Greek Poets Influenced First-Century Judaism?

“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” 

When church father Tertullian asked this question, it was rhetorical; the answer, to him, was ‘Nothing.’”

But that’s not exactly true.

To understand the Hellenized Jewish culture Jesus was born into, one should have a cursory familiarity with the poets Homer and Virgil. The Jews, like many of the cultures conquered by Alexander the Great or within Greece’s circle of influence, experienced an assimilation of Greek speech, manners, and culture. Although the more orthodox Jews clashed with their Hellenized brethren over the extent to which Greek culture should infringe on Jewish practices, one can simply look at the translation of Hebrew Scriptures into the Septuagint’s Greek to see how deep that influence went.

Regarding Homer and Virgil’s influence on Hellenized cultures, Karl Olav Sandes writes,

“[Virgil] and Homer, in particular, formed a ‘canon’ of texts that the students met repeatedly and at various levels: ‘Homer’s epics had become the basis for Greek culture. Since classical time they were everybody’s schoolbook (to be more or less retained by memory) and companion for life.’ Homer was the foundational text of the culture in which many NT texts came to life. This conclusion can be inferred from Philo’s extensive discussion on encyclical education, and is supported by Josephus’s writings as well. On the basis of this fundamental role of Homer, it makes sense to look for Homeric traces in the NT, and not to restrict oneself to obvious citations.”—Journal of Biblical Literature vol. 124

The influence of these poets on Hellenized culture goes beyond the literary:

“The impact of the Homeric poems on geographic questions is profound. Geographers normally debated whether Homer accurately relayed geographic information. There is more at stake in these questions, however, than whether Homer is an accurate geographer. Ancient authors of all genres were particularly indebted to Homer as a model and source of material. It is no surprise, then, that ancient geographers engaged the epic poems of Homer.”—Eric C. Stewart, Gathered around Jesus

We might even be surprised by their influence on Scripture. Here Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier discuss Virgil’s possible influence on a Pauline metaphor:

“It is not uncommon for commentators to suggest what might have been in Paul’s mind when he cried out, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?’ (Rom. 7:24). ‘Wretched’ we understand, but what is the ‘body of death’ from which he wants to be rescued? A most gruesome picture is that presented by the Roman poet Virgil (70–19 b.c.), with which his audience in Rome might well have been familiar. In Book Eight of the Æneid, Virgil’s epic poem that chronicles the wanderings of Aeneas after the fall of Troy, the horrific cruelty of the Etruscan king Mezentius is told. To punish and torture his living captives, Mezentius tied them face to face with decomposing corpses of those killed in battle, leaving them bound together until the living captive died. Virgil’s poetic presentation does little to soften the horror of such a fate:

The living and the dead at his command
Were coupled, face to face, and hand to hand,
Till, chok’d with stench, in loath’d embraces tied,
The ling’ring wretches pin’d away and died.
—Virgil’s Æneid, Book Eight

What did Paul call himself—a ‘wretched man’? What did Virgil call those locked in the embrace of death—those ‘ling’ring wretches’? Surely no word other than “rescue” would fit both scenes. And if Paul had Virgil’s epic in mind, then this image of “body of death” suddenly puts the gospel’s deliverance from the law in a new and more serious light.”—Holman New Testament Commentary: Romans

Get works of Homer and Virgil on Community Pricing!

Now you can help set your own price to add these two cultural icons while they’re on Community Pricing.

Homer’s eight-volume Iliad and Odyssey is currently tracking to head into production at $14, and more bids could drive that price down even further. And the four-volume Select Works of Virgil is brand-new to Community Pricing. Bid now on these two important writers!

Another Way to Earn Your DMin Free

Knox Theological Seminary’s $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship is back! Enter to earn your DMin free at DMin.me/Leith-Anderson—the scholarship closes May 10.

This spring, Knox is introducing a new DMin track: “The Gospel in Church and Culture,” coordinated by Dr. Jim Belcher. The track draws on Scripture and Christian tradition to help pastors transform individuals, communities, and society.

