The more things change . . .

One important phenomenon of the Greco-Roman age was the appearance of the religious and philosophical entrepeneur, sometimes called the divine man, sometimes the sophist or sage. The entrepeneur stepped into the void left vacant by the demise of traditional priestly functions at the ancient temple sites and addressed the confusion, concern, and curiosity of people confronted with a complex world that was felt to be at the mercy of the fates.

And then there were the itinerant teachers who stepped forth to sell their philosophies and advice to anyone in search of guidance. Called sophists by those who sought to discount their teachings, and divine men by those who idealized them, the figure of the lone sage exemplified the individual’s quest for wholeness and self-sufficiency in the midst of a world devoid of social services and supports.

— from The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins by Burton L. Mack


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