Re: (To Carl) Two routes to the passive voice

From: Jim West (
Date: Sat Apr 17 1999 - 13:03:11 EDT

At 11:16 AM 4/17/99 -0600, you wrote:
>Jim West writes:
>>This would be true except for one major problem: the writers of the NT are,
>>so far as we know it, Jews (except of course "Luke").
>We don't really *know* very much, do we?

In Kantian terms, we only know the moral imperative. But since this isn't
the Kant forum, I will not delve into epistemology.

>Greek thought was even more pervasive than Greek language, "conquering"
>as it did the entire Western world, and lately, the Eastern. And, the
>of Greek ideas into Jewish philosophy and theology is well documented. The
>notion that Christianity was immune to syncretism instead of being the
>product of it is an ancient Church predjudice and untenable.

Really? How do you know this? What persuades you that the NT was more
influenced by Greek than Hebrew thought? I realize that panhellenism is
still in vogue, but there really is precious little evidence that it made
the inroads that are often claimed for it. In fact, what we really have is
one or two sources which are then parroted by everyone so that a multitude
of voices are seen as independent witnesses when they are really only a
singular voice.

>What doesn't hold water is the notion that a subculture can avoid absorbing
>ideas from the dominant culture--something which Judaism has done
>throughout its history, as has any ancient philosophy which survives.

So which was the dominant culture? Hellenism? If so, why did Alexander
adopt many Near eastern practices??? Show us some hard evidence of Greek
influence in Palestine among the village folk in the first century ce.
Theater? In Sepphoris and Ceasarea- but in Nazareth and Magdala? Show the
influence on Jesus of Hellensitic religion or philosophy. Demonstrate
archaeologically that the peasants and fishermen and carpenters of the
galilee were influenced by Homer or Plato.

In short, what we frequently have claimed for hellenism is indemonstrable.
What we do have is art, pottery, architecture, and religious documents that
are wholly Jewish. And still, in spite of this, we are informed that
Hellenism was everywhere and everyone (virtually, or so it is implied) was a
Stoic philosopher wandering galilees hills.

But I digress. I still suggest that the best way to read the NT is to read
it as a collection of Jewish documents which happen to have been written (or
maybe here we should say preserved) in Greek. Greek language documents no
more indicate greek influence than english language documents found in
Alabama indicate British culture.



Jim West, ThD
Petros Baptist Church- Pastor
Quartz Hill School of Theology- Adjunct Prof. of Bible

fax- 978-231-5986
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