I’ve been doing some thinking about the Homeric narratives The Iliad and The Odyssey and doing some reading of the first. So thought I would put up some initial thoughts in comparison to the gods and leaders of the bible.
The first thing that struck me is quite how westernised our image of God is (I realise that this may seem obvious). In the opening book of The Iliad the old man Chryses comes to lord Agamemnon to seek the release of his daughter, Chryseïs, who is serving as Agamemnon’s concubine. His request is denied and he is sent on his way. Chryses falls to his knees outside the camp and calls on Apollo the swift-footed archer, resident god of Olympus.
Apollo hears the cry of Chryses and comes to his aid by subjecting Agamemnon’s forces to a variety of plagues. But my point is this, how often in the Christian west do we expect Yahweh, our God to behave in a similar fashion. To hear our requests and to come down to our aid when in fact the god of the bible, of Israel and of us is Immanuel, God with us.
even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. (Psalm23)
I just wonder whether we have taken the nomadic god of the bible, the creator of heaven and earth and have enshrined him and confined him to the heady heights of Olympus.
Secondly, and this is a far less developed though so bear with me, is that in church leadership in the 21st century we seem to demand and expect our leaders to be like charismatic Agamemnon, mighty in word and deed, the lord and shepherd of men (both are titles ascribed to him in The Iliad). Heroic leaders who charge ahead of their armies for glory. This is the image of leadership that the western world, so hugely influenced by the Homeric narratives, has come to expect of it’s leaders. And yet the biblical narrative shows us another shepherd, another way of leading.
Agamemnon was called the lord and shepherd of the people.. I think that in the west today, and perhaps world over, out pastors (shepherds) are more expected to imitate the dynamic heroes of Ancient Greece than we expect them to imitate The Lord, our good shepherd. The Christ.