Pfeiffer, file 2 (unverified)
The centuries going from the rule of Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) to that of Octavian Augustus (27 B.C.-A.D. 14) are commonly called the Hellenistic period. The culture of this period, since Droysen gave vogue to the term, is incorrectly called “Hellenism”2 (properly, classical Greek
1 The brilliant book of Paul
Wendland, Die hellenistisc mische Kultur in ihrm Beziehungen zu
Christentum (Handbuch zum Neum Testament, Vol. I, Part 11).
2The word "Hellenism" occurs in ancient literature (hellenim6s), meaning the correct use of the Greek language and, in II Macc. , the adoption of Greek manners (being a synonym of allophylism6s, the adoption of foreign customs). Similarly, the verb hellenizein and the noun hellenistes, which originally referred to the use of the Greek language, came to mean the adoption of Greek culture; on "Hellenist" in Acts 6:1; 9:29, etc., see Jackson and Lake, Beginnings of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 59-74. For the connotations of "Hellenism,' in ancient and modem times, see R. Laquem, Hellenismus Giessen, 1925.
culture), thus avoiding the correct-but dreadful-word "Hellenisticism." in view of the fact that art, science, literature, and philosophy in the early centuries of the Roman Empire were essentially Hellenistic (even Rome's greatest creation, jurisprudence, did not escape Greek influence), we may be allowed in this chapter to call the culture from 300 B.C. to A.D. 200 "Hellenism."
1. Historical Sketch
Philip II, king of
Macedon (356-336 B.C.), defeated the
Greek states at Cbaeronea (338) and settled the perennial "Balkan
by forcing them, with the exception of
When Alexander died in 323, his empire fell apart. After the battle of Ipsus (301), Ptolemy I added Coele-Syria to
The conquests of Alexander and the rule of his successors are less significant politically than culturally in the history of
charged with the diffusion of Greek civilization3, which even their military success per se confirmed as superior. Alexander, who bad been a pupil of Aristotle (384-322), attached to his general staff Greek scholars and scientists, mostly trained by Aristotle: geographers, called Bematists or surveyors (Baeton, Diogenes, Amyntas), Whose observations were utilized by Dicaearchus; botanists, notably Theophrastus, whose geography and physiology of plants laid the foundations of scientific botany; historians, both professional (Callisthenes) and amateur (Nearchus described his sea voyage from India; Androsthenes reported his exploration of the Persian Gulf; Ptolemy and Aristobulus reported military campaigns); etbriographers, zoologists, mineralogists, bydrographers, and others. Unfortunately this mass of important scientific material, with the exception of the botanical works of Theophrastus, has been lost, althougb much of it was preserved indirectly and partially in the works of later Hellenistic and Roman scientists.
It is primarily in the scientific field that the Greeks surpassed all other ancient nations. Egypt, Babylonia, and, at a much later date, China had in very early times reacbed a relatively high level of civilization, but, owing perhaps to the brilliance of the initial achievement, they soon became fixed and crystallized, never fulfilling their early promises: the Egyptian art of 2800 B.C. is superior to that of 280 B.c. Their achievements are primarily in the field of plastic arts, practical devices, and measures contributing to human comfort. But in the intellectual field there is little to be said: no great literature (aside from
It was thus inevitable that the civilization of
3 In modem times this
education of the "natives" is quaintly called "the white man's
burden," although it usually proves to be quite lucrative. The
in equstorial and
4 As early as 380 B.c., Isocrates could say that as a result of the spread of Athenian culture, "the name 'Hellene' now no longer means racial origin, but Indicates spiritual character, mentality; and those called 'Hellenes' are not so much blood relations as those who partake of our education" (Panegyric 50).
wisdom of the East
On the other hand, it was inevitable that the peoples of
5 On the cities founded by Alexander and his successors see K. J. Beloch, Geschichte, 2nd ed., Vol. 4, Pt. 1, pp. 251-262. Some of these new Hellenistic cities are mentioned in the New Testament.
An observer in 200 B.C. would never have doubted the permanence of Hellenism in Western Asia; but a century later the signs of its decay were obvious: it was on the defensive against the Oriental reaction. The rejection of Hellenism in Judea through the victories of Judas Maccabeus was the dramatic forerunner of a general trend which eventually wiped out all traces of Greek culture in Western Asia and Egypt-aside from some archaeological ruins. Like the Philistines before and the Crusaders later, the Macedonians were eventually absorbed in Western Asia, following a striking initial success. Livy (38, 17) already observed this assimilation with the natives when he wrote: "The Macedonians who have colonies at Alexandria in Egypt, at Selencia and Babylon, and at other places scattered over the world, have degenerated into Syrians, Parthians, and Egyptians.”
Romanization of the West was thorough and
bequeathed to modern times the languages derived from vulgar Latin (the
languages still spoken in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Rumania, and
Switzerland) and the solid unity of the Roman Church before the
the Hellenization of the Near East was only superficial: the Greek
spoken chiefly in the cities, did not survive the triumph of the old
(Aramaic or Syriac, Persian, the languages of Asia Minor, Coptic) and
Arabic; and the Greek Church could not prevent the rise of national
using Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian in their
to speak of the growth of Zoroastrianism and the irresistible spread of
Islam. The decline of the Seleucid dynasty, which began with
Epiphanes (175-163), the rise of the Parthian Empire (founded by
[171-138]), and the Roman conquests (following the victory over
the Great at Magnesia in 190 B.c.) mark the beginning of Hellenism's
when the Romans burned Seleucia to the ground in A.D. 164, they
the torch of Greek culture cast of the Euphrates. After the rise
Christianity, only the study of Greek philosophy, especially the works
and (notably in the
2. General Charact
It remains now to
characterize the Hellenistic culture, the
vicissitudes of which have been briefly sketched. The
changes in the civilization of
abiding creations of
the genius of Kant, Goethe, Beethoven,
and others, came to an end with the final convulsion marked by the
Nietzsche and Wagner. After 1870 the mental energy of
The Greek classical
culture, Teaching its apex at
The immediate effect of the end of the polis, the independent Greek city-state, and the rise of great kingdoms and empires through the conquests of Alexander was paradoxically to give to human life both a cosmopolitan and an individualistic aspect.
Even though, as has
been noted, Hellenism did not take root
in the Near East as deeply as Romanism in the West, the conquests of
did contribute to the education of the "barbarians," to the spread of
the Greek language (in the form called koin,6 Ididlektos], or common
and thus, to some extent, to the obliteration of the distinction
and "barbarians ' " inasmuch as they attained the same cultural level
(cf. Aristotle's remark in 348, reported by josephus, Against
§§176-182). Besides this creation of a common culture and
language over a
wide area, Alexander's empire tended to break down more and more the
empire per se pointed in the direction of a new conception which in theory bad been partially developed before Alexander, the oikoumene (the inhabited earth), the unity of the human race (genus humanum, Cicero, De finibus 111, 67), humanity or "One World" (Wendell Wfllkie), in which there is "neither Greek nor Jew ... barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free" (Col. 3:11), in which, as Cicero said (De finibus III, 63) referring to Cbrysippus, a man on account of the mere fact that be is a man will not appear to be an alien in the presence of another man. In this period the Stoics had some vague notion of "the parliament of man, the federation of the world" (Tennyson), for they conceived a uniform law applied to all men and according to which, as if according to a common light, all are ruled (Plutarch, De Alexandii Magni fortune 1, 8). So, at least in principle, the nationalism of the polis and of the small kingdom tended to be absorbed in the universalism of the world empires How the barrier between Greeks and "barbarians" tended to be obliterated may be seen in the following contrast: Aristotle (fragment 658, edit. Rose) advised Alexander to practice "hegemony" (leadership) with the Greeks but "despotism- with the barbarians, caring, for the first as for friends and relatives, but utilizing the latter like plants or animals. A century later, however, Eratosthenes (in Strabo 1, pp. 66-67; cf. Cicero, De republics I, 58), rejecting this division into masters and servants, taught that one should judge and distinguish men according to virtue and wickedness alone-a classification unrelated to the distinction of races.
This notion of mankind as a whole and the establishment of a world empire naturally implied, for Alexander, a common culture for aU mena culture basically Hellenic but enriched vath Oriental contributions. As in the case of paint, the vaster the surface over which a culture is spread, the thinner the veneer will be. Leveling is always downward, to the standards of the masses. A general, average, Hellenistic culture was thus developed; national differences tended to disappear; Greek dialects were losing their identities in the koine-the common international speech chiefly based on Attic, in which the Septuagint and the New Testament were written; local juristic practices and principles tended to be merged into laws for all nations; education, morals, commerce and industry, and even religion were losing some of their parochial characteristics and coalesced into average forms; and the noblest creation of the age, Stoic philosophy, taught that the world was one and the individual (whatever his race and rank)-was supreme-tbus giving
6 "If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and men be true, what remains for men to do but as Socrates did: never, when asked one's country to answer, 'I m an Athenian or a Corinthian,' but 'I am a citizen of the world'“(Epictetus,Discourses I: 9,1).
philosophical expression to the new cosmopolitan and individualistic spirit. As U. von Wilamowitz-Moeflendorff aptly said, "The Stoa sets out solely from the single person and culminates in the wise man for whom individualization is essential. This is diametrically the opposite of the old Hellenic principle which sets out from the community: the ideal conception of Plato is a community, that of Zeno is an individual."
The rise of individualism runs parallel to that of internationalism. Diogenes calls himself kosmopolites (world citizen): the whole world becomes the fatherland of the sage,7 who would have approved John Wesley's dictum: "The world is my parish." On the contrary, in the Greek polis of earlier days patriotism was purely local and the interests of the city-state were supreme. The citizen devoted the best of his thought and energy to the conduct of public affairs, his life unfolded within his commonwealth's limits, outside of which he was an alien merely tolerated and without a voice in the administration of the state. As a public servant responsible for the welfare of his city, which depended to a great extent on the decisions reached by the assembly, the citizen left his private affairs largely in the hands of the women and the slaves of his family (like the fortunate husband in Prov. 31:10-31). With the decadence of the polis even before the time of Alexander- due in part to its inability to administer a vast territory, to the rise of political parties more concerned with selfish interests than with the public welfare, and to the bitter strife between Greek cities-and with its final absorption within the kingdom of Philip, the empire of Alexander, and at last within the Roman Empire, participation in the government was precluded to all but a few citizens. The result was a greater concern with private affairs, a greater interest in the home-which gave to womanhood a new importance and dignity-a desire for a successful professional or business career far from the native town, in one of the metropolitan centers of culture or at court, if not in the Hellenistic cities of Asia, which was then the America of the Greeks. The social instinct now found expression in labor unions or craftsmen's guilds, religious and charitable associations, clubs. Individualism and realism are characteristic of Hellenistic art; it excelled in portraits which are true to life.
A good index of this trend from public to private affairs is the Athenian comedy. Aristophanes (d. ca. 380 B.C.) satirized on the stage public figures and political movements which displeased his conservative attitude. A century later Menander (@-291 B.C.) was instead the precursor of Moliere in presenting wittily or commiseratingly human foibles and domestic troubles, and in depicting standard types of persons such as the misanthrope, the libertine, the rniser, the coquette. Menander's contemporary, the botanist Theophrastus (d. ca. 287), in his characters
7 Cf. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte, Vol. 4, Pt. I, p. 404.
such types as the flatterer, the grumbler, etc.; cf. C. N.
J. M. French, A Bibliography of the Theophrastan Character in
The great political upheavals of the times brought to the fore great personalities of leaders, men of iron will, definite purpose, prompt decision, utter ruthlessness, dazzling daring. Such men were the first two Ptolemies, Seleucus I, Antioebus 111, Cassander, Antigonus Cyclops, Demetrius Poliorcetes, Herod the Great, and others. By their side, or alone, are the women who, through intrigue, crime, flirtation, and keenness of mind, gain immense political influence or power: Berenice, Cleopatra the Great, some Seleucid queens, Herodias, and others. While the masses worship the emperor and call him soter (savior), men of letters are devoting themselves to a new genre, biography (the books on Alexander; Nicholas of Damascus, whose biography of Herod was abundantly excerpted by josephus; Plutarch). In its manifold variety and emotional complexity, in the contrasts between pomp and simplicity, sentimentalism and selfishness, puritanism and licentiousness, romanticism and realism, education and propaganda, science and superstition, Hellenistic life is strangely modern, we almost could say "American- even though the world was then empty of machines and full of slaves.8 This new cosmopolitan and individualistic mentality permeated literature, science, philosophy, and religion; thus it radically modified them and laid the foundation of Roman culture, from which our own has eventually descended.9
3.. Hellenistic Literature
The decline of the classical literature of the age of Pericles had begun before Alexander. A new spirit which was to prevail in Hellenism, is
8 Cf. U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, in Die Griechische und Lateinische Litffatur and Sprache (Kultur der Gegenwart, Part 1, Division VIII), pp. 92 f. Berlin and Leipzig 1905. P. Wendland, Hellenistisch-romische Kultur, pp. 19-24. W. W. Tam, Hellenistic Civilization, pp. 3 f.
9 Cosmopolitan and individualistic tendencies prevail likewise in public administration, social and economic matters, painting and sculpture-subjects which lie outside the scope of the present summary; see for them the works cited at the beginning of this chapter.
10 In addition to the general
works cited at the beginning of this chapter, see the brilliant summary
von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff in Die Griechische und Lateinische
Sprache (Kultur der Gegenwart 1, viii), pp. 81-197 (for Latin
literature see F.
Leo, ibid., pp. 316-373). For details, see: F. Susemihl,
griechischm Litteratur in der Alexandrineneit, 2 vols.
apparent in Euripides (d. ca.407), in contrast with Aeschylus (d. 456) and Sophocles (d. 406 at the age of ninety); and in Aristotle (d. 322), in contrast with Plato (d. 347). Euripides begins to bring drama down to earth, to the level of everyday problems and emotions. In his accurate character drawing, psychological analysis of passion, sense for dramatic conflict in human life, concern with stage effects and audience reaction, Euripides is a precursor not only of the Hellenistic theater, but of the modem one as well-Dotably in making of love the chief topic in some of his plays. Aristotle, on the other hand, inaugurated a new era by forsaking the brilliant metaphysical and abstract speculations of Plato for research in the humanities and the natural sciences. Aristotles own classroom lecture notes (hypomnemata) were jotted down with little attention to literary form and were later worked over by him and by his pupils into books for publication, which, being intended chiefly as manuals for information, lacked rhetorical art. And yet, as in the case of some modern functional constructions (like suspension bridges), such writings stressing content rather than form have an artistic appeal of their own. In fact such learned works are probably the best products of Hellenistic literature, in which the finest writings are seldom within the realm of belles-lettres.
The rationalism of Aristotle, which had been foreshadowed by the Sophists, and the realism of Euripides eventually had a corrosive effect on Athenian classical poetry, as on Platonic mysticism. The latter, in various admixtures with Orphism and Oriental religions, sank to the level of the credulous masses until it was rescued for philosophy by Posidonius. Poetry had been nourished since Homer by religion and mythology: now traditional religion is in flux, and myths have become fairy tales for children (unless they be interpreted allegorically as vehicles of the deepest truths). This agnostic attitude, together with the humanization of mythical beings in Euripides, robbed ancient myths of their romantic halo and thus dried up the types of poetry nourished by mythical lore: epics, tragedies, and hymns were no longer inspired by faith, their breath of life, and thus became artificial, mere empty shells, skillfully adorned whitened sepulchers. The Alexandrian poetry that had a spark of life found its inspiration outside of mythology in the actual world of men and nature.
The Cretan Rhianus (ca. 260 i3.c.), author of a Heraclaeid and of local sagas in verse (notably on the second Messenian war), Antagoras of Rhodes (about 300-260), and particular Apollonius of Rhodes (ca. 270 B.c.), author of the Argmwutica, wrote epics in Homeric style, but modernized in the manner of novels by means of love interest, adventures, and details drawn from life. But Callimachus had probably such long epics in mind when be said that "a big book is a big evil." Vergil of
In the third century the seven authors known as the Pleiad (a name revived by Pierre de Ronsard [d. 15851 in La Pleiade), strove to revive classical tragedy but failed dismally, although they found imitators among Alexandrian Jews. A monologue-drama, written by Lycophron, the Alexandra (dealing with Cassandra), and a few fragments are all that survives from the Pleiad.
Other poetic genres showed more vitality-in spite of the fact that their verses proceeded from the pens of erudite scholars and were intended for the intelligentsia. The elegy, which later flourished in Roman literature, was revived in the Hellenistic period by Philetas of Cos (d. ca. 280), Hermesianax (ca. 290), Euphorion (ca. 230), and others. Asclepiades of Samos (ca. 290), composed songs and erotic epigrams: his topics ranged from 'wine, women, and song" to the sadness of man's lot. In his day, his imitators were Hedylus of Athens and Poseidippus of Alexandria. Leonidas of Tarentum (ca. 280) composed more elaborate epigrams, which influenced Phoenician and Syrian poets of the period 130-60 D.C.: Meleager and Philodemus of Cadara in Transjordania (whose erotic epigrams have been compared to the Song of Songs), and Antipatros of Sidon.11
The two masters of Hellenistic poetry are Theocritus of Syracuse (ca. 280-260) and Callirnachus of Cyrene (ca. 280-245), the first more inspired as a poet, the second more celebrated (Quintilian calls him elegiae princess) and a far greater scholar. Theocritus, the greatest of bucolic poets, composed graceful-if sophisticated-idyls (imitated, but not surpassed, by Vergil in his Eclogues), in which the descriptions of nature's charms and of rustic festivals make us forget that the shepherds of Theocritus are really cultivated gentlemen wearing a rustic disguise. Callimaebus composed hvmns, epigrams, and notably elegies and idyls (like his Hekale); his chief work (Aitia) is a collection of ancient local
11 The Greek Anthropology( Anthologia
preserved in a single mauscriptof the Palatine Library in
legends relating the origin of customs and the founding of Greek cities. Ovid (d. ca. A.D. 17), his greatest successor, recognized that his poetic technique surpassed his inspiration (ingenia non valet, arte valet).
Hellenistic poetry displays not only great erudition, as in Callimachus, but also scientific knowledge. The best known astronomical poem is the Phain6mena of Aratus of Soli in Cil. cia (d. eq. 245). Paul probably quoted the verse "M him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts ) from its initial invocation to Zeus. The poem describes the constellations and has an appendix on the signs of the weather (cf. Matt. 16:2f.), leaving open the question whether the stars make the weather or merely point it out in advance. Aratus, however, committed some errors due to misunderstanding. Nicander of Colophon was similarly criticized by
Folk literature flourished by the side of this sophisticated, erudite, and rhetorical poetry: little of it, except the new comedy (Meander, 341291 B.C.), was spontaneous and natural. On a lower level than the Attic new comedy, the comic burlesques of tragedy (phlyakes), presented by grotesquely costumed actors, sent southern Italian and Sicilian audiences into peals of laughter. Through the medium of the Campanian Atellanae -ribald farces transplanted to
Apart from scientific, scholarly, and philosophical works, the prose literature of the Hellenistic period comprises primarily history and fiction, which are not always sharply separated, for historical works (since Herodotus) included legends and fanciful tales, while novels were sometimes built around historical characters. Jewish literature of this period, both Palestinian and Alexandrian, displays the same disregard of a sharp demarcation between fact and fancy. Honestly historical are the books
12 The three mimes of Theocritus are: The Sorceresses (Idyl II), The Loves of
Cynisca (Idyl XIV), and The Syracusan Women at the Festival of Adonis (Idyl XV).
Ptolemy I on Alexander and the naval report of Nearchus on the voyage
Apart from the life of Alexander and the history of Roman conquests, Hellenistic historians disclosed a keen interest in the history of Oriental nations:14 the Jews (I Maccabees in Greek, Jason of Cyrene and II
13The Histories of Polvbius were continued by Posidonius of Apamea (or Of Rhodes, 135-51 B.C.) who was far better as a Stoic philosopher than as a hisiorian.
14 The fragmentary surviving
texts of these historians are edited with a Latin translation in C. and
Muller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, Vols. 1-4.
Maccabees, Flavius josephus), the Egyptians (Hecataeus of Abdera, ca. 290 B.c.; Manetho, ca. 270 B.C.; Plutarch's On Isis and Osiris, ca. A.D. 100), the Babylonians and Assyrians (Berossus, ca. 280; the famous cbronological canon of reigns by Claudius Ptolemy, second century of our era; Abydenus, early in our era), the Pboenicians (Menander, second century B.C.; Dios; Pbilostratus; in the first century of our era Philo Byblius, translated the Pboonician myfliology of Sanchuniathon); the Indians (Megasthenes).
Out of such national histories were the universal histories compfled. The most important for us is the Historical Library (BibliotukO historike') of Diodorus Siculus (ca. 25 B.c.). Only books 1-5 (mythic beginnings) and 11-20 (480-302 B.C.), of the forty books of Diodorus, bave survived more or less intact, but abundant fragments of the rest (notably those from the last ten books, preserved by Pbotius) are known. His method is annalistic. Tbe first part describes the mytbical history of non-Hellenic nations (1-3) and of the Greeks (4-6); the second deals with the bistory from the fall of Troy to the death of Alexander the Great (7-17); and the third part comes down to Caesar's Gallic war in 60 B.C. (18-40). The work is merely a vast collection of extracts strung on a thin thread of original narrative, but it is invaluable for us, baving preserved fragments of earlier historians wbich otherwise would be lost; thus it bridges the gap between Xenophon and Polybius.
Much larger is the work in 144 volumes entitled Histories, written by Nicbolas of Damascus, the confidential secretary of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), in ten years (ca. 15-6 B.c.). Fragments of the first seven books (coming down to Cyrus) are preserved. Nicbolas is the main source of josepbus for the biography of Herod in books 15-17 of the Antiquities, and his sole source in War 1, 18-33. Nicbolas had written a detailed biography of Herod (Josephus, Antiquities 16:7, 1), but we do not know whether it was the final part of his Histori--s or a separate work.15
The third universal bistory was written in Latin, tbough based on Greek sources, by the Gaul Pompeius Trogus in the latter part of the reign of Augustus.(31 B.C.-A.D. 14) and was entitled Philippic Histories. We bave only an ecbo of it in the miserable epitome prepared by junianus justinus in the second or third century-a wretched opus which enjoyed great popularity among the Cburch Fathers. The Prologi (or table of contents) give us a better idea of the scope of the original work.
15 Cf - H. St. John
Thackeray, fosephus: The Man and the Historian, pp. 40 f., 65-67.
The title is taken from the Philippica of Theopompus (a Macedonian history). Books 1-6 deal with the Near East to the Persian Wars; books 7-12 with Macedonian history (7-9 to the death of Philip, 10-12 to the death of Alexander); books 12-40 come down to Augustus; two appendixes close the work: books 41-42 deal with the Pardiians, and books 42-44 with the founding of Rome, and with the Gauls and Iberians. One of the main sources of Trogus seems to have been the book On King& by his earlier contemporary Timagenes.
The best known world chronicles (Chronographiai) are those of Eratosthenes of Cyrene (ca. 230-200 B.C.), ApoUodorus of Athens (ca. 150-100 B.C.), and Sosibius Lakon (second century B.C.?), Castor of ]Rhodes (ca. 50 B.C.), Dionysius of Halicarnassus (d. ca. 7 B.C.), Thallus (middle of the first century of our era?),16 and others down to the Christian chronographers Sextus Julius Africanus (ca. 225) and Eusebius of Caesarea (d. ca. 340), whose world chronicles were utilized by their ByzaDtine successors.17
autobiographies are characteristic of the
Hellenistic age. The earliest autobiography (or "confessions")
known is the "apology' of Hattushil III, king of the Hittites (ca.
1281-1260 B.C.), if we disregard the self-laudatory grave inscriptions
Egyptian monarchs of the Middle Kingdom in the first half of the second
millennium B.C. Nehemiah's memoirs, contained in his book, are
unique in the fifth century B.C. In the Hellenistic period Pyrrhus,
VII Euergetes 11, and Aratos of Sykion (271-213), wrote their
autobiographies. In the Roman period such memoirs were written in
(Nicholas of Damascus, Flavius josephus) and in Latin (Scaurus and
the Cornmentarii of Julius Caesar). Collections of biographies
with Clearchus of Soli (ca. 300), Antigonus of Carystus (d. ca. 220
wrote on the Athenian philosophers of the third century B.C., and with
of Alexandria (ca. 220), a biographer of statesmen, poets, and
Out of the mass of uncritical and semifictional biographies written in
There is accordingly no hard and fast demarcation between these historical and biographical writings and fiction-particularly historical fiction, such as the Cryopaedia, (education of Cyrus) by Xenophon. And
16 Horace A. I g, Tr, ("Thallus: The Samaritan?" [HTR 34 (1941) 111-1191), has shown that there is no valid evidence proving that Thallus was a Samaritan.
17 See the standard work of
H. Gelzer, Sextus Julim Afrkanus and die bywnt. Chrmographie.
I (on the chronography of Africanw),
who can tell whether
one of the numerous Lives of Alexander
is romanticized history or historical fiction? As a matter of
became the hero of one of the most widespread sagas ever written: the
tale, like the hero, conquered the world! The innumerable forms
Alexander sagas in Latin, Greek, French, English, German, Spanish,
Swedish, Icelandic, Flemish, and Czech literatures down to Boccaccio's
Decameron, ultimately go back to the story written by andria in the
century Greek and its Byzantine reinspired the varied and interend of
third century A.D.; Historia de Proeliis, tenth century),
century), Pahlavi (Persian, ca. sixth century), Syriac (translated
Pahlavi, seventh century), Arabic (translated from the Syriac, ca.
Sabidic-Coptic (eighth century; see 0. von Lemm, Der Alexanderroman der
Hellenistic fiction, in accordance with a
trend begun in Aramanic literature during the proceeding Persian
a sea into which poured motifs and plots out of the various
Western cultures, from the
18 The standard edition of the Greek text is:
HistAlexandri M (pudo-CaUisthenes). Vol. 1: Recensio
Berlin., 1926. A German criticaly reconstructed text is given by
Ausfeld, Der griechische Alexanderroman, edited by W. Kroll.
19 For Eropean medieval Alexander romances see
Meyer, Alemndre le grand dans la litterature francaise au moyen age. 2
20 See: K. Ker6nyi, Die eriechisch-orientalische Romanliteratur in religiongeschitlicher Beleuchtung (1927Y. C. H. Becker, -Dw Erbe der Antike im Orient end okzit (1931). Miss R. S6der, Die apokryphm Apostelgeschichten und die romanhafte Literatur der Antike (1932). G. E. von Grunebaum, "Greek Fom Elements in the Arabian Nights" (JAOS 62 [19421 277-292; cf. 64 [19441 62 f ., n. 7).
wisdom of Ahikar.21
The earliest version known is an
Aramaic text circulating in the
in a sense the novel
(as distinguished from the short
story, which is much earlier) is a creation of the Hellenistic
separate strains combined to create the full-length novel: love_ and
Love poetry was ancient in Greek literature and flourished in new forms
Alexander; love became the prevailing topic in the New Comedy (although
sentimental outpourings are not frequent in it); now romantic love
the joys and sorrows, longings and disappointments of fictitious lovers
present times or of long ago (such as Hero and Leander, Jason and
Pyramus and Thisbe, and others; see in particular Ovid's
tale of adventures in distant fabulous countries also appears early in
literature, beginning with Homer's Odyssey; the Gilgamesh Epic
ancient Babylonian example of such descriptions of marvels and wonders
witnessed in imaginary lands. The Sicilian Euhemerus (ca. 275)23
Sacred History- philosophical roman a these-relates that on the
island of Panchaea in the Indian Ocean he found an inscription
activities of Greek gods (Uranus, Cronus, Zeus) when they were still
conquerors, before they were worshiped as gods by their grateful
attempt to rationalize mythology, tracing religion to ancestor worship
cult of the dead, was not new, but gained wide popularity through
it suggested to the author of
21 For biographical references see the chapter on Tobit.
22 The Standard work is Edwin Rohde, Der
Roman und seine Vorlaufer, 3rd ed/ Liepzig, 1914. See also B.
