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George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 06 Feb 2006 :  20:38:06  

 

Maybe I misunderstood your point; if this is the case please correct me, but I think that you say about St. John that he personified the (otherwise impersonal) word-creative power-rational force, etc. of God. Do you mean, then, that John didn’t believe in Christ’s deity? That is, he didn’t really believe in the eternal Trinity, where Father, Son and Spirit are three persons and not one person with two or more powers?

I also believe that you follow a dangerous path when you speak about Paul “accepting the idea of the divine son of God”, when it is known that he did not accepted ‘ideas’, but he received a personal revelation of Christ himself. This apocalyptic experience is to be found in general in the teaching of Paul, rather than the intermediary ‘expiation for men’s sins’.

Finally, I don’t understand you when you speak about ‘something Greek’ added to a primarily judaic christianity, when christianity was exactly a deviation from judaism and started in the Greek language and through the Greeks was spread over the roman empire. Maybe your thinking here is too racial, that is underestimating the importance of (e.g.) language.

It is known that ancient christianity was Greek-speaking even in Palestine, and then, even in Rome, from the first 15 popes the 12 have Greek names. Until the 3rd century the language of the Roman liturgy was Greek. Most of the Christians in Rome were Greeks and their worship and teaching was made in the Greek language. This is why Romans didn’t distinguish between Christians and Greeks. If you think of a crucial question, maybe things will become more clear: had not the Greeks believed in Christ, would Christianity exist today - for any people, in any form?

This is what most admirers of (exclusively) the ancient Greeks fail to understand, that it was the Greeks themselves that decided to abandon their previous religions and accept Christianity, an abandonment for which their Roman persecutors accused them: ‘they abandoned the faith of their ancestors’, they were saying about the Christians, who were mostly Greek.

Constantelos reminds that “soon after its inception, Christianity was promulgated in the Greek-speaking world of the Roman Empire. It was propagated through the medium of the Greek language; it was interpreted and clarified by the Fathers of Christianity, who were either Greek in origin or Hellenized and who spoke and wrote in Greek. Christian creeds and canons were written and codified in the Greek language by local and ecumenical synods as well. The New Testament books themselves and much of the important literature of the Christian religion of the first ten centuries were written in Greek. Greek philosophical thought and learning were utilized in defining Christian doctrines. Even Western Church Fathers such as Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine, who wrote in the Latin language, reveal the influence of Greek thought in their writings.

“Following three centuries of underground existence and persecution in the Roman Empire, it was again the Greek Church, the Greek language, and Greek missionaries that carried the Christian message in both the East and the West. The Latin element emerged as a major factor in the history of Christianity only in the West and as late as the fifth century. It is significant that Saint Paul, writing to the Church of Rome, did not use Latin but Greek. The early Church in Rome was Greek-speaking, and the Church in the West was an extension of the Church in the East. The leading Roman Catholic theologian Tomas Spidlik, a member of the Society of Jesus, is quite right when he writes: "We must stress one principle and stress it hard, that the Latin Church originated from the Greek Church as a branch grows from a tree trunk. The Church was implanted by the Greeks and expressed itself in the Greek language until the end of the fourth century."

“Christianity is Greek not only in form but to great degree in content as well. As we have seen, Greek religious and philosophical thought had penetrated into the mind and thought of later Judaism and Greek thought had thoroughly imbued the whole of the Roman Empire. The fusion of Greek classical and religious material was present not only in theological and philosophical writing but also in mystical and spiritual. Christian thinkers were in constant dialogue with ancient Greek thought and religious experience. Hellenization affected every aspect of early Christianity including worship.

“For several centuries the worship of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire including the Latin speaking West was in Greek. Writing about the Roman Liturgy, C.E. Hammond, a renown liturgiologist of the last century adds: "it is, we believe, acknowledged on all sides [history, archeology, literature and criticism] that the language of the early Roman Church, i.e. of the first three centuries, was Greek." In full agreement he cites his contemporary ecclesiastical historian Henry Hart Milman who writes: "For some considerable (it cannot but be an undefinable) part of three first centuries, the Church of Rome, and most, if not all the Churches of the West, were, if we may so speak, Greek religious colonies. Their language was Greek, their organization Greek, their writers Greek, their scriptures Greek; and many vestiges and traditions show that their ritual, their Liturgy, was Greek."

Cf. Demetrios Constantelos, Greek Orthodoxy - From Apostolic Times to the Present Day.

