Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Paganism is not Old Paganism

Mary Beard, noted Classics scholar from Cambridge University, writes that today's Greek Pagans are not practicing exactly what their Hellenic ancestors did.

It isn’t entirely clear what this group (“Ellenais”) believes; but it is clear that, whatever they say, it bears very little relationship to ancient Greek religion. You can tell that already from the rather charming prayer to Zeus to bring about world peace. From an ancient point of view, whatever myths are peddled about the “Olympic Truce”, there could hardly be a less likely divine candidate for putting a stop to war in the world.

Her slightly patronizing tone aside, so what? Religions do change--even while their adherents insist on continuity with the past.

I have great respect for Beard as a Classics scholar--I own one or two of her books--but I suspect that she has not given much thought before to new religious movements until she decided to give her opinion on this new development in her blog.

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Blogger Mary said...

Hi...glad you picked up my blog. I think I was really responding to the claims made by this group that they WERE reviving ancient paganism. I am absolutely OK with the idea that religions change. I was reacting to their claims to be a modern version of ANCIENT 'paganism'.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

The phenomenon of doing the new while claiming that it is the old gives us scholars something to talk about, that's for certain.

3:46 PM  

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