23 Cr. T. S. Brown, "Euheineros and the Historians" (HTR 39  259-274).
dom of Solomon (-17)
one of the ways in which idolatry began. journeys to fantastic places
the subject of the novel on the Hyperboreans by Hecataeus of Abdera
and of those of AmGmetus dealing with the
4. Hellenistic Science
voyages to the lands "of
make-believe" were inspired by the actual explorations by land and sea
which, as we have seen, began with the far-reaching conquests of
Great. Besides the exact measurements of road distances traversed
Alexander, which the Bematists preserved for later geographers, other
of exploration supplied important inforrnation.25 Nearchus at the
Alexander sailed down the
24 The fantastic tales about Baron Karl F. H.
Miincbhausen ( 1720-1797) were written by R. E. Raspe, anonymous author
Baron Munchamen's Naffative of his Marvelous Travels and Campaigns in
25 On the geographical knowledge of the
Hellenistic period, see in particular, H. Berger, Geschicte der
wissenschaftlichen Erdkunde der Griechen. Four parts,
Such firsthand observations of lands and seas bitherto unknown to the Greeks not only contributed to create that cosmopolitan feeling and the global notion of the oikounw'ni (whole inhabited earth), hut also furnisbed scientific geographers with needed information. Dicaearchus, a pupil of Aristotle (d. 322 iB.c.), proceeded to measure the size of the earth, the spheric sbape of wmch had been discovered before him, and reached results wbich occasionally were almost correct; on his map be divided the oikoumene into a northern and a southern half, separated by the Mediterranean Sea and the Himalayas, and proved that mountains and valleys were insignificant irregularities on the surface of an earth which was much larger than had been previously surmised.
These and other
geographic researches, such as the book on
harbors and coastlines by Timostbenes of Rhodes under Ptolemy II, and
of Cleon of Syracuse, Nymphodorus, Lycus of Rhegium, and Timaeus,
Eratosthenes of Cyrene, the head of the Alexandrian library under
(246-221), to calculate anew the size and circumference of the earth
miles; in reality, 24,857; see A. Diller in Isis 40  6-9), and to
that one should reach India by sailing westward from Spain-the error of
Columbus. Discovery of a
The conquests of Alexander furthered astronomical studies in two respects: by the new calculations of the size of the terrestrial globe, already noted, and by providing information about the Babylonian
observations of the
heavenly bodies.26 The theory of
Eudoxus of Cnidus (early fourth century), improved by Callippus (fourth
century), did Dot explain the movements of the planets; and the
of earth, sun, and rnoon were being constantly revised. Eudoxus
reckoned that the diameter of the sun was nine times that of the moon,
the sun was therefore nine times as far from the earth as the moon, but
Pheidias of Syracuse at the beginning of the third century figured the
to one, the great Aristarchus of Samos (in the time of Ptolemy 11,
adopted the ratio of eighteen or twenty to one, and Archimedes of
of Pheidias (d. 212 B.C.), that of thirty to one. Aristarchus_
recognizing thus that the sun must be much greater than the earth
to eight times larger in diameter and about ically concluded that the
sun-the epoch-making disis famous. Aristarchus even the earth
cuffs universe was merely like the center of a circle. But the
not ripe for these brflliadt conjectures: Archimedes refused to accept
and Cleanthes, who succeeded Zeno as the head of the Stoics, accused
Aristarchus of ungodliness. Even astronomers like Conon of
studies27 made possible this progress in
26 On Hellenistic mtmnomy,
see T. Heath, Arwarchw of
27 Geminw, a pupil of Posidonius, wrote a comprehensive history of ancient mathematics.
(stoicheia) which remained the standard textbook of geometry ahnost to the twentieth century. Archimedes of Syracuse, who is said to have shouted, "Eurekaf' (I have discovered [it]) in his bath when he determined that a body immersed in a fluid loses in weight an amount equal to that of the fluid displaced, fixed more exactly the ratio of diameter to circumference of a circle, found that a hemisphere has two-thirds the volume of a cylinder of the same circumference and height, and founded the theory of the spiral. The work of Archimedes and of Conon of Samos on conic sections was surpassed by the outstanding work (peli ko'n6n) of Apollonius of Perga (third century), which marked the ultimate achievement of antiquity on the subject. Apollonius likewise arrived at a more accurate ratio of the diameter to the circumference than Archimedes had obtained and he was possibly the discoverer of trigonometry, unless this honor belongs to Hipparchus (ca. 130 B.c.) The latter is usually regarded as the discoverer of the precession of the equinoxes (although some historians attribute it to the Babylonian Kidinnu [Greek, Kidenas] of Sippar, third century); he calculated the sun's mass as 1,880 times that of the earth, and its distance 1,245 earth diameters from it; Posidonius (ca. 80 B.c.) said 6,545. In reality the sun's volume is 1,300,000 times that of the earth; and while the diameter of the earth is less than 8,000 miles, its average distance from the sun is 92,900,000 miles: in both cases Hipparcbus figured about one-tendi of the ratios discovered by modern astronomers.
Archimedes invented mechanical devices such as endless screws, and Ctesibius of Alexandria soon after him invented catapults and other machines operated through air pressure, as also a water clock. On these foundations Philo of Byzantium composed his standard treatise on mechanics.
In the field of natural sciences, the outstanding work was done by Theophrastus (d. ca. 287), a pupil of Aristotle. His History of Plants, res nting the information on exotic plants which the campaigns of Alexander had made known to the Greeks, and his Theoretical Botany, dealing with plant physiology, laid the foundation of the science. His pupil Strato of Lampsacus, and the latter's pupil Lycon (ca. 270-226), who headed the Peripatetic school in succession after Theopbrastus, carried on zoological researches, but with these men biological sciences, which bad hardly advanced beyond the work of Aristotle, ceased to be cultivated except for practical or medical purposes.
Hippocrates (d. ca.
377) was called the "Father of
Medicine" and the 'Hippocratic Oatb," still administered to
physicians, is ascribed to him. In the early third century
A.D.), the author of
a great scientific encyclopedia of
which only the eight books on medicine are extant (Proemium, 1, 4;
Tertullian, De aniiw 10, cf. 25), even vivisections on criminals,
physiology made notable progress. Herophflus of Chalcedon (ca.
pupil of Praxagoras of Cos, discovered the nerves and their functions,
recognized that the arteries contained blood (not air) and that their
pulsations originated in the heart: thus he almost determined the
of the blood, the discovery of which made William Harvey (1578-1657)
famous. Erasistratus of Iulis in Ceos, his younger contemporary,
distinguished more accurately motor and sensory nerves, performed
operations, studied the digestive process, but went back to the theory
arteries carried air except in certain diseases when blood entered
These two outstanding physicians continued the traditions of the
5. Hellenistic Scholarship
The achievements of
Hellenistic scholars are no less
epoch-making than those of the scientists whose work has just been
sketched. The vast amount of writing in the fields of history and
biography has been mentioned in speaking of Hellenistic
a word should be added about works on the history of arts, sciences,
literature. The school deserves the credit of initiating such
following the example of its founder. Aristotle (d. 322) had
material for a history of Attic drama; he laid the foundations of
well as of learning in the following ages, and Dante rightly called him
"il maestro di color che sanno" (Inferno IV, 133) or the teacher of
the learned ('the professors professor," as a modern journalist would
say). Doris of Samos (ca. 300), a pupil of Aristotle's pupil
Theophrastus, wrote the first history of painting and sculpture, and
followed by other historians of art: Xenocrates of Athens (ca.
Antigonus of Carysttis (ca. 230), Adeus of
adcl Callixenus of Rhodes (late third century). Pupils of
histories of science: Meno a history of medicine, Eudemus of ]
phrastus a systematic history of natural sciences. A colleague of Aristotle, Aristoxenus of Tarentum (ca. 330), not only Wrote a brilliant work on and rhythm which is still extant,28 but through his the history of philosophy, canCarystus for the period after DioEenes Laertius (third century A.D.) are our chief source of information (together with the works aphies of the great dramatists. presumably Chamaeleon of Heraclea Pontica (ca. 280), a pupil of Theophrastus' the author of a history of Greek poetry from Homer ' Aristop hanes (d. ca. 380 B.C.). He was probably inspired by his lea countryman, Heraclides (d.after 330j, a pupil of Plato and a rival of Aristotle, who wrote extensively on scientific subjects as also on the history of music and literature. In his Life of Greece Dicaearchus presented a history of culture; he also wrote a book on the poet Alcaeus (ca. 600). The last work of the Peri patetic school in the- field of literary history was the comprehensive treatise, after the manner of Chamaeleon, prepared by Hieronymus of Rhodes (ca. 250).
The preparation of
critically edited texts of the Greek
classics and of commentaries on them bad begun before Alexander, but
such a degree of accuracy and thoroughness in the Hellenistic period
in the case of mathematics and physical sciences, it became the
medieval and modern times. The first critical edition of the
poems was prepared by Antirnachus of Colophon about 400 B.c.; after
himself had apparently edited a Homeric text for his pupil Alexander,
critical studies were pursued in his school by Dichaearcbus and
and particularly by Praxiphanes of Mytilene, a . pupil of
He proved that the exorclium of Hesiod's Work and Days was spurious,
pupil, the poet Aratus of Soli (author of the Phaenomena) edited the
28 Cf. W. R. Amld, in old Testament ,d
studies in Meory ot William R. Harper, Vol. 1, pp. 167-204.
Zenodotus also initiated the immense work of cataloguing the Library of the Museum. He was assisted by two able scholars, Alexander of Pleuron and Lycophron of Rhegium, who classified the tragedies and comedies, respectively. The work of cataloguing the library was finally completed by the great poet Callimacbus, who probably succeeded Zenodotus as librarian: his monumental catalogue (Ptnakes, Tablets) in 120 papyrus scrolls was a literary bistory giving biographies and bibliograpbies of the authors represented in the library. A number of pupfls of CaUimachus became eminent scholars, but his successor as librarian was the great scientist Eratosthenes (see above), who wrote a great work on Attic comedy.
Thus during the two centuries from 300 to 100 B.c. Alexandrian scholars, through critical texts, philological and historical commentaries, and learned research, not only made the Greek classics available and comprehensible, but laid the foundation of critical and exegetical methods, soon adopted in Alexandria by Jews like PbiIo, and Christians like Origen, in their study of the Bible, and eventually blossoming in the research technique of modern times.
Dictionaries and grammars also grew out of the Alexandrian literary researches. The Stoic philosopher Chrysippus (d. ca. 204 B.C.) raised an important philological problem: does analogy or anomaly contribute most to linguistic development? Dictionaries were prepared at
6. Hellenistic Philosophy29
29 The chief general somces me, Diogenes
Lives of the Philosophers (de claromm philosophomm vitis, libri decem),
from the third mntury of ow era, and the philosophical works of Cimro
B.c.) and Plutarch (d. ca. A.D. 120).The
standard work, even
though antiquated in occasional details, is still Eduard Zeller, Die
Philosophic der Criechen i ihrff geschichtlichm Entwickelung, 3 vols.,
Tiibingen, 1844-52; 5th ed., 5 vols., 1892-1909; in English: E. Zeller,
Epicureans, and Sceptics, 1880; History of Greek Ph lowphy.
home of the schools
of phflosophy and kept the flame of
pagan thought alive until Justinian (527-565) in 529 closed the
The Hellenistic scbools, of which the most influential was the Stoa, soon departed from the metaphysics of Plato (d. 347) and Aristotle (d. 322), and going back to Socrates (d. 399) stressed the problems of human life, notably the conduct and happiness of the individual. The empire of Alexander and the monarchies into which it divided at his death in 323 created a cosmopolitan and individualistic attitude toward life wbich philosophy could not ignore.
Soon after 323 we
In the field of
phflosophy the famous schools founded by
Plato and Aristotle soon lost ground and importance. The Old
under the leadership of Speusippus (347-339) and Xenocrates of
developed Plato's thought as he bad conceived it in his last years, but
modified it in some points. Their successors (Polemo of Athens
wbose best pupil was Crantor; and Crates of Athens [270-2641) stressed
and religion: thus the philosophical system of Plato disintegrated and
Pitane (d. 241),
followed by Lakydes of Cyrene (d. 216),
completed this dissolution first by a return to Socrates's critique of
superficial opinions, then by a frank adoption of the skepsis of
The endeavor to overcome the dualism of Plato, which Aristotle had narrowed (but not suppressed) by bringing together in existing objects
Plato's ideas and matter as inseparable form and matter, remained the chief metaphysical problem of Hellenistic philosophy. In Aristotle the dualism appeared chiefly in the contrast between God-pure act, pure form, pure thought, unmoved mover-and the world. Even in the Peripatetic school, as we have seen, Strato rejected Aristotle's dualism in the cosmos, by finding there nature alone without God, and in the soul, by denying the transcendence of reason and asserting the sours unity. Epicureans and Stoics likewise in different ways reached the mw beyond the ttw.
Epicurus of Samos (342-270) was much impressed as a young man by the atomism of Democritus of Abdera (early fourth centuryB.c.) and the ataraxia (impassiveness) of Pyrrho, whose skepticism, however, he rejected. Epicurus recognized only two disciplines in philosophy: physics and ethics. His notions of the physical world are chiefly derived from Democritus: nothing exists except atoms moving in empty space. The atoms are of different sizes, have weight and form, and are indestructible. They move downward in space at different speeds and, due to collisions between atoms, they are capable of deviating slightly from the vertical direction, making possible the formation of bodies having spontaneous motion-and even the freedom of the human will, which is the foundation of ethics. Since everything is the result of a combination of atoms, the souls are dissipated at death; and popular religions are immoral and false superstitions. The gods exist, but live serenely outside of our world, in interstellar spaces, unconcerned with terrestrial affairs and needing no worship, although being perfect they are worthy of it. In his ethical teaching.Epicurus followed the Cyrenaic school, founded by Aristippus (d. ca. 360), according to which pleasure (hedone) is the aim of life and virtue is the capacity to enjoy pleasure. But Epicurus did not stress, like Aristippus, the pleasures of the senses, such as the delights of love and the enjoyment of banquets, but rather the lack of pain attained through insight. Insight leads us to virtue, which ensures serenity of mind in the midst of misfortune, or ataraxia (impassiveness). The great poem of T. Lucretius Carus (d. 55 i3.c.) On Nature (De rerum nature), one of the masterpieces of world literature, is the fullest exposition of the teaching of Epicurus now extant. It seems likely that Ecclesiastes, and Wisd. of Sol. 2:1-9, contain more or less distorted echoes of the hedonism of Epicurus.
After Aristippus, the first hedonist, new tendencies appear in the Cyrenaic school. Hegesias (ca. 300 B.C.) realized that pleasure, which was the aim of man for Aristippus, was unattainable, for life brought more sorrows than joys; he became therefore so pessimistic that he was called he peisithdnatos (the persuader to die), for he taught that deliverance from pain came only in death. Tbeodorus, his contemporary, was less gloomy; he believed that through insight and righteousness one
might attain a
constant happy inood enabling one to enjoy
life. His attack on popular religion, which gained him the
"the atheist" (dtheos), made an impression on his pupil Euhemems of
The school of the Cynics was founded by Antisthenes of
The Megarian school was founded by Euclides of Megara (d. 374 B.C.). He gave a concrete content to the Eleatic abstract Being-the sole reality according to Parmenides of Elea (ca. 470 B.c.), for 46stin einai (being is)-by identifying it with the Good, under the influence of his teacher Socrates. This sole existing reality is called by various names (God, Reason, Insight, one of the virtues) but it is eternally invariable; likewise there is but a single virtue, namely, knowledge. A later head of the Megarians, Stilpo of Megara (d. ca. 300) combined this teaching with the ethics of the Cynics, and thus had a deep influence on his pupil Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school. Stilpon argued that if the sole existing Being is the Good, the Good must have all the attributes of what really exists; virtue must be the state in which the mind is separated from all pain and all change, and the summum bonum must be complete apathy and autarchy of the soul, its indifference to external goods, as the Cynics taught. However, for the Cynics what is perceived through the senses was the only reality, while for the Megarians it did not exist at all.
A similar moral ideal was presented by the Skeptical school founded
The Stoic school was the most successful and the most characteristic school of the Hellenistic and Roman periods: it offered the most acceptable solutions to the metaphysical problem (how to overcome the dualism of Plato and Aristotle) and to the practical problem about the attainment of the peace of mind that most schools of philosophy made the goal of their ethical teaching.
Zeno of Citium in
30 Aristocles, quoted by Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica XIV: 18, 2.
some gifted Stoics, like Ariston of Chius, Herillus of Chalcedon, and
of Heracleia (
The Stoics defined the sophs'a (wisdom), which is the goal of philosophy, as 'the knowledge for science] of divine and human things and of their causeS";33 and they subdivided it into logic, physics, and ethics,
Logic is the science of language and thought, of words (grammar) and what they mean (concepts, judgments, conclusions): it is the study of 16gos, which means both word and reason (cf. John 1:1), either a
31 The surviving fraaments of the early Stoics
been edited in the standard work of Hans von Arnim (J. ab Arnim),
veterum fragmenta, 3 vols.
32 The basic work on Panaetiw and Posidonius is still Schmekel's Die Philmophie der Mittleren Stoa, mentioned in the preceding footnote.
'3 Refermees to this definition by Plutarch, Cicero, and Seneca are quoted by C. L. W. GriTnm, Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch zu den Apokryphen, Vol. 4,
thought in the mind or an expression on the lips. The Stoic teacbing on grammar, on dialectics (discrimination between truth and falsehood), and on epistemology (according to which knowledge is based on sensations tested and directly apprehended, in contrast with imagination and general concepts) need not be considered in detail here, but the notion of 1ogos is basic for us, since it influenced Hellenistic Judaism and Christianity. This 1ogos is a faculty which dumb animals lack: men share it with the gods. It is the capacity to pass from a mass of individual sensations to general concepts and conclusions. The human 1ogos is essentially identical with the cosmic reason molding matter into natural objects; consequently, even though not infallible like the divine 1ogos, human reason can reproduce the thoughts of cosmic reason and thus understand reality.
The 1ogos has brought us to the second branch of pboosophy, physics (and metaphysics). Plato in the Timaeus portrays the eternal immaterial God creating the world and implanting in it a universal rational soul (which was made before matter) to rule over it intelligently, administering the immutable laws of nature. Aristotle (Metaphysics), instead, did not regard the immaterial God as the creator of the world: both God and the world existed from eternity and God was merely the cause of motion and of its laws. The Stoics went a stop further in eliminating the dualism between God and the world. God for them is material and existed from eternity in the primeval fire, out of which he created the world. In this world of ours God functions as the mind or soul of the world, the cosmic logos, and reaches out to all parts of the universe through his innumerable seminal 1ogoi (1ogoi spernwtikol) or powers (dyna'meis). Thus reality is one, an organism in which body and soul are inseparable, for God is immanent in the world. The immaterial realities of Plato and Aristotle become spirit (pneuma), which is material and, in various degrees of refinement (from that of God himself to that in a stone), permeates all matter, which the Stoics, in contrast to the atomists, regarded as infinitely divisible. In this pantheistic conception, the immanent God is the ultimate cause of all motion (without being Aristotle's motionless movens non motus) and of all phenomena: this single chain of cause and effect, this necessary relationship of all phenomena ultimately originating in God is called heimarmene (fate), Such a notion had obvious repercussions on human conduct.
We thus come to the third field of philosophy, ethics. The divine primeval fire is not only the determining cause of all that exists (fate), but at the same time the cosmic all-knowing reason and purposeful mind, the benevolent pr6noia (providence); cf. Wisd. of Sol. 14:3; 17:2; IV Macc. 9:Z4; ; etc. The same God causes all events and uses them for the attainment of the noblest goals, but in him there is no
conflict between fate and providence. In the seminal 1ogoi, likewise, determinism and purpose are one, and Cbrysippus could say that whatever happens through fate happens also according to providence. Cleanthes, on the contrary, denied this, saying that what happened through providence aiso happened through fate, but not vice versa. Thus Cleanthes was able to explain the presence of evil in the world as the effect of fate without the influence of providence. Conversely, Cbrysippus, stressing the unity of the cosmos, could not admit that any evfl ever came into the world without the consent of providence. He refused to admit that man's serenity could be disturbed by pbysical pain or other external evil, wbich as a matter of fact was no actual evil. As for moral evil, be proved that it was in harrnony with divine providence by showing that moral good could not exist vatbout moral evil, and was implicit in human freedom of the will. Man, the goal of all creation, could be an image of God only if he were free to live according to reason, thus collaborating with God, or to decline to do so. If man refuses to fulfill this purpose he sinks to the level of animals: from the cosmic point of view this is no more a real evil than the fact that there are plants and animals besides men. Man bas a higher freedom than beasts wben he deliberately chooses to follow the dictates of reason, rather than the compulsions of nature. This goal is fully achieved only by the sage, who becomes as free as God, for whom necessity and freedom are one and the same notion. The soul of man grows out of the soul of animal as the 1ogos or reason develops within the highest part of the soul, the Ugemanik6n (the governing faculty). Only the souis that bave attained wisdom and virtue live on as ghosts-but not forever. The cosmos, as Heraclitus had taught, emerges from fire as a new universal order (diakosmesis) and later returns to the primitive simplicity of the fiery divine substance (ekpyrosis, conflagration), eventually being born anew (palingenesia) and repeating the process through etemity.34 As everything else, the souls of the wise are merged with the divine substance in the process of ekpyrosis, but in the palingenesis the souls are reborn, witbout any memory of their previous existence, bowever. Such are the theoretical foundations of the practical philosophy of the Stoics. In accordance with their times, they regarded happiness as the goal of human life. For Zeno such happiness was logical agreement of our thoughts, and harmony of our feelings, volitions, and actions with our thoughts; Cleanthes changed this harmonious life into the famous “life in harmony with nature” - whatever that may mean. Chrysippus clarified the formula by stating that it meant both life in harmony with human nautre and cosmic nature; fir they are basically the same, “nature”
34 For echoes of this doctrine in Judaism and
(physis) being taken in a comprehensive sense, including soul and reason. In other words, for Chrysippus harmony with nature meant harmony widi the 1ogos which determides both universal law and moral law: human reason, when fully developed, agrees with divine reason. Thus the human ideal is the full realization of the possibilities of human nature: the attainment of this goal is called virtue. Therefore, life in harmony widi nature means virtuous life and aione brings happiness: virtue is its own reward. But virtue must always be a goal, never the means to another end, otherwise it ceases to be virtue and the supreme good. In practice, everything rnust be subordinated to die attainment of this goal. Things and actions either contribute to life according to the will of God, or hinder it, or finally, doing neither, they are irrelevant. Consequently, what most men regard as good (like wealth, honors, position, health) or as bad (as poverty, disgrace, ruin, pain) are intrinsically indifferent matters: their moral value depends entirely from the use we make of them. They affect only our animal nature, but as reasonable beings we are independent of externals: the wise can say with Dante, (Inferno 2:93), "fiamma desto incendio non m'assale' (the flame of this conflagration does not attack me). Sucb things as are indifferent (adidphora) from the point of view of the supreme goal of life are, however, significant to our animai nature and are therefore to be preferred or to be rejected (proegmena or apoproegmena)-not actually good or bad-by the sage. The same applies to human actions: they are good, bad, or indifferent inasmuch as their influence on right living is positive, negative, or nil. Indifferent actions may be absolutely so or may affect our physical existence: the latter constitute a common zone of conduct between wise and fool, at Ieast in regard to the action per se, without reference to the motive. There are thus the katorthoma (virtuous action), the hamartema (sinful action), and the katukon (proper, correct, legal action). An action in the third category is virtuous wben performed by the wise (all of Whose actions are necessarily virtuous) and sinful when performed by a fool (all he does is sinful).
This absolute contrast between good and evil, theoretically without gradations in virtue and vice, divided mankind, at least in principle, into two classes: the wise and the fools, no less sharply distinguished than the saved and the damned of St. Augustine (d. 430), Calvin (d. 1564), or, for that matter, a good old-fashioned revival meetings' There is no
35 Logically of comse there is only truth and falsehood, right and wrong, with no middle ground. There is "the way of life and the way of death" (jer. 21:8), wisdom and folly (Ecel. 1:17; 2:12; 7:25), the narrow gate and way leading to destruction ( Matt. 7:13 f.); see in general, for Jewish literature, H. L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, Vol. 1, pp. 460-463. Prodicus of Ceos (d. ca. 400 B.c.) gave the earliest and best expositco; of the doctrine of the two ways in his apologue of the choice of Heracles, smmarized by Xenophon (d. ca. 355 B.c.) in Memorabilia 11, 1:21-34.
gray between black and white: even a fool may make slow progress in wisdom, but he becomes a sage instantly; in other words, a man is one or the other. In practice even Zeno, bowever, admitted a sort of middle class, the prokopton (the one advancing morally and intellectually) and common sense showed that men were either idcurably bad (rare), average (the great mass), progressing, (many), or wise (very few).
The sage, or wise man
(sophos), exemplifies the Stoic
ethical ideal. Epictetus (Discourses IV, 3:9-12) expresses it
"I am free, I am a friend of God ready to render him wiuing
obedience. Of all else, I may set store by nothing-neither by my
body, nor possessions, nor office, nor good report, nor, in a word,
else." The sage must be selfless, passionless, pitiless, serene. He bas achieved autdrkeia
self-sufficiency) and apdtheia (impassibility, freedom from
Having the first, he cannot be affected by the course of events in the
around him; his happiness is entirely an inner state, without
happenings independent from bis will. By -attaining the second be
rooted out from bimself the passionate emotions rebellious against the
he has substituted desire for greediness, caution for fear, joy for
he has banisbed oompassion, which is mourning for another's
mouming is excluded entirely; he has reached the stage in wbich 'pious
(logos) is the absolute ruler (autodespotos; also autokrator) over the
passions" (IV Macc. 1: 1, the theme of the book; cf. 1: 7, 9, 13 f.,
30; 2:6 f., 10, 24; 6:31; 7:16; 13: 1; 16: 1; 18:2). Freedom from
greediness leads to temperance (sophrosyne,); freedom from fear becomes
couragage (andreia); both of these virtues presuppose the insight and
(phronesis, prudence) of right, wroing, and indifferent; and in turn
presupposed by justice (dikaiosyne), whicb is the knowledge of what
God and every person, and acting acoordingly.16 While the first three
stress individualism, justice is practiced in human society.
Stoics, beginning presumably with Panaetius, added benevolence to
36 These four Stoic cardinal
virtues were first detemined by Plato in connection with the four parts
soul. The Stoics modified their meaning slightly; from them they
adopted by the Alexandrian Tews (Wisd. of Sol. 8:r IV Macc. 1:2-4, 6;
5:23-24, where they are harmonized with the Law of Moses and piety
place of prudence; for Philo, see H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 2, p. 218,
cf. C. Siegfrfed, Philo vm
circumstances. Elsewhere Seneca condemns RoTnan gladiatorial fights and warlike spirit. The social trend begins with the second basic instinct (race preservation; the first is self-preservation), which produces devotion to the family. From this we pass to ever-wider circles of fellow human beings until we reach all of mankind. The Mgos proves that all men are brothers, being children of the same heavenly Father: 'they are by nature your kinsmen, your brothers, the offspring of God (Epictetus, Discourses 1, 13:3). All beings endowed with reason (1ogos), i.e., all gods and men (but not animals) , are a single society, a single state in which reason is law; they have duties toward the other members of the world state, piety being their duty toward the gods. All men were indeed rnembers of this organism "whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free" (I Cor. ; cf. -26).
If the mental faculty is cornmon to us, then the 1ogos by which we are reasonable beings is common. If this is so, also the 1ogos which commands us what to do and what not to do is common. If this is so, then there is likewise a law in common. If this is so, we are fellow-citizens, and if so we are members
of the sarne community. If this is so the world is, so to say, a single state.
