Hellenization In The Mediterranean

Mediterranean Hellenization

The fourth century BC conquests by Alexander the Great in the Middle East started the process of Hellenization throughout the eastern Mediterranean that would last long after formal Greek rule.

Practice of Hellenization

Hellenization is the practice of making the world Greek in terms of culture and thought. Hellenization spread quickly through language, religion, politics, law, theater, education, philosophy, cultural centers, trade, government, and most importantly, through local Greek city-states.


How Jesus Became Christian
Barrie Wilson

Philosophical Schools In Antiquity

Schools as Social Forces

Gathered around great philosophers in antiquity were schools, and schools were about training. Training, in turn, was about putting ideas into practice. Simple dialogue formulas and creative epigrams held the contours of a great teacher’s personality, but most importantly they defined the manner in which the philosophy was a lifestyle.

In antiquity, schools were not buildings but societies. They were social forces that defined the art of presence in the world.


Embracing the Human Jesus: A Wisdom Path for Contemporary Christianity
David Galston

Embracing the Human Jesus

Did Josephus Write History In The Modern Sense?

Writing Style

Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, isn’t writing a history in the modern sense of engaging a critical investigation of events. He is quick to express his biases, to present his opinions as fact, to condemn groups or persons with little or no evidence, and to offer tall tales as history.

Legendary Accounts

Even though Josephus is an important ancient historian, there is a sense in which he doesn’t write history at all. He writes legendary accounts of things, which allows him to present his own personal and political spin without a second thought.

Goal in Writing

Josephus’ goal is to give an account of things in the style of an apology or defense acceptable to those of his social class. It could be said he was more like a modern politician than historian.


Embracing the Human Jesus: A Wisdom Path for Contemporary Christianity
David Galston

Embracing the Human Jesus

Ancient Writing As Apologetics

Ancient Apologetic Writing

Ancient writers almost always wrote as apologists. Their purpose was to defend the integrity of a class or a people.

  • Homer’s Epic Poems
    Homer’s epic poems define and defend the cultural identity of the Greeks.
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
    Virgil’s Aeneid rooted Roman cultural identity in a fabled Greek past, an act that boasted of Roman self-esteem.
  • Plutarch’s Parallel Lives
    The historian Plutarch’s Parallel Lives matches Greek personalities with great Roman ones to show how, in a stretch of his imagination, great heroes hold similar characteristics – especially Greek and Roman heroes.
  • Biblical Deuteronomist
    The Biblical Deuteronomist is the writer who told the story of ancient Israel found in the books from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings. In this history, the writer portrays the Israelite kings Saul and David in all their tragic faults. The presentation is primarily a theological one rather than historical account that defines and shapes a specific interpretation of history. Many archeologists today hold that the Deuteronomist version of history is largely fiction.
  • Early Christian Writings
    Early Christian writings hold similar apologetic and fictional characteristics as the Deuteronomist writings. Though the Christian gospels contain some historical information, the writing is largely designed to defend Christianity. The gospels are not biographies. The writers are not really interested in who Jesus was, which means many questions simply cannot be answered.

Embracing the Human Jesus: A Wisdom Path for Contemporary Christianity
David Galston

Embracing the Human Jesus

What Makes A Classic?

Classics

Qualities of Classics

Classic describes moments when the human mind peaks in its grasp of the true, the good, and the beautiful. There is no canonical agreement of what makes a classic a classic. However, there do seem to be certain qualities without which the term classic would seem a compliment misapplied:

  • Excellence
    The excellence of a classic is such that it seems to enjoy an inexhaustibility of meaning. The opposite of a classic is a period piece, fad, momentary, or provincial thing with glitzy celebrity.
  • Universality
    Classics melt borders geographically and temporally. Classics are as at home today as they were yesterday – and maybe even more so today as new developments make their insights even more relevant and more obviously true.
  • Shock
    Classics jostle how we see the world. Classics are subverse of petty and sectarian orthodoxies and ideologies. In a classic, the might be triumphs over the grip of the status quo.
  • Hope
    Hope follows like a corollary to excellence, universality, and shock. Hope has universal appeal and opens previously unexpected horizons. Hope enlarges our sense of possibility and invites participation.
  • Fruitfulness
    Classics are fruitful in two ways: they spawn other classics, and over time, more is found in them than was even suspected by the original authors. Classics are perennials that rise to new life with each new opportunity. Millennia later their insights may be vindicated as they could not have been when first created. In the presence of a classic, standards rise and thus critical thought is encouraged.

Christianity Without God
Christianity Without God: Moving beyond the Dogmas and Retrieving the Epic Moral Narrative

Daniel C. Maguire