Example research essay topic: Homer Comparison And Contrast Of The Gods In Homers Epics With The God Of The Hebrews – 1,505 words

Tucker 1 Comparison and Contrast of the gods in
Homers epics with the God of the Hebrews There are
many similarities and differences between the
Greek gods and the Hebrew God. These similarities
and differences are revealed in the character and
functionality of the gods. The revelation of
similarities and differences can also be seen in
mans relationship to his god or gods. Homer was
instrumental in documenting the oral traditions of
the Greek gods in his poetry. Moses, the Hebrew
leader, is attributed with documenting what he
witnessed from God in the Torah. The Greek and
Hebrew belief systems were established for the
purposes of explaining the world we live in, the
phenomenon in nature, and the existence and
purpose of man.

The Greeks were polytheistic and
had more gods than they could probably keep up
with. In contrast the Hebrews had only one God.
Regardless, the Greeks and Hebrews shared the same
desire and that was to find answers to questions
about existence and the purpose of life. The
character and functionality of the Greek gods vary
from god to god. Zeus was the chief of the Greek
gods and considered the most powerful. This may be
a bit misleading because even though he held the
highest rank, the lesser gods did not always
submit to his authority. The lesser gods did
things at times that they knew would go against
the wishes of Zeus.

It is apparent that all the
gods did things for their own pleasure and men
were the pawns in the games they played. This can
be seen in Homers The Iliad. Zeus loved Sarpedon
and wanted to intervene to save him from injury or
death. Queen Hera advised Zeus that it would be
unwise to intervene because the other gods would
see it as favoritism. Petroclus killed Sarpedon.
The god Apollo avenges the death of Sarpedon by
stripping away Petroclus armor rendering him
Tucker 2 defenseless, and thus he is killed by
Hector. It is apparent that the Greeks felt that
the gods ordered their destiny.

According to
Alexander Murray, man himself, and everything
around him, was upheld by Devine power; that his
career was marked out for him by a rigid fate
which even the gods could not alter, should they
wish it on occasion. He was indeed free to act,
but the consequences of all his actions were
settled beforehand (2). In the case of Petroclus,
it was his destiny to die in that particular
battle and thus the gods ensured that it happened
according to fate. The Greek gods were not always
considered fair in their dealings with man. There
arose doubts to the absolute justice of the gods,
and even the sanctity of their lives. There seemed
to be two sets of standards, one for the gods and
one for man.

The deities were not eternal in their
existence. There are stories about their birth.
They were the offspring from other gods. The gods
were immortal; however, there is a story of the
death of Zeus that came from the Isle of Crete.
The gods maintained and preserved the existing
order and system of things according to their
divine wisdom. The Greeks never arrived at the
idea of one absolute eternal God. This is a
distinction the Hebrews held fast to. The Hebrew
god is most commonly referred to as God; however,
he has been also called Elohim, and Yahweh.

In the
English rendering he is called Jehovah. There
appears to be no documentation that states that
the Hebrews were ever polytheistic and evolved
into worshipping one supreme god. The Pentateuch
or Torah is composed of the first five books of
the bible. These books reveal the character and
function of the Hebrew god. Genesis, the first
book of the bible states: In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth. (1.1).

This
beginning is the creation of the universe, man,
and all living creatures. It is not the beginning
of God. We have no oral account or written history
as to Gods beginning. We are only told that he has
existed for eternity. A definition found in the
Westminster Shorter Catechism declares: God is a
Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in
his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice,
goodness, and truth. (316).

The Greek gods had
claims to wisdom and power; however, they were not
usually referred to as being holy, just, or good.
They were holy, just, and good when they chose to
be. Murray emphasizes that the gods were conceived
to possess the form of human beings, and to be,
like men, subject to love and pain, but always
characterized by the highest qualities and
grandest form that could be imagined. (4). These
characteristics did not make the Greek gods
infallible but rather fallible due to the element
of human emotion. The Hebrew God is a spirit and
could not be seen by man lest he die. The Hebrews
were forbidden to craft statues of God.

Thou shalt
not make unto thee any graven image, or any
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or
that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth. (Ex 20:4). Based on this it
is hard to say how they envisioned the appearance
of God. Interestingly God states that he created
man in his image in Genesis 1:26. It is obvious
that the Greeks never actually saw their gods but
they did create them in works of art and as a
result adopted in their minds the created image as
being an actual likeness. The Hebrews had no frame
of reference to consider nor were they allowed to
consider such.

The Hebrew God had no other gods to
contend with. It is documented in the bible that
there are angels, but angels are not on the same
level as God. Angels are the servants to God and
man and do not have any power equivalent to Gods
power. Satan, who was a fallen angel represents
evil and is anti-God. Some of the Greek gods may
have acted evil on occasion but there were none
that purposed evil continually against Zeus. God
and the Greek gods were considered omniscient,
omnipresent, and omnipotent.

Only a god could
possess these characteristics. The greatest
contrast between The Greek gods and the Hebrew God
is the relationship between god and man. The
Greeks did not have a close intimate relationship
with their gods, as did the Hebrews. One might
contend that the reason the Hebrews were more
intimate with God is because they were persecuted
and looked to God for comfort. The story of their
captivity, slavery, and final exodus reveals some
very trying times for the Hebrews. During the time
of Homer, which was around the eight century B.C.,
the Greeks were living somewhat prosperously.
There began a rise of aristocracies throughout
Greece and it was during this period that the
Olympiads began.

This is not to imply that the
Greeks did not need a god to rely on throughout
their daily lives. It only shows that they were
living in an era of economic prosperity and they
were not slaves as were the Hebrews. History
reveals that people in general turn to god
whenever they are experiencing difficulty in life.
The death of a loved one, severe illness,
persecution, slavery, and poverty seem to make
people a bit more religious to their god. Thus
people living in prosperity may not need God for
comfort like those who are under some sort of
trial in life. The Hebrews witnessed the miracles
from God that convinced the Egyptians to free them
from slavery. They also wandered forty years in
the wilderness prior to entering the Promised
Land.

During the Exodus they witnessed many more
miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, Manna
from heaven, and water from a rock. These
experiences would make one a believer in the power
and person of God. Moses apparently saw these
things happen and recorded them first hand. Homer
records what he has heard from the oral
traditions. Oral traditions can be very powerful
and very believable. The development of the oral
traditions on the other hand can over time evolve
into something more realistic even though they may
have originated from imagination.

The Greeks
eventually abandoned their gods and adopted
beliefs in gods from other cultures. As to the
origin of these oral traditions, Murray, has this
to say: the youth of a nation, like that of an
individual, is the period at which the activity of
imagination and fancy is greatest in proportion as
knowledge is leastwhen they seek to fathom or
measure the cause of the phenomena of nature they
have no standard to employ at hand, except
themselves. (77). The Hebrews use God as a
standard to employ since Moses and his followers
witnessed the events firsthand. This may be why
the Hebrews believe in their God to this day and
the Greeks abandoned theirs. The Greeks eventually
realized that their traditions were created by the
imaginations of ….

Research essay sample on Homer Comparison And Contrast Of The Gods In Homers Epics With The God Of The Hebrews