Marcus Aurehus IV, 4
In this world state,
individual states are like houses (or
households) within a city (ibid. 111, 11). This great idea of the
state, according to Epictetus (Discourses 1, 9), goes back to Socrates,
when asked to what country he belonged, replied, "I am a citizen of the
world [kosmios, meaninv obviously kosmopolitesl." According to the
in the words of St. Paul, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision
nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free" (Col. 3: 11)
those who 'put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new
which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him"
(Col. 3:9 f.). Such a cosmopolitan view did riot, however, prevent the
from participating ably and actively in the administration of their own
particular countries, and this is one of the reasons for the popularity
school in Rome, where Emperor Marcus Aurelius (VI, 44) could say, 'As
Aurelius] Antoninus my state and fatherland is Rome, but as a man it is
world." Whether the world state was suggested to Zeno by Alexander's
empire or not, this great conception furnished a Catostrophical. basis
7. Hellenistic Religion
in the Greek world after Alexander five types of religion attracted adherents: the city cults in honor of the Olympian gods, the personal
striving for alvation in the mystery religions, the beliefs in chance and fate, the teaching of philosophical schools like the Stoa, and the Oriental religions (including Judaism and Christianity).
The traditional worship of the Olympians37 was declining long before Christianity brought it to an end.38 Nothing had contributed more to delineate the individual character of the Olympians, to create a common Greek religion by the side of the local cults, to humanize (and consequently to moralize) the gods than the Homeric poems (tenth to eighth centuries B.c.)-the basis of Greek education and mentality (on which the best study is W. jaeger's Paideia).39 Homer, however, had no influence on the celebration of the local rituals and festivals, and on personal religion.
Before Alexander several trends were at work to undermine the worship of the Olympians. The austere bourgeois morality and the common sense of farmers characteristic of Hesiod (eighth century) contrast sharply with the Homeric world of noble heroes and proud knights, in which the common man appears only once in Tbersites (who is thrashed linto sflence when he speaks his mind in the assembly) aside from faithful old family retainers. In the sixth century a new spirit appears in Greek
The standard works on the Olympian gods are the
following. L. F. A. Maury, Histoire des religions de la Grece
on the decline and end of paganism after the birth of
Christianity see especially: V. Scbultw, Geschichte des Untergangs des
griechich-romischen Heidentums. 2 vols.
39 W. Jaeger, Paideim
Translated by G. Highet. Vol. 1.
religion, about the
same time when new heights were reached
So the Hellenistic
period witnessed the twilight of the
Olympian gods, at least in the minds of the cultivated Greeks.
factors, in addition to the mystical and rationalistic attacks just
contributed to the decay of traditional beliefs. The old
intimately connected with the po'lis, or city-state, which was
into kingdoms and empires after Philip of Macedon (382-336), the father
40 K. J. Belocb, Griechische
Geschichte, 2nd ed., Vol. 4, Pt. 1, p. 434.
through Euhemerus, who, in his fictional Sacred His-tory, presented Zeus and other gods as human kings, divinized after their death; thus he contributed to the dethronement of the Olympians. Moreover, the allegorical interpretation of Homer, introduced by Theagenes of Rhegium before Plato (cf. J. Tate, in Classical Review 41 [19271 214f.; Classical Quarterly 23 [19291 142-154), stripped the ancient myths of even the semblance of fact: Aristotle dismissed popular beliefs as nothing but fables. Finally, the influence of Egypt and the Near East proved decisive: as early as Herodotus Oriental deities were identified with Greek ones (Melkart of Tyre was called Heracles, Amon was called Zeus, etc.); they were adopted by the Greeks, but no Greek god received more than passing formal worship in Asia and Africa.41 Antiochus IV Epiphanes alone in 168 attempted to force his subjects to worship the Olympian Zeus exclusively, but failed dismally.
While the Homeric
deities were losing their hold on the
faith of the Greeks, their public worship was flourishing: festivals
celebrated as splendidly as ever, temples continued to receive votive
divine oracles were still requested by the authorities, notably from
has been noted, personal religious
feeling and the quest for immortality found little satisfaction in the
cult of the Olympians; in
41 On Hellenistic cults in
42 Such divine apparitions explain how Paul and Bamabas could be regarded as H@es and Ze@ -by the people and the priesthood of Lystra in Lycaonia (Acts -13).
43 On the Greek mystery religions see in
C.A. Lobeck, Aglaophamus.
mysteries of Demeter at
was originally a fertility god
was a Thracian singer whose lyre
tamed savage men and beasts until the maenads tore him apart.
named after him, not only taught the death and resurrection of
also furnished that exact information on life after death of which
down to modem times. The body is considered as the tomb of the
(s6ma-sdnw, body-grave; cf. Plato, Gorgias 493a), . man
dream of a shadow' (Pindar, Pythian Odes 8, 95 cf.
44The earliest form of the Adonis myth is found in the mythological poem from Ras Shmra on Aleyan Baal, translated by Cyrus H. Gordon in The Loves and Wars of Baal and Anat,' Princeton University Press, 1944; see also Julian obemann, Ugaritic Mythology, Yale University Press, 1948.
45Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480 f.
46 The basic study of Greek notions about
hell is: A. Dieterieb, Nekyia.
And next youll see great snakes and savage monsters
in tens of thousands.... Then weltering seas of filth
And ever-rippling dung: and plunged therein,
. Whose has wronged the stranger here on earth,
Or robbed his boylove of the promised pay,
Or swinged his mother, or profanely smitten
His father's check, or sworn an oath foresworn.
But now I've got thee fast.
so close the
Shall hem thee in: the bell-houdds of Cocytus
Prowl round thee; whilst the bundred-headed Asp
Shall rive thy heart-strings: the Tartesim Lamprey
Prey 0, thy lungs: and those Tithrasian Gorgons
Mangle and tear thy kidneys, mauling them,
Entrails and all, into one bloody masb.
Aristophanes, Frogs 143-150 and 469-477
(Translated by B. B. Rogers)
anything has survived from the
ancient Orphic literature, which -must have been fairly abundant-to
its echoes in later descriptions of heaven , and bell, such as are
from The Frogs of Aristophanes, in Plato (Republic 11, 363,
and at the end
of the work; Gorgia 524 ff.; Phaodo 112 f.), in Plutarch (De
vindicta 566 f.), and in Lucian of Samosata in the second century of
our era (Vera
historia 126 f.). orphic literary remains have been collected, by
We do Dot know whether Orphic ideas of future life influenced the descriptions of paradise and bell in Judaism before A.D. 200 (see Testament of the Xil Patriarchs, Enoch, Syriac Baruch, IV Esclras, Sibviline OracleS;48 cf. Luke -31; ; Rev. 14: 10; ; ; 21:1-22:5;
47 The text of these Orphic texts will be
found in: A.
Olivieri, Lamellae aurae Orphicae. H. Lietzmann’s Kleine
133. Bonn, 1915; Gilbert Muraay in the appendix to Jane E. Harrison, Prolegomena
to the Study of Greek Religion, 3rd ed., Cambridge 1922. See
M. Linforth, The Arts of Orpheus.
48 For references to heaven and hell in these
etc.), but the so-called Apocalypse of Peter 49 (a Christian book dated about A.D. 135) is unquestionably indebted to Orphism (see particularly Dieterich's Nekyia) and introduced precise notions about.heaven and bell into Christianity, where eventually they inspired Dante's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. Orphism is important also for having stressed the sense of sin and guilt, and for showing a way which, through purifications and right living, led to eternal salvation.50
Before leaving these two genuinely Hellenic types of religion (even though some of their elements originated abroad)-the cult of the Olympians and the mysteries-it should be noted that the rapid rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers after the death of Alexander produced a sense of insecurity, a feeling that blind chance (tyche) ruled human affairs and destinies (cf. Eccl. 3:10-15; f.; 9: 1, 11 f.; Wisd. of Sol. 2:1-5). As early as the seventh century the poet Archilochus had said, "Tyche [chance, good and bad luck] and Moira [fate], 0 Pericles, give all things to a man." Personified and divinized, Tyche was widely worshiped in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, as Pliny the Elder (who diedA.D. 79 investigating the eruption of Vesuvius) observed:
In the whole world, indeed, in all places and at all times, Fortuna [i.e., TychC] alone is invoked and celebrated. She alone is accused, alone she is indicted as guilty, alone she is thought about, alone she is praised, alone she is censured and is reviled: mutable, even deemed by many blind, fickle, capricious, unreliable, variable, and favorable to the Unworthy. To her are debited all expenses and credited all payments; and in the entire reckoning of mortals she alone enters both assets and liabilities. And we are so subject to chance that chance itself takes the place of god, whom she proves to be unreliable.
Pliny, Naturalis Historia II: v, 22
became the patron goddess of a
number of Near Eastern Hellenistic cities. Thus
49 See on this book A.
Dieterich, Nekyia, 2nd ed., 1913; M. R. James in JTS 12 (1910-1911); E.
Hennecke, Neutestammtliche Apokryphen, 2nd ed., pp.
Tiibingen, 1924. F. Cumont, After Life in Roman
human events.51 While some Stoics identified God with Heimarmene, Philo of Alexandria criticized them for making "fate and necessity into gods" (see H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, p. 329).
The determinism of the
Stoics had its roots in astrology, a subject on which some of them
Seleucia, second century B.c.; Posi-donius of Apamea, Ca. A.D.
books.52 Astrology originated in
51 See the well-documented
back of W. C. Greene, Moira: Fate, Good, and Evil in Greek
52 On Greek astrology and
fatalism, see: A. Bouch6-Leclercq, L:astrologie grecque.
53 See E. Pfeiffer,
Studien zum antiken Stemglauben (Stoich@ II).
stated by the Christian poet Commodianus (third or fourth century) in the question, "If the fates of birth bestow [all], why do you beseech the gods?" Conversely, another Christian, Firinicus Matemus (fourth century) before his conversion to Christianity stressed the omnipotence of fate, but at the same time invoked the gods to help him resist the influence of the stars. The Stoics, however, revered the supreme power of the universe without requesting anything and submitted gladly and unreservedly to the vagaries of destiny no matter how cruel.
The measures of the state (as early as 139 B.c. the astrologers were banished from Rome) and the opposition of the Christian Church, beginningwith Clementof Alexandria (d. ca. 220)54 and culrninatingwith St. Augustine (d. 430) (City of God I ff.; Epistle 246, to Lampadius; etc.), failed to suppress astrology, which is still flourishing in our time and still supplies horoscopes as it did two millennia ago. The same is true of magic, a vast and fascinating subject which still awaits a thorough historian for the Hellenistic-Roman period."
In the philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period every conceivable attitude toward current religions seems to be represented, from ration. alistic unbelief and scorn for the worship, to "fundamentalistic" acceptance of traditional faith and ritual.
The most acute, far-reaching, and thorough attack on religion in all its aspects, from the point of view of rationalistic skepticism, is that of Cameades of Cyrene (d. 129 B.c.), the founder of the New Academy.56 He objected to the familiar argument that religion is universal among men (consensus gentium) by pointing to atheists and, in arguing with the Stoics, gleefully quoted their doctrine about the foolishness of the great majority of men. He points out the absurdity of conceiving the gods in human form and with human passions. He undermines the Stoic combination of pantheism with traditional religion by showing that the allegorical interpretation is false and incapable of making the myths appear rational; and by disproving the identification of divine powers with the Olympian gods through the following sorites, which eliminated the distinction between divine and earthly: if Zeus is god, then also his brother Poseidon; and if so, every sea, every river, every little brook would be a god. By such reasoning be questioned the whole Stoic cosmology
54 Cf. P. Wendland, Die Hellenistisch- Romische Kultur, p. 81.
55 A brief summary, with bibliography, will be found in F. Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, ch. 6. See also the articles in the encyclopaedias, particularly Darembourg, Saglio, and Pottier, Dictionnaire des Antiquites; Pauly Wissowa, Realenzyklopadie; W. H. Roscher, Ausfuhrliches Lexicon der greichisechen und romischen Mythologie; J. Hastings, Encylcopaedia of Religion and Ethics.
56 Cf. P. Wendland, Hellenistisch-Romische
Kultur, pp. 62 f. Our chief source is
and theology: the doctrine of the divinity and animation of the cosmos, the divine providence, the right plan and purpose of the world (which in the presence of evil is unbelievable), fatalism, astrology, and divination. And yet this intellectual skepticism did not result in a total rejection of religious practices: the doctrine of probability leaves open the door to beliefs and conduct based on thern.5T
Only the Cynics, of all Hellenistic philosophers, took the final step: opposed, like the Sophists, to all conventions, they mocked, often in a vulgar manner, whatever their contemporaries regarded as holy. To attain the soul's complete freedom and true happiness, they strove to become indifferent to all external circumstances and rejected the refinements of civirmtion, including all good manners and traditional beliefs, from etiquette to worship. And yet they were monotheists, and became popular preachers advocating the simple life in accordance with nature, dedicated to the pursuit of virtue.
religious point of view of the
Epicureans is intermediate between the
57 A similar separation of reason and faith may be noted in Ecclesiastes. Rationally he concluded that God was too far and too indifferent to human beings to enter into communion with them, or to change the fixed worse of events for their benefit; and yet he recommended external conformity to traditional rites and mechanical fulfillment of religious obligations (Eccles. 5:1-7 [H. 4:17-5:5]; 7:15-18; 8:2).
"According to some, Epicurus in his popular exposition allows the existence of God, but in expounding the real nature of things he does not allow it.” See also Wendland, Hellnistisch-romisch Kultur, p. 61.
his attitude in twelve Greek words, found among some fragments of his work On Nature discovered at Herculaneum.59
There is nothing to fear in God.
There is nothing to feel in death.
What is good is easily procured.
What is bad is easily endured.
In his great poem, De return natura (On Nature), T. Lucretius Carus (d. 55 B.C.) expounded brilliantly the teaching of his master Epicurus on physics, psychology, ethics, and religion. With a passionate zeal-which paradoxically is intensely religious-he denounces religio (which to him means superstition and popular cults) as a great evil for mankind. In considering Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, he exclaims with a shudder,
Tantum religio potuit swdere mdoruml60
De rerum natura 1, 101 True piety has no more to do with traditional religious rites for Lucretius than for Amos and Isaiah:
Nec pietas ullast velatum saepe t>ideri vertier ad lapidem, atque amnis accedere ad aras, nec procumbere humi pros-tratum et pandere palmas ante deum delubra, nec aras sanguine multo spargere quadrupedum, nec votis nectere vota.61
De return natura V, 1198-1202
For the superstitious fear of the gods Lucretius substituted the light of reason, the freedom of the spirit, and a happiness which is not perturbed by the prospect of the dissolution of the personality at death.
While the traditional worship and belief was attacked in the name of reason and morals,62 various attempts were made to preserve something out of the, wreckage as a basis for the religion of cultivated men.63 While
59 J. C. Orelli, Fragmenta
librorum it et xi De natura.
60 Such crimes was religion able to instigate!"
61 "Nor is it piety at all to be often seen covered with a veil, turning oneself towards a stone, and to come near all altars; nor to prostrate oneself prone to the Lund and stretch out the hands in front of the shrines of the gods; nor to drench with abundant blood of four-legged victims; nor to join vows to vows."
62The most important books on
ancient criticism of Creek religion are fisted later in this book, in
of the chapter on the Wisdom of Solomon (Part II,
63The reader will immediately think of modem parallel attempts to bring Chrisu -to-date." The Modernistic Movement in Roman Catholicism, some of I'e'aNers were A. F. Loisy (d. 1940), C. Tyrrell (d. 1909), E. Bonaiuti (d. 1947), was brought to an end by the mcychcal Pascendi (1907) of Pope Pius X. Innumerable publications by liberal Protestants have attempted to reconcile Christianity with modern science and philosophy, thus supplying the "intelligentsia" with an acceptable faith: a good recent example is J. S. Bixler's Religion for Free Minds (New York, 1939).
Stoicism primarily provided the educated classes with rational faith and morals, using elements of the traditional cults as much as possible, some other apologetic attempts to salvage somethidg from the shipwreck of the old religion may be mentioned first. It is only superficially that these appear to be radical attacks on religion-such they seemed indeed after the beginning of our era-but in reality they are conservative in tendency.
It was manifestly quite difficult for an intelligent and educated Greek or Roman to revere and worship Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Athena, and the other Olympians so superbly depicted by Homer as immortals with human traits. Unless the Homeric gods were to be regarded as characters of fiction, as some thinkers said, they must be something quite different from what Homer says they are. Hellenistic writers suggested that they were in reality men, heavenly bodies, or natural elements which had been deified in dim antiquity.
Hecataeus of Abaera
(ca. 290) in his book on Egypt
(Egyptiakd) 64 identified the ancient Egyptian gods with heavenly
elements (eternal gods), or with rulers (divinized mortals), Sun and
worshiped as Osiris and Isis; similarly for the elerDeDts: the pnetlma
of the world is Zeus, fire is Hephaestus, earth is Demeter, water is
air is Athena. The gods also appeared in
64 Most of the extant text is published in C. Muller's Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum II, 384-396. Most of Book I of Diodoms Siculus, Historical Library, is -based on Hecataeus.
T'he attempt to make Greek religion rational and sensible not only made of the gods divinized human beings, but also identified them with natural objects and forces (Hecataeus). The divine character of heavenly bodies had been recognized by Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle before Chaldean astrology popularized this notion, which in the Wisdom of Solomon was regarded as the noblest form of paganism: 'But either fire, or wind [pneu'nw], or swift air, or the stars in their courses, or stormy water, or the luminaries of heaven who rule the cosmos, they regarded as gods" (or: "the luminaries of heaven, they regarded as the gods who rule the cosmos") (Wisd. of Sol. 13:2; cf. Philo, De docalogo 12 [M II, 189]). Besides the heavenly bodies, as this passage of Philo sbows, the four natural elements also were divinized and identified witb the gods of popular religion: "For they call the earth Kore, Demeter, Pluto; the sea Poseidon . . . the air Hera, the fire Hephaestus" [and also, "and the sun Apollo, and the moon Artemis"] (Philo, ibid.); cf. the Epistle to Diognetus 8:1 f.65 The worship of the elements (including the heavenly bodies) eventually proved less important in the spiritualization of personal piety than the belief that the gods were divinized mortals who had greatly benefited mankind during their lifetime. The discovery of God in the greatest of men was one of the most profound and significant phases of Hellenistic-Roman religions The noblest and inost momentous application of tills thougbt was the recognition that the
doctrine of the four elements (earth, water, fire, air) was wentl
Empedoeles (ca. 450) and was systematized by Aristotle who added a
(ether). The elements were regarded as gods by Prodicus of Ceos (5th
with more philosophical reasoning by Xenouates (d. 314). Philo
the few elements several times (cf. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, pp.
310, 400). The Wisdom of Solomon omits the earth in 13:2 and the
air in -20, which deals with God's transmutation of
elements (cf. Phflo, Life of Moses 1, 17). In
elements are occasionally called archai (principles), but the
is stoicheta, which occurs in the Apocrypha (Wisd. ; ;
IV Mace. ) and flie New Testament (11 Peter , 12, which refer to the Stoic doctrine of the
conflagration); cf. the Shepherd of Hemas, Vision III, 13:3.
the pagan worship of the stoicheia (probably both the four
the heavenly bodies) is made in Gal. 4:8 , 9; Col.'2:8, 20; for the
on these passages, which is abundant, sea W. Bauer, Criechisch-doutsches
W6rterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments, under
ed. of E. Preuschen's Handworterbuch).
worship of rulers, unless a mere formality, has its roots in this
In an attenuated form this practice was continued in the Roman Catholic
canonization of the saints (cf.
sublime words and deeds of Jesus were manifestations of his divinityi That service to mankind lifts man to the realm of the divine was stated clearly by Pliny (Natural History 11: V, 18 and 19); "For a mortal to help a mortai-that is god; and this is the path to eternal glory ... it is an extremely ancient custom, in rendering thanks to well-deserving ones, to include such persons among the deities." And of Jesus we read that 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healidg all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with bim' (Acts 10:38).
The noblest and most influential religion for the intellectuals was provided by Stoicism, which was at the same time a system of metaphysics, a way of life, aDd a monotheistic faith practicing the popular cults. The first two aspects have been sketched above, speaking of philosophy; the third one may be summarized bere.
God is the active principle of the universe producing, out of the passive physical elements, the cosmos with all its phenomena. In a rhythmic process comparable to breathing, God produces the cosmos and then allows it to return to chaos, repeating this cycle through eternity, God is not immaterial, but consists of spirit and ether; mentally he is reason (1ogos), fate (heimarmene), providence (pronoia). Immanent in the world like the soul in the body67 (in contrast with the transcendent deity of Plato and Aristotle), God is present and active in every part of the universe: "For in bim we live, and move, and bave our being' (Acts 17:28).68 "For of him, and through bim, and to hirn, are all things" (Rom. 11:36) or, as Marcus Aurelius said, 'Of thee [i.e., Nature] are all things, in thee are all things, to thee are aU things' (Meditations IV, 23): everything originates in God, exists through bim, and returns to him.69 Men, as Epictetus said, are "fragments of God.” None of the Stoics has described more eloquently the Stoic notion of the deity than Cleanthes (third century B.c.) in bis famous Hymn (usually called Hymn toZeus). 70
67 Seneca (Quaestiones Naturales II, 45), for instance, calls God, “riler and guardian of the universe, soul and spirit of the world.”
68 The speech of Paul to the Athenian
the Areopagus, as reported in Acts, contains a good popular exposition
philosophy in Acts 17:24-28; see, for details, E. Norden, Agnostos
Untersuchgen zur Formengeschichte religioser Rede, pp. 13-30.
69 For other New Testament and Stoic parallels, see Norden, op. cit., pp. 240-250.
70 The Greektext was published by H. von
Stoicorum veterum fragmneta I, 537. The translation of the initial
printed here is by J. Adams, The Vitality of Platonism, p.
O God most glorious, called by many a name
Natme's great king, through endless years the same;
Omnipotence, who by thy just decree
Controflest all, hail, Zeus, for unto thee
Beboves thy creatures in all lands to call.
We are thy children, we alone, of all
On earth's broad ways that wander to and fro,
Bearing thine image wheresoe'r we go.
In such a pantheistic system God was for all practical purposes identified with Nature and for man 'to live according to Nature" meant to be in harmony with God: such is the ideal of the sage. Its attainment requires daily self-examination, constant self-restraint, unending battle and self-training. Life, as the early Christians likewise knew, was a race to be won, a battle to be fought (11 Tim. 4:7 f.; cf. Phil. 3:12-14; 1 Tim. ; Hebr. 12:1; etc.), after undergoing severe athletic training.
God says to you, "Give me a proof, whether you have observed the rules of athletics, eaten what you should, exercised, obeyed the trainer." .
Epictetus, Discourses III, 10:8
Through such discipline the sage strove to attain a state of absolute dependence on God and absolute independence from externals, which for Epictetus was freedom resulting from bondage under God.
Friend, lay hold with a desperate grasp, ere it is too late, on freedom, tranquillity, and greatness of soull Lift your head high, as one escaped from slaveryl Dare to look up to God and say, 'Deal with me henceforth as thou wilt; thou and I are of one mind. I am thine; I refuse nothing that seems good to thee; lead where thou wilt; . . . ."
Epictetus, Discourses II, 16:41
He who realizes that he has God for his rnaker, and father, and kinsman is free from sorrows and fears (Epictetus, Discourses 1, 9:4-7). Consequently, for the sage the religion of forms had no meaning in comparison to the religion of the spirit:71 prayer was not a request for liberation from some evil or for the granting of some good, but merely the endeavor to free the mind from fears and desires (Marcus Aurelius IX, 40), indeed it was the communion of the mind with God; sacrifices, offerings, iinages, temples, divination, magic are in themselves insignificant; personal
71 Zeno, the
founder of the
immortality was replaced with a sense of divine kinship. True worship, according to Seneca (Epistle 95, 47), does not consist in lighting lamps on the sabbaths, since the gods need no light, and men hardly enjoy soot; nor in morning homages or sitting outside the temples; nor in carrying linen and scrapers, and holding juno's mirror. God needs no servants, for he serves mankind and is at hand everywhere for all; the worship of the gods is first of all to believe in the gods, then to recognize their majesty and goodness; whoever imitates the gods has adequately worshiped them.
And yet, even though in theory the Stoics regarded the whole cura et cerimonia72 of religion (as Cicero called it), the whole apparatus of public worship, as futfle and empty forms, in practice they strove to discover a reality behind the shadow, a truth in the myths, a justification for the traditional faith and practice. They not only were aware of the value of religion in human society but found nourishment for their religious aspirations in the current worship. They harmonized their theology with popular polytheism by identifying the gods with individual divine powers emanating from the divine cosmic soul, usually called Zeus (Jupiter). Seneca (quoted by Lactantius, Institutions 1:5, 26 f.) accordingly distinguishes between the various deities which we worship singly, and the God of gods whose ministers they are. Through allegorical interpretation of the ancient myths and fanciful etymologies the Stoics succeeded in combining the most advanced philosophy and science with the crassest superstitions. Zeus (poetic Z6n) is connected with zdn (to live), and its accusative Dta with did (by means of, through); Hera is a& (air). Some gods are heavenly bodies or natural elements; others, like Athena (reason, providence), mental functions. Ares (thoughtlessness) and Aphrodite (debauchery) are assailed by Athena (reason); this illustrates the moralizing interpretation of Homer; in other interpretations of the Homeric myths the gods were explained as forces, elements, or phenomena of nature.
The Stoic teachers did not merely instruct a small circle of disciples, as Plato and Aristotle did, but, following the example of the Cynics (beginning with Diogenes of Sinope, who died in 323 B.C.), they left the classroom and went out to the market place where they addressed the masses. Before the beginning of our era the Stoic preachers could hardly be distinguished from their Cynic colleagues. These mendicant philosophers on the open road, like the early Christian missionaries later, went about the Graeco-Roman world bringing to the lower classes a message of redemption. They taught that external advantages are worthless in comparison with virtue, which is the source of peace of mind and happiness; the goals of men are insignificant in comparison with the
simple life in accordance with nature. Like modern evangelistic appeals to conversion, these street-corner addresses were intended to kindle the emotions of uneducated masses: they consisted of anecdotes, observations of life, puns, easily remembered maxims, contrasts, sarcastic or impassioned attacks on the sinners, calls to repentance. Such popular addresses in the vigorous (if not vulgar) vernacular gave rise to a body of written literature; Bion of Borysthenes in Sarmatia (ca. 280) out of this material created a new literary genre, the diatribe.73 This written composition is a well-aryanged, dramatic, animated imitation of the 'soapbox" addresses. Of the latter the best example is in Horace, Satires II, 3, a brilliant transcription in bexameters of a Stoic serrnon on the insanity of all those who have not attained Stoic wisdom. Besides being an excellent and almost unique example of a popular Stoic address, this poem is the greatest satire ever written. In reality other satires of Horace, as also the later ones of Persius (d. A.D. 62) and juvenai (d. ca. A.D. 140) have much in common with the diatribe: Horace (Epistles II, 2:60) actually names the diatribes of Bion as his model. Jewish-HelIenistic authors imitated the diatribe in the Wisdom of Solomon and particularly in IV Maccabees, a rhetorical discourse on the Stoic theme that 'devout reason is supreme ruler over the passions."
73 See in particular P. Wendland, Hellmistisch-Rdmische Rultur, pp. 39-53.
75 Posidonius influenced the ideas about God and spirit in Vergil's Aeneid (VI, 724 fE.) and Georgics (IV, 218 ff.), as also his ideas about the afterlife in Aeneid VI; similarly Ovid's notions about the Golden Age and cosmology; M. Terentius Varro (d. 27 B.c.) in discussing religion in 16 of the 41 books of his Remm humanarum et divinamm antiquitates likewise discloses the influence of Posidonius (see Augustine, City of God IV, 27; VI, 2 ff.).
