5 Major Differences Between the Greco-Roman Gods and the God of the Bible
For as long as I have been a Christian (37 years and counting now), I have heard from friends and acquaintances the allegation that the God of the Bible is really no different from other "ancient gods" — particularly the gods of the Greco-Roman world. In fact, some have gone on to say that the God of the Bible "evolved" from ancient near eastern myths (like the Babylonian gods), and the Christian God grew out of some sort of merger between Greco-Roman myths and Judaism. Owlcation, Haaretz, and Patheos have published articles teaching the same thing.
So, is the God of the Bible much the same thing as the gods of the Greeks and Romans, or are there significant differences? Are their differences so significant that no amount of historical sophistry can explain them away? I have personally read the Bible all the way through dozens of times (much of it in the original Hebrew and Greek), as well as Greek and Roman classics such as Virgil's "Aeneid," Ovid's "Metamorphosis," and Homer's "Iliad," as well as a good number of other Greek and Roman classics (mostly in English, but some in Latin). After reading these wonderful ancient works, here are my observations about the two bodies of literature:
1. Many gods versus One God.
The God of the Jews and Christians is only one God, while the pagans believed in multiple gods. Duh ... of course, right? This is just so obvious that it is hardly worth repeating. However, it is significant because of the oft-repeated charge that the monotheism of the Bible evolved from the polytheism of the pagan neighbors.
Much to the chagrin of those who say that, there simply is NO historical evidence to prove that contention. The facts are that the God of the Hebrews simply "erupts" from history without warning. There are statues of Baal and Ashtoreth and Osiris and Zeus. There are no statues, no images of Yahweh. The religion of the Jewish people simply pops up in history without any precursor. The true faith of the biblical heroes steadfastly resists any amalgamation with any other god.
Although the Jews did fall into paganism from time to time (read the Book of Judges and the Prophets), they did so with dire warnings from God's spokesmen. Synchretism (the blending with other religions) was never excused by God or His spokesmen.
This devout belief in one and only one God in the universe was carried over into the New Testament. Although the New Testament reveals this one God as "triune" (one God who makes Himself known through three eternal persons), this literature still affirms from beginning to end only one Creator and Redeemer of the human race: God.