Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Reaction To The Bible In Paganism

One of the most neglected areas of the reception history of the Bible is the pagan philosophers’ attack on the Bible in the Christian era. There were a number of philosophers who responded negatively to the Bible (Greek OT and the NT) — similar to the response the Stoics and Epicureans gave Luke’s Paul in Acts 17:16-34 (whatever the historical value of Luke). Others with philosophical training such as Justin and Augustine became Christians. Some (like an unusual figure named Amelius Gentilianus) admired part of the scriptures such as the prologue of John but did not join the new religion. It is impossible to say, given the surviving evidence, how many philosophers like Amelius may have existed in late antiquity before the Byzantine Empire closed Plato’s academy in Athens, and pagan philosophers faded away.

The investigation helps reveal how certain highly educated individuals in antiquity responded to the Bible with cultured disdain. Their reaction was not purely theoretical since it came in the context of persecutions of Christian believers — and one of the pagans I will discuss below (Hierocles) actually participated as a magistrate in the persecutions of Diocletian. Porphyry may have written his book against the Christians in service of one of the persecutions. Full Story

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Blogger Jim said...

History Trivia for non-Dummies Blog
A Different View of an "Eye for Eye"
The quotation from Exodus 21:24, "eye for eye, foot for foot..." is often understood to mean that that people have a right to revenge an injury to them. This was true in Old Testament times, even though the Gospel of Matthew at 5:38 refers to it and then rejects it at 5:39 ("turn the other cheek") in the New Testament.

What is interesting about the "eye for an eye" quotation, however, is that in Old Testament times it was also meant to put a limit on the amount of vengeance people could take when they suffered at the hands of another.

In ancient times it was customary that if one person from a family killed a person from a different family, the tradition was to kill not only the killer, but also kill everyone in his whole family as well.

So an "eye for an eye" was not only meant to allow for retaliation, but also to limit the extent of the vengeance so that wholesale bloodshed did not occur between families. Vengeance was to be proportional to the harm a person received.

Source: A Short History of Philosophy, Solomon & Higgins

5:14 PM  

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