In The Religious Teachers of Greece, James Adam investigates the religious ideas of ancient Greece and the development of such ideas out of the tensions that existed between those Greek philosophers and poets who were responsible for the religious teachings of those times.
Setting the stage for the entire series, Adam begins his lectures with an introduction to the “feud” between the opposing practices and the influence of each on Greek religious thought. Homer and Hesiod are recognised as developing the “orthodoxy” in the poetical. Homer's works in particular are regarded as encyclopaedic of human knowledge. The lecture also discusses the allegorical method of interpretation, the injustices of philosophy's treatment of poetry and the practical effects of poetical theology on life in those times.
Lectures II and III are devoted entirely to Homer. Among the themes discussed are his anthropomorphism, the dualism inherent in his theology (displayed in the attributes of the gods), the criticism of him as a cause of evil to men, the conception of sin in his work, Homer's psychology, and his views of immortality. Adam also discusses something of the Homer's vision for the future and the Homeric way of life (“the Noble man”). Lecture IV discusses Hesiod's poetry and its religious influence, before an examination of Orphism in Lecture V. Lecture VI is devoted entirely to the poet Pindar, which ultimately recounts his debt to Orphism. The connection to religion of Greek tragedy is discussed in Lecture VII with a discussion of Aeschylus, who is further contrasted with Sophocles, whose work is addressed in Lecture VIII. Thales and Xenophanes are the topic of Lecture IX and Heraclitus and his highly influential doctrine of Logos make up the content of the next two lectures (X and XI). In Lecture XII the tradition from Parmenides to Anaxagoras is discussed, with attention paid to Parmenides concept of Being and the tension between Heraclitean and Parmenidean points of view. The Lecture also discusses Anaxagoras's doctrine of Nous and the question of its potential as Deity.
The Sophists make up the content of discussions in Lecture XIII with the poetical work of Euripides discussed in lectures XIV and XV. Euripides was seen as the poetical exponent of the Age of Enlightenment and his iconoclasm against the gods of Greece perhaps shows signs of a monotheistic theology. Lectures XVI and XVII are devoted to Socrates where it is widely recognised that a new chapter in Greek thought begins. The final five lectures (XVIII – XXII) are focused entirely on Plato. His relation to Socrates and his Cosmological Doctrine are discussed in Lecture XVIII, whilst lecture XIX turns to the aspects of his philosophical writings which tend toward asceticism and mysticism. Plato's anthropology is compared with that of St. Paul, and some connections between Platonic and Christian mysticism are drawn. In Lecture XX Plato's theory of education is explored, before, in the final lectures (XXI and XXII) Adam takes up Plato's Theory of Ideas. Adam makes several connections between Platonic doctrines and doctrines in Christianity and ultimately discusses Plato's dialectic (as an ideal) and his conceptions of immortality and the soul.