If you start before June, you can take Dr. Belcher’s “Mission and Tradition: Seeking Balance in Ministry.” The class will look at the emerging and traditional churches, seeking a third way for the twenty-first century—a path between tradition and modernity.

Congratulations to Gary Golike!

Gary Golike

Gary Golike is the winner of our last Leith Anderson Scholarship. He’s a pastor in Nebraska with 33 years’ ministry experience. Gary is coming out of a sabbatical—he writes, “[The scholarship] comes at a perfect time in my life, and will fulfill a long-desired dream to continue my biblical and theological education. . . . [I feel that the] opportunity to study at Knox is an intentional gift from God.”

“As a teenager,” Gary writes, “I began to wander and attempted to live in both worlds, staying close to life in the church, but also getting involved in worldly behavior. . . . After struggling through a philosophy class that emphasized existentialism and also some relationship issues, I was suddenly struck with the foolishness and purposelessness of my attempts to find my way apart from God’s will.”

If Gary’s wanderings sound familiar, it’s because the tension he faced—between church and culture, tradition and modernity—is the same tension dealt with in Knox’s new Gospel in Church and Culture track. That tension is ancient, and it demands nuanced answers.

Save your seat in Knox’s Gospel in Church and Culture track today.

Then enter to win the $18,000 Leith Anderson Scholarship!

Get the NIV Free until April 8!

NIVThe world’s most popular Bible translation, the NIV, is now available for free—but only for a limited time.

Download the Faithlife Study Bible by April 8, and you’ll get the NIV, along with the FSB’s several daily devotionals, three layers of in-depth study notes, custom highlighting and note-taking, and more.

The Faithlife Study Bible can be read on your iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, or online at Bible.Faithlife.com. It’s the perfect resource to bring with you to church and Bible study, and allows you to study no matter where you are. The FSB is always growing and improving, and by downloading it today, you own the FSB and the NIV for life.

Already using the Faithlife Study Bible? Just open your app by April 8 to get your free copy of the NIV.

This offer ends April 8—get yours today!

Tweet or share this post with your friends so they don’t miss this incredible deal!

Get the Works of Geerhardus Vos on Pre-Pub!

For nearly a century, the works of Geerhardus Vos have remained scattered and difficult to find. Now, for the first time ever, the father of Reformed Biblical Theology makes his way into Logos with a must-have collection of his life’s work. This 14-volume collection compiles nearly all of Vos’ published and unpublished works—everything from his groundbreaking studies on Mosaic authorship, Pauline eschatology, and messianic consciousness, to his little-known poetry, dictionary articles, and book reviews.

But why Vos?

Fluent Hebrew and Arabic, Vos brought biblical theology and textual apologetics to Reformed and Presbyterian churches nationwide—without ever leaving the classroom. He shaped the teachings of the PCUSA and numerous other Presbyterian, Reformed, and Evangelical churches for the next century with his eschatological and hermeneutical insights in New Testament studies. These teachings shaped John Murray, J. Gresham Machen, Herman Ridderbos, and Cornelius Van Til in profound and incredible ways. These are insights that G. K. Beale and Sinclair B. Ferguson still use in their classrooms and commentaries today. Major scholars still read and reference him as a source for teaching interpretation and exegesis. Don’t miss out on this important aspect of theological history. He’s a major part of theological studies today.

Save money on Pre-Pub

This collection is generously discounted while we work on digitizing it. Preorder Vos’ works today!

And don’t miss out on his Reformed Dogmatics—now being translated into English from Dutch.

Get 58 Volumes of Newly Translated Calvin Sermons and Lectures!

John_Calvin_2Calvin is famous for his commentaries and the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Did you know he was also a master preacher and teacher?

There are two ways you can access many of Calvin’s sermons.

1. Learn French

  • Buy a book
  • Buy a language program
  • Invest months or years of your life
  • Catch a flight to Paris
  • Spend lots of time—time you would otherwise be spending celebrating your child’s first birthday, etc.

Or . . . 

2. Support the project to translate Calvin’s sermons into English by placing a pre-order

This is a huge, expensive project. We’re not expecting to profit much from it. We just think making Calvin’s untranslated sermons accessible in English is an important endeavor, and we think you do, too.

