At Caprock High School in Amarillo, Texas, teacher Jeff Frazer said he's surprised by how many of his incoming students know that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 but don't know that it was a list of grievances against Great Britain.
"I think they learn information by itself, in isolation," Frazer said of his students. "But putting the big picture together is not happening."
And during the comparative religions unit at Rutland Middle School in Rutland, Vermont, Ted Lindgren regularly asks students, "What is Easter about?"
He said they invariably br ing up the Easter bunny but don't know the significance of the holiday to Christianity. It shows a lack of cultural literacy, Lindgren said, that they have to compensate for during class.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Americans don’t have to go to Muslim lands to hear our religion blasphemed by Muslims. In a Christian church in Portland, OR, I heard an imam (an immigrant from Yemen) say to the post-worship assemblage, “God has no son.” (Not, “We Muslims believe that God has no son.”) When I yelled, “Blasphemy!” the assemblage was shocked to silence and he was so unnerved that he initiated a handshake with me seven times before he left the church.Read the whole article at Ancient Hebrew Poetry.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
So, if it wasn't the American political climate or mental illness that prompted Loughner's actions, what was it? I don't mean to sound apocalyptic, but Loughner is a "sign of the times." He was a nihilist. The New York Times reported the mention by one of Loughner's friends of his interest in Nietzsche and dreams shortly before the shootings:
The new details from Mr. Gutierrez about Mr. Loughner — including his philosophy of anarchy and his expertise with a handgun, suggest that the earliest signs of behavior that may have ultimately led to the attacks started several years ago.This article, and this passage of the article in particular, has rightfully been mocked in several places online and elsewhere for the obvious ignorance of the reporter on the subjects he mentions here. He seems to indicate that reading Nietzsche and keeping dream journals are indicators of impending violent behavior. Clearly, they aren't, unless every awkward teenage boy is a potential murderer.
Mr. Gutierrez said his friend had become obsessed with the meaning of dreams and their importance. He talked about reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s book “The Will To Power” and embraced ideas about the corrosive, destructive effects of nihilism — a belief in nothing. And every day, his friend said, Mr. Loughner would get up and write in his dream journal, recording the world he experienced in sleep and its possible meanings.
But there is something to the observations, if not the analysis, in this report. Matt Feeney at Slate.com seems to get much closer to the target with his analysis of the Loughner-Nietzsche connection. Loughner was not a Nietzschean; he was a nihilist. And the two, in spite of the beliefs of the philosically illiterate, are not the same thing. He may have thought he was a Nietzschean, but he was living out what Nietzsche was fighting against. Loughner is an example of that form of nihilism that embraces chaos and destruction; Nietzsche attempted to rescue modern man from that nihilism by proposing, as one of his books is titled, "the reevaluation of all values."
Friedrich Nietzsche is probably the most important, most popular, and yet most misunderstood modern philosopher. I certainly don't claim to understand him completely. And Loughner doesn't appear to have understood him much either. What can be said, however, is that Nietzche's proclamation (more accurately, observation) that "God is dead" permeates the modern world. Sure, most Americans still say they believe in God, but when we get specific into what precisely that means, things get a little sticky. Modern man's "God" is not the personal, historical God of the Judeo-Christian tradition; it (not "he," but sometimes "she") is Nature (with a capital "N"), Science (with a capital "S"), a good luck charm, and, more often than not in practice, material wealth and physical health. We cannot do away with the Judeo-Christian God and simultaneously cling to values and morals which originate with and depend upon a belief in that God. Nihilism is the embrace of the logical implications of what that means: it is the destruction of all meaning and all value. Mitchell Heisman, the young man who recently killed himself and left a 1905 page suicide note explaining nihilism and its implications, is a particularly vivid example.
Nietzsche looked nihilism in the face and sought to overcome it with his concept of the "superman" who would create new values for himself and, it seems, impose them on others. In some sense, Loughner was, as Feeney points out, running contrary to Nietzsche in his nihilism, and yet he did just what Nietzsche proposed, if not in the way that Nietzsche would have preferred: he created his own values and meaning -- in the destruction of the lives of others.
It is not some undoubtedly short-lived political bickering that will be forgotten in a decade or two that prompted Loughner, nor is it some vaguely defined and over-eagerly diagnosed mental illness. It is the state of modern Western man, one who lives increasingly in a world hostile to and in denial of its own foundations in the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Westerners continue to chip away at their own cultural heritage, nihilism will become, just as Nietzsche predicted that it would, increasingly the philosophy, even if by default if not by conscious adoption, of the modern man. Imagine a generation of children raised with no concept of a personal God and with the ingrained belief that life is ultimately futile and meaningless, that man is a puny, small speck of no significance who came into being entirely as the result of biomechanical processes and who will one day, not only individually but as a species, cease to exist. That generation is now. And Jared Loughner is an example of what that generation will inevitably produce.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Jewish pattern of history, past and future, is such as to make a powerful appeal to the oppressed and the unfortunate at all times. Saint Augustine adapted this pattern to Christianity, Marx to Socialism. To understand Marx psychologically, one should use the following dictionary:
The Elect=The Proletariat
The Church=The Communist Party
The Second Coming=The Revolution
Hell=Punishment of the Capitalists
The Millennium=The Communist Commonwealth.
The terms on the left give the emotional content of the terms on the right, and it is this emotional content, familiar to those who have had a Christian or a Jewish upbringing, that makes Marx's eschatology credible. A similar dictionary could be made for the Nazis, but their conceptions are more purely Old Testament and less Christian than those of Marx, and their Messiah is more analogous to the Maccabees than to Christ.
