Cover image for The omphalos and the cross : pagans and Christians in search of a divine center
The omphalos and the cross : pagans and Christians in search of a divine center
Ciholas, Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Macon, Ga. : Mercer University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 513 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"January 2003".
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR128.G8 C49 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"In The Omphalos and the Cross. Paul Ciholas shows how the religious climate of antiquity forced Christians to grapple with Apollonian religion and its hold over citizens of the Roman Empire. Every effort was made by the early church to convince Christians that the welfare of all required that they be good citizens and respect Roman authority. Yet Christian faith compelled them to oppose what they would like to have supported. In a post-Constantine cultural and religious setting Christian theology was marked by a dialectical tension in which the spiritual could no longer be freed from the secular or the eternal from the temporal." "The Omphalos and the Cross offers a fresh look at the cultural environment of early Christianity. Interdisciplinary in nature, this work establishes a background for Christianity that not only reaches back to the Old Testament but also to the lengthy development of Greco-Roman religious and philosophical traditions that determined part of the path the early church had to follow to stay alive and prosper."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Paul Ciholas, a native of France, served as director of the Institute for Liberal Studies at Kentucky State University. He is retired and resides in Danville, Kentucky.

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1. The Elusive Divine Centerp. 13
The Omphalos and Apollonian Religionp. 14
The Christian Idea of a Divine Center and the Crossp. 19
The Omphalos and the Crossp. 25
2. The Legacy of Apollop. 27
Apollonian Theogonyp. 27
Apollonian Apotheosisp. 31
Dionysian Challengep. 36
Miasma and Catharsisp. 43
Apollo's Ascension to Wisdomp. 55
3. The Prophet and the Pythiap. 69
The Sources of Divinationp. 70
The Blessings of Madnessp. 73
Biblical Prophecyp. 75
The Pythia and Her Godp. 80
The Pythia and the Prophetp. 84
4. The Rise and Fall of the Delphic Oraclep. 87
The Nature of the Oraclep. 90
Divine Ambiguityp. 96
Divine and Human Law in Delphic Perspectivep. 101
Oracular Religion and Chaldaean Oraclesp. 104
Apollonian Oracles in Christian Perspectivep. 112
The Decline of the Oraclep. 119
5. The Sibyl and Sibylline Oraclesp. 127
The Pythia, the Sibyl, and Sibyllini Librip. 131
The Sibylline Books in Roman Historyp. 135
Sibylline Oracles in Jewish Religionp. 146
Sibylline Oracles in Early Christianityp. 150
6. The Rise of Christianityp. 173
The Old and the New in John the Baptistp. 175
The Coming of the Messiahp. 180
The Teaching of Jesusp. 187
The Miracles of the Kingdomp. 194
The Death of a Redeemerp. 205
The Disciples in the Post-Resurrection Erap. 209
Stephen and his Contributions to the Early Churchp. 211
The Rise of Paul to Supremacy in Christianityp. 214
7. The Early Church and Greek Philosophyp. 223
Patristic Reactions to Platonic Thoughtp. 223
Celsus's Platonistic Logicp. 228
Christianity and Neoplatonic Philosophyp. 231
8. Christians and Pagans in Their Roman Environmentp. 241
Brief Estimate of Roman Religionp. 244
Christian Faith in Search of a Home in the Roman Empirep. 258
Christian Refutations of Paganismp. 267
The Age of Constantinep. 271
The Age of Julianp. 283
The Age of Theodosiusp. 306
9. From Persecution to Religious Freedomp. 323
Christians and the Calamities of the Empirep. 325
From Verbal Assault to Physical Violencep. 334
Caesar and Christ: The Kingdom within the Empirep. 364
The Quest for Tolerance and Religious Freedomp. 376
10. Classical Culture and Christian Faithp. 393
Early Christian Perspectives on Classical Culturep. 396
The Role of Classical Culture in Julian's Reformp. 410
After Julian--Towards a Universalization of Culturep. 420
11. When the Gods are Silentp. 441
Deus Absconditusp. 444
The "Christianization" of Paganism and the "Paganization" of Christianityp. 453
Religion without Revelationp. 458
The Transfiguration of the Godsp. 462
Epiloguep. 469
Appendixesp. 473
Bibliographyp. 479
Indexp. 495