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Amedeo

USA
23 Posts

Posted - 07 Feb 2006 :  20:28:26  

 

George, you wrote,

"Maybe I misunderstood your point; if this is the case please correct me, but I think that you say about St. John that he personified the (otherwise impersonal) word-creative power-rational force, etc. of God. Do you mean, then, that John didn’t believe in Christ’s deity? That is, he didn’t really believe in the eternal Trinity, where Father, Son and Spirit are three persons and not one person with two or more powers?"

REPLY:
I have a "compact" way of writing... which can easily create confusion. So, this is what I meant: John of Ephesus knew the teachings of the biography (life and works) of Jesus of Nazareth. His own account of Jesus [the Gospel] includes some infomation which is not found in the synoptic Gospels. (There are other accounts, which are considered apocryphal.) So, for example, he knew of God's voice when Jesus was baptized. He knew of the annunciation to Mary and that His son was to be called Immanuel. (I say His son rather than His and Her son, because, since agricultural times -- after which the Bible was written -- it is a MALE that begets, since the seed fully contains what is to develop. We must put the Old and the New Scriptures in the proper conceptual framework. The Age of Gea or of Demeter had ended; the male gods are the ones who do the generating.)

The son announced to Mary would be simply God's son; it was NOT God that became man or was incarnated. For various reasons, we could say and John believed that Jesus was divine.

At the same time, John knew of Heraclitus's philosophy, and of the Heraclitean logos. This logos is not exactly the order or rationality that exists in the world, for the world is like a river; it is the cosmic Flux. So, the logos of the Flux is the Flux's own "rational" power or force that keeps on yielding an ordely or non-choatic world. (The cosmos is self-determining). Now, what I said earlier is that John actually personifies or anthropomorphizes the Heraclitean logos. (And this is a "myth-making" procedure which was typical of the ancients: they were aware of great and perennial powers around them and they started coinceiving them as persons. They are the gods we read in the literature of all ancient peoples.)

John's next thinking step: He identified the personified (divine) Heraclitean logos with the WORD which a God of the Old Testament employed. (He said, "Light!" and light was.) Notice that, of course, the Elohim who created the world by words were anthropomorphic in nature. They spoke just as humans speak, only that their word made things exist. They were even male and female: "Let's make man in our own image, .... one male and one female." (And I don't read the Bible according to Philo's allegorizing theory. The ancient gods WERE super-humans and nothing else. Don't think for a moment that the Elohim were radically different from Zeus and Hera, just because you do not live at a time when some humans believed in the latter.)

I suggested that Philo's writings may have been the occasion for John to make that identification: The Biblical WORD of God is powerful or creative. This word has an individuality of its own (is a person) for John; it is the personified Heraclitean Logos that shapes the course of the Flux. [The progressions of the Flux are in effect the Stoic laws of nature: what necessarily or rationally must occur.] The divine, personal, Word or Logos is the CAUSE of the WAYS things are: Whatever the Creator makes be is made to be through the Logos, wherefore there are many TYPES of things (as Genesis enumerates them).

And now John completes the theological synthesis [the work of his mind}: The divine person whose name is "creation Word"/"cosmic Logos" was inhumanized at a point of time. So, Jesus of Nazareth is both human and divine. His humanity was on earth for a few years; his divinity (consisting of the Word/Logos person) had been existing since the time of creation. [Many theological controiversies could have been avoided, if John's theological mind had been understood. Since they thought that God revealed to John what John said at the beginning of his Gospel, they understood neither John nor God. For instance, the Nycean resolution that the Son is co-eternal with the father does not make sense in view of the idea that God created the world at the beginning, at a point of time. There is no beginning of the world, if it was made to be from all eternity -- a notion which the ancient agriculturists never conceived. If God existed before he created, the creating Word did not exist before it created. The ancient or Biblical God was temporal, and that's the way it was, regardless of later thinking, in 325 or today.]
That was the synthesis, but, as I pointed out, there is nothing in the New Testament that can make a reader think that the son whom God generated in Mary was the Word by which He created the world. The identification of the God's begotten son with the Word/Logos is purely John's idea.

Also, there is nothing in the New Testament which can lead a reader to equate Jesus' promised Spirit or the Paraclete with Yaveh breathing into the mud-statue that became Adam. And there is nothing in the Old Testament that makes a reader suppose that God's vivifying Breath was a person. As a matter of fact, Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean, called upon his God before dying. Fortunately the Greek writers did not translate the "god" whom Jesus invoked. "Eli, Eli [or Eloi, Eloi], why hast thou forsaken me?" [If this man was dying to expiate for the sins of men, he was obviously ignorant of the role which God wanted him to play... The crucifixion would have been the fulfilment of the divine plan. I don't know who inspired Paul, but he certainly knew little of the life and words of Jesus of Nazareth.]