Not many organizations have the resources to undertake a project like this, so we thought we’d give it our best shot.

Will you join us?

Support the project by placing a pre-order. As part of the pre-order process, we’ll ask for your credit card number, but we promise we won’t charge your card unless the project materializes—and we’ll send you an email first.

As an added bonus, by pre-ordering early, you’re saving $50.00. And you can even opt out and cancel your pre-order later, so there’s no risk to getting in early.

What are you waiting for? Pre-order this collection, and help us get these important works translated!

Save 75% on D. A. Carson’s Works!

D.A. CarsonD. A. Carson was voted the 2013 Logos March Madness Champion! His prize is your prize—75% off a selection of his works.

We’re offering a similar prize for the runner-up, Martyn Lloyd-Jones—60% off a selection of works.

The deals don’t stop there. We’ve discounted a selection of N. T. Wright’s and Charles Spurgeon’s titles by 50%, and 60 other authors’ works by 30–45%! See all deals now.

Why Logos March Madness is so unique

One of the benefits of buying a whole collection of works is that the cost per individual volume is less than purchasing the volumes separately. But what if you aren’t sure you want the whole collection, or you only want a handful of titles at the sale price?

This is the sale to pick up individual titles or volumes at some of the best possible prices. For instance, you can get Carson’s Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to John for only $11.50 instead of $46.

Another approach to consider is gathering all the discounted books from one author. If you were to add all 15 of D. A. Carson’s discounted resources, the regular price would be over $383—the sale price is only $96!

Lastly, if you’re interested in checking out a new author, this is the best time to pick up one or two titles at a discount—that way you can get a feel for their writing before  considering adding more of their works to your library.

This sale comes only once a year

There’s no guarantee that next year’s Logos March Madness will look the same or feature the same authors and products, so be sure to pick up as many resources now as possible.

The Logos March Madness sale ends April 15. Pick up your favorite titles now—see all deals.

Recommend a certain title? Let us know in the comments or the forums.

Study the Bible in High Definition

One of our newest and most exciting projects is the Lexham High Definition Old Testament. We’re striving to help you understand the Old Testament’s original context and the intent of the authors—in a way that has never been done before.

What is the High Definition Old Testament?

Learn more about the concept of the HDOT by watching this quick video.

 

The HDOT is now available for download. You’ll get Genesis through Jeremiah, Jonah, and Ruth (in the original Tanakh order) immediately upon purchase; the rest of the Old Testament will be automatically added to your library as we complete and release the content. Get it today!

Want to get more in depth with the Hebrew text? The Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible Bundle (6 vols.) contains the High Definition Old Testament, plus the three-volume Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible.

Learn more about the HDOT, HDNT, and Lexham Discourse resources

Check out these posts for more information on the Lexham Discourse Hebrew Bible and High Definition Old Testament.

Logos 5: Logos and Knox Theological Seminary

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

I, along with other Logos users, recently had the privilege of sitting at the feet of master preacher and communicator Dr. Haddon Robinson. What an honor to listen to his biblical insights as we participated in the course “The Art of Expository Preaching,” part of the Knox / Logos DMin program. We were transformed into sponges as Dr. Robinson guided us through numerous passages, carefully exposing the text’s “big idea.” If you’re not familiar with the Knox / Logos program, please check it out here.

Knox Seminary class

The icing on the cake was having Logos close at hand to check out cross-references and track down Hebrew and Greek words. For example, we examined Mark 4:35–41, in which Jesus calms the storm. Regarding v. 39, “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!,’” Dr. Robinson asked, “Does this wording sound familiar to a previous event in Mark?”

Here’s what I did, and you can do, to answer that question:

  • Open a Bible with the reverse interlinear option, such as the ESV or LEB
  • Navigate to Mark 4:39 (A)
  • Right-click on the word rebuked (ESV) (B)
  • Select Lemma “the Greek word” (C) | Search this resource (D)

Image 1 for Right Mouse Searching steps

  • Click Aligned on the search panel to display the search hits in a center column (E)
  • Repeat the above search for the word still (ESV) (F)

Image 2 for Right Mouse Searching

These searches, locating all occurrences of the Greek lemmas regardless of how they’re translated in English, replace the Englishman’s Greek (and Hebrew) Concordance print editions that we lugged around.

