Old Testament vs.
Hellenic Divine InterventionThe Old Testament and Hellenic texts we have studied have numerousexamples of divine intervention. The range and complexity in human affairs thatthese interventions occur have similar, yet different attributes. Both textsdescribe divine intervention as a way of explaining “why things happen(ed) andbeing “chosen” by God or gods to fulfill a destiny. Both also see divineintervention as something that can not be understood by humans; God or the godshave their reasons why people are “chosen” and why certain gifts, events, andcatastrophes happen and we will never understand the reasoning. Differences inthe texts stem from the reasons they are the same; why certain people are chosen,why events happen, etc. The range and complexity in human affairs of divine intervention asdescribed in the Hellenic texts and the Old Testament are similar because of theinterference in human affairs, yet they are different because of why certainpeople are chosen to fulfill a destiny.
For instance, in the Old Testament, Godchooses Noah and his family to be the only survivors after the flood that wipesout the earth. His destiny was to build the ark and take a pair of every livingcreature to help repopulate the earth after everything is wiped out. This issimilar to Oedipus at Colonus, in the Hellenic texts, because the gods chooseOedipus to save the city of Colonus from his own sons. They differ because God,in the Old Testament, chooses rather blindly.
He does not choose people for anyreason except that is who He wanted. If He does choose, it is based on goodnessor loyalty to Him. The gods of Hellenic texts, like in Oedipus at Colonus, thegods choose Oedipus because of his wisdom and his family line. The Hellenictexts choose based on prestige, family, and honor. Another example of this isthe story “Joseph” in the Old Testament.
Joseph was chosen to be a powerfulruler in Egypt for no reason whatsoever, just because God wanted him to be. InThe Illiad, this would never happen, Achilles is chosen to defeat Hector becauseof his prestige, honor, and family line. Achilles is not chosen because Zeusjust wanted him to. Not just anybody could have killed Hector, it had to besomeone famous. In the Old Testament, divine intervention, especially in “Genesis,”plays a very important part.
For example, in “The Creation of the Universe,”God wills everything into being. “God said, Let there be light,'” (Genesis1:5) “Then God said, Let the earth produce growing things,'” (Genesis 1:11)”God said, Let the earth bring forward living creatures,'” (Genesis 1:24). These things, and others, are a way to explain why we have light, plants,animals, etc. Also in “Genesis,” in the story of “Adam and Eve,” the punishmentthat mankind receives for Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit explains man’shardships. “To the woman he said: I shall give you great labour inchildbearing.
. . . . . You will desire your husband, but he will be your master,'”(Genesis 3:16).
“To the man he said: . . . . the earth shall be cursed.
Youwill get your food from it only by labour all the days of your life; it willyield thorns and thistles for you,'” (Genesis 3:17- 18). The Hellenic texts are different because certain events, good or bad,may only happen because of a god’s fondness or dislike for a mortal, or just forthe gods’ own amusement. An instance of this occurs in The Illiad, when Parisand Menelaus are in combat in Book Three, Aphrodite saves Paris from defeat, andtakes him away to his bedroom. She interfered because of her fondness of Parisfor her own amusement. Also, in The Illiad, Zeus’s fondness of Hector resultsin Hector’s almost invincibility through most of the story.
Zeus protects himin every way, except when the other “chosen one,” Achilles, comes into battle,which results in Achilles killing Hector. There are; however, several examples in which the Hellenic texts aresimilar to the Old Testament in respect to divine intervention. For instance,in Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus is destined to become kingof Thebes only to be exiled from Thebes to fulfill a greater destiny. “Nosickness can destroy me, nothing can. I would never have been saved from death-I have been saved for something great and terrible, something strange. Well letmy destiny come and take me on its way!” (Oedipus the King, p.
246 lines 1594-1598). “The gods are about to raise you to your feet- till now they were benton your destruction. ” (Oedipus at Colonus, p. 306 lines 432-434). The Old Testament and Hellenic texts’ acts of divine intervention aresimilar because both texts rely greatly on these acts. They are included toexplain the unexplainable.
They are very different because of the ways Godintervenes and the ways the gods intervene. God does not intervene because itis a “game” to Him, like the gods in Hellenic texts do. The gods choosehonorable, wise, royalty, type of people to fulfill important destinies, whileGod chooses based on nothing, and if He does, it is based on loyalty andgoodness. In these ways the Hellenic texts and the Old Testament compare acontrast.English