Contrasting the Gods in Homer’s Odyssey and the Biblical Book of Exodus

Contrasting the Gods in Homer’s Odyssey and the Biblical Book of Exodus

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Contrasting the Gods in Homer’s Odyssey and the Biblical Book of Exodus

Many authors have employed the religious beliefs of their cultures in literature. The deities contained in Homer’s Odyssey and in the Biblical book of Exodus reflect the nature of the gods in their respective societies. Upon examination of these two works, there are three major areas where the gods of the Greek epic seem to directly contrast the nature of the God of the Israelites: the way problems are solved, the prestige and status that separates the divine from the masses, and the extent of power among the immortal beings.

Before any logical argument regarding the contrasting of two works can begin, a foundation must be established that in some way links the two narratives, so that there is a basis for that argument. For the purpose of seeking out the differences that lie between the gods of Homer’s The Odyssey and the God of Exodus, there are two major links that provide the groundwork. First, each work includes a system of divine power, which is recognized as having authority above men. In Homer’s The Odyssey, Nestor of Gerenia tells Telemakhos, "I can have no fears for you if, at your age, the gods are your companions" (3.403, 405). This statement echoes the sentiments displayed throughout the book, and it reveals the power ascribed to the pantheon of Greek gods. If Nestor has no fears for Telemakhos simply because the gods are with him, then that implies that the gods have the authority to keep Telemakhos from harm. The God of Exodus, who is known also as Yahweh and Jehovah, is recognized as Deity by the Israelites. A small, seemingly insignificant verse in Exodus reflects the authority of Yahweh, when, immediately following the Passover...


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...ogical Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1974.

Dinsmore, Charles Allen. "Homer: What He Believed and What He Valued." 1937. Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Vol. 1. Ed. Dennis Poupard et al. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. pp. 326-329.

Durham, John I. World Biblical Commentary. Vol. 3. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987.

Exodus. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000.

Grant, Robert McQueen. Gods and the One God. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

Guthrie, W.K.C. The Greeks and Their Gods. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950.

Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Vol. 1. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Homer. The Odyssey. Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Vol. 1. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1995.

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