Desiring divinity: self-deification in ancient Jewish and Christian mythmaking


Litwa, David 2016. Desiring divinity: self-deification in ancient Jewish and Christian mythmaking. United States: Oxford University Press.
AuthorsLitwa, David

Perhaps no declaration incites more theological and moral outrage than a human’s claim to be divine (or self-deification). Those who make this claim in ancient Jewish and Christian mythology are typically represented as the most hubristic and dangerous tyrants. Their horrible punishments are predictable and still serve as cautionary tales in religious communities today. Desiring Divinity explores the topic of self-deification in ancient Jewish and Christian mythology. Six case studies tell the stories of key self-deifiers in their historical, social, literary, and ideological contexts. The initial three figures have, in the history of interpretation, been demonized as cosmic rebels. They include the primal human in Ezekiel 28, Lucifer (or Helel) in Isaiah 14, and Yaldabaoth in gnostic mythology. By contrast, the final three figures have served as heroes and positive models of deification. They include Jesus in the gospel of John, Simon of Samaria in the Great Declaration, and Allogenes in the Nag Hammadi library. A brief conclusion treats the relevance of self-deification mythology for today.

Keywordsmythology; Jewish; Christian; self-deification; Yaldabaoth; Lucifer; Satan; Simon of Samaria; Jesus; Allogenes; Gnosticism; Adam
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Page range1 - 239
Research GroupInstitute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationUnited States
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