76 It may be noted,
incidentally, that certain similarities between Stoicism and
noted in antiquity: it was said that Paul met Seneca in
After Posidonius, however, the Stoics devoted themselves increasingly to the practical aspects of their doctrine instead of theoretical speculations, more to propaganda among the masses than to academic tea6hing and writing. In fact, as in the case of most New Testament writings (notably the Epistles of Paul), the literature to a great extent is merely subservient or supplementary to the oral message: Epictetus (like his teacher Musonius) wrote nothing, but Arrian faithfully recorded his Discottrses (Diatiibai), only about half of which are extant, and made a selection of them in the Manual (Encheiridion). Like the Apostles, the Cynics and Stoics became primarily preachers and pastors, their message became more and more ethical ana religious. They stressed the need of realizing the nature and value of one's soul, of disregarding all external circumstances to pursue virtue, of being bom again (transfigurari; Seneca, Epistles 53, 8; 94, 48; cf. Epistles 6). In detail, the philosophers discussed the duties toward one's country, parents, children; they gave advice concerning marriage relations, clothing, diet, home, old age, friendship, education, and all situations of human life. A more idward and profound religious feeling, a more spiritual kind of prayer (cf. Persius, Satire II, in the forrn of a letter; juvenal, Satire XI a diatribe) were increasingly stressed, together with a sense of the divine calling of the Cynic and Stoic itinerant preacher. To a young pupil eager to devote himself to this spiritual calling Epictetus spoke as follows:
If a man were to undertake so great a task without God, he would be liated by God and his activity would make him a public laughingstock. . . . The philosopher ... must be free from desires and passions ... his soul must be pure.... Death? Let it come when it will, let it smite the whole or a part. Exile? Can any man cast me outside of the world? ... Furthermore the true Cynic must know that he is sent as a messenger (dngelos) from Zeus to men to teach them concemhig good and evil, to show them that they are in error looking for these where they are not to be found and not noticing where they really are....
Epictetus, Discourses III, 22
Noble as was the Cynic-Stoic ideal of a life devoted to the practice of virtue under the guidance of reason, the control of the will, and the
judgment of conscience,77 it did not suffice: it could not be attained without divine aid. "No man is good without God. Can any rise superior to fortune save with God's help?" (Seneca, Epistle 41, 2). Human longing for God, before the rise of Christianity, found satisfaction in mystical philosophies and in the mystery religions.
Mysticism had its roots in Orphism, Pythagoras, and Plato, in their teaching about the conflict of mind and matter in man, and the possible deliverance of the soul from earthly bondage. Posidonius gathered together the various philosophical and religious strains into a great system of philosophy based on exact sciences and culminating in mysticism. He stresses the conflict of body and soul in the moral sphere (cf. Paul's 'works of the flesh' and "works of the spirit" in Gal. 5:16-25). The human soul is a portion of the fiery cosmic spirit, descending from heaven to earth to be imprisoned in the body and polluted by its passions. Here it yearns for communion with God and full knowledge, but they can be attained only through deliverance from the body and return to God: 'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face' (I Cor. ).
Another mystical school, combining Pythagorean mysticism with Platonic philosophy (not without Stoic influence), is usually called NeoPythagoreanism because it revered Pythagoras (ca. 530 B.c.) as the perfect sage, in possession of esoteric truth through divine revelation. Consequently, whatever doctrines were regarded as true were attributed to the ancient founder and his disciples and, since hardly any genuine writings had come down from that period, Pythagorean books were freely forged. Parallels in other religions, likewise dominated by the principles of authority, divine revelation, and tradition, will at once occur to the reader. The movement appears in
77 The concept of a moral
mnscimee (synapsis, meaning both consciousness and mnscience)
in Hellenism and was, current whence it passed to the Romans (conscientia),
Aleandrian Jews (Wisd. 17:11 [Greek 17:10]), Josephus, and some of the
of the New Testament (chiefly Paul's epistles; Acts 23:1; 24:16;
Hebrews; I Peter).
For the literature on the subject, see
78 On the Pythagorean
'numerology' in Philo, see: E. Br6hier, Les idees philosophiques et
religieuses de Philon d’Alexandreia, 2nd ed., pp. 43 f.
In turn the writings of Philo were apparently known to Ammonius surnamed Saccas ("sack bearer,' because he had been a porter), and to his pupils Plotinus (d. A.D. 270), the founder of Neoplatonism, Longinus (d. 273), and Origen (d. ca. 254), the first great Christian tbeologian.79 Plotinus, whose writings were edited by his pupil Porphyry (d. ca. 304), in six Enneads or fifty-four (6x9) treatises, taught that the godbead . cannot be grasped by thought," is ineffable and absolute; it is 'the One (to hen), "the Primal [Being]' (to proton), which 'neither thinks, wffls, or desires." It is beyond existence, above all relations with anything else, without qualities: we cannot say what it is, but only what it is not. And yet it is the cause of all that exists, it is the primary power (pr6to dgnamis), a pure, unconditioned, creative activity. To the objection that if the One produces the many they were contained in it potentially, Plotinus answers that the One does not possess energy distinct from itself, but it is creative energy; the One is perfect and as such possesses the capacity to produce other beings; its very existence automatically produces, just as the sun radiates light without changing in the least. The world is an emanation from the One; it is its shadow, its image seen in a mirror-in other words, an illusion, an unreal and imperfect copy of the One. 'The sensuous life is mere stage-play, all the misery in it is only imagination, all grief a mere deception of the actors." Man's supreme goal is the return of his soul to God, which implies its deliverance from the body, its cleansing (katharsis) from all that separates it from God, and the ecstatic rapture in which the notion of multiplicity disappears and the soul reaches the One, attains the unio mystica. Such a supreme achievement is permanent only for purified souls after death; in this life the experience is brief and rare: Plotinus attained it four times in six years, Porphyry only once in his lifetime.
Neoplatonism was a rival of Christianity (Porphyry wrote Against the Christians in fifteen books) and yet it influenced Christian mysticism, notably in Augustine, Boethius (d. 524), Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (a body of fifth-century writings attributed to Paul's convert named in Acts ), Scotus Erigena (who translated these writings into Latin and explained the original, about 858), and others. The intellectual basis of European mysticism is Neoplatonic. The last Neoplatonists are lamblichus of Chalkis in Syria (d. ca. 330), a pupil of Porphyry; Proclus (d. 485); and finally his pupil Darnascius, who, when Justinian closed the philosophical school at Athens in 529, found refuge at the court of Cbosroes I, King of Persia. Thus, after a development of
79 The influence of Philo on Christian theologians of the Alexandrian School is obvious but some scholars doubt his influence on pagan philosophers; see, however, H. A. Wolfson, Philo, vol. 11, pp. 158-160.
a thousand years, Greek philosophy reached its sad end, but it had previously passed on the torch to Christianity.80
philosophies, the foreign mystery cults
offered satisfaction for the widespread longing for commudion with the
deity. A few foreign deities and their worship had gained
After the death of Alexander (323 B.c.) the increased contacts between East and West tended to fuse the Greek and OrientaI religions-a process
80 A good summary on the
development of philosophy and religion from 100 to references will be
J. Geffcken, Der Ausgang des griechisch-romischen Heidentums.
completed, the following work will be especially valuable, Reallexicon
Antike und Christentum, Sachworterbuch zur Auseinandersetzung des
mit der antiken Welt, ed. by Th. Klauser in co-operation with F.J.
H. Lietzmann (both deceased), and particularly with J.H. Waszink and L.
Fasciciles 1-7, columns 1-1120.
81 Paul’s famous reference to “an altar with
inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts )
which scholars cail 'syncretism." Besides the earlier identification of foreign with Greek gods, cult and theology identified Isis with Demeter; Artemis, Apbrodite, Athena, Nemesis, and Tyobe as one; Osiris with Dionysus, Attis, and Adonis; Serapis with Asclepius, Zeus, Pluto, Dionysus; Bendis (a Thracian goddess) with Artemis, Hecate, and Persephone; The Zoroastrian deities Abura-Mazda (Ormazd), Veratbragna, and Anahita, through the spread of Mithraism, became Zeus, Heracles, and Artemis. respectively.82
The cults of foreign
82 P. Wendland, Die Hellen@ch-rdmische Kultur, p. 79.
83 In addition to the works
listed above, note 43, see the following works on the mysteries,
the Roman period, and their relations to Christianity: G. Boissier, La
deities were officially worshiped
Near Eastern deities began to arrive at
Attis was probably introduced into
84 C. Showeman ("Was
The adnual festival of the Cybele-Attis mysteries was reorganized and officially sanctioned by Claudius (A.D. 41-54). Attis became more prominent than Cybele because he promised to bis devotees the salvation of the soul and life after deatb. On March 15 (designated as Canna intrat, the reed enters) the Canrwphori (reed-bearers) carried reeds in procession, allegedly commemorating the finding of the infant Attis among the reeds by the river Gallus. On March 22 (called Arbor intrat, the tree enters) the Dendrophori (tree-bearers) bore a pine tree, adorned with violets and bandaged like a mummy-a symbol of the dead Attis-to the temple of Cyl;ele on the Palatine. On March 24 (caued Dies sanguinis, day of blood) the mouming for Attis reached its climax.
The ArcMgallus or bigh-priest drew blood from his arms and presented it as an offering. . . . Stirred by the wild barbaric music of clashing cymbals, rumbling drums, droning horns, and screaming flutes, the inferior clergy whirled about in the dance with waggling heads and streaming hair, untfl rapt into a frenzy of excitement and insensible to pain, they gashed their bodies with potsherds or slashed them with knives in order to bespatter the altar and the sacred tree with their flowidg blood.
J. G. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Vol. 1, p. 268. Srd ed. The Macmillan Company, 1914.
although no evidence is
Aside from these annual public rites celebrating the death and resur-
rection of Attis, his
cult comprised secret and probably
mystic sacraments by which the novice entered into communion with the
gained the assurance of eternal life. The only rite about which
information is available is the baptism of blood, called the
The earliest reference to it is dated in A.D. 134 at
Egypes contribution to
Graeco-Roman religions was a group of deities closely connected with
then the nobles, and finally the commoners-drew their hope of a happy immortality. 86
The best complete account of the Osiris myth is that of Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride 12-20), which, though late, since Plutarch died about A.D. 120, agrees substantially with the fragmentary ancient Egyptian accounts and therefore may be regarded as reliable. We may summarize
85 Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, Vol. 6, No. 510. The “criobolium” is a sacrafice of a ram in honor of Attis corresponding to the sacrafice of a bull in honor of Cybele in the taurobolium.
86 For Osiris and his cult in ancient
it as follows: The
earth-god Geb (identified with Cronus)
and the skygoddess Nut (identified with Rhea) had four children, the
Osiris and Seth (or Set; Greek, Typhon) and the goddesses Isis and
In the meantime the chest containing Osiris had reached the
87 According to Strabo (Geography XVII, 1:23 lp. 8031), Isis buried coffins of Osiris in many places, but hid his corpse carefully so that Seth could not find it ; cf. Didorus Siculus I, 21:5-11.
defeated and recognized Horns as
the new ruler of mankind. whfle Osiris became the king of the
For Osiris really died and the members of his family, but their souls
alive: that of Osiris is the phoenix bird, that of
The mydi of Osiris was represented as a 'mystery," a "Passion Play' in the time of Sesostris I (1980-1935 B.C.) of the Xllth Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) of
The religion of
Osiris, which before Alexander bad become
so general in Egypt that Herodotus (2:42) could say that Osiris and
the nly gods worshiped by all the Egyptians, was preserved in substance
Hellenized in form (the liturgy was in Greek); Osiris had been
Dionysus and Isis with Demeter long before, as Herodotus estifies, and
Osiris religion received the character of the Eleusinian nd Dionysiac
mysteries. So these cults spread throughout the Hellenistic nd
worlds. One important change was the substitution of Serapis or
for Osiris. The legend telling of the origin of the Serapis -
88 For classical
sources for the study of Egyptian religion, in addition to Plutarch,
Th. Hopfner, Fontes historiae religionis Aegyptiacae, Parts
(in C. Clemen, ) Fontes historiae religionum ex auctoribus Graecis et
89 This stela was published
with full commentary by H. Schaefer, Die Mysterien des Osiris in
Abydos unter Konig Sesostris III, nach dem Denkstein des
I-cher-nofret im Berliner Museum (in K. Seethe's Untermchungen zur
Altertumskunde Aegyptem 1V, 2).
90 Tacitus, Histories 4:83 f.; Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 27-29; Athenodorus of Tarus, in C. Muller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum vol. 3, pp. 487 f.
ambassadors brought back the statue; Tacitus
says that according to rumor the statue of its own accord went on board
vessel, which reached
Greeks and Romans were attracted to the cults of Serapis and Isis, the most refined of all Oriental cults then current in the West, as modern Californians are attracted by exotic Hindu philosophies and practices such as Vedanta and yoga, or synchretistic faiths like theosophy. Both Serapis and Isis were deities wbose character was vague and thus capable of unlimited developmedt. Serapis, accordidg to Tacitus (Histories 4:84), was identified with four deities: Aesculapius, Osiris, Jupiter (Zeus), and Dis pater (Pluto, the ruler of the underworld). At first, like Osiris and Pluto, be was the lord of the depth of the earth and of the dead; then he was invoked in mortal dangers, whether through illness or other menacing circumstances, and assumed the attributes of Aesculapius, the god of healing; the stories of his miraculous deliverances took the piace of Donexistent myths about this god. Finally be was equated to Zeus, ut rerum omnium potentem (as baving power over aII thidgs); and became a universal god (pantheus), the closest approach to monotheism in Graeco-Roman paganism. In an oracle reported by Macrobius (fourth-fifth century) in his Saturnalia (I:20, 17), Serapis speaks as follows of himself:
The heavenly world is the head, the sea the belly,
The earth is feet for me, the ears lie in the ether,
And the eye is the far-shining bright light of the sun.
91 Assuming that Serapis came from
92 Plutarch (De -Iside 27), on the
Archemachus the Euboean and of Heracleides Ponticus, identifies
Augustine called it) The
Golden Ass (De asino aureo), composed
probably between A.D. 151 and 157, supplies the best information
Begetter of nature, mistress of all the elements, primal offspring of the ages, supreme deity, queen of the shades of the dead, first of the heavenly beings, uniform manifestation of gods and goddesses, I who by my nod control the luminous summits of the sky, the wholesome breezes of the sea, and the gloomy shades of the underworld: whose unique name, in manifold forms, in diverse ceremonies, in various titles the whole world adores.
Greek bymn, preserved in an inscription
found in Cius in
Zeus is he, the son of Crones, he is the mighty Amon,
The immortal king, and revered as Serapis.
Thee also, blessed goddess and mother, many-named Isis,
Whom heaven brought forth on the glittering waves of the sea,
And who didst bring up darkness as the light for all men;
who as the oldest bearest the see ter
And as divine mistress rulest the earth and the seas,
Thou who viewest everything-much good hast thou given to men. 93
worship of Serapis spread all over
93 Other lists of attributes
and titles of Isis will be found in F. Hiller von Gaertringen, Inscriptiones
Cycladum praeter Tenum (inscriptiones Graecae XII: v, 1), No. 14;
and in B.
P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, The Oiyrhynchm Papyri Parts 1-18.
94 The site of the Serapeum of Alexandria has
excavated. See, E. Breccia, Les fouilles dans le Serapeum
1905-1906 (Service des antiquites de l’Egypte. Annales. Vol. 8, pp.
representatives or occupation
troops. Pausanias about A.D. 170 mentions temples of Serapis,
together with those of Isis, at Athens (1:18, 4), Corinth (2:4, 6),
(4:32, 6), Sparta (3:14, 5), and other Greek localities (2:34, 10;
3:25, 10; 7:21, 13; 9:24, 1). From the
Isis apparently gained a foothold in Rome in the time of Sulla (80 B.C.); but the Roman consuls and the Senate in the period 58-48B.c. repeatedly destroyed the altars and shrines of Isis, presumably because members of the Isiac associations (mostly foreigners) bad a part in the tumults stirred up by Clodius at this time.95 Nevertheless the cult survived and flourished soon after, attracting chiefly freedmen and women, and not only wives or courtesans of the demimonde (Juvenal [6, 489] calls Isis
95 Cf. G. La Piana in HTR 20 (1927) 291 f.
a procuress!), but also respected ladies of the aristocracy. Augustus and his prime minister Maecenas repressed the cult; and Tiberius in A.D. 19, when a lady was induced by attendants of the Isis temple to commit immoral acts, threw the image of the goddess into the Tiber, crucified her priests, and deported to Sardinia 4,000 Isiae adherents of military age to fight the brigands there.96 Thus, like Judaism before and Christianity later, the religion of Isis bad its martyrs and confessors!
Beginning with Caligula (A.D. 37-41), however,
earliest description of the public rites
what use is now your
Tibullus, Elegies 1:3, 23-32
Tibullus describes the daily worship
of Isis; for in contrast with Roman temples, which were opened only
occasionally, the Egyptian temples were opened daily with appropriate
(matutinas apertiones templi, Apuleius, Metamorphoses XI,
20). Every morning the temple singer awoke
96 Josephus, Antiquities 18:3, 4; Tacitus, Annals 2, 5.
97 Ex-voto paintings depicting deliverences from diseases or dangers can be seen
in Roman Catholic churches in
98 Pharos, an island in the
temple was purified by sprinkling
That ritual was
chiefly the concern of the clergy; Tibullus
describes the participation of the devotees. Moreover, these,
the public worsh P, a personal relation with
In the third place, besides the daily ritual and the penitential system, the Isiac cult included the great annual festivals. The mystery drama celebrated at
In the fourth place, the cult of
Ass (book XI),
vaguely and mysteriously. Lucius
approached the borders of death and walked to the threshold of
having crossed all the elements, and returned therefrom. He saw
at midnight, shining with a white light, and came into the presence of
of the underworld and of the gods of the upper world, so that be could
them close at band. On the morrow be was shown to the crowds on a
platform, in front of the image of
Before coming to Mithra a word may be
said about Syrian deities, who played a relatively unimportant role at
Atargatis was the first Syrian deity to be worshiped in Rome, having been introduced by prisoners taken during the war against Antiochus III the Great, in 192-188 B.C. Syrian servants and Syrian merchants practiced the cult soon after in Sicily, Rome, and the harbors of Ostia, Naples, and Puteoli. The name Atargatis is a compound of the names of the goddess 'Atar (Astarte, Ishtar) and the god 'Ate (opportune time); the Greeks shortened Atargatis to Derket6 (English, Dereeto); see Strabo XVI: 4, 27 (p. 785); Pliny, Natural History V:23, 81 Tbe center of her worship was at Heliopolis, west of the Euphrates on the road from Aleppo to Harran: the native name was Mabog (according to Pliny, loc. cit.), pronounced Bambyce by the Greeks (Strobe XV: 2, 27 [C. 7481); the modern name is Membidi. The worship there is described by Lucian,
99 On the Adonis myth in its earliest kno"
form, at Ras Sbamra-Ugarit (Northern Phoenicia) in the 14th century
Vivian and Isaac Rosensohn jacobs, "The Myth of Moth and 'Aleyan Ba'ar'
(HTR 38  77-109); for the English version of the pertinent
mythological poems, see C. H. Gordon, The Loves and Wars of
De Dea Syra.100 A
Besides Tanimuz-Adonis of Byblus, other gods from
100 Doubts have been expressed about Lucian's authorship of this work, but Eduard Meyer and others are probably correct in regarding it as authentic.
alus, or Heliogabalus
(218-222), a priest of the sun-god
Elagabalus (meaning "god of the mountain"?) at Emesa (
The worship of Mithra proved to be one of the most popular in the
Mithra had long been worshiped before his popularity attained its peak in the third century of our era, declining after
Mithra is first known early in the second millennium B.C. as one of the gods of that group of ancient Indo-Europeans who called themselves Aryans (i.e., Indo-Iranians) and were the ancestors of the Vedic Indians and the early Iranians: these Aryans appeared in
101 The bibliography on
Mithra earlier than 1915 is given in Ida A. Pratt, List of Works
102 The text of this treatise
in Hittite was found in the excavations at BoghazKent (ancient
Hittite capital) in
103 Lines 55-56 of the reverse of this tablet read, ilani (pl) mi-it-ra-as-si-il ilani (pl) u-ru-wa-na-as-si-il ilu in-dar ilani (pl) na-sa-ti-ia-an-na.
It appears from this
inscription that in the early part of
the fourteenth century B.C., if not earlier, the Aryans had two groups
the gods of nature and the gods of human society. In the first
Indar (better known as Indra) is the god of storms, shattering the
his thunderbolt, and the two Nasatya (later known as the Asvins) on
chariot, helping those in mortal danger, are the Indian Dioscuri
Pollux). Mitra (later Mithra) and Varuna are the gods who embody
basic principles of human civilized society. Mithra means
in Iranian; Mithra is the guardian of the observance of contracts
individuals and covenants between nations. Varuna is invoked in
taking of oaths. The two groups were called by the early Aryans
Daivas (Indra and the Nasatyas) and Asuras (Mithra and Varuna),
respectively. Among the Iranians the Daivas were eventually
the status of demons, and Varuna disappeared, having probably been
Ahura-Mazda, the supreme god of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the great
reforiner who probably lived about 650-600 B.C. In the Zend-Avesta, the
book of Zoroastrianisrn which grew about the prophetic teaching of
(chiefly preserved in the Cathas), Mithra is second only to
(Lord Wisdom) or Ormazd, and ahnost his equal: "Ahura-Mazda spoke to
Spitama Zarathustra, saying 'Verily, when I created Mithra, the lord of
pastures, 0 Spitama, I created him as worthy of sacrifice, as worthy
as myself, Abura-Mazda"' (Avesta, Yasht X, 1). He was then a god
light, "the god of celestial light" (E. Benveniste, The
Persian Religion, according to the chief Greek texts, P. 54.
et Osiride 46).
This explains the prominence
of Mithra when the Zoroastrian religion spread to
A sanctuary of Mithra, or Mithraeum, consisted of a pronaos-, or pilIared vestibule, from which a stairway led to the underground cella simulating a cave and therefore called swlaion (Latin, spelwum), grotto (cf., e.g., Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Tryphon 78, 6). These crypts were small, few could hold as many as one hundred men (no women were admitted), but usually not more than fifty could find room in them. This indicates that they were used for initiation rites rather than for regular services. When required, several Mithraea were in use (four in
subdued in a cave the bull created by Abura-Mazda; the bull escaped, but was then reluctantly sacrificed by Mithra by order of the sun (whose messenger was the raven). The dying bull brought life to the earth despite the efforts of Ahriman, who sent the scorpion to defeat this purpose. The dog is the friend of Mithra and the serpent probably symboiizes the fertilized earth.
As Jerome reports in his Epistle 107, the initiate (sacratus) passed through seven degrees corresponding perhaps to the seven planetary spheres through which the soul passed on the way to the abode of the blest: corax (raven), cryphius (hidden; probably to be read nimphus, bridegroom, in accordance with inscriptions found at Dura-Europos), miles (soldier), leo (lion), Perses (Persian), heliodromus (courier of the sun), and pater (father). On occasion, appropriate garments corresponding to these designations were worn. Until the third degree (miles) the neophytes were called "servants"; beginning with the fourth (leo) they became "participants," and at their real initiation they took the oath of secrecy. According to Tertullian (De corona ntilitis 15), the miles in the cave, "appropriately in a military camp of darkness," was offered a garland with a sword inserted into it as if he were acting his martyrdom; after placing it on his bead be removed it to his shoulder saying that Mithra was his crown; he was then branded on the forehead with a redhot iron. Other rites were baptism by immersion, passage through flames, and simulation of death (Porphyry, De antro nympharum 15). The lee initiate partook sacramentally of bread and wine: Justin Martyr (First Apology 66, 4) says that evil demons imitated the eucbarist in the mysteries of Mithra.104The chief festival of Mithra was on December 25, the dies natalis invicti solis (the birthday of the invincible sun) 105 the day was sacred to the sun in other religions, for it marked the rebirth of the sun after December 21, the shortest day of the year when the sun seemed to be on the way to expire. Special services were held on Sunday, which in English and German still has a pagan name, the day of the sun-god, but which Italian and French decently Christianized by calling it the Lord's Day ([dies] dominica: donwnica, dinwnche).
Christianity, like the mystery religions, spread in the Roman world as a religion of salvation, offering a happy immortality to its faithful. It
104 Tertullim (De praescriptionibus haereticorum 40) says that the devil imitates the divine sacraments in the mysteries of the idols: he baptizes his faithful promising expiation of sins through this bath, marks his soldiers on the forehead, celebrates the oblation of bread, 'introduces "the image of the resurrections [i.e., a mock resurrection], and ransoms the crown under the sword (cf. above, De corona 15).
105 On the origin of Christmas, see R. Kittel,
hellenistiche Mysterienreligion und das Alte Testament, pp.
17-36. BWAT N.F. 7.
also admitted to its
sacraments only the initiates, it also
told of a being who died and was raised from the dead to bring
those united mystically with him. The resemblance of
to those of Mithraism was noted, as we have seen, by Justin Martyr (d. ca.
and Tertullian (d. ca. 230), who regarded Mithraism as a
imitation of Christianity. But eventually Christianity, which
from all other cults by refusing in the most absolute manner (like
participation in pagan rites, triumphed in the Roman and Greek worlds
of the persecutions, which were particularly severe under Decius
Diocletian (in 303-304). Christ proved himself migbtier than
Church, however, through its victory enrolled into its ranks multitudes
could not forget their pagan practices and beliefs. Graecia
... t)ictorem cepit (Horace, Epistles 2:1, 156; "conquered
THE JEWS IN THE LANDS OF THEIR DISPERSION
settlement of Judeans
and Israelites in foreign lands, followed in later centuries by the
flourishing colonies of Jews outside of
The technical term for the settlement of Israelites and Jews abroad, beginning with the deportation by Tiglath-pileser III in 732 B.C. (11 Kings 15:29),2 is the Greek word diaspora (the Dispersion), which occurs in II Macc. 1:27 (in the sense of the dispersed Jews) and in Judith 5:19 (in the sense of the land of the Babylonian Exile).3 Alexandrian Jews even spoke of the Jewish Dispersion as the sending forth of colonies, in the Greek manner (Agrippa, in Philo, Embassy to Gains 36 [11, 587 M cf. Against Flaccus 7; On Contemplative Life 3).
In the second half of the Hellenistic period and in the early part of the Roman period (ca. 200 13.C.-A.D. 200), with which we are here concerned, the Jews were scattered throughout the civilized countries of the Mediterranean world. "Every country will be filled with thee and every sea," the Sibyl sang ominously in 140 B.C. (Sibyl. 3:271). Philo (Against
1 The Phoenicians
Greeks furnish the most familiar ancient parallels.
Long before, Assyrian merchants established
commercial colonies in
also Tiglath-pileser's fragmentary report in D. D. Luckenbill, Ancient
Of Assyria and Babylonia, Vol. 1, P. 293, §816 (cf. §779).
3 See also,
in the LXX, Deut. 28:25; 30:4; Is. 49:6; Jer. 15:7; 34:17; Ps. 146:2
147:2); etc. Strangely, diaspora/ never
translates the Hebrew go-la-h, which means both deportation (Jer.
and elsewhere) and the Exiles in
§7 [II, 524 MI)
explained this dispersion not as a punishment, as did the Sibyl, but as
result of the immense number of Jews, which no country could contain,
"they dwell in the great majority of the most attractive regions in
So much has been written by scholars on the Diaspora that only brief selected lists of publications can be given here on the Diaspora in general,4 and on the Jewish settlements in Egypt, notably at Alexandria,5 and later in Rome,6 in particular. In the centuries with which we are
4 "Dispersion" by
H. Guthe (in Encyclopaedia Biblica, Vol. 1, cols. 1106-1117; 1899). "Diaspora" by Th. Reinach (in
Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 559-574;
Fairly full lists
of Jewish settlements, with references to inscriptions and other
sources, will be found in the sections of the Schu%rer
and Juster books cited above.
5 F. Sta%helin,
Der Antisemitismus des Altertums
in seiner Entstehung und Entwicklung, Basel, 1905.
A. Bludau, Judm und Judenverfolgungen im
6 A. Bludau, "Die
Juden Roms im ersten christlichen
Jahrhundert" (Katholik 1  113-134; 193-229).
M. Radin, The Jews among the Greeks and
here the Jewish
The Jews in
Before the conquests of
Great the most important foreign settlements of Jews were in
But we must resist the
indulge here in the fascinating speculations of later date about the
Tribes," which have been identified with the Ethiopians, the Scythians,
the Nestorians, the Shindai (holy class) of
under Shalmaneser V (727-722) in II Kings 17:6; 18-11 (and on the basis
these passages in Tob. 1:2, where Enemessar is an error for
questionable on account of the doubtful historicity and genuineness of
8 Cf. the summary
in The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 12, pp. 249-253. New
York, 1906; see also Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, p. 10, n. 19;
of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 11, pp. 167f.; H. L. Strack and P.
Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrasch, Vol. 2, pp.
f.; Vol. 4, pp.903-906.
9 About A.D. 100 this passage was used as a proof text concerning the ultimate fate of the Ten Tribes. According to the Mishna (Sanhedrin X, 3 end), Rabbi Akiba quoted Deut. 29:28 (Hebr. 29:27), "And the Lord... cast them into another land, as it is this day," to prove that the Ten Tribes would never return, for "as this day goes and never returns, so they go never to return." But Rabbi Eliezer said, "As the day becomes dark and then light again, so to the Ten Tribes, for whom darkness has come, light will shine again."
Indians, and last but not least, the Irish and the English-to mention but a few.
Twenty-one years after the
The real Jewish
Diaspora begins in
597. Nebuchadnezzar (according to the
reliable figures given by Jeremiah in Jer. 52:28-30) deported the
numbers of men: 3,023 Judeans in 597; 832 inhabitants of
The Jews at
contrast with these
Jewish settlements in
10 For the literature on the Babylonian Diaspora, see Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, p. 201, n. 1.
Jewish migration to
Egypt of which we have a sure record occurred in 586 when some Judeans
the prophet Jeremiah to go with them to Tahpanhes in the Nile Delta
43). At least half a century later (if
not actually before 586),11 a Jewish military colony manned the
This Jewish colony, flourishing at Elephantine during the fifth century, is of particular importance as the only settlement of Jews outside of Palestine before 300 B.C. from which original records and detailed genuine information have come down to us.13 Founded as a military garrison for the defense of the southern border of Egypt, and consisting primarily of Jewish mercenaries divided into regiments (dgln) at the service of the Persian king, this settlement, during a century of peace, became more and more a civilian community. These soldiers had wives and children, bought and sold houses and lands, added to their salary through commercial activity, and engaged in litigation before civil judges; even the women owned property and fought civil cases in courts of law.
This early Jewish settlement resembles later ones, even though it differs from them in some important respects. The most striking difference is the failure of these Jews-for they were unquestionably Jews and called themselves so (yhwdy)-to observe the Law of Moses. Totally disregarding the Deuteronomic Code of 621 B.C. (if they knew it at all), they built a temple to Jehovah (Yhw) on that remote island on the Nile, in violation of the law of Deut. 12, and, worse still, apparently recognized other deities besides the Lord (notably Ashim-Bethel, Anath-Bethel, Anath-Yahu, Cherem-Bethel; or Ashim, Anath, Bethel, Cherem). Whether the five gates of the temple were named after these five deities must remain in doubt. A similar transgression of the Law was denounced
11 According to
of Aristeas (§13) Psammetichus (I [663-6091 or, much more probably, II
[593-588, cf. Herodotus ]) sent an army
of Jews to
fight against the Ethiopians (cf. Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 31
Moreover, Jeremiah (24:8) seems to know of Jews living in
1, lines 13-14 (in the editions of E. Sachau and A. Ungnad), dated 408
B.C. Text and English translation in A.
Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century, pp. 111-114.
Elephantine Papyri is very considerable.
In addition to Cowley's Aramaic Papyri, the standard work in
(see the preceding footnote), the reader may find lists of works on the
in Ida A. Pratt, Ancient Egypt, pp. 346-350.
New York Public Library, 1925; and its supplement (Ancient
1925-1941, P. 244.
Jeremiah (ch. 44) when be
inveighed against the Judeans in
religion of the Jews at
apart from the fact that
the Jewish settlement at
latent but persistent
hostility between the Jews and the Egyptians at
14 Cf. Yedoniah and his companions" (Sachau, and Ungnad, No. 6; Cowley No. 21; dated in 419). Priests apparently formed a substantial part of the council, for in another papyrus (Sachau 12, Ungnad 11, Cowley 38), which is undated, the hands of the community are, "Yedoniah, Uriah, and the priests of the God Yhu"; cf. "Yedoniah and his companions, the priests who are in Yeb the fortress" (Sachau, and Ungnad, 1; Cowley 30; dated 408 B.C.), etc.
despots.15 As long as the Persians were
able to control
411, when the Persian
3. The Alexandrian Jews
The dramatic history of the Jewish colony on Elephantine has been related, even though it is considerably earlier than the period studied in this book, because it is the earliest and the typical example of the tragic fate of many Jewish settlements through the centuries: it marksthe beginning of anti-Semitism.
15 The reciprcally friendly relations between the Achaemenian Persian rulers (538-330 B.C.) and the Jews have been described in some detail by B. Meissner in Die Acha%menidenko%nige und das Judentum (Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse 1938).
but by far the
most important is that at
The question whether the Jews enjoyed full Alexandrian citizenship or not has been much discussed by historians (see the works cited above, in note 5). Although Josephus (Against Apion 2:4; War 2:18, 7) asserts that when Alexander founded the city he gave the Jews and Macedonians equal rights, which later rulers did not curtail, it is now generally admitted that the Alexandrian Jews constituted a poli/teuma (corporation, community) within the city, enjoying a position higher than the metics (or settlers) but not quite on a par with citizens.18 They did enjoy almost a complete equality of rights (at least in the case of the Jewish upper classes), and in fact even "isopolity," or the possibility to become full citizens if they wished-provided, of course, they renounced their ancestral religion and worshiped the gods of the po/lis, or city-state. Isopolity is attested by Josephus not only for Alexandria (Josephus, Antiquities 19:5, 2 [§281]; etc.: cf. III Macc. 2:30), but for Antioch (Josephus, War 7:3, 3; Antiquities 12:3, 1), and even for Cyrene (isonami/a, equality of legal rights, see Josephus, Antiquities 16: 6, 1) where according to Strabo (Josephus, Antiquities 14:7, 2) the population was divided into four classes: citizens, peasants, metics, and Jews. Such
16 The Letter of
(§§12-14, cf. §§15-27 and 35-37), for instance, greatly exaggerates the
when it reports that Ptolemy I, presumably after the battle Of Gaza in
transported to Egypt 100,000 Jews of which 30,000 were drafted into the
and settled in various garrisons, while the rest were reduced to
there is no reason to doubt that this story is based on fact, even
is no other confirmation, for Josephus (Against Apion 2:4 [§§44-471 and
12:1) draws his information from Pseudo-Aristeas and is therefore not
17 It is clear
from this situation of the Jews that they
did not live in an Alexandrian "ghetto," as some historians have
asserted (e.g., K. J. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte, Vol. 4, Pt. 1, p.
2nd ed. Berlin and Leipzig, i925). On
the contrary, the Jews enjoyed in
18 The letter of
Claudius (41-54 A.D.) to the Alexandrines (H. I. Bell,
Jews and Christians in
was the subject of
a quarrel between Jews and Gentiles at
the earliest reference to
the Jewish poli/teuma in Alexandria (Letter of Aristeas §310) we find
head a council of elders and leaders (archons?), just as the Jewish
at Berenice in Cyrenaica was governed by a council of nine a/rchontes
chief magistrates), according to a Greek inscription probably dating
B.C. (Corpus Inscript. Graec. 5361; cf.
In Alexandria, as elsewhere during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the Jews were not especially well liked by their Gentile neighbors.20 The main reason for this unpopularity was clearly stated by the Jewish author of the Book of Esther (3:8): they were a nation "scattered abroad and dispersed among the people" in the whole Mediterranean world, "and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws." For the masses, like children occasionally, dislike and distrust instinctively foreign or different people in their midst. The Jews kept themselves as much apart from the Gentiles as possible and tenaciously clung to their own customs, fearful, after the attempt of Antiochus
19 A. Segre\
Studies 6  388 f.) believes that Strabo exaggerates the power of
the ethnarch when he asserts that the ethnarch
governed the Jews, administered justice among them, supervised their
and their laws as if he were the chief of an independent state (polis). It seems probable, however, that ordinarily
Jews were judged by their own magistrates in their own Courts.
20 See I. Heinemann in Pauly-Wissowa, Realenzyklopa%die des klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, new ed. by W. Kroll and K. Mittelhaus, Supplementary Vol. 5, cols. 3-43.
Epiphanes to Hellenize them forcibly, of losing their national individuality and religious peculiarity.
During the rule
of the Ptolemies (323-30
B.C.) this dislike for the Jews on the part of the Greeks in
dislike grew considerably
after Octavian's conquest of
During the rule of Octavian Augustus (30 B.C.-A.D. 14) and Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) the Romans succeeded in keeping peace between the two unfriendly Alexandrian groups. They even discriminated in favor of the Greeks in order to gain their favor, as when Germanicus (the nephew of Tiberius, father of Caligula, grandfather of Nero) in A.D. 19 distributed grain in Alexandria to the Greeks, but not to the Jews (Josephus, Against Apion 2:5 [§631).
Serious disturbances occurred, however, in the
time of Caligula (37-41). A. Avilius
Flaccus had been governor of
21 Before Caligula's rule, only Sejanus, who was the close adviser of Tiberius from 19 to 31, succeeded in oppressing the Jews (see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, P. 61). The attitude of Tiberius after 31 is insufficiently known (cf. Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, p. 224, n. 3).
to cruel mockery by dressing up an imbecile as king and addressing him as "Marin" (Aramaic for "our lord"). Later, fearful of Caligula's displeasure, the Greeks bit on the diabolical suggestion to place statues of the emperor, who demanded divine worship for himself, in every synagogue.
Flaccus, aware of his insecure position particularly after allowing a friend of the emperor's to be insulted by the mobs, could only welcome this "red herring" and in an edict branded the Jews as "aliens" unwilling to worship the emperor. Thus encouraged, the mobs drove the Jews into a single one of their quarters, inaugurating thus the indignity of the ghetto, and plundered their vacated homes and shops. A horrible pogrom followed, in which no mercy was shown even to helpless women and children. Then the mobs burned some synagogues and desecrated the rest by placing in them statues of the emperor. Flaccus intervened at last-by having 38 members of the Jewish senate publicly flogged! Finally, Jewish women were forced to eat swine meat in the theater, and were tortured if they refused. When the tumults came to an end, the Jews found themselves in a critical economic situation and may have been prevented from practicing some of their religious rites.
Soon thereafter Flaccus was exiled, and eventually was executed by order of Caligula. Persecutions ceased under the new governor, C. Vitrasius Pollio; but the synagogues remained closed until the death of Caligula. In the winter of 38-39 the Jews sent to Caligula the philosopher Philo at the head of an embassy, while Apion led the embassy of the Greeks. Caligula mocked the Jews and granted them nothing, finally dismissing them with the remark that those who could not recognize his divinity were more to be pitied than censured.22
his accession, Claudius
(41-54) issued a decree (preserved by Josephus, Antiquities 19:5, 2). This text, which is extremely favorable to
the Jews, may not have been reproduced verbatim by Josephus. Although it has been regarded by some
scholars as a forgery, it is apparently authentic in substance. Claudius confirmed in it the privileges and
rights of the Jews, previously abrogated by "the madness of Gaius";
thus the Alexandrian "ghetto" was abolished.23 In his unquestionably
genuine letter to the Alexandrines (A.D. 41), published by
22 All these
related by Philo in his two works, Against Flaccus and Embassy to
Gaius; and in
brief by Josephus, Antiquities 18:8, 1 (§§257-259); for later events at
Alexandria, see Josephus, op. cit. 19:5, 2 (§ §278-285); War 2:18, 7 f.
number of papyri (cf. Scb(iru, Geschichte, Vol. 1, pp. 67 f.; Juster,
Juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 125-128), in particular a letter of Claudius to the
Alexandrines (published and translated by H. I. Bell, Jews and
Egypt, pp. 23-29; for the other papyri ' see p. 19 f.). For summaries
Alexandrian tumults, see Juster, op. cit., Vol. 2, pp. 182-186, 201; H.
Bell, Juden und Griechm.
23 Philo, Embassy §§18ff. [II, 563f. MI.
tians), Claudius refused to commit himself as to whether Jews or Greeks were responsible for the recent riots (or rather the war) soon after his accession, but expresses unyielding indignation against whoever caused this renewed outbreak (or, "whoever will cause another outbreak"), He will not tolerate "this baneful and obstinate mutual hostility." He exhorts the Alexandrines to be "forbearing and kindly" toward the Jews' long residents of the city, not insulting their traditional worship but allowing them "to observe their customs" as in the time of Augustus; he confirmed the free practice of these customs. On the other band, the Jews must not intrigue for additional prerogatives, nor send two separate Jewish embassies (representing opposed Jewish factions), nor strive "in gymnasiarchic and cosmetic games" (restricted to the ephebi, youths enjoying full citizenship). They should enjoy the prosperity of a city not their own, but refrain from inviting to Alexandria Jews from Syria and other parts of Egypt (as reinforcements against the Alexandrines? cf. Phflo, Embassy §129), lest he take vengeance on them as men who bring a general plague upon the whole world (cf., for the language, Acts 24:5).
Thus Claudius refers indirectly to the tumults that began in 38, and directly to an outbreak early in his reign, in which the persecuted Jews, emboldened by the death of Caligula, were the aggressors (cf. Josephus, Antiquities 19:5, 2 [§278]). His letter is fair and impartial, expressing good intentions toward both sides, but warning troublemakers of drastic measures against them. In reality, two of the chief Greek rabble-rousing demagogues (Isidore and Lampon; cf. Philo, Against Flaccus § §4, 15-17) active in stirring the riots in 38, were condemned to death by Claudius.
Later, the patriotic fervor, the religious ferment characterized by Messianic hopes, the passionate hatred of the Romans, and the feverish agitation of the spirits in Palestine, which precipitated with tragic fatality the disastrous war of A.D. 66-70, inevitably had their repercussions among Alexandrian Jews, whose nervous tension tended to magnify minor incidents until they seemed to be national catastrophes.
the outbreak of the
great rebellion at
drew the troops, the Alexandrian riffraff continued the plundering (Josephus, War , 7 f.).
mercilessly bloody as they were, proved effective.
After the Jewish war had ended with the fall
of Masada (April of 73), some Jewish fanatics (Sicarii, or assassins)
Alexandria and, when the parties of law and order among the Alexandrian
opposed their insane plans for a rebellion there, they began to murder
Jewish leaders. But in the Jewish senate
the Sicarii were accused of causing the ruin of
As a result of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70, the Temple tax of a third of a shekel (Neb. 10:33 f.), raised later to half a shekel or two drachmae (Ex. 30:11-16), paid to the sanctuary by all male Jews twenty years of age or older (cf. Matt. 17:24-27; Misbna Sheqalim entire), was ordered paid by all Jews (including women and children) to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome (Josephus, War 7:6, 6 [§2181; Dio Cassius 66:7,2; cf. Juster, Les juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 377-385; 2, pp. 282-286; H. I. Bell, Juden und Griechen, pp. 34-43).
Under Trajan (98-117), when the Jews rebelled everywhere in 114-115, the Alexandrian Jews defeated the governor, M. Rutilius Rufus, and almost destroyed Alexandria, but they were prevented from joining the Jews of Cyrene, so that peace was gradually restored at Alexandria (see Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. II, pp. 185-190; cf. Vol. 1, pp. 126 f.).
had Hadrian (117-138)
finished putting down this rebellion when be caused art even bloodier
either by forbidding circumcision or by rebuilding Jerusalem as Aelia
Capitolina and erecting therein a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. The repercussions of this war of Bar Cocheba
In the third century before our era Jews
continued to come to
While in Alexandria the Jews constituted a poli/teuma, an organized semiautonomous community, in Rome they lacked a civic government of their own and, like all new and small Jewish settlements, were still organized into synagogue associations, such as Jews from abroad estab-lished in Jerusalem: five such synagogues are named in Acts 6:9, includ-ing the synagogue of the Libertines (the descendants of the Jews taken to Rome as slaves by Pompey and eventually freed [Philo, Embassy to Gaius §23 [11, 568 MI) built by Theodotus and supplied with a hostel.25
24 From a study
of the Greek
papyri, V. Tcherikover (The Jews in
25 For the
the inscription of Theodotus, commemorating the opening of the
synagogue and of
the accommodations for Jews from abroad, see M. N. Tod, ]ournal of
Studies 43 [19231 37; 45 f 19251 198.
The present writer published the text and translation of this
inscription in the Methodist Review (
In Rome and in other localities where the Jews lacked civic organization the synagogue tended to assume community functions quite distinct from strictly religious matters (as in medieval Jewish communities).
types of community
organization of the Jews in the Dispersion resemble, at least in form,
civic and religious associations of Gentiles living abroad (notably
and Egyptian).26 The poli/teuma is manifestly of Gentile origin and
goes back to those new settlements established by Alexander, which
organization of a Greek po/lis and included several nationalities in
to the Greek (cf. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilization, pp. 129f.). But even
synagogue, notably outside of
status of the Jews in
the Dispersion gradually thus became unique in the Graeco-Roman world. It is the basic contradiction in Judaism (and
a reason for its vitality) that it regarded itself both as a
as a people-and as the worship of the only God in existence, who was
Jehovah, the God of Israel. In Gentile
cities the Jews were a colony of settlers who, whether they enjoyed
citizenship or not, participated in the life of the town; but at the
they constituted a religious congregation observing with utmost rigor
revealed Law and strictly refraining from any contact with the
of the town. Thus, for instance, at
26 See Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 96-105. G. La Piana, in HTR 20 (1927) 183-403.
cause was ably defended by Nicholas of Damascus in the name of Herod the Great (Josephus, Antiquities 12:3, 2; 16:2. 3-5). The Romans regularly granted to the Jews, as to all nations, full religious freedom (cf. e.g., Josephus, War 6:6, 2); but local conflicts were inevitable as long as the ancient notion prevailed that citizenship could not be severed from the worship of the tutelary deities of the po/lis.
In other respects as well the situation of the Jews in the Hellenistic world was somewhat anomalous. Jewish religious life in Palestine was so systematized by scribes, Pharisees, and rabbis that the average Jew was seldom in doubt about what was right and wrong-even though the finer points of juristic interpretation were the object of learned and subtle discussions in the academies. But abroad, in a foreign environment where an alien culture and religion prevailed, the fidelity of the Jews to ancestral faith and practices was severely tested. The author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, well aware of the pervasive Hellenistic culture, began to question the good old Jewish religion in which he had grown up. He was unable to justify rationally its basic tenets and even reached some agnostic, if not skeptical, conclusions. The Wisdom of Solomon seems to depict (2:1-20) the deep impression made on some prosperous Jews in Alexandria by the theoretical and practical teaching of Epicurus: thus led astray, blinded by their wickedness, they failed to understand the secret purposes of God (2:21 f.) and ceased to belong to Jehovah's congregation.
Such spiritual defections from the faith of the fathers seldom led to an actual break from the synagogue, and even more rarely to an actual apostasy from Judaism-as in the case of Tiberius Alexander, nephew of Philo and son of the Jewish alabarch (Arabarch) or river-custom inspector in chief (wrongly believed to mean the chief of the Jews in Alexandria), who after adopting paganism became governor of Judea (A.D. 46-48) and later of Egypt.27 In reality the great majority of the Jews of the Dispersion fulfilled the ordinances of the Law of Moses to the best of their ability, but could not fully escape the influences of the Hellenistic milieu. The most obvious, pervasive, and subtle of such influences was the Greek language, in the Hellenistic stage of its development (called the koine-/, or common [dialect]). It is true that Aramaic was gradually displacing Hebrew as the vernacular of the Palestinian
27 For instances
degrees of apostasy, see J. Klausner, >From Jesus to Paul, pp.
Jews, but after all the two languages were very closely related and in fact had many words in common, while Greek was bound to introduce Western modes of thought alien to Hebrew and Aramaic. The overtones of the Hebrew Yahweh (Jehovah) or Adonai (Lord), and the Greek Ky/rios (Lord), to a sensitive ear are totally different, for ky/rios is a common divine term in the mystery religions. Even without adducing such contrasting works as the Palestinian Ecclesiasticus (with its notion of a miserable future life in the underworld) and the Wisdom of Solomon (with its Platonic doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the rewards or punishments after death), it is sufficient to compare the Hebrew Bible with its translation into Greek (the Septuagint or LXX) to note bow subtly different, in spite of a basic agreement, Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism really are. That the Hebrew Bible could not be reproduced intact into Greek was noted two millennia ago by the translator of Ecclesiasticus into Greek; in apologizing for the imperfections of his own rendering he remarked, in the preface to his translation, that what was originally spoken in Hebrew does not have the same force when translated into another language; and that "the Law, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books" in Greek are quite different from their form in the original language. It was necessary for the translators to attribute to Greek words shades of meaning hitherto unknown in order to render Hebrew ideas alien to the Greeks (e.g., dikaiosy/ne- [righteousness], no/mos [law], do/xa [glory]). Conversely, current meanings of Greek words inevitably gave to expressions in the LXX a sense quite at variance with the original.28
extent of Hellenistic
culture in the LXX is a matter of dispute, although its presence cannot
denied, for the LXX contains reminiscences of Greek poetic literature
Book of Job, mythological terms (Sirens, Titans, Amaltheias keras
Keren-happuch in Job 42:14]),29 and other typically Greek words like
(Jer. 2:23), di/drachmon (Hebr. shekel), and obelo/s (Hebr. gerah). The Greeks appear twice in place of the
Philistines (Is. ; Jer. 26:16, LXX
46:16]) and the wool trade of
mystery cults, and other cultural elements of Hellenism have been discovered by some scholars in the pages of the LXX, but their conclusions have not been generally ac-
28 See in
general, C. H.
Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, pp. 3-95.
29 See H. A.
"Mythological Terms in the LXX" (AJT 9  34-45); H. St. John
Thackeray, The Septuagint and Jewish Worship (Schweich Lectures for
cepted.30 Moreover, it should never be forgotten that, after the time of Alexander, Hellenistic culture and language were far from unknown even among the Palestinian rabbis.31 But in conclusion Ralph Marcus (op. cit. p. 244) is fundamentally right when be says that "the Greek elements of the LXX are merely superficial and decorative, while the Jewish elements are deep-lying, central, and dominant."
in the case of the
Septuagint, so for the culture of the Alexandrian Jews in general,
merely the garb of Judaism. The
differences between Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism are chiefly a
emphasis-even when the authors of the Wisdom of Solomon and IV
especially Philo, adopted some of the tenets of Greek philosophy. Jews, unless they renounced the ancestral
religion, never adopted the spirit of Hellenism; despite appearances,
merely accepted forms. We should not
give too much importance to traces of seeming paganism among Diaspora
when two Jews at the
yet, in spite of
appearances, the Jews in the Dispersion were true to the Law of Moses
superficially Hellenists. Rare indeed
was the Jew who, like the one who conversed learnedly with Aristotle in
30 A good summary
problem of "Jewish and Greek Elements in the Septuagint," with
numerous bibliographical references, has been published by Ralph Mucus
Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volume, pp. 227-245 (New York, American Academy
Jewish Research, 1945).
31 See S. Krauss,
Griechische und Lateinische
Lehnwo%rter im Talmud, u.s.w. 2 vols.
32 For other
of Jewish contacts with pagan religions, see J. Klausner, From Jesus to
p. 26. For M. Friedla%nder's defense of this liberalism in the Diaspora
it's influence on Christianity, see ibid., p. 28, n. 71.
33 Josephus, Against Apion I: 22 (176-182); cf. E. Silberschlag in JBL (1933) 66-77.
of the Jews living "among the Gentiles" ()-a picture which is the counterpart of the description of the best and the worst features of heathenism in the preceding verses (1:18ff.). The ideal Jew in the Diaspora knew the Law, boasted of his God (Rom. ), endorsed the highest ethical principles (), and tried to convert the heathen to his religion ( f.); and yet, as in all churches, reality was sadly at variance with such ideals (Rom. -25). Paul's summary of Hellenistic Judaism in Rom. 2:17-20 is confirmed by all available sources and may serve as our outline here.
the Law was the
decisive factor in the life of Jews in the Dispersion there is no doubt
whatsoever. Even such philosophically
Jews as the author of the Letter of Aristeas and Philo, who attempted
rationalize some of those prescriptions of Moses which puzzled the
using freely the allegorical interpretation, kept the Law punctiliously
themselves and denounced the Jews who violated its literal import
them "sons of Cain"). The
sarcastic remarks of Roman writers such as Horace, Juvenal, and Tacitus
clearly that what mostly impressed the Gentiles about the Jews was
observance of the following prescriptions: circumcision, Sabbath rest,
avoidance of swine meat.34 These rites, together with monotheism,
worship, and ethical conduct, were indeed the essential characteristics
Jewish religion in the Diaspora. The
is precisely in the
matter of the observance of the Law that we note one of the most
differences between Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism.
34 See, e.g.,
Satires I, 9:68-72; Persius, Satires 5:179-184; Juvenal, Satires 6:160;
14:96-106; Tacitus, Histories V, 3-5.
Cf. Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 150-173; Th.
Reinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains
relatifs au Judaisme,
conduct. Until it was finally codified
and published in the Mishna by Rabbi
situation was obviously
different in the Diaspora, where the Jews were a minority in the midst
cities having a Hellenistic civilization.
Here the best the Jews could do was to remain faithful ancestral
and obedient to the Law revealed to Moses; a juristic development such
incessantly carried on at least until about A.D. 450 in
there is thus no
indication of independent jurisprudence among the Hellenistic Jews, we
that they took special pains to observe the Law of Moses individually
collectively, to the best of their ability.
The laws of the Gentiles among whom they lived, even when some
institutions and practices were adopted, remained alien and
they could not be disregarded. Whenever possible, the Jews not only
the religious ordinances of Moses, but had their own courts of law,
decided the cases (as at
35 After its codification, the Mishna was subjected to the interpretations and juristic discussions recorded in the Jerusalem Talmud.
even had a slight acquaintance with the growing unwritten law
Palestinian jurists (see S. Belkin, Philo and the Oral Law.
second basic feature of
Dispora Judaism, noted by Paul after the knowledge of the Law, is the
about God, about monotheism (Rom. ). This
is indeed a characteristic feature of the Dispersion.
36 Cf. R. H. Pfeiffer in JBL 43 (1924) 229-240; G.F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 1, pp. 362-364; L. Wallach, in HUCA 19  389-404.
had crushed Jewish secular...independence" (L. Wallach, op. cit. P. 401). The Alexandrian Jewish polemic against heathenism influenced not only rabbinic writings, but even more the early Christian apologies.37
The third characteristic mentioned by Paul is the knowledge of God's will and the approval of the most excellent things (Rom. ) or, as we now say, the observance of divinely revealed ethical principles. Here the differences between Palestinian and Hellenistic Jews are somewhat elusive. This identification of the moral ideal with the will of God probably goes back to Amos and became basic in Judaism; in our period Do Jew doubted that the Law of Moses embodied the divinely revealed moral ideals. Ben Sira identified wisdom (i.e., the moral ideal) with the Law. While Alexandrian Jews held the same opinion and derived the precepts for right conduct from the Pentateuch (as can be seen abundantly in Pseudo-Aristeas and Philo), in Wisdom (particularly 7:22-8:1) the Pentateuch is more in the background (see, however, 16:6; 18:4, 9), while wisdom, proceeding from God, is man's guide (cf. Prov. 8) and teaches him the four cardinal virtues (Wisd. 8:7). While Stoic philosophy is even more prominent in IV Maccabees, other Hellenistic-Jewish writings such as II and III Maccabees, Sibvlline Oracles 3:97-829, and the Letter of Aristeas definitely stress the observance of the Law as the acme of right living (see also IV Macc. 5:19-26; 6:15; 9:2).
in all, whether
influenced by Greek philosophy or not, the moral ideal, as Paul
a noble one. This needs to be stressed
for, under the influence of the attacks of Jesus against the hypocrisy
Pharisees and Paul's disparagement of "legalism," some Christians
tend to cast aspersions on the Jewish ethics of our period. Thus, for instance,
P. Wendland, Die Hellenistisch-Ro%mische
Kultur (Handbuch zum Neuen Testament 1, 2), pp. 150-160.
Tu%bingen, 1907. Cf. Wallach, op.
cit. pp. 401-403.
