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Essentially, Lactantius argues that while there is some truth in the Hellenic theology that the oracle espoused, Hellenic religion is fundamentally in error and Christianity supersedes it. For Lactantius, daemones were fallen, evil angels who did the bidding of Satan. It is certain, however, that the other oracle Lactantius refers to in the text above, wherein Apollo called himself a daemon, was not Apollo’s inadvertent admission of his evil nature. The oracle appears to have used the term daemon as neutral term for “divinity,” because the word did not have an inherently negative connotation among 34 For example, by saying that Apollo left for Delphi, drawn by the pleasantness of Asia, Inst.
42 However, Lactantius’ discussion of God and his angels attempts to appeal to a polytheist audience. Thus, while Lactantius insists that there is only one God, he argues that God is not alone in heaven. 43 Thus, Lactantius suggests that the pagan who prefers a divine world full of supernatural beings would find the Christian cosmos a comfortable place. Through such interpretation, and perhaps manipulation of the oracular text, Lactantius argues for a Hellenic anticipation of Christian beliefs about God and his angeloi.
Erbse, Fragmente griechischer Theosophien herausgegeben und quellenkritisch untersucht, Hamburger Arbeiten zur Altertumswissenschaft IV (1941) 169; and subsequently in H. Erbse, Theosophorum Graecorum Fragmenta (Stutgard: Teubner, 1995) §13, pp. 7–9. On dating the Theosophy, see note 2, above. 11 Ὅτι Θεοφίλου τινὸς /τοὔνοµα τὸν Ἀπόλλωνα ἐρωτήσαντος· “σὺ εἶ θεὸς ἢ /ἄλλος;” Text after Erbse (1995) §13, p. 7. 12 Div. Inst. 7. The oracles in the Theosophy and in Lactantius had been compared prior to Bean’s text by A.