Q & R: Greco Roman Influence?
Here's the Q:
Your books are marvelous. Right now I'm reading A New Kind of Christianity, and it has sparked my interest in the Greco-Roman influence on what we believe today.
Could you provide a "simple" explanation of what actually has been the basis for our current interpretation of the Bible. I've looked into some of the history but haven't found anything that seems concrete enough for me to say "okay, here it is."
Many, many thanks for the manner in which you have used the brain God gave you. It has benefited many greatly.
Here's the R:
I think you'll find more on the "Greco" part of the equation as you continue reading A New Kind of Christianity. And you'll find more on the "Roman" part of the equation in Everything Must Change.
To really shrink it down, here's what I'd say:
1. Certain strains of Greek philosophy privilege concepts over material, thinking over action, stasis over change (or being over becoming), and perfection (which is sterile and static) over goodness (which is fertile and dynamic). This in turn privileges "the philosophers" as an elite group - because they understand the conceptual, the ideal, the static and perfect. Since the world is now divided into two's - ideals/ideas and matter, thinking and action, philosophers and common people - we'll call this a dualistic mind.
2. Roman politics takes this dualism a step further. It divides the world into "the Roman Empire" - or "US" - and the barbarians or "THEM."
3. This us-them mentality typically justifies unlimited violence in the defense of us and the domination or expulsion of them.
When you read the Bible with this kind of dualistic mind, it frames your understanding. It reshapes your assumptions about what words like "salvation" and "chosen" and "gospel" mean. It reshapes your view of God. It makes the Biblical narrative much less Jewish and much more ... Greco-Roman. And it sets you in opposition to anyone who doesn't read it as you do. I hope that helps a bit!