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!

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!

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.

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.

9 Inspirational Quotes from the Early Church

1500 Quotations for PreachersIn January, we announced 1,500 Quotations for Preachers, a five-volume series of quotations from throughout church history. These quotations are extremely helpful in putting together sermons, and can easily be pulled into presentations with the provided quotation slides.

Here are nine inspiring quotes from the Early Church volume:

  1. Tertullian on persecution: “The more often we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”
  2. Jerome on Scripture reading and prayer: “Let the divine scripture be always in your hands, and give yourself so frequently to prayer that such shafts of evil thoughts as ever assail the young may thereby find a shield to repel them.”
  3. Augustine on procrastination: “God has promised pardon to your conversion; He has not promised a tomorrow to your delay.”
  4. Chrysostom on reconciliation: “We are commanded to have only one enemy, the devil. With him never be reconciled! But with a brother, never be at enmity in your heart.”
  5. Athanasius on the renewal of creation: “The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.”
  6. Cyril of Jerusalem on God’s mercy: “Your accumulated offenses do not surpass the multitude of God’s mercies; your wounds do not surpass the great physician’s skill.”
  7. Gregory of Nazianzus on God’s greatness: “No one has yet breathed the whole air, nor has any mind entirely comprehended, or speech exhaustively contained, the being of God.”
  8. Syncletica of Alexandria on the integrity of teachers: “A man whose house is about to fall down may invite travelers inside to refresh them, but instead they are hurt in the collapse of the house. It is the same with teachers who have not carefully trained themselves in the good life: they ruin their hearers as well as themselves.”
  9. Irenaeus on truth and error: “Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.”

Be sure to pick up 1,500 Quotations for Preachers before the price goes up April 9!

Of Flying Spiders and Theologians

Jonathan_EdwardsWhile flying spiders may sound like something gamers would blast in the latest Xbox game, one young man saw in them the wisdom of God.

The technical term for how spiders seem to fly across a distance is ballooning. That observer noted of their flight “the exuberant goodness of the Creator, who hath not only provided for the necessities, but also for the pleasure and recreation of all sorts of creatures, even the insects.”

Those eyes self-trained to see the extraordinary hiding amid the ordinary belonged to Jonathan Edwards. His first published work, in 1723, examined the curious aerial habits of field spiders, a lowly creature ignored by the less discerning.

Looking for enlightenment in what others missed marked Edwards. Following his conversion at 17, he applied scientific observation to the study of both natural and spiritual realms. When the Holy Spirit fell upon his congregation in the early days of the Great Awakening, Edwards called on his understanding of science and the Spirit to observe and record the happenings. Later, that synergy helped Edwards make sense of this great move of God.

The great take risks, both in science and in the Christian life. For Edwards, detailing the workings of God in the lives of men and women put him at odds with established religious thought. Even the congregation he served for 20 years failed to grasp what Edwards understood of the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. The man who many today consider America’s greatest theologian was dismissed in 1750.

Edwards tested the limits of physical science, too, occasionally offering himself as test subject. As an example to the Native Americans he loved and to whom he preached, Edwards embraced the relatively new science of inoculations to prevent disease. Risk is no respecter of persons, however. On March 22, 1758, a botched smallpox inoculation delivered the 54-year-old Jonathan Edwards into the arms of the Lord.

It’s not just field spiders people pass by without notice. Life in the Spirit goes unexamined by most.

“No man is more relevant to the present condition of Christianity than Jonathan Edwards,” wrote D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Indeed, the greatest need in the church today may be for the spiritual “scientist” who observes, tests, and comprehends the signs of the times.

Jonathan Edwards saw. And he understood.

Be the Edwards of today through the spiritual observations of the Edwards of yesteryear. Find that
wisdom in The Works of Jonathan Edwards.

Because the spiritual wisdom of the past unlocks the gateway to the future.

Today’s guest post is by Dan Edelen. Dan writes from his farm in southwest Ohio, where he lives with his wife and son. Since 2003, his blog, Cerulean Sanctum, has been challenging believers to question the status quo. Yet for all Dan’s online gravitas, people who meet him in person are more likely to comment on his NFL linebacker size, his fixation with board games, and his love of laughter.

Save $100 on the Paul’s Letters Collection

Paul's LettersTo celebrate shipping Lexham Bible Guides: Colossians, the latest installment of the Paul’s Letters Collection, we’re giving you $100 off the collection’s regular price. Paul’s letters are full of rich theological material and practical advice—and perhaps that’s why these beloved parts of Scripture can be so difficult to comprehend. Even Peter recognized this, when he said, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:15–16).

Grasp these difficult but important portions of the Bible

Each chapter of the Lexham Bible Guides includes six sections. The “Overview” and “Structure” sections introduce you to a specific passage by briefly summarizing and providing an outline. The “Place within the Book” section explains the immediate literary context and shows how the passage fits into Paul’s argument as a whole. The “Place within the Canon” section goes further by illustrating how Paul’s words fit into the broader context of biblical theology.

“Issues at a Glance” provides you with a quick guide to the major issues in Paul’s letters. It includes a summary of the varying points of view for each issue, along with an annotated list describing which views are held by the top commentaries or other resources. This list includes a summary of the arguments made by each individual author, providing you with the scholarly opinions you may not otherwise have access to. It also provides links to each of the resources discussed, so you can jump right to the relevant section of any Logos resources you own.

Learn relevant cultural context

In addition to the summary of major issues, the “Issues at a Glance” section also includes studies of key Greek words and background studies explaining relevant historical and cultural information. Finally, the “Application Overview” offers you a way to relate the passage to your life or the lives of those you are teaching.

Lexham Bible Guides: Paul’s Letters Collection gives you the tools you need to understand the key issues in Paul’s letters. By summarizing research and presenting it in a clear and concise manner, the collection serves as a quick and easy-to-use guide to these important books. Lexham Bible Guides help you go deeper in the Word without spending countless hours on research.

When you purchase this collection, the volumes on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon will download immediately, and the remaining volumes will be released as they become available.

Order the Lexham Bible Guides: Paul’s Letters Collection by April 4 using the coupon code LBGPLC, and you’ll receive $100 off the regular price.

Last Chance: Free Book on Community Pricing!

F. W. Farrar’s The Messages of the Book has been on Community Pricing for a of couple weeks. To help people get acquainted with how Community Pricing works, we’re giving it to everyone who places a successful bid. The book will only be available until the end of March, so time is running out!

Frederic William Farrar (1831–1903) was an Anglican minister who wrote both fiction and nonfiction. Farrar’s The Messages of the Books is a wonderful look at New Testament origins, the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels, and much more.

Don’t miss your chance to own this classic volume! If your bid is successful, when this becomes available for download, you’ll get it for free. Bid today!

How Does Community Pricing Work?

Check out this helpful video to learn how Community Pricing works. Then try it out for yourself!

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