The Purpose Behind Jesus

Temptation

https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William J Jackson

We know from our earliest days that there is nothing or no one stronger than God.  This is because He created everything (Genesis 1:1, Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 45:12), both good and bad (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Ecclesiastes 7:13-14). This also means nothing can tempt God, but the theology of the New Testament (NT) opposes this principle.  Why did the NT decide to counter our understanding of God’s word by creating a rival that could challenge the Master of the Universe?  We will discuss the reason behind this and the influences that inspired the new Christian theology.

It started in 332 BCE when Alexander the Great took Israel, this was one of his many conquests.  At this point he ushered in Hellenism1.  Hellenism was a Greek mindset that socially bonded his territories.  This Hellenistic attitude encompassed art, science, philosophy and religion.  In this, two great Greek Philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, brought forward a concept referred to as dualism2.  This thinking meant that everything has a negative and positive contrast.  For example, day was good and night was evil, another example is that spirit is good and matter is evil.   Although this might appear like a simple teaching on the surface it contradicts the Tanakh.  An illustration of this would be the afterlife.  The Tanakh teaches that when we die we spend time in a neutral place called Shoal, in comparison it was the Greeks who created the contrast of Hell.  Dualism comes up short on many principles within the Tanakh, especially when applied to God.  Think about it, the Creator of the Universe doesn’t have an equal adversary.  However the Greeks did find a “work around” and this concept is called synthesis3.

Synthesis was the idea of mixing Greek beliefs with the beliefs of Alexander’s subordinate nations.  In short, it meant you could keep your faith but you had to mix it with the Greek religion.  This was a tactical move by Alexander because it removed the threat of people having to leave their religion, which many are willing to die for, and added the beliefs of Greece.  It would generate social unity with Alexander’s territories, bringing people under a single mindset. However, one big stumbling block here was that the Jews believe exclusively in one God, whereas the Greeks had several gods.  The bonding agent between Greek and Hebrew would be mythology.  In Greek mythology their god was Zeus and he had sons which also became gods or demigods. Often these mortal gods had a virgin birth to prove that Zeus created them as his mortal descendants.

Here the Greeks found a solution for both synthesis and dualism in the Hebrew culture.  They could retain the Jewish God but now added to Him the demigod of Jesus.  Also presented here was the reinforcement of dualism.  Sure God couldn’t be opposed, but His son, who is supposed to also be Him (John 14:6, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Revelation 1:8), can be challenged.  When we break it down it really sounds ridiculous, yet it is a concept that finds its way into three of the Christian gospels (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-12).  Here, after his baptism, Jesus of Nazareth spends 40 days tempted by Satan.  The Christian messiah quotes verses from the Tanakh as retorts to each temptation.  It’s kind of a battle of God’s word against an actual evil god. In the end Jesus is victorious, Hebrews 4:15 assures us that Jesus “…has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (NIV).  The Greeks, through Jesus, found the unique stone that can fuse Greek mythology with Hebrew religion and that can fabricate an opposite to God.  This stone would serve as the corner stone to the Christian religion, (Acts 4:11).

Conclusion

This Greek inclination towards both synthesis and dualism gave birth to a theology that expand to the corners of the world.  As stated in the beginning this was the purpose behind Hellenism.  Compounding this was Paul, one of Christ’s most popular apostle.  He brought in many new teachings through Hellenism that have help to taint the Christianity lens.  A major example of this is Satan being the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Paul along with the Greeks inspired a religion that although might have been very appealing, was in the end inaccurate and misleading.  Let this be a warning to us not to give other books precedence over the Tanakh as we were warned by God (Deuteronomy 4:2, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6).

References

(1) By: Isaac Broydé, Kaufmann Kohler, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, Jewish Encyclopedia

(2) By R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, DUALISM, Jewish Virtual Library

(3) By Lawrence H. Schiffman, Hellenism & Judaism Palestine goes Greek, My Jewish Learning

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