Shawn Joyce

Homer (Odyssey)
The classic epic The Odyssey and the Old Testament show many
differences in the Greek and Hebrew religions. The Greek religion is
polytheistic and the Hebrew religion is monotheistic. In comparing the
nature of the gods there are many differences. In comparing the
relationships between Odysseus and Athena on one hand, and Job and God on
the other, we can discern differences between the religious attitudes of
the Greeks and Hebrews. These differences include, one God versus many,
and childish gods versus a loving God.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus deals with many Gods while in the Old
Testament Job deals with one God. Homer states, “the master of heaven and
high thunder, Zeus, went to his place among the Gods”(101). This is a
reference that the Greek religion is a polytheistic religion. The quote
continues to state that Athena forewarns Odysseus of the “woes” that he
will encounter (101). She proceeds to warn him because she cares about
him. Athena cares about Odysseus just as God cares about Job. God
respects Job, for he says, “no one on earth is like him-he is a truly good
person, who respects me and refuses to do evil” (Job 1.8). Because Job has
never done anything to disrespect God, God loves Job and doesn’t want any
harm to happen to him. Although the books are different, the concern the
gods have for their people is similar.

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Greek gods acted in a childish manner some of the time. Poseidon,
the God of the sea, wanted to destroy Odysseus (Book V).His actions were
immature and uncalled for because he is supposed to be a god, which is not
how he behaved. The gods are also jealous. Calypso states, “a hard-
hearted lot you are, you gods, and as jealous as jealous can be!”(bookV).

If the gods are supposed to be rulers then why are they jealous? Jealousy
is not a godly trait. One can see in the Old Testament that the Hebrew God
is never jealous. When conversing with Satan, God says, “All right, Satan,
do what you want with anything that belongs to him, but don’t harm
Job”(Job1.12). God is not jealous because first of all, that is not his
nature. Secondly, he knows that Job is his loyal servant.In the two
books the gods act differently according to their nature.

In conclusion, it is important to notice the differences and
similarities in the two pieces of literature. The relationships between
Odysseus and Athena and Job and God are similar in some ways. Both Athena
and God care for their loyal subjects. In the Odyssey there are different
gods and in the Old Testament there is only one God. Some of the gods in
the Odyssey have childish traits, while in the Old Testament, God acts in a
godly fashion.


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