Things in common, or not?
by Skip Moen, D. Phil.
Read above (click on the Skip link) then read below… Remember context…
Things in common, or not? It’s an interesting question and the depth of the answer takes us down a rather deep rabbit hole. Yet this hole is unavoidable for us so we must deal with it. I hope most of you understand what an amalgam is, if not then time to learn. The real question is are we supposed to be an amalgam, a mixture of cultures? Are there any examples or warnings that cause us to question? IF you are of the understanding that, those things apply to them but not to us, then we part ways. Good (tov) and Evil (ra) does not change, as in God does not change. Tov and Ra stay the same, yet even in our own lifetimes good/evil has taken on many changes. This is not a debate, just a point to ponder. Tov and Ra belong to YHVH, those are his terms and the definitions of such are His. HE does not change and by extension what he says/decrees does not change. What challenges us is how that is understood in a Hebrew vs. Greek base of understanding.
Paul was Hebrew, not much debate there. Our challenge is, did Paul give up on his Hebraic roots to embrace and take on the Greek mindset and culture in his letters/teachings? Yes, Paul lived/served in the world outside of the Land of Israel for his ministry as he searched for the lost sheep. Those sheep had embedded themselves in the various cultural locations that they had been moved to/settled. Yet does Paul tell them to let go of their “Hebrew roots” and embrace new or that they should return (teshuva) to the ways of YHVH?
So they are in a culture not their own (BTW, they are there because of the consequences of their forefathers) and so need to be drawn out.
Alexander has an empire to run, and needs it to run smoothly. So if they (the various “gods” (religions) can just get along, and of course pay their taxes or make their obligatory purchases, then all would be good (there is that word again). So why not mix the thoughts together, take the points of each to keep the empire together, syncretize the religions and make it work.
So do you think this sat well with Paul? Hellenism had already started to make its impressions in the Hebraic culture back home but was taking a much more radical turn out in the diaspora. So did Paul really give in? You might want to rethink your position on that…