38 In every
system, as time goes on, the secondary comes to be regarded as primary
primary as secondary; the most exalted idea has associated with it
who distort and transform it" [Joseph Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth. Translated H. Danby.
ethical and religious systems, the moral prescriptions are always far above the practice of even the best; this discrepancy between lofty goals and sordid conduct is by no means confined to Judaism. The contrast between the ideals of Judaism and the wickedness of some Jews, so pointedly and dramatically brought out in Wisd. of Sol. 1-5 and Rom. -25, is equally true of Christianity. What is more significant than Bousset's ill-disguised polemic is that the ethical system of Christianity and of the modern world in general is ultimately based on the moral ideals of Judaism and of Greek philosophy. While some New Testament parallels to the Apocrypha will be noted in the course of this volume and almost all the pertinent material will be found conveniently in Strack and Billerbeck's great New Testament commentary, a few illustrations from the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs will suffice here to show how close the Sermon on the Mount was at times to earlier Jewish writings.
Love ye, therefore, one another from the heart; and if a man sin against thee, cast forth the poison of hatred and speak peaceably to him, and in thy soul hold not guile; and if he confesses and repents, forgive himŠAnd if he be shameless, and persist in his wrong-doing, even so forgive him from the heart and leave to God the avenging.Testament of Gad 6:3, 7; cf.Matt. , 21 f., 35(also -45); Mark ;Luke f.; 17:3 f.
Love the Lord through all your life, and one mother with a true heart.Testament of Dan 5:3(similarly Test. of Issachar 5:2; 7:6);cf. Matt. 22:37, 39.
And if any one seeketh to do evil unto you, do well unto him, and ye shall be redeemed of the Lord from all evil.Testammt of Joseph 18:2; cf.Luke f.; Matt. 5:43-45.
The fourth and last virtue of Diaspora Jews mentioned by Paul is their missionary zeal (Rom. f.).39 A real passion for the conversion of the
39 On Jewish
and on the proselytes, see: A. Bertholet, Die Stellung der Israeliten
Juden zu den Fremden (
Pharisees in the first century of our era: "For ye compass sea and land
make one proselyte" (Matt. ).
But such activity was becoming less
The numerical increase of the Jews during the last three centuries B.C. is due, in part, to the influx of proselytes. In the time of Nehemiah (444 B.C.) the total number of Jews was considerably less than one million (probably little more than half a million), while in the first century of our era the Jews of the Dispersion probably numbered about two millions, while those in Palestine are estimated to have been at least one million (Juster's figure of five millions is incredible).40
Paul said of Israel
that it regarded itself as "a light of them which are in darkness"
(Rom. 2:19), he appropriately echoed the Second Isaiah, the first
advocate of the conversion of the heathen (about 540 B.C.), when he
"I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles" (Is. 49:6; cf.
Enoch 48:4; Luke 2:42; Acts 13:47).
These words (according to Justin, Dialogue with Tryphon 199 f.)
understood to mean that
41 G.F. Moore (Judaim, Vol. 1, P. 231) says that its date "probably falls at a relatively advanced time in the Persian period. "
to Josephus (Antiquities , 3 [§3181). Similar conversions on the threat of death are recorded for John Hyrcanus (135-104), who imposed circumcision on the Idumeans in southern Judea (Josephus, Antiquities 13:9, 1 [§2571), and for Alexander Janneus (103-76), who was apparently no less successful, although he destroyed Pella because the inhabitants refused to adopt Judaism (op. cit., 13:15, 4 [§3251).42 On the whole, however, conversions to Judaism were obtained by persuasion and took place mostly outside of Palestine and its neighborhood. As Rabbi Eleazar said, "God dispersed the Jews to facilitate proselytism" (Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 87b).
after 300 B.C., was especially favorable to the spread of Judaism in
Mediterranean world. The Jews were then
establishing colonies in all important civilized communities and thus,
During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Gentiles ran the whole gamut from highest admiration to most extreme contempt in their attitudes toward the Jews. In a general way it appears that Judaism attracted particularly the lower classes (as did Christianity at the beginning) and women, but was often ridiculed and denounced by people of high education, breeding, and wealth. There are, of course, men of letters, scientists, and philosophers (like Theophrastus, Clearchus of Soli, Strabo, Varro, and others) whose favorable opinions reflect those of the illiterate, humble people; while on the contrary mobs at Alexandria and elsewhere in their insane fury pillaged and slaughtered the Jews. But, on the whole, the references to the Jews in classical literatures (collected by Th. Reinacb, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains; cf. Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 150-173; Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 31-34, 4548, note) are decidedly unfriendly and express disdain rather than hatred.
In a measure Gentile writers merely reciprocated Jewish contempt for heathenism. In the ancient world the Jews alone claimed that theirs was the only true religion and that eventually it would conquer the world. By setting themselves apart from all other nations as the chosen people
42 That such compulsory conversions were only "skin-deep" was well known (the Idumean Herod was called a "half-Jew"). Several varieties of converts for purely worldly motives are enumerated in the Jerusalem Talmud (Qiddushin 65b): "love proselytes" (for the sake of marriage), proselytes for a place at the king's table or similar to Solomon's servants (for advancement in the bureaucracy or in high society), "lion proselytes" (out of fear, like the Babylonian colonists in Samaria: II Kings 17:24-28), converts because of a dream understood as a divine order to become Jews, and the proselytes of the days of Mordecai and Esther (Esth. 8:17), compelled by terror of slaughter.
of the only God in existence, and by ridiculing Gentile religions as a foolish worship of wooden and stone idols, as some Jews bad done since the days of Second Isaiah (Is. 40-55) and Cyrus the Great, they invited pagan resentment both as a people and as a religious community.
The criticisms against the Jewish nation and religion, which were later repeated by Christians and were used in part by pagans against Christians, are conveniently listed, with references, by Juster (Les Juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 45-48) in a long footnote (see also Schu%rer, Geschichte, VoI. 3, pp. 150-173; Th. Reinach, Textes, pp. Viii_XXii).43 The Jews, according to pagan slander, are mutually loyal and merciful to the highest degree, but hate all others;44 they are a useless nation; a nation of slaves; a seditious, cruel, obstinate, daring, cowardly, prolific, sensual, degenerate, dirty, leprous, exclusive, dangerous, and contemptible people. The Jewish religion (barbara superstitio Cicero) is characterized by sad and cold ritual; worship of angels, of a donkey, of heaven and clouds; human sacrifice; contempt for images; circumcision; Sabbath idleness; eating of unleavened bread; abstention from pork and other foods; the Jews are atheists, enemies of the gods, disrespectful toward the emperor, hated by the gods, and sacrilegious.
Despite such abusive attacks, most fully summarized by Tacitus (Histories V, 1-13), Judaism had a strong appeal for many Gentiles, first of all because of the universalistic tendencies of Judaism and secondly because of similar trends in Hellenism.
In its essence Judaism was of course not merely a universal monotheistic religion, teaching noble ethics and salvation for all the faithful (whatever their race), but also a revealed religion, demanding strict observance of all its prescriptions, exclusive devotion, and rigorous separation from polluting contacts with heathenism in all its forms. In the Diaspora, however, in opening its gates to the Gentiles, Judaism stressed its points of contact with the noblest Hellenistic teachings rather than its national exclusiveness. No one could seriously object to the basic doctrines of monotheism, moral conduct, God's judgment, and eternal salvation; no one could take offense at the denunciation of polytheism, idolatry, and wickedness.41
43 The latest
the subject is in the essay of R. Mucus which appeared in Essays on
Antisemitism, edited by K. S. Pinson (Jewish Social Studies
44 Apud eos fides
obstinata, misericordia in promptu; sed adversus omnes hostile odium
Histories V, 5). Juvenal (Satires XIV, 103f.) says even that they will
right way only to a fellow believer, and will lead only a circumcised
the spring which is looked for. This separateness of the Jews (Greek,
which accomplished the survival of Judaism, is amply attested in Jewish
writings (Jub. 22:16-22; Dan. 1:8-16; 30:7-17; Tob. 1:10f; etc.).
45 Paul's indictment of heathenism in Rom. -32 is more bitter and severe than any extant Jewish attack of this kind (as, for instance, in the Wisdom of Solomon).
And so the Jews met the Gentiles halfway. The latter were attracted to Judaism first as a philosophy and later as one of the Oriental mystery cults offering eternal life. Judaism is called a philosophy by Hellenistic and Roman writers (beginning with Aristotle, according to Clearchus of Soli), as well as by Jewish and Christian apologists (see the references in Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, p. 243, n. 2). The synagogue worship, consisting mainly of a scriptural reading and an address, appeared to the Gentiles as a meeting of teachers and pupils of a foreign philosophical school. Nor was the synagogue radically different from some Greek schools in asserting that its textbook was inspired, in singing the praises of the deity, and in observing peculiar prescriptions in regard to food, dress, and purifications. Moreover, Jewish teachings about the character and activity of the sole Creator and about ethical conduct were not only familiar in some Hellenistic philosophies, but were occasionally mentioned without disapproval by ancient writers, such as Hecataeus of Abdera,46 Strabo (XVI: 2, 35, paraphrased earlier in this chapter), who on the basis of a Jewish source (Schu%rer) or of Posidonius and a Jewish apology (Th. Reinach) presented Moses as a Stoic pantheist, Varro (116-27 ]3.C.)47 and, surprisingly, even the implacable Tacitus.48
No less erroneous than the notion that Judaism was a philosophy is the notion that it was a mystery cult; yet under both aspects it drew adherents to itself. Both points of view are suggested in the Wisdom of Solomon-which to some extent is a missionary tract-where Judaism is identified with sophi/a (wisdom) and secures to its true adherents the immortality of the spirit. In contrast with wisdom in Palestinian writings (such as Ecclesiasticus), sophi/a in the Wisdom of Solomon is decidedly tinged with Platonic and Stoic doctrines, and the book's teaching on the immortality of the soul is the opposite of the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection of the body which Greek philosophers regarded as absurd (cf. Acts 17:32). IV Maccabees (cf. Philo, De congressu 14 [1, 531 MI) defines sophi/a as the Stoics did: "The knowledge of things divine and
46 "[Moses] made
image of the gods at all, since he did not believe that the deity had a
figure" (preserved by Diodorus 40, 3, in Photius; the text is printed
C. Mu%ller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum II, 392; Th. Reinach,
47 In one of his
41 books of Human and Divine Antiquities, Varro "says
also that the ancient Romans during more than 170 years worshiped the
without images. 'If this custom had
continued, he says, the gods would be honored in a purer fashion.' To
his opinion he adduces, among others, the example of the Jews. He does
hesitate to conclude this passage saying that the first men who raised
nations statues to the gods removed from their countrymen a terror, but
an error" (Augustine, The City of God IV:31, 2).
48 "The Jews conceive merely mentally the one and only deity. They regard as wicked those who fashion with perishable materials, in human figures this God. He is supreme and eternal, neither imitable nor perishable. They therefore allow no images in their cities, and much less in the temples" (Tacitus, Histories V, 5).
and of their
causes" (; cf. Plutarch,
philosophorum 1, 1 [this work is erroneously attributed to Plutarch];
Maccabees contains also the Jewish definition of sophi/a: "The culture acquired under the Law, through which we learn with due reverence the things of God and for our worldly profit the things of man" (). This book stresses, like the Book of Wisdom and Philo, the final liberation of the souls from their prison in the body, in order to receive after death their eternal reward (IV Macc. 10:15; 13:17; 15:3; 16:13; 17:4f., 18; 18:23) or their everlasting punishment (9;9, 32; 10:11, 15; 12:19; 13:15; 18:5, 22).
That one could easily mistake Judaism for an Oriental mystery49 may be seen from the characteristics that made these cults popular, as listed by F. Cumont in ch. 2 of his standard book, Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain (Paris, 1906; 4th ed., 1929). These cults undertook to restore to the soul its lost purity, either through ritual washings which should remove sin (cf. the Jewish baptism for the proselytes) or through privations and suffering (cf. the fast, afflicting one's soul, and confession of sins on the Day of Atonement). Their priests became (like the rabbis) pastors, advising the members of their flock, individually, teaching them the abstentions and duties required to restore and retain their right relations with the deity. The holiness attained through such rites and ascetic practices was the condition of eternal bliss after death-a liberation from the slavery of the spirit to the body; this was the one ray of hope for the masses, whose wretched state on earth seemed beyond cure. Nay, the whole world seemed to have become so corrupted that its end was near (cf. the Jewish apocalypses). These cults thus offered more beauty in their rites, more truth in their teachings, nobler ideals in their ethical principles, more comfort in their glance on the invisible world of eternal bliss, than the traditional religions, which bad a national, public character. The Oriental mysteries raised the spirit, gave to conduct an ideal goal, appealed to the deepest feelings of the individual, and called him to a new, a spiritual, life.
In this general religious awakening, which marks a new era in the development of religion, Judaism played an important role in setting the stage for the triumph of Christianity. It was in harmony with the general trend toward monotheism and with the general longing for purification from sinfulness and for eternal bliss; and it could satisfy the religious aspirations of the nobler spirits better than the mystery cults. That it failed to attain the missionary success of some of these and did
49 Such a misconception is attested in Rome in 139 B.C., when the praetor peregrinus Cn. Cornelius Hispalus forced the Jews to return to Palestine because "they had tried to corrupt the Roman customs through the worship of Jupiter Sabazius [error for Yahweh Seba-o-th, the Lord of Hosts]" (Valerius Maximus; cf. Schu%rer, Geschichte Vol. 3, P. 58; Th. Reinach, Textes, P. 259).
not become the religion of Europe instead of Christianity is due primarily to those obstacles to the conversion of the Gentiles which Paul recognized and removed; circumcision, the ritual and ceremonial prescriptions of the Law of Moses, and particularly the national character of Judaism, which required that its converts become citizens of Israel and renounce (at least in theory) their previous allegiance. For the proselyte was naturalized into the Jewish nation,50 not initiated into a mystery cult, like that of Mithra, in which nationality played no role; by becoming heir of the scriptural promises which God had made to Israel, he was denationalized and forbidden to participate as formerly in ruler worship, and in civic rites and festivals. As members of a nation, the Jews were granted in Roman law special exemptions and unique religious privileges. Juster (Les Juifs, Vol. 2, pp. 19 f.) rightly stresses the point that both before and after A.D. 70 the Jews were regarded in Roman law as a nation, not as members of a licit religion; the Jewish privileges were conceded only to converts naturalized into the nation; and so the law more and more strove to prevent Gentiles from becoming proselytes or, in other words, members of the Jewish nation (which, of course, cannot be distinguished from the Jewish Church). And, as Paul recognized (Rom. 9:4), the Jewish religious prerogatives ("the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises") belong to the nation, to the "Israelites"-but not to the uncircumcised (Eph. 2:llf.). Thus the ancients were wrong in regarding Judaism merely as a philosophy or as an Oriental cult, but these misconceptions served to make Judaism attractive to many Gentiles.
Some of these converts remained mere adherents, sympathizers, "fellow travelers," who did not take the final step by becoming proselytes. These people on the outside fringe of Judaism have been erroneously called "semiproselytes" or "proselytes of the gate."51 Their real name in ancient writings is "fearers of God," meaning devout, God-fearing persons, who worship and revere God.52 From Josephus (War 7:3, 3) and the Book of Acts we get the impression that these Jewish sympathizers (pho-bou/menoi or sebo/menai to\n theo/n, those who fear or revere God),
50 Philo (de monarchia 7, 51 [II, 219 Ml) says the proselytes "have become naturalized in a new and godly commonwealth."
51 By "proselytes of the gate?" (ge-re^ ha-sha-'a-r) medieval rabbis mean "the strangers who are within Israel's gate" (cf. Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:15; 14:21; 24:14) or the resident aliens who have not been naturalized; the expression does not occur in the Talmud, which calls the resident alien ge-r to^sha-b-an expression used in contrast to the ge-r ha-sedeq or real proselyte observing the seven commandments of the children of Noah" as also the whole Law of Moses (see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 177-180; Strack and Billerbeck, Kommentar, Vol. 2, pp. 715-723).
52 For the Hebrew and Greek terms, with references, see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, p. 174, n. 70; G. F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 1, p . 325, 338-341; Vol. 3, n. 96; Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 274 f., n. 6. See also: J. Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, PP. 40-45; H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 2, pp. 372-374.
Jews (a term which includes the proselytes), constituted a conspicuous
the synagogue congregations (Acts 13:16, 26, 43; 17:4, 17; cf. 10:2,
18:7; in 13:43 we find "religious proselytes," a designation which is
ambiguous). Josephus tells us that these God-fearing adherents to
contribution; from the Diaspora to the Temple in Jerusalem (Antiquities
[§110]); that Poppaea, the wife of Nero, was one of them (op. cit.
[§1951); that Izates (d. A.D. 55), the king of Adiabene (the Assyrian
east of the Euphrates), together with Queen Helena his mother became an
adherent and was eventually circumcised (op. cit. 20:2, 3-5 [§§34-53]);
also Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 169-172; Juster, Les juifs, Vol.
202, n. 9; G. F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 1, P. 349. Other
well-known adherents are the centurion
These Gentile adherents of
were attracted by Jewish monotheism and certain Jewish practices; they
idolatry and polytheism, but, objecting to circumcision and Jewish
they did not take the final steps required of true proselytes. Among Jewish practices which were widely
observed by these adherents and even by pagans, Josephus names the
observance, fasts, lighting the lamps just before the beginning of the
and dietary prohibitions (Against Apion 2:39; cf. Tertullian, ad
13). According to Juvenal (Satires
14:96-106), it would happen that the son of a Roman who observed the
and some dietary laws would begin to worship the clouds and the deity
heaven, then be would class pork meat with human flesh, and finally be
circumcised, would despise Roman laws, and would study, observe, and
the Jewish Law, which Moses handed down in a mysterious scroll. Although Josephus (Against Apion 2:10 [§1231)
says that of the many Greeks who have adopted the Jewish laws some "had
not courage enough to persevere and so departed from them again," the
number of the faithful God-fearing adherents must
have been conspicuous in the Diaspora of the first century of our era. It was primarily among them that Paul found the early believers who constituted the nucleus of the incipient Christian Church, until converted pagans eventually became the great majority in it.
Real proselytes were probably less numerous than these adherents, especially among men. Women, who did not have civic religious duties, were more pious, and were not held back by the requirement of circumcision, constituted the bulk of the proselytes and were presumably the majority even among the adherents. When Hadrian forbade circumcision, Jewish missionary work ceased.
Jewish Law required from the Gentile who wished to become a
proselyte that he be circumcised and baptized, and (before A.D. 70) that he offer a sacrifice.53 After these three initiatory rites, the neophyte was expected to adopt all Jewish doctrines and laws ("Ševery man that is circumcised...is a debtor to do the whole Law [Gal. 5:3]). Thus he became "a naturalized citizen of a new religious commonwealth in which be is on full equality of rights and duties with born Jews" (G. F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 1, p. 328). Human nature being what it is, it could not be expected that the Jews would love the ger (proselyte) as one of themselves (cf. Lev. , which by ger meant the resident alien), in accordance to Biblical and post-Biblical exhortation. Although according to Philo and the Talmud the proselyte was "the brother" of the native Jew (cf. H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 2, pp. 352-364), the proselyte became an "Israelite," true, but never a "child of Abraham" (cf. Acts 13:26), and socially he was never quite considered an equal by the majority of native Jews; at times he was the object of criticism, suspicion, and contempt-even down to J. Klausner (From Jesus to Paul, pp. 48 f.), who ascribes to these ancient converts "a pagan heart which was covered by only a light wrapping of abstract Judaism." Such an attitude must have contributed to attract not merely Jewish adherents but also Jewish proselytes to Christianity in which "there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek" (Rom. ); for in the Church there can be "neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: for Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11).
53 For the literature on these requirements, see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 185; Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, p. 255, n. 1; Moore, Judaim, Vol. 1, p. 331-335. On baptism of proselytes, see in particular H. H. Rowley, "Jewish Proselyte Baptism" (HUCA 15 [1940, 313-334).
his admirable work on
Philo (2 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947), Harry
Wolfson states that the Alexandrian Jews, in presenting Judaism to the
Graeco-Roman world--which at times regarded their religion as atheism,
laws as inhospitable, and their practices as superstitous-tried to show
"their God...is the God of philosophers, that their laws...were like
ethics and politics recommended by philosophers, and that their
be explained as being based on reason" (op. cit.,Vol. 1, p. 19). In
words, substantially the whole Hellenistic-Jewish literature, from the
translation of the Pentateuch into Greek (the LXX, about 250 B.C.) to
writings of Philo (d. ca. A.D. 50) and Josephus (d. ca. A.D. 100), who
Greek although he was a Palestinian, had a double purpose: to defend
and Judaism from the attacks of
pagans and to prove the superiority of the Jews and Judaism over other nations and their religions. As appears clearly, for instance, in the Wisdom of Solomon, this literature aimed at keeping the Jews loyal to their ancestral beliefs and practices and at convincing the pagans of the folly of their own polytheism and idolatry. Polemics and apologetics are inseparably blended in all these writings of Alexandrian Jews-omitting, of course, the Greek versions of Palestinian books circulation at
The book On the Jews by Alexander
Polyhistor (ca. 80-40 B.C.)1 is lost except for quotations by Josephus,
Eusebius of Caesarea and Clement of Alexandria; it was an objective,
collection of Jewish and pagan excerpts on Jewish history.
All other Graeco-Roman works on the Jews-as
almost all references to Jews in classical literature-are unfriendly,
hostile and contemptuous (see Th. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et
relatifs au Judaisme.
Without composing special books against the Jews, other Hellenistic writers likewise attacked them. In his important history of Egypt (Aigyptiaka/), Manetho, an Egyptian priest living about 270-250 B.C., reported, as he himself admitted, "from anonymously transmitted tales" (Josephus, Against Apion 1, 16; cf. 1, 26) slanderous fantasies about the early history of the Jews (Josephus, op. cit. 1, 26-27); Manetho's Hyksos stories in I, 14-16, pace Josephus, had no reference to the Jews. Other derogatory fictitious tales about the Jews were told by Mnaseas (ca. 200 B.C.) in his travel book (Josephus, op. cit. 11, 9; cf. 1, 23; and Antiquities 1:3, 6); by Lysimachus (perhaps at the beginning of our era), whose account of the Exodus went beyond Manetho's "in the incredible nature of his forgeries...contrived out of his bitter hatred of the Jews" (Josephus, op. cit. I, 34-35; cf. II, 2 and 14); by Chaeremon (ca. A.D. 50) in his Egyptian History (Josephus, op. cit. 1, 32-33; C. Mu%ller, Fragmenta histor. graec. III, 495-499); by the philosopher and historian Posidonius, early in the first century before our era (Josephus, op. cit. 11, 7); by Tacitus (Histories V, 2-5); and by the other authors quoted by Th. Reinach in his Textes mentioned above. The vicious and false accusations of these authors against the Jews have been briefly summarized in the preceding chapter.
Comparatively little was written by the Jews to retort the baseless slanders of their adversaries. Indeed we know of only two real "apologies" for Judaism and the Jews:3 Philo's Apology for the Jews (lost, except for the quotation in Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica VIII, 11), and the
1. See E.
Geschichte, Vol. 3, 469-472. The fullest
treatment is: J. Freuden-thal, Alexander Polyhistor und die vm ihm
Reste juddischer und samaii-tanischer Geschichtswerke.
2 See on them
Geschichte, Vol. 1, 71-73; Vol. 3, 532-544. J. Juster, Les Juifs, Vol.
32-34. Schu%rer (op. cit. 3, 541) denies that Apion wrote a special
against the Jews: while only his book on Egypt is explicitly quoted in
connection with the Jews, Eusebius and Jerome (see Schu%rer, op. cit.,
definitely assert that he wrote a book on the Jews.
3 Cf. Paul
und Josephus als Apologeten des Judentums.
work wrongly entitled (since Jerome) Against Apion by Flavius Josephus (Origen and Eusebius cite it under the title, "On the Antiquity of the Jews"). In this work, written about A.D. 95, Josephus argued that the Jews were no less ancient than any other civilized nation (1, 1-23): "I suppose that, by my books of The Antiquities of the JewsŠI have made evident...that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity....Those Antiquities contain the history of five thousand years." With great learning (facilitated to a great extent by the convenient collection of texts about the Jews prepared by Alexander Polyhistor) Josephus referred to many non-Jewish historians (Manetho, Herodotus, Dius, Berossus, etc.) and concluded that the Jews were delivered from Egypt almost one thousand years before the siege of Troy (I, 16; in reality the two events are almost contemporary). Josephus was forced to refute, incidentally, slanderous tales about the origin of the Jews told by Manetho, Lysimachus, Chaeremon, and Apion (I, 24-II, 3). Then, after replying to some specific charges made by Apion against the Alexandrian Jews (II, 4-6) and against the Jewish worship and law (II, 7-12) --mostly rather silly charges-Josephus proceeded to a matter that was paramount to Jewish apologists: the accusation that the Jews, being a people of recent origin, had made no contributions to human culture (II, 14-31) and of the law-abiding Jewish nation (II, 32-33;cf. II, 39). Taking the offensive, Josephus pointed out the folly of pagan polytheism (II, 34-36) and the unfriendliness to foreigners, far greater in ancient Greek legislations than in the Mosaic Law (II, 37-38), concluding that this law was the most ancient of all (II, 39), that it influenced Greek philosophers, and was attracting converts to Judaism (II, 40). In closing he summarized his whole book (II, 41-42).
In the other Hellenistic-Jewish writings the accusations against the Jews were not even mentioned: the authors contented themselves with glorifying the Jews and their religion, and ridiculing paganism: these, in varying guises and different forms, are the dominant themes of this literature. Even the Palestinian books written after 200 B.C. and translated into Greek, becoming part of the Septuagint, have in common this exaltation of the Jews over the pagans. History (I Maccabees) and fiction (Daniel, Bel and the Dragon, Judith, Esther with additions) described the triumphs of Jews over heathen; or presented idealized portraits of exemplary Jewish individuals (Tobit, Susanna). Ecclesiasticus extolled Judaism and deemed Hellenism unworthy of notice. And the Epistle of Jeremy caricatured sarcastically the religion of the Gentiles as an extremely crass and idiotic worship of inanimate idols.
The Alexandrian-Jewish literature pursued its apologetic and polemic purposes with far greater fervor and forthrightness than the Palestinian, as a comparison between the fairly objective I Maccabees (Palestinian) and the fanatic II Maccabees (Alexandrian) will show. Hellenistic-Jewish historical writing was embellished with fiction, to stress the superiority of the Jews over the Gentiles (II Maccabees), or consisted of fiction pure and simple, with the same purpose (III Maccabees, and partly preserved books). Poetry and philosophy were subservient to propaganda, which was not camouflaged successfully (Wisdom of Solomon, Aristeas, Sibylline Oracles, IV Maccabees, etc.). Being utterly convinced that the Law and the other Scriptures were revelations of the sole true God, who had chosen Israel as his people, but living in the midst of people who ridiculed such claims, the Alexandrian Jews could make neither concessions nor compromises: they alone "had a very great light," while over the heathen "was spread a heavy night" (Wisd. of Sol. 17:21 f.),
only complete historical
works are II and III Maccabees and the historical books of Philo and
only fragments of other writings survive.
These fragments have been preserved for us by Eusebius
evangelica IX), Clement of Alexandria (Stromata), and Josephus-
seem to go back to the collection of passages on Jewish history made by
Alexander Polyhistor; they have been published by C. Mu%ller (Fragmenta
graec. III, 206-244) and by W. N. Stearns (Fragments ftom Graeco-Jewish
(ca. 215 B.C.) was
erroneously regarded as a pagan by Josephus; his history of the Jews
entitled On the Kings in
determination of Old Testament chronology, to prove the antiquity of
Pseudo-Hecataeus (ca. 200-150 B.C.) is a Greek-writing Jewish historian who assumed the name of the philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera (who was, according to Josephus, Against Apion I, 22 [§1831, a contemporary of Alexander). He wrote a book entitled On the Jews or On Abraham (ibid. and Antiquities 1:7, 2 [§159]), which is quoted in the Letter of Aristeas §31 (cf. Josephus, Antiquities 12:2, 4 [§381] and by Josephus (Against Apion I, 22 [§183-2041, cf. Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica IX, 4; and Against Apion II, 4 [§43]). The remnants of the book of Pseudo-Hecataeus are collected by C. Mu%ller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, Vol. 2, pp. 392-396. Mu%ller regards, probably unnecessarily, On the Jews and On Abraham as two separate works of our author; they are probably different titles for the same book (for further details and bibliography, see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 603-608).
