Rise of mystery cults:
Great Mother -- from Cybele, Attis story: vegetation cycle. Further includes baptism. (2)
Mithra (dualistic) -- includes great festival on Dec. 25, "the day of the sun's nativity," rebirth after winter solstice.
Initial antagonism between Rome and the cults shifts to great receptiveness after the death of Marcus Aurelius (180 C.E.) when the empire is ruled by a string of weak and incompetent rulers.
"At the end of the century [200's] another line of strong rulers appeared, but by this time the Empire had lost its vitality, the countryside had been laid waste, commerce had been disrupted, cities had been deserted." (5)
--> despotism, corresponding sense of helplessness on the part of the individual, now utterly dependent on the "Dominus," the new-styled emporer who further served as "the model and symbol for a still greater god who held the whole universe in his hand and whose commands were imperial edicts requiring instant obedience." (6)
(Jones mentions in this context the desire for certainty apparent in the rise of the mystery cults -- a desire he further sees at work in Neoplatonism; but we have also seen this in some measure in the post-Aristotelian schools.)
Contrast: classical philosophy is interested in man's relation to other men and to nature; neoplatonism is interested in man's relation to "the other world." Jones further distinguishes here between the ethical thrust of Plato and Aristotle, and even the Stoics -- vs. the religious thrust of Neoplatonism.
"The Coming of Christianity"
To complement Jones here, discuss the Jewish background of Prophetic and Apocalyptic views.
Emphasize here Jesus' prophetic dimension,
--> including expectation of the eschaton, (the end-time)
--> importance of "interim" ethics
Not quite "otherworldly" as Jones would put it: the kingdom of God will come on earth.
(--> importance of individual experience vs. growing institutionalization)
Manicheanism²(and additional notes on Augustine)