Welcome to Athena Ekstatika

This is a blog whose name and approach needs a bit more exposition than the usual “about” page. These first couple posts will be an extended “about” and introduction to some of the topics I imagine this blog will take up.

The first aspect that needs exposition is the invocation of the goddess Athena as a sort of patroness of our discussion. Perhaps patroness is too strong, but in Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, among other things. As such, she stands for a certain ideal when it comes to theology and biblical studies. This ideal values both rationality and practicality, or perhaps a practical rationality, and so is connected to the wisdom traditions of both the Greco-Roman world and the Israelite-Jewish traditions.

This ideal might be broadly called “philosophical.” and since philosophy is the “love of wisdom,” Athena stands as the patroness of this approach. In our reflections, philosophy will be connected to our subjects not only through what is generally understood as the philosophical aspect of theology but also more subtly through attention now and again to the influence of philosophical ideas in the original writing and later interpretation of biblical texts, as well as in the consideration of hermeneutics (the philosophy of interpretation).

Wisdom and philosophy aren’t Athena’s only areas of interest. She is also the patroness of crafts. Not to worry: this will not become anything resembling Pintrest (although I think she is the patroness of that as well). Her patronage of crafts does include those of homemaking, but it is also the patronage more broadly of technē—skill, technical knowledge of a craft. A master of his or her craft has technē. Athena’s favored technē was weaving, and she is sometimes depicted at the loom. Our reflections here will aim to bring the best of the technē of biblical studies and related fields to bear on our conversations and to weave a variety of strands together into something useful.

Finally, it cannot be ignored that Athena is also the goddess of war. To stand under her formative influence means that sometimes there will be battles. But Athena is not Ares. Ares is the patron of the rage of battle, blood-thirst, will to conquer, and vengeance. Athena is the strategic, tactical side of war: Must we fight? Is our cause just? If so how will we win, and win with honor? Athena does not lose her head. She is self-controlled, knowing that there are heroes and honorable persons on both sides of any battleline.

The next post will explore the second aspect of this blog: standing outside yourself.

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