Notice that Mark 1:25 contains the same words rebuke and be still as Jesus confronts an unclean spirit. Was this just an ordinary, “natural” storm in Mark 4? That’s what we wrestled with in class, and I’ll leave the answer to you.

The point I’m making is that Logos, even in the classroom, provides instant access to biblical information. Remember, don’t leave home without Logos!

 

Save 75% on the Logos March Madness Champion’s Works

Logos March Madness has come down to two authors: D. A. Carson vs. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

You must vote today before 5 p.m. PST. The winner’s works will be discounted by 75%, and the runner-up’s works will be discounted by 60%. Vote now!

March Madness Champions

Don’t wait for a winner—save up to 50% now

Check out the works of some of this year’s best-selling authors:

Save 50% on titles by N. T. Wright and Charles Spurgeon

Save 45% on titles by Bruce Metzger and A. W. Tozer

Save 40% on titles by Darrell Bock and John Calvin

Save 35% on titles by Gordon Fee and John Owen

Save 30% on titles by Ben Witherington and James Montgomery Boice

Vote now, and be sure to check out all of this year’s deals.

How the Resurrection Triumphs over “YOLO!”

colossians

It would have been hard to get through 2012 without hearing or seeing the acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once). The term regularly trended on Twitter, showed up in Facebook news feeds, and quickly became part of the pop culture vernacular.

Like a modern Carpe Diem, “YOLO!” is the cry of a generation seeking to squeeze all the possible goodness from life. If the end of your one life is death, why deny yourself happiness now?

It may seem nihilistic, but it makes sense. If this is our only opportunity to taste life’s fruit, then we should indulge. Even Paul affirms this in his discussion with the Corinthians, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Cor. 15:32). It would seem that, in a closed system in which death is life’s final outcome, “YOLO!” is the only rational response.

But the fact that Jesus rose from the dead changes everything. Here are three ways that Christ’s death and resurrection triumph over “YOLO!”:

1. Christ’s resurrection has made a mockery of death

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Col. 2:13–15)

Not only are the rulers and authorities—demonic or otherwise—that would hold death over our heads vanquished; they’re humiliated. I love Paul’s imagery here. Jesus didn’t just destroy them, he disarmed them. Imagine an invading horde coming into a city and the king going out and simply taking their weapons from them—how embarrassing.

Christ has removed death’s stinger (1 Cor. 15:51); it no longer has power over us. The grave is not life’s final word.

2. Christ’s resurrection gives us hope

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”—1 Thessalonians 4:13–14

“YOLO” has an intrinsic sadness in it. The reveler who looks at life with a “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” mentality cannot help but shrink from death’s inevitability, and mourn for those who’ve passed.

But the resurrection gives us hope! Death isn’t a period at the end of our lives; it’s a comma.

3. Christ’s resurrection is a new beginning

In Romans 8, Paul shows us that Christ’s resurrection kicked off a chain reaction leading to the redemption of all things.

The Spirit of he who raised Christ from the dead dwells in those who belong to him (Rom. 8:11) making us children of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:15–17). And all of creation, which has groaned under the weight and futility of sin has waited for the revealing of the children of God in order that it be set free from its bondage and corruption (Rom. 8:20–22). Within the resurrection of Christ lie the seeds for the restoration of all things.

It’s no wonder that Paul’s heart erupts with the admonition to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4)

For those who believe death has the final word, to embrace life from a “you only live once” perspective makes perfect sense. But for those whose lives are lived in the light of Christ’s resurrection, nothing in this life is “worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18)

The promise of Easter is that, because death is not the end, the pleasures of this world have lost their luster. I may only live once, but thanks to Jesus, it will be one long, glorious life spent in God’s presence.

Looking for resources for study or meditation this Easter season? Check out our specials for Holy Week.