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The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman EmpireMysteries of the Unconquered Sun$
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Roger Beck

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216130

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216130.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 April 2021

Doctrine Redefined

Doctrine Redefined

(p.41) 4 Doctrine Redefined
The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire


Oxford University Press

This chapter redefines ‘doctrine’ in the context of Mithraism. The old scholarly view that something equivalent to creedal propositions can be found in Mithraism is challenged, as is its ancestor, the ancient philosophical view of ‘reason for the wise, symbols for the vulgar’. If Mithraic teaching is to be recovered, it is better sought in the one area where there is agreement between substantial archaeological evidence, the design and structure of mithraea, and substantial evidence from an ancient text, Porphyry's On the Cave of the Nymphs. This combination of evidence lets us know that in the mithraeum, as ‘an image of the universe’, the Mithraists ‘inducted initiates into a mystery of the descent and departure of souls’, i.e. a soul journey into and out of mortal existence.

Keywords:   doctrine, Porphyry, On the Cave, mithraeum, image of universe, soul journey

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