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, pp. 363-4.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I once read that Abdala the Muslim, when asked what was most worthy of awe and wonder in this theater of the world, answered, "There is nothing to see more wonderful than man!" Hermes Trismegistus concurs with this opinion: "A great miracle, Asclepius, is man!" However, when I began to consider the reasons for these opinions, all these reasons given for the magnificence of human nature failed to convince me: that man is the intermediary between creatures, close to the gods, master of all the lower creatures, with the sharpness of his senses, the acuity of his reason, and the brilliance of his intelligence the interpreter of nature, the nodal point between eternity and time, and, as the Persians say, the intimate bond or marriage song of the world, just a little lower than angels as David tells us. I concede these are magnificent reasons, but they do not seem to go to the heart of the matter, that is, those reasons which truly claim admiration. For, if these are all the reasons we can come up with, why should we not admire angels more than we do ourselves? After thinking a long time, I have figured out why man is the most fortunate of all creatures and as a result worthy of the highest admiration and earning his rank on the chain of being, a rank to be envied not merely by the beasts but by the stars themselves and by the spiritual natures beyond and above this world. This miracle goes past faith and wonder. And why not? It is for this reason that man is rightfully named a magnificent miracle and a wondrous creation.
What is this rank on the chain of being? God the Father, Supreme Architect of the Universe, built this home, this universe we see all around us, a venerable temple of his godhead, through the sublime laws of his ineffable Mind. The expanse above the heavens he decorated with Intelligences, the spheres of heaven with living, eternal souls. The scabrous and dirty lower worlds he filled with animals of every kind. However, when the work was finished, the Great Artisan desired that there be some creature to think on the plan of his great work, and love its infinite beauty, and stand in awe at its immenseness. Therefore, when all was finished, as Moses and Timaeus tell us, He began to think about the creation of man. But he had no Archetype from which to fashion some new child, nor could he find in his vast treasure-houses anything which He might give to His new son, nor did the universe contain a single place from which the whole of creation might be surveyed. All was perfected, all created things stood in their proper place, the highest things in the highest places, the midmost things in the midmost places, and the lowest things in the lowest places. But God the Father would not fail, exhausted and defeated, in this last creative act. God's wisdom would not falter for lack of counsel in this need. God's love would not permit that he whose duty it was to praise God's creation should be forced to condemn himself as a creation of God.
Finally, the Great Artisan mandated that this creature who would receive nothing proper to himself shall have joint possession of whatever nature had been given to any other creature. He made man a creature of indeterminate and indifferent nature, and, placing him in the middle of the world, said to him "Adam, we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgement, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose. All other things have a limited and fixed nature prescribed and bounded by Our laws. You, with no limit or no bound, may choose for yourself the limits and bounds of your nature. We have placed you at the world's center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose. To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgement, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine."
Imagine! The great generosity of God! The happiness of man! To man it is allowed to be whatever he chooses to be! As soon as an animal is born, it brings out of its mother's womb all that it will ever possess. Spiritual beings from the beginning become what they are to be for all eternity. Man, when he entered life, the Father gave the seeds of every kind and every way of life possible. Whatever seeds each man sows and cultivates will grow and bear him their proper fruit. If these seeds are vegetative, he will be like a plant. If these seeds are sensitive, he will be like an animal. If these seeds are intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God. And if, satisfied with no created thing, he removes himself to the center of his own unity, his spiritual soul, united with God, alone in the darkness of God, who is above all things, he will surpass every created thing. Who could not help but admire this great shape-shifter? In fact, how could one admire anything else? . . .
For the mystic philosophy of the Hebrews transforms Enoch into an angel called "Mal'akh Adonay Shebaoth," and sometimes transforms other humans into different sorts of divine beings. The Pythagoreans abuse villainous men by having them reborn as animals and, according to Empedocles, even plants. Muhammed also said frequently, "Those who deviate from the heavenly law become animals." Bark does not make a plant a plant, rather its senseless and mindless nature does. The hide does not make an animal an animal, but rather its irrational but sensitive soul. The spherical form does not make the heavens the heavens, rather their unchanging order. It is not a lack of body that makes an angel an angel, rather it is his spiritual intelligence. If you see a person totally subject to his appetites, crawling miserably on the ground, you are looking at a plant, not a man. If you see a person blinded by empty illusions and images, and made soft by their tender beguilements, completely subject to his senses, you are looking at an animal, not a man. If you see a philosopher judging things through his reason, admire and follow him: he is from heaven, not the earth. If you see a person living in deep contemplation, unaware of his body and dwelling in the inmost reaches of his mind, he is neither from heaven or earth, he is divinity clothed in flesh.
Who would not admire man, who is called by Moses and the Gospels "all flesh" and "every creature," because he fashions and transforms himself into any fleshly form and assumes the character of any creature whatsoever? For this reason, Euanthes the Persian in his description of Chaldaean theology, writes that man has no inborn, proper form, but that many things that humans resemble are outside and foreign to them, from which arises the Chaldaean saying: "Hanorish tharah sharinas ": "Man is multitudinous, varied, and ever changing." Why do I emphasize this? Considering that we are born with this condition, that is, that we can become whatever we choose to become, we need to understand that we must take earnest care about this, so that it will never be said to our disadvantage that we were born to a privileged position but failed to realize it and became animals and senseless beasts. Instead, the saying of Asaph the prophet should be said of us, "You are all angels of the Most High." Above all, we should not make that freedom of choice God gave us into something harmful, for it was intended to be to our advantage. Let a holy ambition enter into our souls; let us not be content with mediocrity, but rather strive after the highest and expend all our strength in achieving it.
Let us disdain earthly things, and despise the things of heaven, and, judging little of what is in the world, fly to the court beyond the world and next to God. In that court, as the mystic writings tell us, are the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones in the foremost places; let us not even yield place to them, the highest of the angelic orders, and not be content with a lower place, imitate them in all their glory and dignity. If we choose to, we will not be second to them in anything.
Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man
Monday, January 24, 2011
First and foremost, I want to say that I think that those who posit an opposition between science and religion, as if the two were in conflict, are being ridiculous and absurd. If there is an objective truth, and we as Christians know there is, then it is impossible that true religion should conflict with true science or vice versa. There may be certain methods which are incapable of reaching truth, but there cannot exist two "truths" which are mutually exclusive but simultaneously true.
