Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

The Treatment of Knowledge in Genesis and Oedipus College

The differing treatments of knowledge in the early stages of the Book of Genesis and in the tragedy Oedipus Rex reveal a fundamental difference in the representative traditions of Hebraism and Hellenism. Hebraic obedience to divine authority is the ‘true and righteous human way’ (Kass 68) while autonomous knowledge pursued outside divine prohibition is ‘deeply questionable and the likely source of all… unhappiness’ (Kass 64). In contrast, Oedipus’ pursuit of knowledge results in the tragic realization of his origins and self-punishment. However, Oedipus exhibits greatness ‘in virtue of his inner strength: strength to pursue the truth at whatever the personal cost, and strength to accept and endure it when found’ (Dodds 28), thus exemplifying the Hellenistic ardor for knowledge. In this paper, I will argue that while knowledge is indeed dangerous and may be harmful to the truth seeker himself, the pursuit of knowledge is justified if we can fully embrace the consequences of the knowledge. ‘Hellenism may thus actually serve the needs of Hebraism’ (Arnold 158) with regard to the virtue of the knowledge pursued, in so far that as is combined with Hebraic discretion and good judgement.

In Genesis 2, Hebraic obedience to divine...

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