For Christianity, the divine becomes present under the figure of the Redeemer who attests to the beyond. Thus, the relationship of human life with the divine is based on faith, and faith is the acceptance of the word of Christ. Hence the need for a creed, a theology and, ultimately, a hermeneutic. The Greek experience of the divine, on the other hand, did not come from faith and in a restricted sense had nothing to do with religion either, since in man’s relationship with the divine there was no preaching, nor was there any need for persuasion.
Nor was it an intellectual relationship, and in that sense, it was not the fruit of human invention or creation, as might be supposed of a people highly talented in thought and art. This does not mean, on the other hand, that the sense of the divine was based on a mystical experience. For Greek man the divine was something self-evident, something that did not require demonstration or proof. However, it does not follow that from such evidence a reaction was generated in the Greek people, perhaps as a result of fear before the forces of nature, later idealized and divinized by the poets.
In order to try to understand the Greek experience of the divine, it is necessary to refrain from certain theories arising from ethnographic results, but also from comparisons with monotheistic religions. However, this hermeneutic reserve does not guarantee its full scientific understanding. For is it possible to understand what the Greeks experienced as divine? Are the gods not completely alien to modern religious sentiment?
The innumerable studies on ancient Greece certainly illuminate the whole of Greek life. Nevertheless, it would seem that before the form of the gods there is only room for a fabulous representation. Nevertheless, we postulate that the Greek experience of the divine can become accessible through an approach, not to an object of scientific study, but to ourselves. Perhaps, as Walter Otto points out, «if we consult our own life experiences, it will turn out that they are not as far removed from the Greek testimonies as is generally believed». In fact, he says, «in our experience lies much more than what we are accustomed to realize».
I invite everyone to read Matias’ post on the topic of the day.