This is one of the (plethora of) things that bothers me about Young Earth Creationism. To all appearances, the earth is billions of years old. Volcanoes, rock layers, fossils, the light visible on earth from stars certain distances away, and numerous other scientific observations all point to an earth that is very, very old, certainly much older than 6000 years. Asserting that in spite of all of this evidence to the contrary the earth is only 6000 years old is the same as claiming that God not only created Adam and Eve as fully grown adults, but even put scars on their knees and elbows and implanted false memories in them of the childhood mishaps that led to these scars. In the end, to entirely discount all of this scientific evidence in favor of some form of deluded biblical literalism is to accuse God of being a liar and an author of confusion; Scripture affirms that he is not (see Titus 1:2 and 1 Corinthians 14:33).
A second point about Young Earth Creationism that bothers me nearly as much is what seems to be its neo-Gnostic streak. This neo-Gnostic tendency is to be expected, given Young Earth Creationism's origins among Calvinists and semi-Calvinists, Calvinism being a neo-Gnostic movement itself. The neo-Gnostic tendency in Young Earth Creationism is perhaps most obvious in the often (rightfully) mocked assertion that "I didn't come from monkeys." Questions of the inaccuracy of this silly statement aside, its very presence in and use by Young Earth Creationist adherents seems to me to indicate neo-Gnostic tendencies. Why else would there need be an adamant denial that man is part of the system of life on earth?
Even if we reject Young Earth Creationism in favor of, for instance, Intelligent Design or so-called Old Earth Creationism, these alternatives are still potentially problematic. Associating any particular scientific theory too closely with the Christian faith is very dangerous. St. Augustine of Hippo, writing in his Confessions in the fifth century, raised this point very early on in Christian history. The Manichaeans, a syncretist Gnostic sect with which he had been affiliated before his conversion to Orthodox Christianity, had incorporated points of ancient Greek astronomy and cosmology into their dogmatic system; by St. Augustine's day much of this older Greek science had been discredited and replaced with more up to date understandings of the earth and the universe. As St. Augustine continued in his secular education and learned that the Manicahaeans were teaching incorrect ideas about science, he came to question their religious ideas also; if they are so wrong about the stars, the sun, the moon and the earth, he reasoned rightly, how can they possibly be right about lofty and complex concepts like God, the afterlife, and spirituality? I wonder what St. Augustine would say about those Christians today who teach certain pseudo-sciences alongside the dogmas of the Christian faith.
Neither absurdly rejecting all scientific advancement in favor of some clearly incorrect understanding of the world as Young Earth Creationists do nor frantically trying to reconcile science with religion as many supporters of Intelligent Design seem to do are acceptable courses of action for Orthodox Christians. Both are the product of an understanding of the Scriptures that is in conflict with the ancient Christian understanding and both are serious threats to the continued life of the Christian faith. Orthodox Christians must avoid falling into the frameworks, and so the pitfalls and, inevitably, the heresies, of the West; both Creationism and Intelligent Design stem from a uniquely Western framework.
The Patristic answer to all of this is really somewhat of a non-answer. Vladimir Lossky, in his Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, explains that "the theology of the Orthodox Church, constantly soteriological in its emphasis, has never entered into alliance with philosophy in any attempt at a doctrinal synthesis." In fact, "having no philosophical preferences, the Church always freely makes use of philosophy and the sciences for apologetic purposes, but she never has any cause to defend these relative and changing truths as she defends the unchangeable truth of her doctrines." This point, I think, is indispensable for a truly Orthodox Christian understanding of and relationship with modern science.
Modern science is not a threat to Orthodox Christianity any more than was ancient Greek science, which similarly ran contrary to a literalist interpretation of the Genesis account. The Church Fathers used the science of their day to prove their point; St. Irenaeus, for instance, defends the use of four and only four gospels by the Church through an appeal to the four winds. They did not, however, choose some particular scientific theory and claim that "this is the Christian one." Christianity's focus is salvation, not explanations for the origins of and events within the natural world.
Because science is not and cannot be a threat to Christianity, we must also not shy away from any aspect of the modern scientific understandings of the universe. I have heard Christians claim, for instance, that they are willing to accept evolution but not that humans evolved from apes because "humans are different." While I agree that "humans are different," I see no reason to reject that aspect of evolutionary theory which takes man's origins into account. Unlike so many of our Western brothers, Orthodox Christians are not Platonists. We do not believe that the material world is inherently evil or that it is anything less than "good," the term which God used to describe each aspect of his creation in the Genesis account. Not only that, but matter has been redeemed and even sanctified; this was one of the main arguments put forward by St. John of Damascus and the other Orthodox defenders of the Holy Icons and Relics of the Saints against the Byzantine iconoclasts in the eighth and ninth centuries. We do not believe that man entered the world from somewhere else, as in the Origenist scheme of the pre-existence of souls; we affirm, along with the Genesis account, that man was created from the dust of this very earth. We also do not believe that man is going to die and leave this material world behind forever; according to Orthodox Christian eschatology, the end of the age comes with the resurrection of the body. Indeed, man has been, is, and always will be a part of this world, the good creation of our good God.
I see no reason, then, to reject the evolutionary concept of common descent nor man's part in that common ancestry of all living things on earth. Affirming common descent is entirely compatible with affirming the biblical account of creation. If anything, I think it could be argued that common descent only serves to illuminate and magnify the Orthodox Christian understanding of man's origins, man's goal, and man's place in the world. Our work as Christians is the redemption and sanctification of the world; I can think of no more beautiful example of this than the priest's lifting of the unconsecrated bread and wine while he intones "thine own of thine own we offer unto thee on behalf of all and for all" during the Divine Liturgy. Humans are, according to an Orthodox Christian understanding, the crown of God's creation; we are both created from the dust of the earth and also created in the image and likeness of God. Common descent only, I believe, adds a further and beautiful dimension to this understanding.
