augustus. A Historical Guide (2008).

    Peter Van Nuffelen, Universiteit Gent, Belgium
    Peter Van Nuffelen is Research Professor of Ancient History at the University of Ghent. He has published numerous articles on aspects of the ancient and medieval worlds, and has recently edited Faces of Hellenism (2009), and co-edited (with Stephen Mitchell) Monotheism Between Christians and Pagans in Late Antiquity (2009).


    S. Mitchell, P. Van Nuffelen, J. North, M. Frede, A. Fürst, C. Markschies, A. Chaniotis, N. Belayche

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