A few days ago, we got the movie Hercules at the library. I thought it was going to be like the Disney cartoon, which is mostly about Hercules' life on earth and his antics with a silly side kick. It turned out to be VERY much about him trying to become a god and the gods controlling things happening on earth and arguing about what to do with him. I made a few comments as we watched it, but I was also busy with other things. So tonight, E wanted to watch it again. I said yes, but that first we needed to talk about the beliefs portrayed in the movie.
I showed her Greece on the globe and told her that some people believed that there were many gods who acted the way the gods act in the movie, but that there is really only one God. While talking about that, I mentioned that Greece used to be a lot bigger than what we see on the globe. She asked questions about that and I told her about the Greeks and the Romans having large empires. I showed her how the country that we now call America used to belong to various other countries. The globe has a little picture of Columbus on it and she asked about that, so I told her about Columbus trying to find India and finding America instead.
Besides this being a chance to talk about different religions and it leading to other ideas and facts, the movie was also a great representation of Greek thought and reminded me just how different it is from Hebraic thought. Many of the modern church's ideas about God, how he treats us, and how we should relate to each other, come from Greek thought, because the church tried to eliminate anything that looked Jewish. They forbade the Messianic Jews and Torah Observant non-Jews to celebrate the feasts and festivals, killed Jews who refused to eat pork and changed the observance of the sabbath to Sunday. Then they mixed Christianity with pagan practices like Christmas and Easter. To top it off, the American government system is based somewhat on the Roman Republic. So the typical American Christian is brought up, in church and in culture, with a Greek-type mindset, thought patterns, beliefs and priorities.
SO MANY thing are affected by this! For example, many of the beliefs that the church holds about women and children are derived from the teachings of Augustine, who had help interpreting the Bible from Plato (a misogynist and not even a Christian). This is where some churches get such beliefs as babies being born evil little sinners, women being made in the image of man (not God), etc. In ancient Judaism, children were not accountable for their own sins until the age of 20 and women were equals to men.
One thing that was brought up several times in the movie was "head over heart" and "never let your heart rule, always be ruled by your head." This is so VERY Greek! From this thought the church derived stereotypes about men being ruled by their heads and women being ruled by their hearts, thus the belief that men are more fit to lead because women are too "emotional." Ancient Judaism teaches that the heart rules the body, not the head, but they do not extrapolate this to mean that the woman should rule over the man, but rather that they should work together in Echad, because in Hebraic thought, all things are circular. This circular thought means that all things are connected, intertwined, come from one another and answers lead into questions. This is in direct contrast to Greek thought, which is linear and must have hierarchy and definite answers. This is where the church gets the linear hierarchy of God, Jesus, man, woman, child, dog. Ancient Judaism focuses Echad, which is plural unity. When combined with the teachings of Jesus and Paul, we get a beautiful picture of the unity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the unity of husband and wife.
Greek thought also affects beliefs about hell. If you just read the words of the Bible, it doesn't say much about the afterlife. Most of the places that have the English word "hell" have the Hebrew or Greek word for grave and if you read the context, it is often obviously talking about physical death. The concept of hell and the devil comes from Greek beliefs about Hades and the gods of the underworld. Modern Christian thought about the afterlife much more closely resembles Greek mythology than Ancient Judaism.
The difference in Greek and Hebraic thought makes such a difference when reading the Bible! I strongly recommend learning about Hebraic thought and reading the Bible through that lens. After all, this is the thought pattern of the authors of the Bible, the thought pattern that God spoke to them through, the thought pattern that Jesus and Paul and the other NT authors had when they referred back to "the Scriptures" and the only scriptures they had to refer to was the Old Testament!