Having said all of this, I have to admit that in spite of all that I am actually very pessimistic about where science has taken us and where it will take us if left unchecked. Science has been used as an excuse for abandoning God and no doubt it will continue to be abused this way. Science, specifically evolutionary science, has been used, especially in the first half of the twentieth century to justify horrendous crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust, abortion, and the forced sterilization of ethnic minorities. Perhaps worst of all, science has deprived man of meaning; as the physicist Steven Weinberg, himself an atheist, poignantly put it: "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless." Friedrich Nietzsche, that prophet of atheism, observed fairly early in the process that the advancements of modern man would lead him eventually to nihilism; as he famously exclaimed: "God is dead!" And the often forgotten exclamation that follows immediately after: "And we have killed him!"
I'm certainly not a Nietzschean nor am I an atheist, but I think that in a sense Nietzsche was right. Man's understanding of the world around him and his ability to apply that knowledge have increased rapidly over the last several hundred years, and especially in the last one hundred years. The science of medicine has completely changed the way that we look at disease, has significantly decreased human suffering, and has extended the human life expectancy. The sciences of physics and biology have made leaps and bounds in our understanding of the world around us and of how it got to be the way it is. And what is the result of all of this? A feeling of reverence and awe at the beauty of the universe? An increased devotion to God for his wonderful creation? No; the result has been two apparently contradictory but strangely complimentary feelings in man: hubris and despair. We have simultaneously come to view ourselves as masters of the world and captains of our own destiny with no need for a God and as completely and utterly hopeless, living short, lonely, and meaningless lives on a comparatively tiny chunk of rock floating aimlessly in cold, black space. In spite of the chorus of assurances from Richard Dawkins and his flock of faithful followers, science does not have all the answers nor will it ever.
And this is where Christianity comes in. The job of the Church and even, I would dare say, of the individual Christian is not to try to reconcile Genesis with Darwin or to formulate some new, theistic explanation for evolutionary processes. The job of the Christian is to declare Jesus Christ crucified and risen. The job of Christians is to check the pride of man by reminding him that he will one day have to give an account before the dread judgment seat of the Lord and to uplift him by reminding him that life is not meaningless and that we are not alone. God has a purpose for us -- human life has meaning -- and God is still "Emmanuel," God with us.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
On the problem of evil:
It may seem somewhat trite to invoke the freedom of creation as part of the works and ends of divine love, or to argue that the highest good of the creature -- divinizing union with God in love -- requires a realm of "secondary causality" in which the rational wills of God’s creatures are at liberty; nonetheless, whether the traditional explanations of how sin and death have been set loose in the world satisfy one or not, they certainly render the claim that an omnipotent and good God would never allow unjust suffering simply vacuous. By what criterion could one render such a judgment? For Christians, one must look to the cross of Christ to take the measure of God’s love, and of its worth in comparison to the sufferings of a fallen world. And one must look to the risen Christ to grasp the glory for which we are intended, and take one’s understanding of the majesty and tragedy of creation’s freedom from that.
I quite explicitly admit in my writing that I think the traditional Calvinist understanding of divine sovereignty to be deeply defective, and destructively so. One cannot, as with Luther, trace out a direct genealogy from late medieval voluntarism to the Calvinist understanding of divine freedom; nevertheless, the way in which Calvin himself describes divine sovereignty is profoundly modern: it frequently seems to require an element of pure arbitrariness, of pure spontaneity, and this alone separates it from more traditional (and I would say more coherent) understandings of freedom, whether divine or human.
This idea of a God who can be called omnipotent only if his will is the direct efficient cause of every aspect of created reality immediately makes all the inept cavils of the village atheist seem profound: one still should not ask if God could create a stone he could not lift, perhaps, but one might legitimately ask if a God of infinite voluntaristic sovereignty and power could create a creature free to resist the divine will. The question is no cruder than the conception of God it is meant to mock, and the paradox thus produced merely reflects the deficiencies of that conception.
Frankly, any understanding of divine sovereignty so unsubtle that it requires the theologian to assert (as Calvin did) that God foreordained the fall of humanity so that his glory might be revealed in the predestined damnation of the derelict is obviously problematic, and probably far more blasphemous than anything represented by the heresies that the ancient ecumenical councils confronted.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The following argument is valid:
1. (Premise) No life lived virtuously can have been wasted.
2. (Premise) If God doesn't exist, a life lived virtuously can have been wasted.
3. Therefore, God exists.
Is it sound? Well, yes, if God exists. For if God exists, then (1) is true, and if God exists, then (2) is trivially true as its antecedent is false (my indicatives in arguments are material unless noted otherwise).
But of course the question is whether the argument is any good, at all useful towards giving someone reason to accept the conclusion. Well, I do find myself with a certain pull towards (1) and (2) independently of theism. Claim (1) just seems right to me. But if God doesn't exist, then it does seem quite possible for someone's central life pursuits to have been unsuccessful, despite these central life pursuits being virtuous.
However, I have the following worry. Maybe no life lived virtuously can have been wasted, because what it is to have wasted a life is to have failed at one's central pursuits or to have centrally pursued only vanities. But a virtuous person always has her own virtue as a central pursuit, and hence a virtuous person's life is never wasted, as one of her central non-vain pursuits—that of her own virtue—has been successful. Thus, even if God doesn't exist, a life lived virtuously couldn't have been wasted.
But I think that if theism were false, then a virtuous person might never centrally pursue her own virtue. For it could be that she is faced with needs more urgent than the pursuit of her own virtue—feeding a starving family, say—and so virtue could require her not to centrally pursue her own virtue. And if this is rigth, then (2) is non-trivially true. If God did not exist, there would be a possibility of a wasted virtuous life. It would be a life where one has virtue but does not pursue it as a central part of one's life, because virtue itself prohibits making the pursuit of virtue central.
If Christian theism is true, however, other duties will not be sufficient to shift the pursuit of virtue into something of secondary importance. For the Christian can have a trust in Providence that we will not go wrong by making our pursuit of union with God (which requires the pursuit of virtue) central to our lives.
