One or Two Different Deities?
When looking at Epictetus’ work through the Handbook (The Encheiridon) and The Discourses of Epictetus, we find that there can be many interpretations that can be made on Epictetus’ god. One can interpret through these text above that Epictetus’ god is all-powerful, all-good being, answer the prayers of the pious, and watches over people therefore showing his god as a personal god—God is actively involved among the world and people. These four traits describe the God of Jews, Christians, and Muslims—monotheism religions. But one could also interpret that Epictetus show more pantheistic ideology than personalistic ideology of god which may lead his audience to believe that he is a pantheist—believing God and universe are identical, immanent in the world as a rational dogma, and able to shape all things depending on the good of it. I will argue that Epictetus’ god is a pantheistic god, and his god is all-powerful, but Epictetus’ god doesn’t answer the prayer of the pious, and isn’t all-good and does not watch over people in terms of the God of monotheism.
I will argue, as I stated above, that Epictetus’ god and the God of monotheism share common characteristics, such as the description of all-powerful. Power could be described in many ways, but in this context we are talking about immanence: God exists in all corners of the universe. Also in this context omnipotence would also help describe Epictetus’ god as all-power in a way that he possesses complete, unlimited, or universal power and authority. For example, God, in Epictetus’s view, is a playwright and humans are his actors (Handbook 17). You may ask how does this show power. T...
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...ties are giving to us, shouldn’t we know how to use them through our use of reason? Why would god change his mind and interfere with our life when he has “entrusted me with myself (Discourses 8:15)? Also there is little value for prayer when all prayer represents is wanting of useless things, such as wealth, because the purpose of a prayer in Epictetus’s view to help us remember who we are and use it to remember the good (Discourses 8:17).
Finally I conclude that Epictetus’ god is a pantheist god. He is not involved in our life as a person, but he is watching over us through our rational self. His god is all-powerful, which can characterize the God of monotheism, but unlike the God of the monotheism, Epictetus illustrates a different picture of god when he describing the characteristic of all-good, answering the prayer of the pious, and watching over the people.
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