By Arthur Darby Nock
Initially released in 1933, Conversion is a seminal learn of the psychology and situations of conversion from approximately 500 B.C.E. to approximately four hundred A.D. A.D. Nock not just discusses early Christianity and its converts, but additionally examines non-Christian religions and philosophy, the capability wherein they attracted adherents, and the standards influencing and proscribing their luck. Christianity succeeded, he argues, partly since it bought and tailored these components of alternative philosophies and religions that had a well-liked appeal.
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Extra info for Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (Brown Classics in Judaica)
These products of genuine fusion had a great and important history which will concern us later. Here I would emphasize again their Greek character. The older ideas were not dead: there were waves of conservation, as for instance the emotion which grew up after Apollo's supposed defeat of the invading Gauls. We Greeks zn the East after Alexander 45 may conclude this chapter with a record of the attempt which one Eastern religion possessed of a theology and a will to conversion made to influence the Greek world.
Records that one Sagarios son of Magaphernes 'became a Magos for Mithras'. Dion of 'Prusa (xxxvi. ) quotes a 'song of the Magi': it is a legend of the repeated destruction of the universe, containing Stoic elements and probably due to a Magian (born or adopted) who seized on elements capable of being combined with his own beliefs, just as Philo seized on Logos speculation. This Magianism is detached from its national and cultural setting: its representatives can do their sacrifice and perhaps practise a little of what we call magic for private persons (the interpretation of dreams, necromancy, and spells to secure the affection of others or to do them harm).
So much for the word. We shall find an approximation to the idea in the story of Lucius (Ch. IX). There it is due to particular circumstances; according to. the story he had by Isis been delivered from the shape of an ass, into which he had passed as a result of incautious experiments in magic. Her cult was not new to him; he had prayed to her for the mercy which was thus vouchsafed, but after it his special attachment to her worship assumed a character of deep emotion prompted by gratitude and became a surrender of self with an accompanying element of moral reformation.