This gives a second version of the argument:
4. (Premise) If theism is false, then a virtuous human being can be in circumstances such that she should assign only secondary importance to the pursuit of virtue.
5. (Premise) It is not possible for a human being to be in circumstances in which she should assign only secondary importance to the pursuit of virtue.
6. Therefore, theism is true.
I do not find the two arguments in this post deeply compelling. But I think they at least should somewhat raise the probability of theism for those for whom it is neither zero nor one.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Who that truly perceives the harmony of the Intellectual Realm could fail, if he has any bent towards music, to answer to the harmony in sensible sounds? What geometrician or arithmetician could fail to take pleasure in the symmetries, correspondences, and principles of order observed in visible things? Consider, even, the case of pictures: Those seeing by the bodily sense the productions of the art of painting do not see the one thing in the one only way; they are deeply stirred by recognizing in the objects depicted to the eyes the presentation of what lies in the idea, and so are called to recollection of the truth -- the very experience out of which Love rises. Now, if the sight of Beauty excellently reproduced upon a face hurries the mind to that other Sphere, surely no one seeing the loveliness lavish in the world of sense -- this vast orderliness, the form which the stars even in their remoteness display -- no one could be so dull-witted, so immoveable, as not to be carried by all this to recollection, and gripped by reverent awe in the thought of all this, so great, sprung from that greatness. Not to answer them could only be to have neither fathomed the world nor had any vision of that other.
Plotinus, Enneads II, 9, 16
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Europe, Immigration, and Merkel’s Christian Values(H/T: Father Ernesto at OrthoCuban)
November 24, 2010
by Samuel Gregg
It’s not often senior European political leaders make politically-incorrect statements, but Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently made a habit of it. The subject has been the touchy question of Muslim immigration and the challenges it poses for European identity. Not only has Merkel upset the European political class (especially the Left and the Greens) by saying what everyone knows—that multiculturalism has “utterly failed”—but she also argued that the issue was not “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity.”
“We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind,” Merkel claimed in a recent speech. She then stressed that Germany needs to reflect more upon “the values that guide us, about our Judeo-Christian tradition.” It was one way, Merkel maintained, of bringing “about cohesion in our society.”
On one level, Merkel is surely stating the blindingly obvious. How can Europeans ask Muslim immigrants to integrate into European society and respect European values without Europeans themselves being clear in their own minds about what values are at the core of European identity and where these values come from?
And as much as significant portions of European society would like to deny it, it’s simply a historical fact that the idea of Europe and European values such as liberty, equality before the law, and solidarity did not suddenly appear ex nihilo in the late seventeenth-century with the various Enlightenments. Central to the formation of European identity and such values was the synthesis of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem achieved by Christianity following the Roman Empire’s collapse in the West in 476 A.D.
Indeed there’s plenty of evidence that the antecedents of most of the various freedoms and genuine achievements of the various Enlightenments are to be found in Christianity. There is increasing recognition, for example, that the idea of human rights was first given concrete expression by medieval canon lawyers.
Yet it is hardly a secret that the Judeo-Christian heritage sits very loosely on many European societies. We find this in a type of secular-fundamentalism—exemplified by Spain’s current Socialist government—that has become fashionable among sections of the European Left. But the ambiguity also manifests itself in the persistence of historical legends that diminish, distort, and denigrate Christianity’s contributions to European civilization.
A good example is the mythology of the so-called “Dark Ages” that permeates popular and elite discussion of European history. Most of the moral, political, and legal foundations of modern market economies, for instance, were established in Europe well before the sixteenth century. Likewise the scientific method was born in the Middle Ages. Medieval thinkers such as Albertus Magnus made crucial contributions to the development of the natural sciences. Yet despite these facts, many persist in claiming that market economies are essentially a post-Enlightenment phenomenon, or that Christianity is essentially “anti-science.”
But the problem is not only with secular opinion. Since the 1950s, many European Christians have gradually reduced their Christian faith to a vacuous humanitarianism worthy of the best EU-funded NGO. One difficulty with “liberal Christianity” (or whatever’s left of it) is that it isn’t especially interested in affirming any Christian values that go beyond sentimental platitudes about tolerance and equality which are routinely emptied of any specific Christian content. It’s goodbye Thomas Aquinas, hello John Rawls.
This makes it even more ironic that increasing numbers of secular European thinkers believe Europe can only reinvigorate its distinct identity and values through reengaging its Judeo-Christian heritage. This is certainly the conclusion of one of Germany’s most prominent intellectuals, Jürgen Habermas.
A self-described “methodological atheist,” Habermas has been insisting for some time that Europe no longer has the luxury of wallowing in historical denial. As Habermas wrote in his 2006 book, A Time of Transitions: “Christianity, and nothing else [is] the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilization. To this day we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.”
It follows that any serious discussion of Europe’s Christian values in the context of contemporary immigration and identity debates will require many Europeans to go beyond their often-truncated understandings of European history and Christianity. There’s something paradoxical about this being facilitated by the increasing numbers of Muslims living in Europe. But such an engagement is arguably being made even more urgent by the economic reality that Europe will need even more immigrants if its present demographic winter persists for any significant period of time.
What Chancellor Merkel herself understands by “the Christian view of mankind” was not clear from her remarks. Nor is it evident that particular Christian ideas are always compatible with some Muslim positions. Despite the interfaith babble to the contrary, there are some fundamental theological differences between Christianity and Islam, many of which have implications for subjects ranging from religious liberty to the nature of the state. Merkel, however, is undoubtedly correct to insist that any discussion of immigration in Europe should involve Europeans worrying a little less about Islam and paying far more attention to knowing the truth about their own heritage and Christianity’s place in it.
The truth doesn’t just set us free. There’s no future without it.
