History of Greek Influence
Plato (428-348): His University became the model of the modern University.
- To the Greek world, “Truth” is understood as “justified true belief”
- The everyday world of particulars is always in a state of flux.
- Inferences regarding its objects are really opinions based on sensations.
- If there's truth about the physical world, that world exists, then it is the truth about the ideal world, which also exists. This led to a dualism in both nature and in man -- there is the real and the ideal; the "is" and the "ought,"
Aristotle (384-322 BC): He ‘redirected” the thinking of Plato teaching the forms and ideas are not found in some abstract realm but in the particulars things themselves.
- By “abstracting” from the particulars (ideas) you form a general understanding of the thing’s nature
- The mind understood things in terms of their (static) generalized essences.
• This increased the use of Logic
Aristotle created systems of logical argument. He taught that truth was discovered by systematic arguments based on "premise to conclusion" concepts. You first begin with a premise and then set down a system of steps to come to an ultimate conclusion.
• Problem #1 - It still relied on human reasoning which was limited by human experience
• Problem #2 - The block logic of Hebrew was considerably different than this type of thinking, and it was Hebrew logic that the Scriptures were written in
He was the teacher to Alexander the Great, who spread this thinking over the then known world
Alexander’s strategy was for Greece to dominate the world by conforming the world to Greek thinking. This could only be accomplished by language
He knew that if you change people's language, you change their whole view of life.
• Language shapes, molds, and defines a culture
• Hate can turn into loyalty if you can change the meaning and purpose of words and traditions
• Fate was responsible for everything that happened, denying “Free Will”
He educated his future leaders in Greek letters and weaponry and established schools throughout his conquered regions.
He organized traditional Greek festivals to honor the gods in the most lavish fashion and trained his successors in the Greek language
He taught that the deities made their wishes known through natural phenomena, through omens and oracles, which were interpreted through great speakers in the theaters and arenas. This is why Paul and Barnabas were called Jupiter (Zeus) and Mercury (Hermes). These were the Roman names for the Greek gods.
Although Rome conquered Greece, they took upon the same system of philosophy, only the names were changed. Consider this: Most of the western thought -- including ideas about language and logic, natural science, mathematics, ethics, jurisprudence, politics, aesthetics, and theology, draws from this tradition. Much has been subconsciously adopted into the educational technologies of the west for thousands of years.
POINT: Since the early Roman church was led by orators and others schooled in classical Greek thought (i.e., Hellenism), many of the basic assumptions of the Greeks were implicitly integrated into the earliest forms of Christian theology.
Two of the greatest theologians of the Christian world - Augustine and Thomas Aquinas - attempting to synthesize Greek philosophy with the Scriptures
• Augustine followed Plato
• Aquinas followed Aristotle
The Hebrew Mindset
It is not concerned with these abstract ideas of the ancient Greeks. WHY? It was because of the direct revelation of YHVH, reality was regarded in terms of divine encounter, dialog, antinomy, paradox, and mystery
Hebrew thinking is more dynamic, more poetic, more dramatic, more based on appearances, and more impassioned than that of the ancient Greeks. They do not ask "What is time?" To the Hebrew mind, time is rooted in historical experiences such as the Exodus from Egypt and other "appointed events" (moedim).
Time is linked not so much to chronology as it is to spiritual significance.
Time in Greek and Hebrew
Time in Greek is a substance, medium or "dimension,“
Time in Hebrew is when the events are the focus, not the supposed bedrock for these events.
Since the Hebrews dealt with the Divine revelation that was eventually committed to writing (i.e., the Torah), hermeneutics and interpretation became important in their overall perspective.
The study of narrative, the layered sense of meanings, the focus on action (rather than static), the application of Divine law to particular cases, etc., were the result of interpreting the divine within everyday life.
Jewish Theology has been conditioned by debate, discussion, and dialog -- all within a shared sense of communal tradition. To the Hebrew mind, the reality is the handiwork of a single all-knowing, all-powerful, and Supreme Creator who has personally revealed Himself to key individuals in human history.
Reality is intensely, overwhelmingly, and personal... Truth, therefore, is a matter of trust, not abstract knowledge –
“Knowledge" is primarily about practical ethics, moral obligation, and cult practices (i.e., Temple worship). Truth is more connected to moral fidelity than it is to a propositional correspondence. It is a matter of the heart than of the head.
From its earliest days in Rome, the Greek mindset has been hugely influential in shaping the vision of the "church" -- its structure, mission, "theology," and its ways of doing business.
The role of the earliest "church fathers" and apologists is a study of Greek oratory and dialectic.
Though the "Reformation" of the church in the 16th century tried to restore a primitive Christian expression, it failed because it went back to ancient Greek humanism rather than to the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. This produced the Sabbath still remaining on Sunday, and the Council of Trent, from 1545 to 1563.
The ideal of Zion as a real, physical future continued to be allegorized, just as the Church continued to mistakenly regard itself as "Israel." The greatest exegetical fallacy was the respect of absolutist forms of theology -- a Greek legacy that comes more from the Academy of Plato than it does from Moses...
This is the hub of "Greek philosophical theology" and explains why the various disagreements among Christian "denominations" still persist to this day. Hellenization affected the Jews as much as other people groups
Example: Hellenistic Judaism sought to syncretize Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition with the culture and language of the Greeks.
The major literary product of the contact of Judaism and Hellenistic culture was the Septuagint (LXX). The Jewish theologian Philo of Alexandria (c. 50 BCE) attempted to synthesize Plato with Moses. Maimonides (1135-1204) later attempted to synthesize Aristotle with traditional Jewish dogma.
When Pilate asked, "What is truth?" Yeshua replied with silence. Yeshua did not come to speculate like Socrates and to dialog about abstractions... He came to reveal the Face of God. But, when Yeshua spoke to His disciples - just before his impending death as the Passover Lamb of God - he said, "I am the way, the truth, the life..."
He did not mean this in the Greek sense, since that would have been absurd, but he presupposed a Jewish mindset regarding His identity and the salvation purposes of God (i.e., Zion).
The way to God is the way of faith... Since truth is based on faithfulness, trusting in Yeshua's sacrificial death is the only way to God -- He (alone) is our intercessor, High Priest, Mediator, and Savior. Yeshua is derech ha-chaim - the way of life
The truth of God is revealed in the Person and sacrifice of Yeshua. The sacrifice of the Messiah is the truth of God --- it perfectly reveals both God's love and justice, His faithfulness, and holiness.
The execution stake demonstrates the truth of our depravity and our need for salvation "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" = the Word of the LORD is truth incarnate. The truth he embodied was God's passionate love for us.
Yeshua is the life - He is both the one who sustains all things and mediates all things through His infinite glory. For those who trust in him, he offers abundant life, eternal life, inexpressible joy, unsurpassed peace, love that passes understanding, and a glorious future in the world to come.
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach the Messiah crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, the Messiah the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:20-24)