The fact that Jesus invoked EL [the male of the ancient Elohim, for the spouse had long been rejected, though the administrators were kept: Gabri-EL, Satana-EL, Micha-EL, and the others, who are known from the theology of the Canaaites and of the Hebrews] is very important. As you recall, the Elohim or the "deity" had created man by the WORD, has not created man or his life by the BREATH. The divine breath was used by Yahveh, the God of the Judeans whose temple was in Jerusalem. Galilee and Judea were ultimately separate states because of a theological division. After the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., it was Judeans that left... and they called themselves Judeans or Jews but never Israelites. (They still read "Isra-EL" in the Bible and identify with it theoretically, but the true Israelites are the non-Jews such as the Galileans.) At the same time, the religion of Moses and the Jews was the official religion of the Galileans, too.
[Through my studies of these and other matters, I have reached the conclusion that the religion of the Elohim, and the language, was brought to the Hebrews from Arab-like populations; the religion of Yahveh (known also outside the Bible) and an Indo-European language, was part of the Hebrews ancestral heritage. A Jewish scholar has found that the Biblical Hebrew language contains hundreds of Greek etyms. Apparently the Philistines outside Canaan proper were still Greek speakers.]

So, there is a great divide between the identity of the Palestinian Jesus, and the theological Jesus of the Gentiles. The Gentilistic Christianity, or Catholicism, is entirely a Greek product, basically in the first three centuries of our era.
[P.S.: Whenever I say 'Catholicism" I do not mean the Roman Church or religion; I mean that pre-scism "one, holy, catholic, apostolic church" or religion.]
==============================
.......

"Finally, I don’t understand you when you speak about ‘something Greek’ added to a primarily judaic christianity, when christianity was exactly a deviation from judaism and started in the Greek language and through the Greeks was spread over the roman empire. Maybe your thinking here is too racial, that is underestimating the importance of (e.g.) language."

REPLY:
Having said little, I was rather misleading.
Historians sometimes speak of "Palestinian" Christianity, by which they mean the religion founded by Jesus whose followers were Jews in Palestine (before the religion was preached to the Gentiles). Well, as far as I can see, Jesus did not found a new religion. From the synoptic Gospels I learn that his came as the Messiah expected by the Jews, and that his mission was precisely that of saving the Jews before the imminent end of the world. He was also a descendant of David and thus the legitimate king of the Jews, while the throne was occupied by the Herods. So, for me the "Judaic" Jesus is Jesus the Messiah [Christos] and King, and the synoptic Gospels are biographies of this two-sided person. (The rest of "Jesus" is theological and Gentilistic -- mostly Greek in origin. Christianity as a deviation from Judaism is exactly the Theological, Gentilistic, Greek religion or Catholicism.)

Going back to the synoptic Gospels: Nearly all the anecdotes of Jesus' biography concern Jesus the Messiah [with quotations of his preachings] and Jesus the titular King. There must have been a (Greek) proto-Gospel not only because of the many and striking verbal identities of the texts, but also because, the biography in any of these Gospels is really a collection of anecdotes that concern either Jesus the Messiah or Jesus the King: The biographies have one COMMON bioography which consists of two independent biographies (or the biographies of two distinct persons). In fact, Jesus the King was born during the reign of the great Herod, became a threat to Herod, and eventually Jesus was crucified as the KING of the Jews. The royal biography is actually were short, but it says enough for us to infer that Jesus was born around 5 B.C. (by our calendar). On the other hand, Jesus the Messiah has a life such as it was predicted in the Bible. So, Joseph and pregnant Mary had to go to Bethlehem in order for Jesus to be born there and thus fulfil the Biblical prophesies. But why, in the course of human terrestrial events, did Joseph and Mary have to go there to begin with? Because emperor Augustus had required a census. So, as we can infer, Jesus was born in Bethlehem around the year 6 or 7 A.D. (of our calendar).