(ca. 150 B.C.) has been often
identified with the ambassador sent to
(presumably ca. 100 B.C.)
wrote a book On the Jews in which he allowed his fancy to glorify his
attributing to it all inventions and cultural advances.
Abraham taught astrology to Pharaoh
Pharethothes. Joseph improved Egyptian agriculture.
Jacob and his sons founded the shrines of
Egyptian civilization, the first to develop navigation, architecture, strategy, and philosophy; Moses divided Egypt into 36 nomes, taught each nome how to worship God (including the veneration of the ibis and Apis), gave to the priests the knowledge of the hieroglyphic signs, organized the government; Pharaoh Chenephres failed to kill Moses and after the king's death God deliverer Israel from Egypt through Moses, by means of miraculous wonders.
Aristeas (presumably ca. 100 B.C.) likewise wrote a book On the Jews. All we have is a fragment dealing with Job, who (as in the apocryphal end of Job in the LXX) is identified with Jobab son of Zerah of Bozrah (Gen. 86:33), a great-grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:10, 13). The extant corrupt text, however, makes Job a son of Esau and of his wife Bassara: the city Bozrah was thus taken to be the name of Esau's wife! Our author, as later the author of the Testament of Job, probably drew his misinformation from the apocryphal addition to Job in the Septuagint.
Cleodemus, or Malchus
(presumably ca. 100
B.C.), according to Polyhistor, was a prophet who wrote a history of
in agreement with that of Moses (Josephus, Antiquities 1, 15). He relates that the three sons of Abraham and
Keturah-Apheran (Epher), Asourim (Asshurim), and Japhran (Ephah), cf.
f.-gave their names to
A fragment quoted by Polyhistor from an anonymous work (Eusebius, Praep. ev. IX, 18) and a parallel text in a much fuller form (ibid., IX, 17), presumably from the same book although attributed to Eupolemus, relate that Abraham was descended from the giants (Gen. 6:1-4) who built the Tower of Babel after the Flood; Abrabam taught the Phoenicians "the circuits of the sun and moon, and all other things" and helped them in war; in Egypt be taught astrology and the other sciences to the priests of Heliopolis; Enoch was, however, the discoverer of astrology (cf. Enoch 72-82; jub. 4:17-21).
Thallus5 probably lived during the reign of Tiberius (14-37). There is no compelling reason, as H. A. Rigg, Jr., has shown (HTR 34 [19411 111-119), to consider Thallus a Samaritan, in accordance with a conjectural emendation in Josephus, Antiquities 18:6, 4 (§167): "For there
4 Pltarch (Lives: Sertorius, ch. 9) relates that from Heracles and Tinge, the widow of Antaeus, was bom Sophax, whose son was Diodorus.
5 The remnants of his writings are printed in C. Muller,
Fragmenta histor. graec., Vol 3, pp. 517-519; and in F. Jacoby, Die
der griechischen Historiker, Vol. 2-B, p. 256.
[Commentary in Vol. 2-D, pp. 835 ff.
corrected to Thallos] Samaritan by birth, a freedman of Caesar
[Tiberius]. . . ."
According to Eusebius, be composed a universal history "from the
The second and third books of the Maccabees belong here, with the other histories embellished with legends and fictitious tales.6 II Maccabees, for which the reader is referred to Part II, Chap. XI, of this book, deals with actual facts, even though they are often hidden by a thick layer of romance and fiction; III Maccabees (dating from the last century D.C.) purports to be history but is a story invented for the glorification of the Jews, which has nothing to do with the Maccabees and has no basis in reality. Like Judith and Esther, it is the story of an imaginary triumph of the Jews over their enemies; a similar story is told independently by Josephus (Against Apion II, 5), who, however, dates the events in the reign of Ptolemy VII (IX) Physcon (170-116 B.C.) instead of the time of Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-203 B.C.). III Maccabees may be summarized as follows.
Ptolemy IV, accompanied by his sister (later his wife) Arsinoe%, led hs army against Antiochus III the Great (223-187 B.C.) and encamped at Raphia (1:1). There a Jew converted to paganism, Dositheus, saved Ptolemy from a conspiracy (1:2f.). As Antiochus was on the point of winning the battle of Raphia (217 D.C.), Arsinoe% induced the tottering Egyptian troops to fight on to victory (1:4-6). So Ptolemy, having thus conquered Coele-Syria, visited neighboring cities and shrines (1:7). Having received the congratulations of the Jews, Ptolemy visited Jeru-
6 This characteristic type of Hellenistic historical writing is well described by (XV:34, 1): "I am quite aware of the miraculous occurrences and embellishments which the chroniclers of this event have added to their narrative with a view of producing a striking effect upon their hearers, making more of their comments on the story itself and the main incidents."
Jews (4:1-3). All over Egypt the Jews were chained in the dark holds of ships (4:4-10) and brought to Schedia to be imprisoned in the hippodrome outside of Alexandria (4:11). Soon after, the Alexandrian Jews were likewise placed there (4:12f.). All of them were to be registered before their execution (), but after forty days of feverish work the scribes ceased registering that immense multitude for the supply of pen; and papyrus was (providentially) exhausted (-21). Ptolemy ordered Hermon, who was in charge of the elephants, to drug his beasts with incense and wine so that they would slaughter the Jews (5:lf.). The king celebrated with banquets, while the Jews in their
ardently (5:6-8). God caused the king to
sleep until late, so that the execution of the Jews was necessarily
until the following day (5;9-22). At
dawn everything was in readiness ().
Heathen multitudes gathered for the spectacle
(), while the Jews
When Hermon invited the king to the execution
of the Jews, the king through God's intervention had lost all memory of
matter (-29) and
denounced the murderous plan of Hermon (-35). But at another banquet Ptolemy rebuked Hermon
for not having destroyed the Jews (-38). The courtiers, astonished at his
contradictory orders, assured him that further delay might cause
tumults (-41). So the king swore that he would have the Jews
crushed by the elephants and would devastate
The historical and psychological improbabilities of this tale are manifest, and match the rhetorical artificiality, fastidiousness, and preciosity typical of a pretentious but decadent style. The wealth of rare and even new words is unsurpassed in similar writings: more than one hundred words are not found elsewhere in the LXX and fourteen are unknown in all Greek literature. The author's effort to stir the reader's emotions by
highly colored dramatic descriptions (-29; 4:3-10; 5:48f.) has its earlier parallel, if not its model, in II Maccabees (-21), as also his recitals of miraculous manifestations of God (-24; 6:18f.), and his moralizing reflections ( f.). The religion of the author centers on his faith in divine answer to prayer and in the miraculous intervention of the Almighty in the present, as in the distant past (2:1-13; 6:1-9). Naturally such a faith can dispense with the hope of a future Messianic age or Jewish empire, and of a blessed immortality for the pious: of such notions there is no mention whatsoever in the book, in contrast with II Maccabees. In brief, the purpose of the book is well expressed by Ptolemy when he warns the heathen that any attempt to injure the Jews will be promptly avenged not by buman beings but by the most high God from whom escape is impossible (7:9).
This rapid survey of Hellenistic-Jewish historical writing would not be complete without a mention of the historical works of the two outstandnding Jewish authors who wrote in Greek: Philo and Josephus.
Philo (d. Ca. A.D. 50)7 was primarily a philosopher, but since most of his 38 works are either parts of a running commentary on the Pentateuch or essays on selected topics in the same, he necessarily deals with Biblical history down to Moses. In his biography of Moses (De vita Mosis), he presented him as the wisest of all legislators. His philosophical principles naturally colored this rewriting of Biblical history. In addition to ancient times he also described contemporary events and movements. The book on contemplative life (De vita contemplativa)8 describes the life of the Therapeutae, ascetic hermits devoted to meditation, allegorical study of the Law of Moses, composition of sacred poetry, and contemplation of God. More important for the political history of the first century of our era is a work which, according to Eusebius (Ecclessiastical History II, 5, 1; the sequel [5, 6-6, 3] gives a brief summary of the work), comprised five books: only the third (Against Flaccus) and fourth (Embassy to Caligula [legatio ad Gaium) survive; perhaps Against
7 For a
publications on Philo, see: B. L. Goodhart and E. R. Goodenougb, The
of Philo Judaeus with a General Bibliography.
8 Philo's De vita contemplativa was regarded by Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History II, 17; cf. II, 16, 2) as a description of Christian monasticism, and the authenticity of this work has been questioned by some scholars; see, e.g., Schu%rer, op. cit., 3, 687-691; Bre/hier, op. cit., pp. 321-24.
Flaccus alludes at the beginning to the second volume (dealing with a plot of Sejanus [d. A.D. 311 against the Jews; cf. Eusebius, Chronicon, ed. Seboene, 150-151), while the Embassy to Gaius at the end possibly refers to the palinodi/a (retraction), i.e., the change for the better of the situation of the Jews after the death of Caligula in A.D. 41, which apparently formed the subject of the fifth book. The general title of the work seems to have been On Virtues (peri\ areto^n) and indicated that in the end virtue triumphed over wickedness.9 The main topic of the book was really the miserable end of the principal persecutors of the Jews, namely, Sejanus, Flaccus, Caligula, and probably also Pilate. The divine vengeance against the enemies of the Jews is stressed in earlier Jewish histories (see, for instance, II Kings 19:36 f. ), notably in II Maccabees (3:22-40; 5:6-10; 9:5 f.; 13:4-8; 15:28-35), and in pseudo-histories (Daniel, Judith, Esther, etc.). Notwithstanding this nationalistic bias and religious dogma, these books of Philo are invaluable sources, particularly where they relate events of which Philo was himself an eyewitness.
Josephus, son of Matthias (born in Jerusalem in A.D. 37-38, died after A.D. 100), who assumed Vespasian's family name, Flavius, after be was liberated from captivity in 69, is the most famous of Jewish historians.10 His life is fairly well known through his autobiography (The Life of Fl. Josephus), which deals primarily with his activity as governor of Galilee in 66-67 and was written soon after 100; it supplements his Antiquities. Through references to himself in his history of the war of 66-70 (see also Against Apion I, 9-10) Josephus has likewise thrown light on his own career.
The first work of Josephus was his history of the war of 66-70 in Aramaic (War, Preface), of which we have his translation into Greek,
9 in contrast
views which Schu%rer (Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 678-682) has defended, L.
Massebieau, ("Le classement des oeuvres de Philon," pp. 65-78.
.Bibliothe\que de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
Section des sciences religieuses.
10 For details on
the reader is referred to the illuminating lectures of H. St. John
Josephus: The Man and the Historian (New York, Jewish Institute of
Press, 1929). See also G. Ho%1scher,
"Josephus" in Pauly-Wissowa, Realenzyklopa%die der classischen
Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. 9, pp. 1943 ft.
On the Jewish War
(Peri\ tou^ ioudaikou^ pole/mou; Bellum judaicum), in seven books. The contents, in brief, are as follows: Book
I: The history from Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.) to the death
the Great (4 B.C.). Book II: From 4 B.C. to the first year of the war
(66-67), inclusive. Book III: The war in
Antiquities of the Jews
(loudaike' archaiologia; Antiquitates judaicae), in twenty books, deals
the history of the Jews to A.D. 66. The
individual books cover the following periods: Book 1: >From the
the world to the death of Isaac. Book
11: From Esau and Jacob to the Exodus.
Books III-IV: From the Exodus to the death of Moses. Book V: From the death of Moses to the death
of Eli. Book VI: From the death of Eli to the death of Saul. Book VII: David. Book
VIII: From Solomon to Ahab (853 B.C.).
Book IX: From the death of Ahab to the fall of
Josephus completed his Antiquities in 93-94. He had written it for educated Greeks and Romans to prove that the Jews had "formerly been in great esteem" and had not been prevented from keeping their ancestral laws and practicing their religion; and "to take away the causes of that hatred which unreasonable men bear" to the Jews (Antiquities 16:6, 8). In the first ten books, dealing with Biblical history and using almost solely the Old Testament as his source, Josephus not only omitted or modified unpleasant incidents but, following Alexandrian Jewish historians (Demetrius, Artapanus, etc.), which he knew through Alexander Polyhistor, as also Philo and the Palestinian Haggadah, he freely added legends and juristic comments to the data furnished by the Pentateuch. In confirmation of his account he eagerly quoted such authorities as Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Manetho, Berossus, and others. For the
period from Nehemiah
(432 B.C.) to Antiochus Epiphanes (175) Josephus could give only a few
or fictitious tales, such as Alexander's visit to Jerusalem (11:8,
summary of the Letter of Aristeas (12:2), and rarely an occasional fact
from Greek histories, such as the conquest of Jerusalem by Ptolemy I
(12:1 [§51; cf. Against Apion 1:22 [§§209-211]) reported by
Cnidus.11 For the period 175-135 Josephus utilized I Maccabees, at
quoting it literally, but often modifying it freely (cf. C. L. W.
commentary on I Maccabees, pp. xxviii f.) and disregarded I Macc.
14-16; he did
not use II Maccabees at all. Down to the
year 143 B.C. he also used Polybius (12:9, 1).12 For the period 135-37
cites primarily the lost history of the years 143-27 B.C. by the famous
geographer Strabo of Cappadocia, who died about A.D. 20 (the first and
references are 13:10, 4 and 15:1, 2) and the world history of Herod's
secretary, Nicholas of Damascusl3 (13:8, 4 to 14:6, 4).
Nicholas alone is manifestly Josephus'
accurate and detailed source for the life of Herod in books XVI-XVII
XV there are traces of a second source, unfavorable to Herod): the
Herod's last years (14-4 B.C.), told in books 125-144 of Nicholas, is
apparently reproduced with hardly any change, in spite of the admission
Nicholas was partial to Herod (16:7, 1). Josephus quotes also book 96
Nicholas with reference to the Flood (1:3, 6; cf. 3, 9) and book 4 with
reference to Abraham (1:7, 2) and David (7:5, 2). The
history of Nicholas ended in book 144
with the accession of Archelaus (4 B.C.); consequently, the
information available to Josephus from then to A.D. 41 was extremely scanty. The reign of Agrippa 1 (41-44) is reported in greater detail, presumably because Josephus could obtain information from eyewitnesses and particularly from Agrippa II (d. 100). For the years preceding the outbreak of the war in 66 Josephus could rely on his own memory; but the source from which he derived the exact and full information for the events at Rome in 41, when Caligula died and Claudius succeeded him, is still unknown, as also the source of the dossier of Caesar's and Augustus'
11 B. Niese (Geschichte der Griechischm und
Makedonischen Staaten, Vol. 1, p. 230, n. 4.
12 On the sources
of Josephus for the post-Biblical period, see H. Bloch, Die Quellen des
Josephus in seiner Archa%ologia.
13 The remnants of the history of Nicholas of Damascus are published by C. Mu%ller, Fragm. hist. graec. Vol. 3, pp. 343-464; Vol. 4, pp. 661-668. See on Nicholas, Schu%rer, Geschichte: Vol. 1, pp. 50-57.
edicts in favor of the Jews, and other public documents (a complete list, with bibliography, is given by J. Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, pp. 132-159). The apologetic tendency of Josephus in the Antiquities (cf. 16:6, 1 and 8) unfortunately induces him to select only decrees favorable to the Jews (in 13:9, 2; 14:8, 5; and 12; 16:6; 19:5 and 6; 20:1, 2).14
known by name to us is Justus of Tiberias (ca.
A.D. 110), a rival of Josephus (who refers to him in his Life,
§§ 9, 12,
17, 35, 37, 54, 65, 70, 74). He wrote a
history of the Jewish war of 66-70, in which be criticized Josephus
and a chronicle of the Jewish kings, which was still known to Photius
ninth century (see for further details, Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 1,
58-63; H. Luther, losephus und Justus von Tiberias [Doctoral
Alexander Polyhistor, as has been noticed, is responsible for the survival of a portion of Alexandrian-Jewish historical writings; at the same time the extant fragments of the epic and dramatic Jewish literature in
14 A word should
about the references of Josephus to Christian beginnings: for full
see, R. Eisler, Ie-sou^s Basileu\s ou Basileusas, 2 vols. Heidelberg,
(English abridgment: R. Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist
according to Flavius Josephus' Recently Rediscovered 'Capture of
etc. Englsh ed. by A. H. Krappe.
Greek were quoted from Polyhistor by Eusebius in the Praeparatio Evangelica.15
Philo the Elder
(ca. 100 B.C.), as
Josephus (Against Atfion, 1, 23) calls him to distinguish him from
philosopher, composed in rhetorical Homeric hexameters (the meter of
Sibylline Oracles) an epic poem On Jerusalern.
Eusebius has preserved three small fragments on Abraham, on
on the springs and aqueducts of
Theodotus (ca. 100 B.C.) wrote a parallel poem On Shechem of which Eusebius has preserved a portion, partly verbatim and partly in summary. The author called Shechem a "holy city" and must therefore have been a Samaritan. After a description of the site of the town, its conquest by the Hebrews is related on the basis of Gen. 34. In the manner of numerous Hellenistic poets, Theodotus composed an epic celebrating the mythical origin and legendary history of his city. He tells us that Shechem received its name frorn Sikimios the son of Hermes (cf. Shechem the son of Hamor, Gen. 34:2) and he connects the city of the Samaritans with Greek mythology-a procedure known in earlier Jewish-Hellenistic writers.
Ezekiel the dramatist
(ca. 100 B.C.) is
the sole kdown Jew who wrote tragedies in Greek. Only
one of them, The Exodus, is partially
known through excerpts preserved by Eusebius and Clement of Alexandria. It begins with a long monologue of Moses
reviewing his past life, spoken in Midian where he had fled after
Egyptian taskmaster (Ex. -15). He then met the seven daughters of Reuel (Ex.
) and eventually
married Zipporah. In a second fragment
Reuel interpreted a
dream of Moses as signifying that he would become a ruler and a prophet. A third excerpt describes the divine
revelation at the Burning Bush (Ex. 3), and a fourth the divine
about the departure of
Ezekiel manifestly followed the Biblical narrative fairly closely, but felt free to add haggadic embellishments at will. His iambic trimeters lack true poetic inspiration but are adequate in naffatives and descriptions. if, as, seems probable, this drama was composed for the stage and was
15 For the text, see C. Mu%ller, Fragm. hist. graec., Vol. 3, pp. 213, 219, 229 (Philo); 217-219 (Theodotus). For Ezekiel see: Du%bner's edition in the appendix to F. C. Wagner, Fragmmta Euripidis. Pwis, 1846, pp. vii-x, 1-7; and J. Wieneke, Ezechielis Judaei poetae almndrini fabulae quae inscribitur Exagoge fragmenta. Mu%nster, 1931. See, in general, Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 497-503.
actually performed, it not merely instructed and edified the Jews but gained for them if not friendship, at least a better understanding, on the part of some of the pagan spectators.
In appraising a mixed philosophy such as that of the Alexandrian Jews, some scholars regard it as Jewish thought modified by Greek philosophy (Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, P. 503), while others, on the contrary, would say that the Jewish thinkers "systematically set about remaking Greek philosophy according to the pattern of a belief and tradition of an entirely different origin." (H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, p. 4).16 It seems probable that both attitudes were current in ancient Alexandria: the Greeks presumably accused the Jews of adopting their own thought and language, and regarded the synagogue as a school of philosophy (G. F. Moore, Judaism, Vol. 1, pp. 284 f. ), while, conversely, Aristobulus, Philo, and Josephus did not hesitate to assert "the dependence of Greek philosophers upon Moses" (Wolfson, Philo Vol. 1, P. 141; cf. Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, P. 547)-which meant that Greek philosophy was an irnperfect form of Judaism. It is not necessary to enter here into a debate between the two points of view, Jewish and Gentile. What is certain is that Alexandrian Jewish thinkers interpreted Judaism in the light of Greek philosophy and that both Jews and Greeks at times regarded Judaism as a philosophy (for references see Juster, Les Juifs, Vol. 1, P. 243, n. 2).
A philosophical conception of Judaism is not yet apparent in the earliest monument of Hellenistic Judaism, the Greek version of the Pentateuch made in Alexandria about 250 B.C. (the "Septuagint" in its original sense, cf. the Letter of Aristeas). The translators were probably Alexandrians who had some familiarity with Greek thought; they strove for an accurate rendering, and if occasionally they appear to echo philosophical teachings, there is no reason for regarding such possible reverberations as deliberate attempts to read Greek philosophy into the Scriptures.17 When such a conscious identification of the teaching of Moses and of Plate was made later, by Alexandrian Jews, it presupposed an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures," such as had been adopted in Greece for the philosophical
H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, pp. 115-138.
interpretation of Homer and Hesiod, beginning with Theagenes of Rhegium (ca. 525 B.C. [?]) and others after him. After Philo, this interpretation the Old Testament passed into Christianity, beginning with Paul (Cal. f.; II Cor. 3:13-16; cf. I Cor. 10:14) and the Epistle to the Hebrews, continuing with Barnabas, Justin Martyr, and the Alexandrian school (Clement of Alexandria and Origen), and persisting to the present day among those orthodox Protestants who find an allusion to the Trinity in plurals, "Let us make man in our imageŠ" and "Go, let us go downŠ" (Gen. 1:26 and 11:7). Such an allegorical interpretation, in trast with modern historical and critical methods of interpretation, is the last line of defense of traditional orthodoxy, now as in antiquity.
In Hellenistic Judaism the
method was occasionally employed before Philo.
Strictly speaking, the allegorical interpretation of Scriptures, by means of which the deepest metaphysical truths were dscovered in the most trivial incidents reported in the Bible, was first practiced by Philo, who in this followed Greek models rather than Jewish ones. For the few examples of allegory in the Wisdom of Solomon and the Letter of Aristeas, as those in rabbinical literature (cf. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, pp. 133 f.), are by no means "philosophical allegory of the kind we find in Philo" (ibid.) . Nevertheless, it was thought long before Philo that the noblest ethical and religious truths had been revealed by God throughout his in-
spired Scriptures, but often not literally and plainly, but "through a glass, darkly," so that the ignorant failed to discover the deep meaning underlying the literal sense of the scriptural words. Thus the Bible became an inexhaustible mine of truth; every generation of men discovered new verities in it, for, as Paul said, "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning" (Rom. 15:4; cf. I Cor. ). Consequently, the whole body of teaching in Hellenistic Judaism, even what we know to have been derived from Greek philosophers, was somehow read into the words of Scripture. This basic trend manifests itself in various ways.
In the Wisdom of
Solomon (for which see
below, Part II, Chap. V) the notion of Wisdom (sophi/a) was manifestly
by Greek ideas, and yet was allegedly derived from Prov. 8 (cf. Job.
9:9, for instance, is a summary of Prov. 8:22-30; and "the worker" in
the statement that Wisdom is "the worker [techni/tes, artificer,
craftsman] of all things" (Wisd. ) translates the
reading a-mo-n (artificer) in Prov. (cf. the LXX
joiner) instead of a-mu-n (nursling, ward; cf. the Authorized Version). Nevertheless, it would be difficult to
discover in the Bible some of the 21 qualities of Wisdom listed in
Wisd. -23, and the
-26: "For Wisdom
is more mobile than any
motion; she pervades and penetrates all things by reason of her
pureness. For she is the breath of the
power of God, a
clear effulgence [or emanation] flowing from the glory of the
the one hand, Wisdom was the universal soul of the Stoics (Wisd. ; 8:1), on the
inspirer of prophets (Wisd. ; cf. ) and the helper
If the Scriptures, rightly interpreted, taught the tenets of Greek philosophy, it was natural to assume that Greek philosophers derived their teachings from Moses. Before Philo, this was asserted in a Jewish-AIexandrian work entitled An Explanation of the Mosaic Law (or the like), attributed to Aristobulus. According to Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, he wrote during the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181-145 B.C.).19 The first of the three extant fragments of this work (Eusebius, Praep.
19 See J.
Judaem, Vol. 1, pp. 242-252; Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 512-522. The authenticity of this work has been
seriously questioned by Elter and others.
Schu%rer defends it, while E. Bre/hier, (Les ide/es
religiones de Philon d'Ale/xandrie, pp. 47f.) believes that "the
author...copied Philo, condensing him, obscuring him, often without
understanding him." The text of the extant fragments of this work is
printed by W. N. Stearns, Fragments from Graeco-Jewish Writers.
Ev. XIII:12, 1-16) dealt with Gen. 1-2: Homer, Hesiod, Pythagora, Socrates, and Plato were familiar with the Pentateuch in a Greek version made before the Persian conquest of Egypt (525 B.C.), and used it in their works.20 The words "God said...and it was so" (Gen. 1), as Greek philosophers recognized, mean that everything came into being through God's power (dynamis); Orpheus (in spurious Jewish verses) and Aratus attest that God's power permeates everything. The seventh day on which God rested (Gen. 2:1-3) may be called the day in which light was created, inasmuch as the Peripatetics call Wisdom the lamp of life and Solomon declared (Prov. 8:22-30) that Wisfom existed before the world. God's rest means the quiet maintenance of the divine universal order; the significance of the number 7 is explained after the manner of the Pythagoreans. Verses of Homer, Hesiod, and Linus are quoted in this explanation of the Sabbath.
The second fragment (Eusebius, Praep. ev. VIII:10), dealing apparently with God's revelation of the Law on Sinai, explains the anthropomorphic expressions referring to God's "hands, arm, face, feet, walking about." We must not be misled thereby and adopt a fairy-tale notion of God's appearance. These words are figurative, as in Greek "hand" means "power." God's descent on Sinai means merely the revelation of his power.
The third fragment (quoted by Eusebius, Eccles. History VII:32, 17-18, according to the paraphrase of Anatolius) explains that the Passover is celebrated when the sun stands in the sign of the automnal equinox.
The derivation of Greek philosphy from the Pentateuch, the philosophical interpretation of the Bible (possibly with Gentile readers in mind), the elimination of scriptual anthropomophisms, the quotation from ancient Greek poets, which characterize this work, will be developed more fully by Philo.
The Fourth Book of Maccabees discloses a deeper knowledge of Greek philosophy than all other Hellenistic-Jewish writings, except Philo's works. It likewise strives to find philosophical ideas in the Old Testament (cf. -17). Thus, for instance, in -24 the Law of Moses is said to teach the four cardinal virtues of Plato and the Stoics. This book is in the form of a diatribe or street-corner address on Cynic or Stoic practical philosophy. The author was presumably an Alexandrian Jew living shortly before Philo (about the beginning of our era) and explicitly addresses Jews (18:1). We may summarize it as follows:
1. The introduction (1:1-12). The philosophical (stoic) theme to be discussed is "whether devout reason [ho eusebes logismos] rules supreme over the passions" (1:1; cf. 1:7, 9, 13 f., 19, 30; 2:6 f., 10, 24; ; ;
20 Philo likewise asserted the dependence of Greek philosophers on Moses; cf. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, p.141.
13:1; 16:1; 18:2). This subject is important both theoretically and practically (1:2-4). The skeptical objection that reason is not the master of forgetfulness and blameless ignorance, is irrelevant (1:5f.). The best example of the supremacy of devout reason is furnished by the martyrdom of Eleazar, the seven brothers, and their mother (II Macc. ), who by their contempt of pain and death fully demonstrated this thesis (-11). The two parts of the exposition are the theoretical () and the historical () ().
2. The philosophical expostions (). Reason and passions must now be defined (1:13f.). Reason is the mind's determination to live according to wisdom (), which is the knowledge of divine and human things and of their causes (), 21 i.e., "the culture acquired under the law" of Moses (). Wisdom is manifested in the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, courage, and temperance (1:18f.). The sources of the passions (or emotions) are pleasure and pain (), and often the passions follow a certain sequence (-27). Reason is the guide of the virtues and the master of passions: (a) through temperance, which checks our bodily appetites (1:28-35) and controls the soul's desire to enjoy beauty, which expresses itself in erotic emotion (2:1-4); (b) through justice, which overcomes the desire to obtain another's property (2:5-7) and even grants one's own property to another (2:8f.); (c) through courage, which enables us to place virtue above family affections and friendship (2:10-12) and to overcome hatred (2:13ff.); (d) through prudence, which rules over aggressive passions and violent anger (2:15-20). God implanted passions in man, but gave him also a mind which should be directed by the Law (-23). Two objections may be raised: reason does not extirpate the passions (3:2-4). As shown by the example of David conquering his thirst (II Sam. -17), reason is not the extirpator but the antagonist of passions (3:5-18).
