Hellenization After Alexander – What was it, and Why Did it Matter?

When conquerors want to subdue a foe, they crush their armies. If they want to rule a conquered land, however, they must displace the culture of that land. Alexander the Great knew this, and as he wanted an empire that would outlive him, he needed to displace conquered cultures with his own. This was especially urgent to him due to the diversity of his empire, including Assyrians, Jews, Egyptians, Persians, Parthians, Armenians, and a host of others. Hellenism is Greek culture, and is the primary weapon, even more than his armies, that Alexander used to influence Middle Eastern and European history for millennia.

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The Intertestamental Period – Where Do We Get Our Knowledge?

Knowledge is very important in all fields, but derives from different sources. One can know science by observation and experimentation since physical phenomena are perceivable by the senses and repeatable. Historical events, however, are not repeatable and so persons of later eras must rely on written records and on artifacts from earlier eras if they wish to understand them. The best understanding usually comes from a combination of sources.

The first major source of information about the intertestamental period is the Bible. Culture doesn’t change overnight, and so many of the lifestyles and opinions found in the late Old Testament persisted until and even through the intertestamental period. Lifestyles and practices we find in the New Testament are likely to be similar to those preceding it, especially in an age when change was far slower than in modern times. One can trace the postexilic reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah to the teachings of the Hasidim and then to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

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