Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Astrolatry and astro-theology

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 23, 2014

Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies as deities, or the association of deities with heavenly bodies. The most common instances of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic systems worldwide.

Also notable is the association of the planets with deities in Babylonian, and hence in Greco-Roman religion, viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Astrology in the Hellenistic period grew out of Near Eastern and Egyptian practices of astrolatry. Mithraism was a Roman era mystery religion which incorporated many aspects of arcane astral lore derived from Hellenistic astrology.

The term astro-theology is used in the context of 18th to 19th century scholarship aiming at the discovery of the original religion, particularly primitive monotheism.

Unlike astrolatry, which usually implies polytheism, frowned upon as idolatrous by Christian authors since Eusebius, astrotheology is any “religious system founded upon the observation of the heavens”, and in particular, may be monotheistic.

Babylonian astronomy from early times associates stars with deities, but the heavens as the residence of an anthropomorphic pantheon, and later of monotheistic God and his retinue of angels, is a later development, gradually replacing the notion of the pantheon residing or convening on the summit of high mountains.

Sayce (1913) argues a parallelism of the “stellar theology” of Babylon and Egypt, both countries absorbing popular star-worship into the official pantheon of their respective state religions by identification of gods with stars or planets.

Astrolatry does not appear to have been common in the Levant prior to the Iron Age, and becomes popular under Assyrian influence. The Sabaeans were notorious for their astrolatry, for which reason the practice is also known as “Sabaism” or “Sabaeanism”. Similarly, the Chaldeans came to be seen as the prototypical astrologers and star-worshippers by the Greeks.

Astrolatry

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