Another Tale Of Two Cities -- By: David R. Anderson
JOTGES 18:35 (Autumn 2005) p. 51
Another Tale Of Two Cities
Faith Community Church
The Woodlands, Texas
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The best of times in Athens, but the worst of times in Jerusalem. Alexander the Great found no more worlds to conquer, but when his four generals split up his kingdom, the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolemys in Egypt used Palestine as their football field in their effort to control the Mediterranean world. The Golden Age of philosophy had flourished in Athens for over two hundred years when (167 BC) Antiochus Epiphanes stormed into Jerusalem and committed the original abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Dan 8:11–14). Even in the Babylonian deportations Nebuchadnezzar had not so desecrated the holy temple of the Jews. Yes, it was the best of times in Athens, but the worst of times in Jerusalem.
The dream of Alexander the Great, who had studied at the foot of Aristotle for three years, was to “hellenize” the known world. He was so convinced of the superiority of Greek philosophical thinking that he carried copies of The Odyssey and The Iliad with him as he swept over the Medo-Persian Empire faster than a hawk dive-bombing a field mouse. He wanted each of his conquered countries to experience the wisdom of Athens. Greek became the lingua franca of his realm. East met West, and the resulting union was a marriage that has had more impact on Western Civilization than Newton’s discovery of the laws of motion. What we are talking about is the ripple effect of two thinkers from Athens as their philosophies landed in the sea of Judaeo-Christian thought like two meteors into the Mediterranean. Those thinkers were Plato and Aristotle.
Ralph Stob, a Christian philosopher, has observed: “This element of the Greek spirit had great influence on. .. the Christian movement in the first three centuries. At the same time it was the factor which was
JOTGES 18:35 (Autumn 2005) p. 52
operative at the bottom of some of the heresies which arose.”1 Or as Marvin Wilson puts it, “Westerners have often found themselves in the confusing situation of trying to understand a Jewish Book through the eyes of Greek culture.”2 Dom Gregory Dix goes so far as to say that the miscegenation of early Christianity with Greek philosophy has led to a “spiritual schizophrenia in the process.”3
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