3. The evidence from
history (). a.
events preceding the Maccabean rebellion (). When
(Heliodorus, in II Macc. 3) attempted to plunder the
b. The martyrdom of Eleazar (-7; cf. II Macc. -31). Eleazar was
21 Reason and wisdom are here defined in accordance with the teaching of the Stoics; for references see C. L. W. Grimm's commentary ad loca.
(5:1-3), who urged him to partake of swine's meat (5:4-13). Eleazar replied that all transgressions of
the Law are equally serious (-21; this view is
c. The martyrdom of the seven brothers (8-12; cf. 11 Macc. 7). Seven young brothers and their mother (7:1-4) were exhorted by Antiochus "to share in the Hellenic life" (8:1-11) but were not terrified at the sight of the instruments of torture (-15), although they had many inducements to yield to the king (-28). All seven together (8:29), when the king (8:5-10) invited them to share "in the Hellenic life," replied that the tyrant should put them to death, for so would they win the reward of virtue (cf. 10:15; 13:17; 17:4, 18; 18:23), while he would forever be tormented with fire (9:1-9; on eternal torments cf. 9:32; 10:11, 15; 12:19 [Rahlfs 12:18]; 13:15; 18:5, 22). The first youth, while being tortured (-14), denounced the tyrant (), and in reply to the guards' suggestion to yield (), urged them to increase his torments ( f.); in his last breath he urged his brothers to follow his example (-25). The second youth, likewise, died heroically (-32), as also the third (10:1-11), the fourth (-21), the fifth (11:1-12), -the sixth (-26), and the seventh (12:1-20 [Rahlfs 12:1-19]).
d. Reflections on the heroism of the seven brothers (13:1-14:10). Thus their reason won the victory over their passions and their pains (13:1-7); they encouraged one another through the fine example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Dan. 3:13-23), and that of Isaac (Gen. 22:1-13); through their descent from Abraham; through the eternal punishment of violators of the Law, and conversely their bliss together with their forefathers after the martyrdom; and through loyalty to those on the.point of death or already expired, and to brothers (13:8-22). Thus their brotherly love was so strengthened that they could encourage one another to suffer agony (-14:1). So they were praised (14:2-6); the sevenfold companionship of brethren was compared to the seven days of Creation (14:7f.) and their torments were extolled (14:9 f.).
e. The fortitude and death of the mother (-17:7). Their mother deserved even greater admiration (-20), for in spite of her love
she preferred for her sons righteousness rather than escape from death (15:1-7). Witnessing their torments, she urged them to die for their religion (15:8-18). Having the choice of life or death for her sons, she chose the latter, following Abraham's example, and withstood the waves of passion as Noah's ark withstood the waves of the Flood (-32). This mother proves that reason rules over passions (16:1-4). Had she been a coward, she might have wept (16:5-11 [Rahlfs 16:5-10]), but as if she were bringing forth her sons a second time unto eternal life, she entreated them to die for religion's sake (-25 [Rahlfs -25]). The mother also was now put to death (17:1-7).
f. Concluding praise of the martyrs (17:8-24). A fitting epitaph (17:8-10) should be inscribed on the tombs of these martyrs who received the crown of victory as athletes of righteousness (-24).
4. Peroration (18). Let
Although the author was a zealous orthodox Jew trained in "the Law and the Prophets" (; cf. the quotations from the LXX in -19),22 he must have attended Greek schools. He has a notable command of the resources of the Greek language, including a vast vocabulary and rhetorical art. His style is far better than that of his historical source, II Maccabees-or the full work of Jason of Cyrene condensed in II Maccabees-and be surpasses in good taste and clearness of diction the ornate and pompous Atticist who wrote III Maccabees.
The argument of the book is presented logically and consistently, even though in reality it begs the question. He proves that devout reason is the absolute master of the passions by regarding reason as the determination to live according to wisdom, which is not merely knowledge but also the observance of the Law of Moses. He then defines the "passions" as moral defects contrary to the four cardinal virtues, but not mental defects such as forgetfulness and ignorance, over which reason has no control. In other words: reason possesses wisdom; wisdom is manifested
22 C. L. W. Grimm in his commentary (cf. the preceding note) believed that the book ended with 18:2 and that 18:3-23 was an addition by a later band; but, as R. B. Townshend has shown (in R. H. Charles, Pseudepigrapha, pp. 655f.), there is no compelling reason for rejecting 18:3-23.
in the four cardinal virtues that control the passions opposed to them; therefore reason controls these passions. Q.E.D. In harmony with Rabbinic Judaism, he concludes that reason does not extirpate the passions, but enables us to resist them successfully, and also that while there may be small and great sins, any transgression of the Law of Moses, be it in small things or in great, is equally heinous (cf. the Stoic teaching), for it shows contempt for the Law (5:19-20; cf. James 2: 10).
The general theme of the book (the supremacy of reason over the passions) as well as many of the special arguments and views presented are clearly Stoic.23 The famous Stoic paradox "The sage is not merely free but also a king" is echoed in 7:23 and 14:2; the martyrs behave with true Stoic apathy (9:17f.; 11:25; 15:11, 14); wisdom (1:16) is defined in the Stoic manner. He differs from the Stoics, however, in his more comprehensive conception of the passions and in regarding them as divinely implanted in man (; cf. ) and therefore ineradicable (1:6; 3:2, 5) even though controllable.24
As a Jew addressing Jews the author tended to subordinate the Stoic philosophy to the Law of Moses, even though he wished to equate them. On the one hand, he refuted the Greek view that the Law of Moses was a "preposterous philosophy" (), "contrary to reason" (), by asserting that it taught the four Stoic cardinal virtues ( f.). On the other hand, the source of these virtues was wisdom (), which, in its Stoic definition (), was merely "the culture acquired under the Law" (); the Stoic ideal could be realized only by fulfilling the Law (-23). Moreover, it was not natural reason that dominated the passions, but "devout, inspired" reason-and only Judaism could make reason "devout." Thus for the author there was no difference between Zeno and Moses, between Stoic virtues and Mosaic prescriptions, between "moral beauty and goodness" () and Jewish righteousness. Wisdom and law had already been identified in Judaism long before, but our author failed to go beyond a purely verbal identification of Judaism and Stoicism, and did not produce a real synthesis of the two. Indeed, no Jew believing the Law to be divinely inspired could bring it down to the level of mere human knowledge, as Greek philosophy did.
In two points the author changes the religious teaching of II Macca-
23 H. A. Wolfson
Vol. 2, pp. 271 f.), however, asserts that "guided by tradition the
comes out in opposition to the Stoics." But C. L. W. Grimm has shown
his commentary to IV Maccabees, p. 288) how pervasive Stoic teaching is
24 In 2:21 f. the author gives us a notion of his idea of a human being. When God created man, He planted at the periphery, near the surface of his being (periephy/teusen), the passions and inclinations, but He placed the mind (nou^s) or reason (the ego) on a throne to dominate, under the guidance of the Law, over the senses and passions (cf. ; Rom. ).
bees, from which (or from whose source, Jason of Cyrene) he derived the stories of the Maccabean martyrs (cf. the table of parallels in Charles, Pseudepigrapha, p. 665). While II Maccabees repeatedly speaks of the resurrection of the body as the hope of the martyrs and only once (II Macc. 7:36) of "eternal life" (which may be a loose way of speaking of the resurrection),25 IV Maccabees, like the Wisdom of Solomon, teaches the doctrine of the immortality of the spirit (14:5; 16:13)- "pure and immortal souls" (18:23)-both of the pious (14:6 ) 26 and of the wicked (13:15); the pious are honored by God and have an abode in heaven (17:5) after achieving "the prize of victory in incorruption in everlasting life" (17:12) or, better, with a slight change in the Greek, "the prize of victory was incormption." They shall stand beside the throne of God and live in blissful etemity () "unto God" (), having obtained a divine inheritance (18:3). On the contrary, eternal torments are the lot of the wicked (9:9; , 15, 21; ).27 In II Maccabees, only the Jews are raised from the dead (II Macc. ).
between these two
books lies in the evaluation of the torments and death of the martyrs. In II Maccabees the martyrs were selected for
torment from the midst of a sinful people to be an example of God's
justice and to appease his wrath against
conversely, generally understand by "resurrection of the flesh" in
the Apostles' Creed the immortality of the spirit-a Platonic doctline
excludes the bodily resurrection.
26 R. B.
Townshend in Charles, Pseudepigrapha,
p. 679, translates literally, "as if prompted by the immortal soul of
religion" (14:6). The meaning, however, seems to be, "so those holy
youths, prompted by the immortality of their pious soulŠ"
27 In this book
immortality is not, as in Plato, a quality of the spirit but the result
God's intervention (7:19; 17:17-21; 18:23).
28 IV Macc. 6:29; cf. 17:22 (Rahlfs 17:21). This word for ransom occurs four times in the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (Ephesians 21:1; Smymeans 10:2; Poly-carp 2:3; 6:1). Ignatius died a martyr during the reign of Trajan (98-117).
ALEXANDRIAN-JEWISH LITERATUM []
bees, through his notion of expiatory martyrdom, somehow anticipated the main lines of Paul's doctrine of the atonement.29
The Alexandrian-Jewish philosophy and the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures on which it rests reached their culmination and end in the works of Philo of Alexandria (d. about A.D. 50).30 Soon after Philo's death it was rejected by the Jews, but it furnished to incipient Christianity a philosophical scaffolding for its faith. The works of Philo have been grouped as follows:31
1. Questions and answers (Ze-te-/mata kai\ ly/seis; Quaestiones et solutiones) on the Pentateuch, of which we have parts of six books dealing with Gen. 1-28 (lacking Gen. 10:10-15:6); and parts of the second and all of the fifth book on Exodus, surviving in Armenian and Latin translations, but lost in the Greek. Here Philo interpreted the books of the Pentateuch both literally and allegorically. For instance, this is the comment on the words "in this generation" (Gen. 7:1):
It is an admirable expression which is meanwhile added, the one which says, "in this generation have I seen thee righteous," that he might not appear to condemn earlier generations, nor cut off the future hope of generations of later times. This is the literal sense. But according to the spiritual meaning, when God will have the mind, the ruler of the soul, which is the head of the family, then he saves likewise the whole family together with him; I mean all parts...and the things of the body. As the mind is in the soul, so the soul is in the body. Through good advice all parts of the soul thrive, and its whole house is benefited along with it. When the whole soul is in good condition, then all of its house likewise is found to be benefited with it, namely the body (profits) through sound conduct and continence, after those passionate desires which cause diseases have been destroyed. Quaest. et solut. II, 11 (surviving in Armenian)
2. Allegory of the Holy Laws (no/mo-n hiero^n allegori/a; legum allegoria) is a purely allegorical commentary on the Pentateuch, consisting of many individual works. We have the parts dealing with Gen. 2-41 either verse by verse (Gen. 2-4) or in longer sections (thus there are two books de ebrietate on Gen. 9). Here Philo gives his views on the nature of human
29 Paul uses
in the sense of "propitiation" (Rom. ), exactly as in
IV Macc. . In the LXX the
"mercy seat" (cf. Hebr. 9:5).
30 For the
bibliography on Philo see
above, note 7. The reader is referred to the works of Drummond,
Wolfson for a presentation of Philo's teaching, which cannot be
described here. The most convenient edition of his works (not yet
F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker, Philo with an English Translation,
The Loeb Classical Library.
31 Cf. the bibliography in H. A. Wolfson, Philo, Vol. 1, p. 87, n. 1.
beings, from the points of view of physiology, psychology, epistemology, and ethics. Thus, for instance, commenting on Gen. 2: 10 he says, "'River' is generic virtue, goodness. This issues out of Eden, the wisdom of God, and this is the Logos [i.e., Word, Reason] of God, for in accordance with that has generic virtue been made. And generic virtue waters the garden, that is, it waters the particular virtues" (Leg. alleg. 1, 19, 165 [1, 56 MI). The four rivers of Gen. 2:10-14 are the four cardinal virtues of Plato and the Stoics: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The individual books in the legum allegoria series are; Legum allegoria, books I (on Gen. 2:1-17), II (on Gen. 2:18-3: la), III (on Gen. 3: Sb-19); On the Cherubim and the Fiery Sword (de Cherubim et flammeo gladio, on Gen. 3:24; 4:1); On the Sacrifices of Abel and Cain (de sacrificiis Abeli et Caini, on Gen. 4:2-4); That the Worse Usually Waylays the Better (quod deterius potiori insidiari soleat, on Gen. 4:8-15); On the Offspring of Cain (de posteritate Caini, on Gen. 4:16-25); On the Giants (de gigantibus, on Gen. 6:1-4) and That God Is Unchangeable (quod Deus sit immutabilis, on Gen. 6:4-12); On Agriculture (de agricultura, on Gen. 9:20a and de plantatione Noe, on Gen. 9:20b); On Intoxication (de ebrietate, of which only the first of two books, dealing with Gen. 9:21, survives); On Temperance (do sobrietate, on Gen. 9:24-27); On the Confusion of Languages (de confusions linguarum, on Gen. 11:1-9); On the Migration of Abraham (de migratione Abrahami, on Gen. 12:1-6); Who Is to Be the Heir of Divine Things (Quis rerum divinarum haeres sit, on Gen. 15:2-18); On the Meeting about Education (de congressu quaerendae eruditianis causa, on Gen. 16:1-6); On Fugitives (de profugis, on Gen. 16:6-14); On the Change of Names (de mutatione nominum, on Gen. 17:1-22); (On God [de deo, a fragment in Armenian on Gen. 18:2]); On Dreams (de somniis; book II, on Gen. 28:12-22 and 31:11-13; book III, on Gen. 37:5-11; 40:5-19; 41:1-36; three other books are lost).
3. Studies on miscellaneous Pentateuchal subjects, seldom utilizing the allegorical method, constituting an introduction to the Law of Moses for a large circle of readers, notably Gentiles.32 This collection includes the following books:
The Life of the Sage (bi/os sophou^) Who Has Been Perfected through Education. Book I: de Abrahamo (On Abraham), dealing with Enosh, who typifies hope; Enoch, the type of conversion and improvement; Noah, the type of righteousness; Abraham, the type of the virtue acquired through teaching; (Isaac, the type of the natural or inborn virtue, and Jacob; the type of the virtue acquired through practice, are lost).
Book II: de Josepho (On Joseph, the type of the statesman); de
32 See E. R. Goodenough in HTR 27 (1933) 109-125.
decalogo (On the Ten Commandments); de specialibus legibus (an arrangement of all Pentateuchal laws in accordance with the Ten Commandments) I-IV. I (Ex. 20:3-6): de circumcisione (On Circumcision), de monarchia (On Monotheism) 1-11, de praemiis sacerdotum (On the Emoluments of the Priesthood), de sacrificantibus or de victimas offerentibus (On Proper Victims and On those who Offer Sacrifice), de mercede meretricis (On the Wages of a Harlot). II (Ex. 20:7-12): de septenario (On the Sabbath), de festo cophini (on Deut. 26), de colendis parentibus (On Honoring the Parents). III (Ex. 20:13-14) and IV (Ex. 20:15-17): de judice (On the judge), de concupiscentia (On Covetousness), de justitia (On justice), de tribus virtutibus (On Three Virtues recorded with others by Moses: de fortitudine, de caritate, de poenitentia [on courage, humanity, and repentance]) (also, de nobilitate); de praemiis et poenis and de execrationibus (On Rewards and Punishments, and On Curses; see Lev. 26 and Deut. 28).
4. Separate historical and philosophical works. On the Life of Moses (vita Mosis I-III, or better I-II), addressed to Gentile readers; That Every Good Person Is Free (quod omnis probus liber); Against Flaccus (adversus Flaccum); The Embassy to Caius Caligula (de legatione ad Caium); On Providence (de providentia); That Dumb Animals Have an Intelligence of Their Own (de Alexandro et quod propriam rationem muta animalia habeant); Assumptions (hypothetika/, lost except for the references in Eusebius, Praep. ev. VIII, 5-7); On the Jews (or Apology for the Jews, lost except for Eusebius, Praep. ev. VIII, 11 [on the Essenes]), possibly identical with the preceding work.
5. Entirely lost works. Three books of quaestiones et solutiones on Exodus (cf. above, No. 1); two books of legum allegoria (cf. above, No. 2); On Rewards (peri\ mistho^n commenting on Gen. 15:1, mentioned at the beginning of quis rerum divinarum haeres sit); two books On Testa-ments (peri\ diathe-ko^n, mentioned at the beginning of de mutatione nominum); three of the five books de somniis (cf. above, No. 2); the books on Isaac and Jacob, following de Abrahamo (cf. above, No. 3); That Every Bad Person Is a Slave (peri\ tou^ dou^lon ei^nai pa/nta phau^lon), the first half and the opposite of quod omnis probus liber (No. 4, above), mentioned by Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. II:18, 6); three books of a work on the persecution of the Jews at Alexandria, of which only adversus Flaccum and de legatione ad Caium (No. 4, above) survive; On Numbers (peri\ arithmo^n), mentioned in vita Mosis III, 11; and possibly a book on the rule of the sage (peri\ te^s arche^s tou^ sophou^), which Philo says he intended to write (quod omnis probus liber §3).
works. De vita contemplativa (On the
ruptibilitate mundi; de mundo; de Sampsone; interpretatio hebraicorum nominum; liber antiquitatum biblicarum; breviarium temporum.
4. Jewish Propaganda Works Attributed to Gentiles
Letter of Aristeas33 purports
to be a letter written by Aristeas, an official of Ptolemy II
a. Introduction (§§I-8). Aristeas will give his brother Philocrates an account of his mission to Eleazar (the high priest of the Jews) to further the preparation of a Greek translation of the Jewish law (§§I-8).
b. Preparatory steps (§§9-50). Demetrius of Phalerum, the chief librarian, induced Ptolemy II to add a translation of the Jewish Law to the 200,000 volumes in the Museum (§§9-11). Aristeas thought that the occasion was propitious to request the king to free the Jews enslaved by Ptolemy 1 (§§12-20), and through a royal decree they were emancipated (§§21-27). Demetrius prepared a memorandum for the king (§§28-32), who wrote a letter to Eleazar the high priest in Jerusalem requesting that seventy-two translators be sent to Egypt (§§33-40). Eleazar replied favorably (§§41-46) and sent 72 elders, who are named in §§47-50.
c. The royal gifts to Eleazar (§§51-82): a sacred table, enormous and richly ornate (§§51-72); golden mixing bowls and polished silver bowls (§§73-78); and golden vials (§§79-82).
d. Description of
e. The seventy-two translators were such noble and able men that Eleazar was greatly concerned about their safe return (§§121-127).
33 The Greek text
edited by H. St. John Thackuay in H. B. Swete, Introduction to the Old
in Greek, pp.- 499-574.
f. Eleazar's explanation and defense of the Jewish laws, and particularly of monotheism, purifications, and dietary prescriptions (§§128-171).
g. The royal welcome to the translators (§§172-186).
h. The banquets in the translators' honor during seven successive days and the answer of each translator to a question asked by the king (§§187-300). The questions deal with the art of government, ethics, philosophy, and practical wisdom.
i. The Pentateuch was translated into
by the seventy-two translators on the
fanciful story of the
origin of the Septuagint is merely a pretext for defending Judaism
heathen denigrators, for extolling its nobility and reasonableness, and
striving to convert Greek-speaking Gentiles to it.
The author pleads eloquently for the
political independence and emancipation from slavery of the Jews in his
day, who are said to worship the same god as the Greeks (Zeus or Dis)
another name (§§15-16, §19). Eleazar
expounded so convincingly the logic of some aspects of Judaism which
occasionally ridiculed (§§128-169) that Aristeas-allegedly
a pagan-praised "the holiness and
meaning in conformity with nature" of the Jewish Law (§§170-171). He was likewise deeply moved by the
Pseudo-Phocylides, an unknown Jewish-Alexandrian poet living probably in the last century before our era, composed a didactic poem in 230 Greek hexameters and attributed his composition to Phocylides of Miletus (sixth century B.C.), an author of wise sayings, few of which are extant. Our Jewish author moralizes about the problems of daily life, after the manner of Sirach, but deliberately follows the prescriptions of the Pentateuch (even down to such details as Deut. 14:21 and 22:6f). In order to make the forgery at least apparently plausible, peculiar Jewish prescriptions and polemic against idolatry are entirely omitted. Besides the Pentateuch, the author utilized the Jewish wisdom books (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, and Wisdom of Solomon). Although the Church Fathers do not quote this book, it became a textbook in the Byzantine period, and is therefore extant in many manuscripts and printed editions, the first of which appeared in 1495
(for further details and bibliography see Schu%rer, Geschichte, Vol. 3, pp. 617-622; S. Kraus, in Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, pp. 255 f.).
Sibylline Oracles34 now
surviving are in part the work of Hellenistic Jews.
The Sibyl was a prophetess, the pagan
counterpart of the Hebrew prophets-as Michelangelo realized when be
Sibyls opposite the prophets on the wall of the Sistine Chapel.
description of how Apollo entered into the Cumaean Sibyl at the moment
inspiration (Aeneid 6, 40 ff.) shows that, like the prophets, the
thought to be literally and physically filled with the divine spirit at
moment of inspiration. The etymology of
"Sibyl" given by Varro, from Aeolic sios boulla (Greek theou^
boule-/, theoboule-/, counsel of God), is manifestly fanciful, but the
of the word, which is not a personal name, is unknown.
The earliest and foremost of the Sibyls was
Herophile the Erythraean (in
Heraclitus knew Sibylline oracles in verse which mentioned "many
revolutions and upheavals in Greek cities, many appearances of
and murders of rulers." A collection of such oracles was housed in
The extant collection of Sibylline Oracles was preserved, as well as abundantly edited, by Christians, so that it is at times difficult to say whether some verses are Jewish or Christian (pagan material, such as III, 110-154, is scarce). It comprised fifteen books (books IX, X, and XV are lost), of which 4,240 verses are extant. In view of the popularity of the Sibylhne Oracles among the pagans, it is not surprising that an Alexandrian Jew living about 140 B.C. should compose some spurious oracles in the same style to teach the truths of the Jewish religion. His example was followed by Jews and Christians in later times. In any case, while the authors of the present collection lived between the second century B.C. and the fifth century of our era, the early oracles were regarded as genuine and ancient by some Jews: Josephus in Antiquities I, 4:3 quotes freely Sibylline Oracles III, 97-104, which he presumably read in Alexander Polybistor's Chaldaika/. Christian authors-beginning with Justin Martyr (d. ca. 165), and including Clement of Alexandria (d. ca. 220), Theophilus of Antioch (d. ca. 185), Lactantius (d. ca. 325), and
34 The best
edition of the
Greek text is that of J. Geffcken, Die Oracula Sibyllina.
Augustine (d. 430)-likewise regarded the oracles as ancient pagan poetry. Celsus (second century), in his book against the Christians, mocked their credulity and accused them of fabricating Sibylline oracles. The oracles generally regarded as Jewish (in books III-V) may be summarized as follows:
1. Book III, about 140 B.C. a. Its Introduction apparently consisted of two long fragments preserved by Theophilus of Antioch (ad Autolycum ii, 36): Lactantius quotes passages from these fragments and from book III as oracles of the Erythraean Sibyl, but passages from other books are attributed to other Sibyls. The two introductory fragments furnish the keynote of the Jewish Sibyl (if not of Alexandrian-Jewish apologetics in general) by stressing the truth of Jewish monotheism, in contrast with the falsehood and folly of pagan idolatry and animal worship.
b. III, 1-92 seems to have originally belonged
to book II, which is late. III, 1-45 praises God, the universal
fashioned "four-lettered Adam" (in Greek, the letters A-D-A-M are the
initials for east, west, north, South; cf also II Enoch 30:13), and
the heathen for their idolatry and wickedness. III, 46-62 (obscure)
the final judgment and the eternal rule of a holy king over the whole
(the Jewish Messiah or Jesus Christ?); then the Latins will suffer and
men (either the first [Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus; 60 B.C.] or second [
c. III, 93-96 (Christian?) longs for the rise of the sun that sbail neverset, which will be obeyed by all.
d. III, 97-294 begins abruptly a history of the
world from the building of the
Titans died, there arose
the kingdoms of
the Sibyl began to
prophesy (162-164) about the kingdoms of Solomon, the Phoenicians, and
III, 295-488 contains
prophecies of woes: against
(381-387), Antiochus IV
Epiphanes and his successors will devastate
The Sibyl proclaims the doom of Lycia (433), Chalcedon (434-435), Cyzicus (436, 442-443), Byzantium (437-438), Krasos in Lycia (439-441), Rhodes (444-448), Persia (449-450), Samos (451-456), Cyprus (57-458), Trallis (459-463), Italy (464-469), Laodicea (470-473), and other cities and nations (474-488).
f. III, 489-808 contains oracles of doom
eschatological predictions. God ordered
the Sibyl to proclaim the doom of
The pagans should worship God (624-631) to avoid the outbreak of his wrath (632-651).
Messiah (652-655) will
enrich the Jews (656-661). God will
judge the nations (662-701) and bring peace and prosperity to the Jews
earth (766-771) for the benefit of the Jews (672-684). Rejoice, O Virgin of Israel (685-687), for wild animals will become tame (688-695). Cosmic portents will presage the judgment (696-808).
809-829 (colophon). The Sibyl came from
2. Book IV (about A.D. 80, for the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 [115-116, 125-127] and the eruption of Vesuvius in August of A.D. 79 [130-136] are clearly mentioned). a. Introduction. The Sibyl is the prophetess of the true God (1-23).
b. Happy are the pious Jews (24-34), for they do not imitate the shameless pagans doomed to the fires of hell (35-46).
c. The history of the world (47-139): the Assyrian (47-53), Medic (54-60), and Persian (61-75) empires; the expedition of Xerxes against the Greeks in 491-490 B.C. (76-70), the eruption of Etna (80-82), the Peloponnesian War or the fighting in 446 B.C. (83-85), the conquests of Alexander (86-101), the Macedonian wars of Rome from 214 to 168 B.C. (102-104), the Roman conquest of Corinth and Carthage in 146 B.C. (105-106), the Laodicean earthquake (107-108), the ruin of Lycian Myra (109-113), Rome's Armenian wars in A.D. 43-6(3 (114), the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (115-127), the earthquake at Salamis and Paphos in Cyprus in A.D. 76 (128-129), the destruction of Pompeii through the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 (130-136), and the return of Nero Redivivus, who was reported to have fled beyond the Euphrates when he died (cf. 119-120), from Parthia (137-139).
Woes against various localities (140-161):
e. Exhortation to repentance (162-170), to avoid the destruction of the world by fire (171-178).
f. The final judgment (179-192). Following the destruction of the world by fire and the resurrection (179-182), God will judge the world again (183-192).
Book V (about A.D. 125). a. The history of
b. Woes on several nations (52-227):
by Nero (137-154)
will be avenged after a comet, appearing in A.D. 73, presages disaster
c. A poem on violence (hy/bris), the fountainhead of evils (228-246).
d. A eulogy of the Jews (247-255, 260-285), interrupted by a Christian interpolation on Jesus Christ: Jesus, whose name is the Greek form of Joshua, was nailed on the cross and, like Joshua, stopped the sun (256-259; cf. Luke ).
e. Woes on several nations (286-343):
f. The end of the world (344-385). God's appearance in power (344--360) cosmic upheavals, the return of Nero redivivus as the Antichrist, the resurrection, and war (361-380) will precede the golden age of the Jews (381-385).
g. A denunciation of Roman immorality
(386-402; cf. 111, 384-386; Rom. -31):
fornication, incest, and commerce with beasts (386-393) have befouled
h. The Messiah (414-433).
A blessed man holding God's scepter has come
from heaven (414-415) to destroy the heathen and glorify
i. Woes on
j. The astral battle (512-530). The various stars and constellations, notably those of the Zodiac, fought furiously (512-527) until heaven hurled them to the earth and into the ocean; "they kindled the whole earth: and the sky remained starless" (528-530).
//end of Part I//