The Aeneid, a poem written before the era of Christ and Christianity, has been argued to be a precursor to the values of Christianity, much as the Old Testament is a precursor to the New Testament. While the Aeneid does not explicitly lay out these values, scholars have interpreted the text otherwise. Some scholars have made claims arguing for the connection between The Aeneid and The New Testament, finding their evidence in other works of literature, especially Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno, one of Alighieri’s three poems about the journey into the Christian afterlife. However, when one looks closely with analytic and skeptical eyes, these connections are not as strong as they might seem. This paper argues that the connections between The Aeneid and Christianity are spurious, and that the evidence put forth in defense of this argument does not establish its existence. The Old Testament is a book of stories and instructions that establishes divine law for the Jewish people. The New Testament also consists of stories, but instead of focusing on establishing a law, it provides a moral guide to get into the kingdom of Heaven. The Aeneid was Virgil’s attempt to create an epic poem that drew elements from Homer’s poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, to increase the glory of Rome through an epic tale. Through the journey of Aeneas, the reader sees how Virgil tells the history of the Roman Empire through hero, grand quests, and supernatural journeys. In the epic, Virgil illustrates how a Roman should behave and what duties they ought to fulfill. Retributive justice becomes a large part of the Aeneid because some individuals are doing what they ought not to and not fulfilling their duties. In fact, the defining factor in my argument is the different concepts of justice in The Aeneid, the New Testament, and the Old Testament. I argue against the claim that the Aeneid was a pre-cursor of the New Testament based on the fact that its constructions of justice are markedly different than those proposed in the New Testament, but point out that they are quite similar to those in the Old Testament. I will show that the Aeneid and the New Testament are at odds in values and principles, and that previous arguments that support the connection between Christianity and The Aeneid use evidence based on adaptations of stories that provide inconclusive information to support a connection. Justice in the Old Testament
One must critically analyze the Old Testament and compare the Old and the New Testament before comparing the New Testament and The Aeneid. The difference I plan to illustrate will be a focal point for comparing the two biblical texts to The Aeneid. It is with justice that the Old and New Testaments are set apart as being different and separate from one another. Therefore, by using some of the examples that other scholars have used to support the connection I will not only refute their evidence, but rethink their track of logic to debunk the argument. Taking this into consideration, the cornerstone of this argument is the value of justice and how it is perceived in the Old Testament.
The value of justice in the Old Testament can be broken down into three terms: sedakah, mishpath, and hesed (Eballo, p.21). He judges and punishes those who go against his laws and sedakah, a Hebrew term meaning, “right relationship” (Eballo, p.15). This “right relationship” is defined in many ways, including the covenant between God and man, and the values and customs of the covenant, and ordered relationships. These ordered relationships refer to “relationship[s] with nature, God’s dealings with humans, […] between David and God, […] the king and the people”, and between people (Eballo, p.16). Another word worth noting is tzedek, meaning “justice […] in the […] relationship between persons of unequal power” (Shoenfeld, p.2). The combination of these two words embodies the value of justice in the Old Testament. Those who act against these values...
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