Lesson 7 Study Notes

  • Well, friends, this is my last lesson on Alexander the Great. In this lesson, I want to do more than just review everything that we have covered to date. Rather, I would like to explore what the impact and overall influence that his life and empire has had on the history of Western civilization in general, but the history of the Christian Church in particular. I want to look at how Hellenism, which is a product of Alexander the Great, influenced the worldview of the Church and some of its basic doctrines like Universalism or One World Philosophy, and even the idea that a human could be the offspring of a God or Divine Father and a human mother.
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This and much more will be covered in this final lesson. So let's get started. I would like to begin with the impact of Alexander the Great on Western civilization and the New Testament Church. Friends, the legacy of Alexander the Great extends far beyond his military conquests, deeply influencing the course of Western civilization and the development of the New Testament Church. His vision of a unified world under the banner of Hellenism reshaped cultures, religions, and societies across the territories he conquered. This essay or lesson explores the profound impact of Alexander's life on Western history, the integration of Hellenism into Jewish religion

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during the intertestamental period, and the role of his successors in shaping subsequent empires, including their influence on the Roman Empire and early Christianity. So let's begin with Hellenism

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and Alexander's divine heritage. Alexander the Great's conquests spread Greek culture and ideas throughout the known world, a process known as Hellenization. This cultural diffusion led to the widespread adoption of Greek language, art, architecture, and philosophy, creating a more cohesive and interconnected world. The one-world philosophy of Hellenism aimed to blend the diverse cultures within Alexander's

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empire into a single, unified civilization. This cultural synthesis laid the groundwork for many aspects of Western civilization, from philosophy and science to literature and governance. A significant aspect of Alexander's legacy was the belief in his divine parentage. Many contemporaries and later admirers believe that Alexander was the son of Zeus and an earthly mother, Olympias. This belief not only reinforced his authority, but also contributed to the perception of divine kingship, which had a The concept of a divine-human hybrid might have influenced early Christian narratives,

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particularly the birth narrative of Jesus, where divine intervention plays a crucial role. Let's look now at Hellenism and the Jewish religion. The period between the Old and New Testaments, known as the Intertestamental Period, was marked by significant Hellenistic influence on Jewish religion and culture. Following Alexander's conquest, many Jews found themselves under Hellenistic rule, particularly

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particularly in regions governed by the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. This period saw a tension between traditional Jewish practices and the encroaching Hellenistic culture, leading to a series of cultural and religious adaptations. The translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, the Septuagint, is one of the most notable outcomes of this Hellenistic influence. The spread of Greek as the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean facilitated broader access to Jewish scriptures and ideas, influencing both Jewish and early Christian thought.

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However, this period also saw significant conflict, such as the Maccabean Revolt against Hellenistic oppression, which underscored the complexities of cultural integration and resistance. For a quick moment now, let's take a look at the successors of Alexander and their influence. Upon Alexander's death in 323 BCE, his vast empire was divided among his generals, leading to the establishment of several Hellenistic kingdoms,

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Seleucid Empire, the Ptolemaic Kingdom, and the Antigonid Dynasty. These successor states continued to promote Hellenistic culture while also engaging in constant warfare and political intrigue. The Seleucid Empire, founded by Seleucus I, controlled the vast territory stretching from the Mediterranean to India. Its influence on Jewish history was profound, particularly under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, whose attempts to impose Hellenistic practices on the Jews sparked the Maccabean Revolt. The Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, founded by Ptolemy I, became a center of learning and culture, epitomized by the great Library of Alexandria. This intellectual

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hub played a crucial role in preserving and transmitting Greek knowledge to later generations, including the Romans. These Hellenistic kingdoms, with their blend of Greek and local cultures, set the stage for the rise of the Roman Empire. The Roman adoption of many Hellenistic practices, from art and architecture to governance and philosophy, was facilitated by the groundwork laid by Alexander and his successors. This cultural continuity ensured that Hellenistic ideas would continue to shape the Western world long after the fall of these kingdoms. Consider, if you will, the impact of Hellenism and Alexander the Great on the New Testament Church. The spread of

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Hellenistic culture and language also had a profound impact on the early Christian Church. The New Testament itself was written in Greek, the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean, which facilitated the spread of Christian ideas across diverse regions. Hellenistic philosophical concepts such as the Logos were integrated into Christian theology, providing a bridge between Jewish religious traditions and the broader Greco-Roman intellectual world. The cultural and political landscape shaped

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by Alexander's conquest provided the context in which Christianity emerged and spread. The roads and cities built under Hellenistic and later Roman influence, the common language, and the philosophical ideas all contributed to the rapid dissemination of Christian teachings. And now our conclusion. Alexander the Great's conquest and the subsequent spread of Hellenism had a lasting impact on Western civilization and the development of the New Testament Church. His vision of a unified world under Greek culture set the

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 stage for centuries of cultural and intellectual exchange. The integration of Hellenistic ideas into Jewish religion during the intertestamental period, the influences of his successors, and the Hellenistic context of early Christianity, all highlight the profound and enduring legacy of Alexander's life and conquests. His influence is a testament to the enduring power of cultural synthesis and the far-reaching His influence is a testament to the enduring power of cultural synthesis and the far-reaching impact of visionary leadership.
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