Dr. Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial Society, and Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
(h/t: Ari's Blog of Awesome)
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Though there may have been previous minor interaction between the Jews and the Greeks, the first substantial and lengthy interaction between the two peoples began in 331BCE with Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire, of which Judea was then a part.1 According to a popular legend, almost certainly apocryphal but nonetheless enlightening, Alexander was very impressed by the Jews and their religion during his visit to Jerusalem.2 The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing in the first century CE, recorded that as Alexander and his entourage entered Jerusalem they “went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens.”3 As he drew close to the city, Alexander rendered a pious salutation to the Jewish high priest who had come out, wearing full liturgical vestments, to greet the procession and, when asked why he had done so, responded, “I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with that high priesthood.” After entering the city, Alexander “offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction.” He was then shown the Book of Daniel “wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians [and] he supposed that himself was the person intended.” Before departing Jerusalem, he made a promise to the high priest that the Jews “might enjoy the law of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year.”
The full historical accuracy of this story is very questionable. It is possible that Alexander offered a sacrifice to the Jewish God after conquering Jerusalem. He frequently offered sacrifices to a city's or nation's gods after conquering them, probably both as a propaganda tool and due to a certain amount of superstition on the part of Alexander himself. For instance, after conquering Egypt, Alexander offered public adoration to “the Apis bull, the living incarnation of Ptah, chief god of Memphis, and other Egyptian deities.”4 He also enjoyed presenting himself as the liberator of the nations he captured for propaganda purposes; in so doing, he allowed them to maintain many of their ancient customs, creating the illusion of freedom and autonomy. For instance, he allowed Greek poleis like Athens to continue to govern themselves in their traditional way after he had firmly established his dominance over Greece.5 He also set himself up as as the avenger of Darius III and the protector of the Persian royal family after the Persian emperor's death at the hands of an assassin.6 He even shocked the Greeks and Macedonians among his cohort by adopting the Persian custom of demanding ritual obeisance toward him as king by his subjects.7 To offer sacrifice to the Jewish God, inquire into the contents of the Jew's sacred books, and guarantee the Jews the right to continue in their ancestral traditions, as the Jewish story records of Alexander, then, would not have been out of character for him. It seems, though, that the story contains some particularly Jewish exaggeration, due perhaps to the Jewish assumption of the superiority of the Jewish God and his laws. Notably missing from the story is any mention of an equal and opposite Jewish interest in Greek traditions. If later contact between Judaism and Hellenism is any indication, though, this initial contact between the two cultures certainly led the Jews also to inquire into the beliefs and practices of their new Greek and Macedonian rulers.
While the story of Alexander the Great's entrance into Jerusalem may tell us very little about any actual event, its very presence and popularity tells us much about the Jewish attitude toward the Greeks and probably also the attitude of the Greeks toward the Jews. If there is any kernel of truth in this story, it is that the first contact of Greeks with Jews was characterized by a mutual respect and some measure of curiosity by each side about the other. What is certain about this initial contact is that it would lead to an exchange of “ideas and values” that would impact both cultures permanently.8
The amicable nature of this initial contact continued even after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and the subsequent division of his empire between his generals. Josephus reported that Ptolemy I Soter claimed Jerusalem as his own; although Josephus deplores the apparently underhanded means by which Ptolemy claimed Jerusalem, he records that Ptolemy took a number of Jews to Alexandria in Egypt where he “gave them equal privileges of citizens with the Macedonians themselves.”9
Ptolemy Soter's son and successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, continued in his father's footsteps regarding treatment of his Jewish subjects. According to a Jewish tradition of questionable origin and authority, though recorded by several early Jewish authors, including Flavius Josephus10 and Philo of Alexandria,11 Ptolemy II ordered and sponsored the translation of the Jewish scriptures from Hebrew into Greek. This translation, called the “Septuagint,” meaning “Seventy,” a name derived from the story of its supposedly miraculous origins at the hands of seventy Jewish scribes, came to viewed by both Jews and early Christians as possessing divine inspiration and authority.12
A comparison of the Septuagint itself with the so-called “Letter of Aristeas,” the oldest source for the story of its creation, is interesting and enlightening for an examination of the interaction of Hellenism and Judaism in this period. It is very significant that, in defiance of the Hellenistic tradition of syncretism which would equate the gods of one nation with those of another,13 the translators of the Septuagint chose to call the Jewish God “theos,” the Greek for “god,” and “kyrios,” the Greek for “lord,” rather than, as would have been tempting and natural within a Hellenistic context, “Zeus.”14 The Jewish author of the “Letter of Aristeas,” however, writing in the second century BCE, approximately a hundred years after the translation of the Pentateuch portion of the Septuagint, says that the Jews “worship the same God - the Lord and Creator of the Universe, as all other men, as we ourselves, O king, though we call him by different names, such as Zeus or Dis.”15 This difference between the Septuagint and the “Letter of Aristeas” exhibits an important difference between certain groups within Judaism. There were, apparently, some Jews who were willing to make great concessions to Hellenism and even to adopt its practices of religious syncretism; a larger group of Jews, however, were willing to compromise with Greek culture to a limited extent and especially to search for points of agreement and similarity between the two cultures, but not to the point of trivializing their ancestral God and his laws.
