Jan. 6th, 2019

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These are the passages from Philo of Alexandria (d. c. 50 CE) where he uses forms of polytheos/polytheia. Philo appears to be the earliest author to use the term "polytheism" in a polemical sense:

By his account of the creation of the world of which we have spoken Moses teaches us among many other things five that are fairest and best of all. Firstly that the Deity is and has been from eternity. This with a view to atheists, some of whom have hesitated and have been of two minds about His eternal existence, while the bolder sort have carried their audacity to the point of declaring that the Deity does not exist at all, but that it is a mere assertion of men obscuring the truth with myth and fiction. Secondly, that God is one. This with a view to the propounders of polytheism, who do not blush to transfer from earth to heaven mob-rule, that worst of evil polities. (On the Creation §61)

Those who ascribe to existing things a multitude of fathers as it were and by introducing their miscellany of deities [to polytheon] have flooded everything with ignorance and confusion, or have assigned to pleasure the function of being the aim and end of the soul, have become in very truth builders of the city of our text and of its acropolis. (Confusion of Tongues, §28/144)

such again as love polytheism and pay all honor to that fellowship of deities [ton polytheon thiason]—these are the children of the harlot who knows not the one husband and father of the virtue-loving soul (On the Change of Names, §37/205)


April 2019


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