Week 3: Early christianity and the hellenistic world Flashcards
what was the impact of Alexander the greats military campaigns in 4 century BC?
expansion of greek cultural and political influence in the eastern Mediterranean region
who was Alexander the Great tutored by?
how old was Alexander when he became king?
who was alexanders father?
Phillip of macedon
who were alexanders military campaigns against?
what did the military campaigns against the Persian empire achieve?
brought vast areas of territory from Egypt to India under Macedonian control
where was Alexander buried?
what does the phase ‘hellenistic world’ refer to?
new political and socia order which was a result of Alexanders conquests especially in Egypt and Levent
what is the purpose of this section?
investigate how christianity began to engage with greek ideas, literature and cultural norms which bore no relation to their Palestinian roots
one of the most important outcomes of Judaism engagement with the hellenistic world
the translation of the Hebrew Bible into greek
when did the process of translating the Hebrew Bible start?
three centuries before christ
what is the ‘septuagint’?
the translation of the Hebrew bible, produced by seventy scholars
who was Philo and what did he attempt to do?
Jewish writer in Alexandria in the early years of the first century, attempted to synthesise jewish religious and greek philosophical thought.
what was Philo’s strategy?
using an allegorical reading of the Hebrew Bible to appeal to the Platonic notion of the logos
what does Philo’s doctrine of creation strongly resemble?
Plato in his dialogue Timaeus
what did Philo refuse to accept?
Greek ideas which were incompatible with judaism e.g. Aristotles ideas about eternity and indestructibility
explain Philo’s approach to biblical interpretation.
allegorical, appealing to deeper meanings beneath the literal and historical senses of the passages
why did Philo read genesis allegorically?
as a way of bridging the gap between divine revelation and Platonic philosophy
does Philo want to abolish the historical and literal meaning of the text?
no he just wants to add deeper meanings to them which are closer to the secular concept of wisdom
who were Philo’s ideas developed by?
Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) and Origen (184-253)
where did christianity expand to?
the greek speaking cities of Alexandria and Antioch
who raised influential discussions about the expansion of christianity from its original Jewish context to the Greek- speaking cities Egypt and Asia and how led to progressive Hellenisation of Christianity?
Adolf von Barnack (1851-1930)
how does Harnack highlight the hellenisation of christianity and the subsequent changes
through the metaphysical theological views about God and Christ- such as the doctrine of the trinity
what does Harnack refer to ideas such as the trinity as ?
‘work of the greek spirit on the soil of the gospel’
what was the effect of christianity becoming more focused on metaphysics?
they became more distant from the historical Jesus of Nazareth
criticism of Harnack?
he overstates the case for ‘hellenisation’
defence of Harnack
it is difficult to see how christianity could have avoided being influenced by a variety of cultural and philosophical sources
what greek judgement did Cristian scholars accept, and what problems has it caused?
that God was perfect.
greek speaking philosopher raised questions such as, can god suffer? how can a perfect being suffer?
what other movement shaped the hellenistic world aside from intellect and philosophy?
how is gnosticism best understood?
a family od religious doctrines and myths that flourished in late classical antiquity with three shared beliefs
what are the three shared beliefs of gnosticism?
1) the cosmos is a result of an evil/ ignorant creator ‘demiurge’
2) humanity is trapped within its physical realm
3) salvation is a process in which believers receive the knowledge of their divine origin allowing them to break Bree from their imprisonment on earth.
where is the idea of the demiurge found?
the idea of an inferior god is found in Classical Greek philosophy and plays a big role in Plato’s dialogue ‘Timaeus’.
Gnostic belief about creation
the demiurge created the world without the knowledge of the ‘true God’ and thought he was the only God. because he is evil, so was his creation.
common gnostic though about the human body
the human body was a prison for spirit and was actively seeking liberation
(gnosticism) was the human body created by the demiurge?
yes but it still contains divine spirit which had the potential to establish a connection with the highest God