Chapter

Doctrine Redefined

ROGER BECK

in The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216130
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.003.0004
Doctrine Redefined

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This chapter redefines ‘doctrine’ in the context of Mithraism. The old scholarly view that something equivalent to creedal propositions can be found in Mithraism is challenged, as is its ancestor, the ancient philosophical view of ‘reason for the wise, symbols for the vulgar’. If Mithraic teaching is to be recovered, it is better sought in the one area where there is agreement between substantial archaeological evidence, the design and structure of mithraea, and substantial evidence from an ancient text, Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs. This combination of evidence lets us know that in the mithraeum, as ‘an image of the universe’, the Mithraists ‘inducted initiates into a mystery of the descent and departure of souls’, i.e. a soul journey into and out of mortal existence.

Keywords: doctrine; Porphyry; On the Cave; mithraeum; image of universe; soul journey

Chapter.  11538 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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