In addition to the distinct biographies of the King and of the Messiah, the synoptic Gospeks include statements which are clear interplations by the one who composed the proto-Gospel. (An explanation for this requires at least one chapter of a book.) But what I was referring to as "something Greek in nature" was a Scriptural anecdote where Jesus appears to be neither the King nor the Messiah, but the embodiment of Dionysus. An explanation for this requires also a chapter, since what I have in mind is the rite of homophagia (and wine drinking) as a rite of immortality: By assimilating the body of an immortal, one becomes immortal. So, Jesus said to his Apostles that he who eats of his body (represented by bread) and drinks of his blood (represented by wine) shall have eternal lfe. This rite of immortality is totally foreign to the Judaic religion and culture. (The other great Greek rite of immortality is the Eleusinian rite: By re-enacting the life of Kore, one mystically becomes Kore, the immortal or ever- recurring offspring of Demeter.)

The THEATER, the Greek theater, was born from the re-enactments of the life of Kore and the life of Dionysus. Interestingly, there is still in Sicily a partial re-enactment of the Eleusinian rite in a Christianized fashion: The offsrping has disappeared, and now the grieving mother goes all about in search of the offspring -- the statue of Mary (Demeter) is taken in procession to many parts of a town and countryside, as she looks for her beloved son on HOLY FRIDAY (when, we know, Christ died)... but he will return from Hades... resurrecting as all young vegetation [the Maiden, Kore] does. The Villa of Mysteries at Pompei is probably the only surving Eleusinian (private) theater for the re-enactment of the life of Kore... which I discovered painted on the walls of the great chamber. There is even a breached wall, through which an initiate would have been snatched away, just as Pluto abducted Kore. In the last painting, Kore, attired and sitting on a throne as Persephone, sits in waiting, looking to her return into the upper world. [I can post my brief study of that generally undeciphered series of paintings.] In ancient times, part of the rite was conducted outdoors, but I understand that now the Sacred Road between Athens and Eleusis is largely destroyed or in disrepair. Is there anything sacred left in this world?

[P.S.: There is in what is called "mystical theology" -- which is not publicized by the Roman Church -- according to which a priest is an "alter Christus," "an Other Christ." He becomes a Christ upon being consecrated. Once upon a time, this assimilation must have been believed to be real, just as one becomes an Other Dionysus or an Other Kore, or the the consecrated bread becomes the REAL body of Christ, and so forth. "Assimilation" (becoming similar in nature) is a most ancient magical belief. The performance of sympathetic magic is a way of inducing the nature-gods to imitate human actions. There are also kings by blood and kings by consecration or anointment. A kind was supposed to be substantially different from a mere human, as were the "heroes" -- in nature between gods and humans. Good old days!]
----------------------------------------
I quite agree that with your quotations --

“Christianity is Greek not only in form but to great degree in content as well. As we have seen, Greek religious and philosophical thought had penetrated into the mind and thought of later Judaism and Greek thought had thoroughly imbued the whole of the Roman Empire. The fusion of Greek classical and religious material was present not only in theological and philosophical writing but also in mystical and spiritual. Christian thinkers were in constant dialogue with ancient Greek thought and religious experience. Hellenization affected every aspect of early Christianity including worship.

“For several centuries the worship of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire including the Latin speaking West was in Greek. Writing about the Roman Liturgy, C.E. Hammond, a renown liturgiologist of the last century adds: "it is, we believe, acknowledged on all sides [history, archeology, literature and criticism] that the language of the early Roman Church, i.e. of the first three centuries, was Greek." In full agreement he cites his contemporary ecclesiastical historian Henry Hart Milman who writes: "For some considerable (it cannot but be an undefinable) part of three first centuries, the Church of Rome, and most, if not all the Churches of the West, were, if we may so speak, Greek religious colonies. Their language was Greek, their organization Greek, their writers Greek, their scriptures Greek; and many vestiges and traditions show that their ritual, their Liturgy, was Greek."

Cf. Demetrios Constantelos, Greek Orthodoxy - From Apostolic Times to the Present Day.

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George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 08 Feb 2006 :  21:18:41  

 

You open many subjects at once, and this makes the discussion difficult. From what you write I can understand that you read the Gospels by themselves, or in some aspects of the general cultural context of the age, or in some aspects of the context of past ages – in any case, you read them outside of the context that was created inside the (western or eastern) churches, as they were forming their theological teaching.

I don’t want, of course, and I can’t deny you this way of reading, only to say that this way (the protestant way) the Gospels (and all the Testament) becomes a great or not literature, but not the basis of the Church literature, which means that it is essentially taken out of its overall historical context, by being isolated from its future use inside the Church, so that it looses its redemptive meaning. If the Church (western or eastern) has failed to understand the Bible and lived in error for so many centuries, what makes us believe that we can understand the Bible now? After two thousand years of Christianity, isn’t it a little arrogant to put aside all traditions and read the Bible as if it had been written just now?

