On Hebrew and Christian Scripture Hellenistic Influence
Hellenistic Era • dates about from the death of Alexander 323 BCE for about 500 years to the early centuries CE • overlapped Roman expansion
Jewish and Christian literature • During this period, the last books of the Hebrew Bible were written, along with the entire New Testament, and a large body of noncanonical Jewish and Christian literature
Pre-existing ideas influence Christian scripture • Greek-speaking converts interpreted Jesus’ significance in parallel ways to some pre-existing Greek ideas and traditions
koinē • Greek, the common international language of the era • Hebrew Bible translated into koinēin 250 BCE
Septuagint • Greek edition of the Hebrew Bible used by Diaspora Jews and by early Christian movement • The New Testament was produced in koinē(Greek)
Philosophy • “philosophy” means ‘love of wisdom’ • New Testament writers combine Jewish heritage + Greek philosophical concepts
Socrates • Athens, circa 469-399 BCE • regarded human life as an ongoing quest for truth, a pilgrimage toward the unseen world of eternal spirit
parallels with Jesus • Using humor, Socrates cross examined artisans, teachers, and politicians, irritating many • He had some devoted followers • He was executed • for criticizing the ethical inadequacy of his opponents’ policies and practices • Neither left anything in writing; message depended on disciples
Plato, disciple of Socrates • circa 427-347 BCE, made his teacher the hero of a series of philosophical dialogues in which a saintly and humorous Socrates always out-argues and outwits his opponents • Separating Plato’s ideas from those of Socrates is difficult; (same with Jesus, and what his disciples wrote)
Dualism • For Plato, the duality of the physical, imperfect world and a perfect world of eternal ideas
Stoicism • emphasizes the order and moral purpose of the universe. • Reason is the divine principle that gives coherence and meaning to our complex world.
Paul as example of stoicism • Stoic teaching urges the individual to listen to the divine element within, to discipline both body and mind to attain a state of harmony with nature and the universe. . . . • noble indifference to both pleasure and pain. . . .endure personal gain or loss with equal serenity . . .
PaulechosStoic values • Paul’s self discipline and ability to endure want or plenty, echo Stoic values commonplace in Greco-Roman society • “I have learned the secret of being content in any situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13)
Logos • means ‘word’, • A cosmic intelligence that unifies the world and makes it intelligible to the human intellect. • Human souls are sparks of the divine Logos.
Jesus as logos • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . .” John 1:1,14
Epicureanism • Asserts that everything is completely physical, including the soul, which after death dissolves into nothingness; • gods may exist, but have no contact or interest in humanity