Divine Kingship

Do we get it at all?
Steve Wiggins has an abnormally interesting post on divine kingship at Sects and Violence in the Ancient World part of which Jim Getz reflects on at Ketuvim. Both posts are well worth the read. Both tend to raise more questions than they answer. I like that. I also have a few questions of my own on the subject.
I sometimes wonder is the orthodox Christian doctrine of the person of Christ (fully human, fully divine) or something in that cultural neighborhood doesn’t cause us to ask the wrong questions about some of this. Is the question “Was this or that king divine?” the correct one or might we better to ask, “Under what circumstances was this or that king divine?” What does it even mean to be divine in this or that context? Does the meaning change from place to place and time to time? How might we tell? To what extent would the questions we pose to our ancient sources be meaningless to their contemporary audience? I’m not claiming that our questions are meaningless. They aren’t. But if we have questions – or formulate questions in ways – that the ancients would find incomprehensible, that fact is an important part of the puzzle.
No answers, only questions.

4 thoughts on “Divine Kingship”

  1. Duane,
    Jim Getz is correct. In the East Mediterranean World the king becomes divine when he dies. The Egyptians were the exception to this rule. What is abnormally interesting to me is that in later Christian times the exception became the rule.

  2. She diffidently pokes her head up and and asks:
    If in the East Med world the king becomes divine when he dies, why is the concept that a king is only the mortal hands of his god and, thus, under the protection of that god, so prevalent?
    It most certainly is the prevalent attitude — except in Egypt, of course.
    She crawls back into her cyber-cubbyhole

  3. Rochelle,
    Another good question. While not in what is normally thought of as the East Mediterranean and at a later time, I’ve always found it interesting that Roman Emperors could be deified (and undeified) by the Senate and/or another Emperor.

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