“ ...how can we follow Paul’s Socratic approach to our own culture ‘full of idols’ (Acts 17:16)?”

"Tertullian once asked, 'What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?' His implied answer: 'Nothing at all.' But most other fathers like Justin Martyr, Augustine, and later Aquinas would answer, 'Much in every way!'" - TGC

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I am not anti-Greek philosophy; there is a lot we can learn about thinking and reasoning.  However, I think, Hermeneutically, it is dangerous to suppose that God prepared the Greek culture like He prepared the Hebrew culture.  Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who offer His salvation to all.  There is a difference, IMO, between the Jewish Jesus and the Greek version of Jesus that later dominated church history.

Paul certainly adapted his presentations and explanations to the gentile (Greek) world, but they were translations or dynamic equivalents, IMO, of the Hebrew belief system and the Jewish Jesus.

Consider Paul himself: a Roman citizen from Tarsus, hanging around the synagogue of the Freedmen, fluent in Greek, on one hand.  Yet he speaks Hebrew fluently, studied in Israel under Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel.  He had a foot in both worlds, but his theology was clearly that of the land of Israel.  It was the high priest who granted him letter, and he was a Pharisee.  He was no Philo, no Josephus. 

Jesus and the original disciples were people from the land of Israel. Paul was anchored to this land as well (as argued above). It is from that vantage point that we best understand Scripture.

This is a very big issue, and greatly influences our hermeneutics. Is our faith indexed to the Hebrew culture or the Greek culture?  Both is not a fair answer, IMO, because it has to be more one than the other.  Neither is not an answer either, because the foundational Biblical events took place primarily somewhere.

IMO, Christianity's greatest mistake down through the years, has been its choice to index our faith to the Greek culture (or sometimes the Greek and Roman).  Christianity may have been introduced to the those cultures, but it is, IMO, clearly a Hebrew export, with Hebrew assumptions.


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