Re: reading the NT from a Greek world view?

From: Jim West (jwest@Highland.Net)
Date: Mon Apr 19 1999 - 11:03:40 EDT

At 09:51 AM 4/19/99 -0400, you wrote:
>In an on-list conversation, Jim West and Carl Conrad discussed similarities
>and differences between Greek thought and Jewish (i.e., Semitic) thought,
>and how those two world-views might differ in their expression in language.
>To my knowledge, the best study of this topic is Martin Hengel's *Judaism
>and Hellenism*, which exhaustively (and I mean *exhaustively*) illustrates
>just how pervasive Hellenistic education and thinking was in the Palestinian
>Judaism of the New Testament era.
>Hengel provides a strong corrective for the mistaken path many in Biblical
>Theology have taken, the overstating of differences between Semitic and
>Greek thought. (And I chose the word "overstating" carefully--there *are*
>significant differences at times, but they are not nearly as pervasive as
>Biblical Theologians once proposed, nor do I think they are as pervasive as
>Dr. West suggests.)

Professor Hengel's work is both brilliant and influential- of that there can
be no doubt. Nevertheless, (and I am no one to disagree with him or anyone
else for that matter), his work is
1) quite dated- new materials and new theories have since been propounded.
2) based on everything but archeological evidence.

There simply is no hard evidence of such widespread Hellenization. In terms
of implications regarding Biblical Greek, I think it is very important to
remember that the writers were Jews. To be sure influenced to some degree
by the world in which they lived- but religious heritage has an overpowering
effect of people- and it would have no more been possible for them to step
outside of their Judaism than for an Alabama dirt farmer to step out of his
Christian environment and write as a Jew.

My suggestion has simply been this all along- those who read the NT should
read it through Jewish spectacles. The picture is much clearer if that is done.



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

fax- 978-231-5986
web page-

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