Monday, October 20, 2008

Pre 1 AD - 37 AD: The Hellenist

One problem in religion is a belief that you have an exclusive claim on God. Religious faithful often believe that outsiders do not share the access they share with God. People in religion tend to think that their is a zero sum game with God. These people fear that if God inherits others than there will be no room for us at the table. Often outsiders are pushed out beyond the entrance to the temple. This was a question that boiled between the Hellenist Jews and the Israelite in the growing pains of Early Christian Church.

Christianity would have taken a different shape had their not been the divine providence to disperse Jews through out the Mediterranean World. These Jews were different than the ones who stayed in Jerusalem. Hellenistic Jews were more likely to think Globally due to their dealings in North Africa, Greece, Rome, and parts of Asia. Hellenistic Jews were more inclusive then their brethren in Jerusalem.

Another issue that separated the Hellenistic Jews from the Israelite Jews was language. Hellenist were more likely to speak Greek.
Israelites held firm to the sacredness of their language.

Saul of Taurus/Paul was influenced by this Hellenistic global reality. In Acts 21:27-22:2 Saul almost sat off a riot. The Israelites were angered due to their thinking that Saul was a turncoat who was walking with a known Greek thinker. The people feared that Saul would pollute the temple by bringing a non believer, a non Hebrew speaker, into the shrine. The Israelite were stonewalled in their views. They desired a holy pureness from any influence of OTHERS.

Acts 21:27-22:2
from the Message
Some Jews:
Help! You Israelite! This is the man who is going all over the world telling lies against us and our religion and this place. He's even brought Greeks in her and defiled the Holy Place."

Standing on the barracks steps, Paul turned and held his arms up. A hush fell over the crowd as Paul began to speak. He spoke in Hebrew.

"My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me. " When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.

Written while listening to the Podcast:
APM Sound Opinions
Books Referenced:
Bruce F.F. New Testament History. Garden City, York: Anchor Books, 1972.
Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982.
Latourette, Kenneth Scott Christianity Through the Ages: New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1965.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Colorado Springs Colorado: Navpress, 1993.

Prayer: YHVH you are most knowledgeable. Your knowledge goes beyond language, color, place and human culture. Your truth stands forever-lasting. Your Truth will be there even when we are not. I have plenty of prejudices which hinder me from being a light in the wilderness. Thank you LORD for loving me despite my ugly prejudices. Thank you for sending your spirit to guide me through the wilderness of mass information. I ask that you keep my arrogance from feeling superior to the Israelite, for we all have prejudices. I ask that you help me listen to others without the need to jump to conclusions. I ask that you help me slow down and truly listen to my brothers and sisters of all whom I am or am not found of. In your name we pray. Amen.

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