Useful Greek and Roman Quotations

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.

In critical moments even the very powerful have need of the weakest.

It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.

Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)

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Useful Latin Sayings

Ab ovo – from an egg

Ad alta – To the summit

Ad astra – To the stars

Ad libitum – at liberty, at one’s pleasure

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – To the greater glory of God – motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

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Timekeeping in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East

Students of antiquity stumble over important questions. To accept any ancient work such as the Bible as a valid historical document we must understand the basics of daily life in the Bible. It is unfortunate, or exciting depending upon your point of view, that the Bible encompasses over 2,000 years, thousands of square miles and dozens of cultures. Simple questions abound such as “what time of day was Jesus crucified?” While this article will not provide a definitive answer, it will shed light on the question.

Israel

Time was divided into days, weeks, months and years during the Israelite monarchy. During and after the Babylonian exile the Jews adopted the Babylonian system of dividing the daylight period into hours.

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The Benadictines

Ours is a day of self-indulgence, where we are promised to “have it our way” and told “you deserve a break today”.   Famous songs trumpet “I did it my way” and anything and everything, from privacy to health care to “self-expression”, has become a right.  Few would argue for self-denial and some even hold that self-denial is bad and unhealthy.   Abraham Maslow told us that our greatest need was self-actualization, Henry Ford taught us how to make anything faster and cheaper on an assembly line, and we soon discovered that life is really “all about us”. 

Most men and women in history have either been self-indulgent or aspired to it, much like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof sang in “If I were a rich man”. There have been a few, like the Spartans in Greece, who believed that self-discipline and self-denial were valuable, and perhaps even better, than self-indulgence.  Benedict (480-540) was one such man. 

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Restoring Apostate Christians during the Roman Persecutions

Christians had been persecuted in the Roman Empire since the Apostles, but the persecution under Emperors Decius and Valerian was more widespread and severe than before. Simply for bearing the name of Jesus, Christians faced loss of position, confiscation of property, rejection by pagan family members, and even death. Many Christians stood strong in the faith, but many lost their courage under the pressure, denied Christ, and even sacrificed to idols. The Plague of Cyprian, most likely caused by smallpox, created further suffering and confusion. After the death of Decius in 251 the persecution slackened and people who denied Christ expected to be restored to fellowship.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the Pearl of Great Price. Nothing in the universe is as valuable as what the Lord has given those who love Him. People who denied Christ under threat of persecution, and Cyprian suggested that many rushed to deny Him, even without being personally confronted, showed painful contempt for the treasure bought at the highest price, His blood. Their sin was great, and they should not have been easily restored to the church.

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Christian Apology in the Second Century

Contrary to the modern Western usage of the word, apology as first defined by Webster is “a formal spoken or written defense of some idea, religion, philosophy, etc.” By end of the second century AD, Christianity had grown dramatically in the Roman Empire and was clearly differentiated from Judaism, which had lost its place in the Empire as a result of the Great Revolt (66-70 AD), the Kitos War (115-117 AD), and the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 AD). No longer identified with Judaism which shielded Christianity from close Roman scrutiny in the earliest days (Acts 18:12-17), Christianity in the second century was a focus of great attention by non-Christians.

Christians lived differently than their pagan neighbors. They kept to themselves in entertainment, worship, and even some commercial transactions such as purchasing meat sacrificed to idols. They avoided politics. Believers in Christ observed neither the traditional religious practices of the Greek and Roman gods nor the worship of the Emperor. The former made them different, but the later made them potentially treasonous in the eyes of others.

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