___________

I also disagree with you when you write that ancient Greeks personified impersonal cosmic forces. Zeus holds the thunder (fire, etc), Zeus is the God, and not the fire. Poseidon ruled the sea: he is the God, and not the water, etc. It is well known that they had concrete visions of persons they called Gods. I don’t mean only Homer (where Ulysses talks with Athena, and not with a ‘cosmic force’). From their very ancient past, they were speaking about face to face encounters with Dionysus. Socrates suggested, that we should worship the Gods even before we see them, etc. If one believes in Christ, one can say that He was revealed to them in various forms, according to the degree they could see Him, and these variations created the multiplicity of Gods they were worshiping. But in any case, they were seeing persons, persons more beautiful than men, but in men’s shape (contrary to the traditions of other ancient peoples who worshipped Gods with beastly look), they were not personifying their intellectual conception of some or all cosmic forces.

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Amedeo

USA
23 Posts

Posted - 09 Feb 2006 :  07:21:12  

 

I know, George, that a page of my writings summarizes many and diverse things which I studied and searched into for a long time. I will say this, that the Protestants ARE believers. Just as the Catholics -- Orthodox or Roman -- select from the Old Testament what appears to be good and true to them (while they take the rest allegorically, in the manner of Philo), the Protestants make their own selections and interpretations. I approach all Scriptures as an ethnologist. For instance, from the texts of the two Genesis accounts and our Western secular knowledge, I can determine the provenance and times when they were composed, that is, composed by men. (There is not a single thing revealed to man that man did not know already, with all his deficiencies and errors.) I am also a sort of archeologist of human thinking, and both Testaments are invaluable documents of minds working at certain periods of time.

In the classical religions, when gods are anthropomorphic and normally invisible, there is certainly a distinction between a god, what he does, and his specific realm. (The Homeric universe is the empire of three divine brothers and Demeter, presided by one of them, Zeus.) In many cases, they are anthroporphic in the sense of being greatly powerful lords who rule over their own territory, can be begged by the humans, their subjects and servants, etc. These are the gods who took their form during the time agriculture developed and brought about many institutions: land-estates, landlords (usually warlords who occupied farmlands and established feuds for themselves), urbanization, a new ideology about generation, etc. At this stage, religion is prophetic, of the temples ["fanatic"], and ecclesiastical (communitarian). Before the advent of the agricultural revolution, the Greeks used to say that Zeus rains (not that He causes rain); that the visible Ouranos and Gea were the mighty and perennial powers (called gods). But even these gods are conceived anthropomorphically. Before agriculture, man simply experienced the thundering sky, the raining sky, the stormy sea, etc. : the world consisted of gods and things limited in power and durations: The Immortals and the Mortals (or Perishables). Yahweh is one of the ancient anthropomorphic gods; the Canaanite and Hebrew El [who among the Arabs will be called The-El (the-God) or al-Elah (Allah)] is personified, but he is a god of Non-Agriculturists, and so he is conceived in the manner of a magician (by whose word things appear). The gods whom humans announce or speak of emerge in the minds of the speakers, just as Athena emerged -- fully formed -- out of Zeus' head, or the Word came forth from El. The MIND is generative.

For me to say that John of Ephesus is an evangelist, a prophet, or a theologian, actually obscures the fact that his mind is theopoietic. Such a mind does not operate in a vacuum or invents pure fantasies. (Aristotle discovered the human Nous Poietikos, translated as "agent intellect," which operates on sense percepts; I am speaking of the human Nous Theopoietikos (which operates on complexes of experiences), which is indirectly expounded in Giambattista Vico's "New Science." That is the science of "the modifications of the human mind," or History, which unfolds as the Age of Gods, the Age of Heroes, and the Age of Men. / You see, I have some three thousand peculiar volumes in the back of my mind, excluding the ones I have not written down except in notes.)

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giovanni

Italy
45 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2006 :  16:57:12  

 

I would suggest the use of a really outstanding work by nineteenth century German philologists:
INDEX ARISTOTELICUS, by Hermann Bonitz and others
It was edited for the first time in 1870, but is still in print and available from editor Walter de Gruyter

http://www.degruyter.com/rs/search_e_treffer_ENU_h.cfm

It studies in depth the meanings of every word as used by Aristotles, including ΛΟΓΟΣ. Note that the autor worked for 25 years on this INDEX and that he found other philologists that helped him, otherwise he wouldn't have finished the job.
If you want to understand the greek words this is the book you need.

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