Monday, October 2, 2017

Stoicism, Platonism, and the Jewishness of Early Christianity

From Oxford University Press-

The last few decades have taught us that speaking of Stoicism, Platonism, and Judaism as constituting a single context for understanding Early Christianity is not a contradiction (Stoicism and Platonism here; Judaism there), but rather entirely correct. The roots of Christianity are obviously Jewish, but in the Hellenistic and Roman periods Judaism itself was part of Greco-Roman culture, even though it, too, had its roots way back in history before the arrival of the Greeks. Thus the borderline between Judaism and the Greco-Roman world that has been assiduously policed by theologians speaking of Early Christianity has been erased. Similarly, the borderline between Greco-Roman ‘philosophy’ and Jewish and early Christian ‘religion’ has been transgressed. Hellenistic Jewish writers like the author of the Wisdom of Solomon (around 30 BCE) and Philo of Alexandria (ca. 30 BCE-45 CE) unmistakably drew quite heavily on both Platonism and Stoicism to express their Jewish message. 

The same has been argued––with special emphasis on Stoicism––by the present writer for the Apostle Paul and (most recently) the Gospel of John. And the Platonic colouring of another New Testament text, the Letter to the Hebrews, has been known for a long time. Thus Early Christianity no longer stands in opposition to Greco-Roman ‘philosophy.’ On the contrary, they belong in the same pool, at the same time as Early Christianity also retains its Jewish roots.

More here-

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