This division within the Jewish community had major consequences in the second century BCE. In 198 BCE, Antiochus III the Great, the ruler of the Seleucid Empire, another of the dynasties spawned by the division of Alexander the Great's empire after his death, conquered Jerusalem from the Ptolemaic dynasty.16 The Seleucid rulers had much less respect for the cultural integrity of their subject nations than did the Ptolemies; the attempts of Greek rulers to force Hellenism on the Jews increased dramatically.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes, one of the sons of Antiochus the Great, banned the Jews and the other nations under his rule from practicing their ancestral religions and customs altogether; in the case of the Jews, he forbade the observance of the Sabbaths and festivals, sacrifices to the Jewish God, circumcision of infants, the observance of kosher food laws, and other uniquely Jewish practices.17 According to the anonymous author of 1 Maccabees, writing in 104 BCE, about a generation after the events he describes,
[Antiochus] wrote to all his kingdom, that they all were to be as one people, and that each one was to forsake his customs. So all the nations accepted the word of the king. Many from Israel also thought it good to serve him, so they sacrificed to idols and profaned the Sabbath.18In fact, according to the same author, some Jews were quite happy, even eager, to abandon Judaism in favor of adoption of Hellenism:
In those days lawless men came from the sons of Israel, and they persuaded many, saying, “Let us make a covenant with the Gentiles surrounding us, for ever since we were separated from them, many evils have found us.” This proposal found favor in their eyes, and some of the people eagerly desired to enter into this agreement. So they went to the king, and he gave them authority to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. Then they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the customs of the Gentiles, and made themselves as the uncircumcision. So they fell away from the holy convenant, yoked themselves to the Gentiles, and sold themselves to do evil.19Stiff and cruel penalties were imposed on those Jews who refused to accede to Antiochus' commands and instead persisted in their traditional ways:
Whenever a book of the covenant was found in someone's possession, or if anyone sympathized with the law, the judgment of the king was to kill him. … They sentenced to death the women who had their children circumcised, and hung the infants from their mother's necks.20Antiochus' most offensive move was the re-dedication of the Jerusalem Temple to Zeus. Within the most sacred area of the Temple, considered by Jews to be off limits to anyone but the Jewish high priest, he erected an idol of the supreme deity of the Greek pantheon and offered pigs, an unclean animal according to Jewish law, as a sacrifice to that god.21
The Jews, finally having had enough, rebelled against Seleucid rule in 167 BCE under the leadership of Judas Maccabee and his brothers.22 In 164 BCE, the Jewish rebels liberated the Temple, capturing it from Greek control, destroying the objects of pagan worship that had been place within it, and replacing them with the sacred objects of Jewish Temple worship.23
Surprisingly, even during this period, which was undoubtedly marked by harsh feelings of Jews toward Greeks and their culture, the more moderate Jewish position of accommodation of Hellenism without the compromising of Jewish faith can still be glimpsed, even on the part of the leaders of the Jewish revolt. Jonathan, Judas's brother who took over leadership of the Jews after Judas's death in 161 BCE, wrote a letter to the Spartans, imploring their friendship. In this letter, preserved by the author of 1 Maccabees, Jonathan assured the Spartans that the Jews offered sacrifices and prayers on their behalf “as it is right and proper to remember brothers.”24 Remarkably, he even made the claim that the Jewish high priest had found a document “regarding both the Spartans and the Jews” and indicating “that they are brothers, and are both of the family of Abraham.”25 It is a notable feature of ancient Jewish-Hellenic relations that even at this period, the leader of the Jewish revolt against Greek rule was willing to assert that the citizens of at least one Greek polis were in fact of common descent with the Jews.
The Jews remained free of foreign rule until 63 BCE, when the Roman general Pompey conquered their land and assumed Judea into the Roman Empire.26 The Jews were once again forced to confront and compromise with Hellenic culture. In this renewed meeting of Hellenism and Judaism, Alexandria, rather than Jerusalem, was the central locus of contact.27 Within Alexandria, Egypt, which had a large and growing Jewish community from the time of the Ptolemies, a uniquely Jewish-Hellenistic philosophy arose beginning in the late first century BCE and early first century CE. The philosophy of Philo of Alexandria, a Hellenized Jewish philosopher who lived approximately 25 BCE-40 CE, is the outstanding early example of this Jewish-Hellenistic philosophy.28
Philo held that the classical Greek philosophers and the Jewish scriptures conveyed essentially the same truths, but in different ways. In proving his point, he reinterpreted much of the Jewish scriptures in the light of what he saw as true in Greek philosophy. He was a pioneer in the allegorical interpretation of the Jewish Bible, an interpretative framework that would later become standard in both Judaism and Christianity.29 In his work, he drew heavily on the methods that followers of the Greek philosophical traditions applied to their interpretations of ancient Greek writings and mythological stories.
He also began the trend, another which would become especially popular among early Christians, of attributing the truths of Greek philosophy to a familiarity of the Greek philosophers with the Jewish scriptures. An example of this popular practice is the claim of Justin Martyr, an early Christian philosopher and apologist who wrote in about 155 CE, that Plato had borrowed his theory concerning the origins of the world from Moses:
And that you may learn that it was from our teachers – we mean the account given through the prophets – that Plato borrowed his statement that God, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who … was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers.30It seems that, as in the case of initial contact between Greeks and Jews as recorded by Josephus and discussed above, the Jews and Christians of the first centuries CE were willing and possibly eager to inquire into Hellenic culture and to celebrate points of agreement, but thought it necessary to cloak their interest and agreement and present these as a Greek interest in things Jewish rather than vice versa.
Just as Philo's Jewish-Hellenistic philosophy would go on to have a major influence on both Jewish and Christian biblical interpretation, the Hellenization of Jews in the western diaspora played an important role in the spread of Christianity, itself an example of a mixture of Hellenism and Judaism, in Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa.31 While the Jews who remained in Palestine or moved to other places in the Middle East tended to resist Hellenic influence and cling more fervently to their ancestral religion, the Jews of the western diaspora more readily adopted aspects of Greek culture and dropped uniquely Jewish practices like circumcision and kosher eating, even while continuing to refer to themselves as Jews. Christianity seemed to many of these Hellenized Jews to be a godsend as it simultaneously allowed them to continue to consider themselves pious worshipers of their ancestral God while not piously practicing the law that had been ordained by this God.32 Christianity allowed Hellenized Jews to simultaneously be good “Greeks” and good Jews.
