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Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture

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Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture
Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture
Author M. David Litwa
Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2013

Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture

Reviewer Daniel C. Peterson

M. David Litwa, who earned his doctorate at the University of Virginia and teaches Greek there, describes his book as attempting to “trace the discourse of deification from ancient Egypt all the way to . . . modern America,” thus offering “a general introduction to the topic of deification, in all its diversity”. “From the very first time I heard of it until the present day,” he explains, “I have remained strangely fascinated by the idea of deification and its modern import”. His focus is on the “West,” which he defines rather generously (though not unreasonably) as including ancient Egypt, Persia, and Palestine, as well as Greece and Europe. Ordered chronologically, the book’s fifteen chapters range from the deification of the great eighteenth-dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III through the Greco-Roman ruler cults, the Orphic tablets, the “Mithras Liturgy,” and the Hermetic literature, to Friedrich Nietzsche’s atheistic doctrine of human self-deification and the contemporary transhumanist movement.