By Arthur Darby Nock
Initially released in 1933, Conversion is a seminal research of the psychology and conditions of conversion from approximately 500 B.C.E. to approximately four hundred A.D. A.D. Nock not just discusses early Christianity and its converts, but in addition examines non-Christian religions and philosophy, the capacity through which they attracted adherents, and the standards influencing and restricting their good fortune. Christianity succeeded, he argues, partially since it bought and tailored these components of different philosophies and religions that had a well-liked appeal.
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Extra resources for Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (Brown Classics in Judaica)
There it is due to particular circumstances; according to. the story he had by Isis been delivered from the shape of an ass, into which he had passed as a result of incautious experiments in magic. Her cult was not new to him; he had prayed to her for the mercy which was thus vouchsafed, but after it his special attachment to her worship assumed a character of deep emotion prompted by gratitude and became a surrender of self with an accompanying element of moral reformation. The writer of the tale, Apuleius, probably felt some such devotion and like others to The Idea of Conversion whom we shall come wrote to glorify Isis.
But there was no permanent feeling of superiority. The Greek point of view comes out very well in a legend inscribed in the temple of Athena at Lindos on Rhodes. When the Persian Datis was besieging Lindos in 490 the inhabitants came near the end of their supplies of water. Athena appeared in a dream to one of the magistrates and bade him to be of good cheer, for she would ask Zeus for water. The inhabitants asked for an armistice of five days, the period which their resources would last. Datis laughed and gave it, and the next day abundant rain fell on the acropolis, and the Lindians had enough while the Persians came to be in need.
They remind us of the burial-place for Bacchic initiates. Further, we have a book of Orphic hymns which refers to the officers of a sodality. It is almost before Alexander the Great 3I certainly Imperial in date and may be a purely literary product of the Pythagorean revival, or again (since the terms of membership are Dionysiac, and Dionysiac cult-societies flourished then) it may well belong to a Dionysiac society which has appropriated Orphic ideas and phrases: it is notably un-Orphic in its thought, which shows no trace of otherworldliness.