Of course, interest and influence were by no means one-sided in Greek-Jewish relations. Just as the Jews were influenced by Hellenic culture, the Greeks and Hellenized Romans were also very interested in and influenced by Judaism. The phenomenon of “God-fearers,” Hellenists who adopted the Jewish God and worshiped in the synagogues but were either unwilling or unable to convert and take the Jewish law upon themselves completely, is one outstanding example of Greek interest in Judaism. Actual numbers of God-fearers are difficult to estimate, but there is considerable evidence that fairly large numbers of non-Jews chose this relatively close identification with the Jewish religion in the first several centuries CE.33 Just as many Hellenized Jews converted to Christianity, so did many of the God-fearers, as Christianity offered these hangers-on to Judaism an opportunity to legitimize and formalize what was a rather precarious and unofficial relationship with the Jewish religion and its God.34
Hellenism and Judaism would continue to interact throughout the duration of the Roman Empire's existence and well beyond. The Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, which is still fairly popular among modern Orthodox Jews, for instance, developed within the Jewish communities of Europe in the High and Late Middle Ages under the influence of Neo-Platonic philosophy.35
Christianity, originally an offshoot of Judaism, carried on many of the Hellenic-Jewish traditions that had emerged prior to its advent. For instance, whereas Jews discarded the Septuagint in favor of the Hebrew language Masoretic text in the second century CE, Christians continued to both use and believe in the divine inspiration of the Septuagint.36 In addition to its use of the Greek language in the writing of its scriptures and other important early documents, Christianity also adopted much of the terminology and many of the concepts of Hellenic philosophy to express its own beliefs and even made some of that terminology and those concepts central to its self-understanding. For instance, the Greek word “logos,” meaning “word,” is applied to Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John and was an important concept in several Greek philosophical systems.37 Similarly, the Greek word “homoousios,” meaning “of the same essence,” was derived from the Greek philosophical tradition and used, after some lengthy debate, by the Church Fathers of the fourth century to refer to the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Trinity; the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed, recited by most of the world's Christians on at least a weekly basis in their worship services, contains the word “homoousios” in its second clause.38 Christianity also injected new life into the dying Hellenic culture of the third and fourth centuries CE, reinvigorating an interest in theology, science, literature, and philosophy.39
Hellenism and Judaism both found a home in the early Christian Church.40 Ultimately, it is possible to view Christianity as the continuation of the “moderate stance” of ancient Judaism which was discussed at various points in this paper. It is even possible, with very little reservation, to view Christianity as the final synthesis of Judaism and Hellenism into one systematic philosophical, religious, and cultural milieu. The contact between Judaism and Hellenism which commenced with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE climaxed in the period of the formation of Christian doctrine and practice in the first through eighth centuries CE, as the Fathers of the Christian Church transplanted Jewish faith and practice, with a uniquely Christian twist, into the idiom, language, philosophy, and overall cultural context of Hellenism, creating, in the process, a new culture which was neither specifically “Hellenistic” nor specifically “Jewish” and whose primary proponent was the Christian Church. This new Hellenic-Jewish cultural synthesis would be the dominant cultural force throughout the Middle Ages and lead, finally, to the foundation and formation of the modern world.
1 Charles Moore Watson, The Story of Jerusalem (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1912), 69.
2 Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (New York: Vintage Books, 2008), 48.
3 Flavius Josephus, “The Antiquities of the Jews,” Book 11, Chapter 8, in The Works of Josephus, tr. William Whiston (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1987), 307.
4 Sarah B. Pomeroy, et al., Ancient Greece: A Political, Social and Cultural History, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008), 443.
5 ibid., 433.
6 ibid., 449.
7 ibid., 450-2.
8 Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, 48.
9 Josephus, “Antiquities,” Book 12, Chapter 1, 309.
10 ibid., Book 12, Chapter 2, 309-315.
11 Philo, On the Life of Moses, Book 2, 25-44, tr. Charles Duke Yonge, at “Early Christian Writings” (1993) http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book25.html (Retrieved 28 December 2010).
12 Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible (Leiden: Koninklijke, 2000), 47-50.
13 For instance, the equation of the Greek god Zeus with the Roman god Jupiter. C.K. Hillegass, Mythology (Lincoln: Cliffs Notes, Inc., 1990), 136-7.
14 Jaroslav Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 57-8.
15 “Letter of Aristeas,” 15-6, ed. R.H. Charles, at “Christian Classics Ethereal Library” (1913) http://www.ccel.org/c/charles/otpseudepig/aristeas.htm (Retrieved 28 December 2010).
16 Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, 49.
17 1 Maccabees 1:44-53
18 1 Maccabees 1:41-43
19 1 Maccabees 1:11-15
20 1 Maccabees 1:57, 60-61
21 2 Maccabees 6:2-6
22 Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem, 49.
24 1 Maccabees 12:11
25 1 Maccabees 12:21
26 David Bentley Hart, Story of Christianity: An Illustrated History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith (London: Quercus, 2007), 10.
27 Frederick Coplestone, A History of Philosophy, Volume I: Greece and Rome (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1946), 457.
28 ibid., 458.
29 ibid., 458-62.
30 Justin Martyr, “The First Apology,” Chapter 59, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004), 182.
31 Doron Mendels, “Why Paul Went West,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 37, No. 1 (January/February 2011): 49-54.
32 Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1997), 49-71.
33 Angelos Chaniotis, “Godfearers in the City of Love,” Biblical Archeology Review, Vol. 36, No. 3 (May/June 2010): 32-44.
35 Arthur Edward Waite, Holy Kabbalah (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 1996), 71.
36 Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It?, 65.
37 Coplestone, History of Philosophy, 502-5.
38 Pier Franco Beatrice, "The Word 'Homoousios' from Hellenism to Christianity," Church History 71, no. 2 (June 2002): 243-272.
39 David C. Lindberg, “Science and the Early Church,” in God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, eds. David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 30.
40 H.D.F. Kitto, The Greeks (New York: Penguin Books, 1991), 8.
Beatrice, Pier Franco. "The Word 'Homoousios' from Hellenism to Christianity." Church History 71, no. 2 (June 2002): 243-272.
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Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Excellent Empire: The Fall of Rome and the Triumph of the Church. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990.
Pelikan, Jaroslav. Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.
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