The phrase “it’s all Greek to me” is an American phrase [possibly reaching farther than just America] that means a person who does not understand. When Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world, they too, were without linguistic understanding. The Greek conquest so shook the world that many had no other choice than to adapt and conform to the Greeks in language, mannerism and religious celebrations. Even the Romans that came behind them adhered to the same celebrations, mostly, due to the fact they were celebrating the same gods and goddesses under differing names.
The question in my mind? How Godly or Greek are the attitudes and actions of the people today? Has this generation fallen victim to the same deception? Let’s take a walk back in time while weighing it against our present, to find out.
Heron of Alexandria /ˈhɛrən/; c. 10 AD – c. 70 AD, was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Egypt. For the math nerds reading this post, grab something, this dude was incredibly smart. In solid geometry, the ‘Heronian mean’ may be used in finding the volume of a frustum of a pyramid or cone. He also devised a method for calculating cube roots.
Hero described a method (now known as Heron’s method), for iteratively computing the square root of a number. Today, however, his name is most closely associated with Heron’s formula for finding the area of a triangle from its side lengths. He designed a shortest path algorithm, that is, given two points A and B on one side of a line, find C a point on the straight line that minimizes AC+BC.
While math and science love them some Heronian, so does the church. Heron invented a steam-powered engine, called the aeolipile, a wind wheel, a vending machine and even the pantograph. He was experimenting with other steam-powered devices as well. One of his inventions automatically opening temple doors, powered by a fire altar and a hydraulic system.
The idea was, that temple doors should open automatically when a fire is lit and close again, when the fire distinguishes. By lighting the fire above ground in an altar in front of the temple, heat would form and build up pressure into a soldered vessel beneath the temple. The liquid within the vessel (probably water, but Heron also thought about quicksilver) would get pushed through a hose into another vessel hanging from the ceiling and connected to the underground doorposts of the temple doors.
By the added weight, the second vessel would pull the ropes attached to the door posts and the doors would open “magically” for the spectators. When the fire extinguishes and the heat passes, the liquid would get sucked back into the first vessel, the second vessel would become lighter and the well-balanced counter-weight would pull in the other direction to close the doors.
- Drachmann, Aage Gerhardt (1963). The Mechanical Technology of Greek and Roman Antiquity: A Study of the Literary Sources. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
- Hero of Alexandria (1851). “Temple Doors opened by Fire on an Altar”. Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria. Bennet Woodcroft (trans.). London: Taylor Walton and Maberly.
The History Channel even documents this invention in their top ten most influential machines for all of mankind! So now, you got to be asking yourself…. why? Why would they want the doors to open “magically” for the spectators? Look again at the time frame in which Heron lived. Look at the city in which he lived. Connecting any dots?
Acts 6:8-10 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”
These sects of Judaism were prevalent throughout the now Roman conquered world. Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in classical antiquity that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture. This is exactly what God told His people to NOT fall victim. What may have gotten them beguiled was the fact they were the ones conquered and not the one conquering like their forefathers.
Exodus 34:14-16 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.”
I am hoping some of the puzzle pieces are coming together…..
This is the epicenter of the early church as established by the Apostles and the Gospel explosion. This is the time where Paul is traveling (or eluding) the known world. This is the time described in the Book of Acts, all of Paul’s letters, John’s letters and his vision as told to him by Christ. The stoning of Steven is a direct result of the corrupted Hellenistic church. It is also where Clement, Eusebius and a whole host of Byzantine priests join these flawed Pharisees to create the foundation Roman Catholic Church. (for more on this see the series Fracturing the Faith on this website)
The major literary product of the confluence of Second Temple Judaism and Hellenistic culture is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic to Koine Greek, specifically, Jewish Koine Greek.
For those that may have missed that….. your “New Testament” was not originally written in Greek! It was fully written in Hebrew and then translated in Greek. Why? To introduce Hellenistic thoughts?? History tells us “The decline of Hellenistic Judaism started in the second century and its causes are still not fully understood. It may be that it was eventually marginalized by, partially absorbed into or became progressively the Koine-speaking core of Early Christianity centered on Antioch and its traditions, such as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.”
What I want you to do now is to imagine yourself in one of these cities. Where there are these magnificent pieces of architecture [temples, graves, statues] and each is dedicated to a different god or goddess. The temples would have had priests that were all competing for you, your homage and your purse. I can see the conversation between the priest and Heron one afternoon going a little like this…..
“Heron, I am having troubles with the confessional and attendance. The protocol is to confess and receive a cup of holy water; wash then pray and leave a coin on the alter. Too many people come when I am gone for dinner or at night and they have no access to the water and I get no coin”
Herons first invention was a product that we still use today. A vending machine.
The vending machine that Heron invented was a device to dispense holy water. To use it, a worshipper had to insert a coin through a slot. The coin dropped onto a tray that was connected to a lever. The weight of the coin opened a valve that let the water of a certain quantity flow out. The coin slid off the tray, and, with the aid of weight, the lever snapped back into place. Thereafter, it is ready for the next worshipper seeking divine favor.
Once that parlor trick wore off Heron provided other ‘magical’ devices, as did Archimedes, Philo of Byzantium and many many more. Each of these gimmicks were designed to pull people off the streets and into the parlor of the church. The automated door added the embodiment of sorcery to the skills of the priest thereby “receiving the spirit of the god” through this opening to the public. “He must be the right one, this must be the right place look at all his power.”
In Alexandria the goddess was Artemis while in Ephesus the same was worshipped as Diana. Look at the exchange between Paul and the Ephesians. Acts 19:8-9 “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers [differing opinions] were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”
The presumption by historians is that Tyrannus himself was a Greek, and a public teacher of philosophy or rhetoric. This was a very widely held practice in the Greek world for 400 years as established by Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. Acts 19 continues and tells us the reason for the pagan parlor tricks…
- v17..”And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
- v26..”Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands”
Paul addresses the Galatians …”O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
Why would Paul use the word bewitched? Because he knew full well of the these pagan parlor games. The Galatians were now suckers for the ‘midway of missionaries’ on the streets of the first century cities, as well as the streets of today.
I recall my own journey into the modern day church. Week one was introductions and figuring out where to go. Week two was “are you interested in digging deeper?” and finding a Sunday School class. Week three was a literal “orientation” class on church doctrine held after the Sunday morning service. Week four was employment decisions, did I want to be a greeter at the door or drive the church bus. I went with the lesser of liabilities and began my short stint as the magic door opener.
After thousands of years and millions of locations, the doors still open magically and no-one questions why. Acts 8:9-11 “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.”
How long have you been giving these pagan practices regard? How many have become your tradition?
- Sunday Sun-god worship
- Christmas (birth of the sun-gods)
- Easter (celebration of the Queen of Heaven fallen from Jupiter)
- St.”whomever” and not the Creator
Knowing what you know now…. is your 501(c)3/Sunday church Godly? or is it really Greek?
I pray these words from the Scriptures for those claiming the faith of the Bible…. “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” Acts 19:20 May the the Word of God grow in you mightily and may His will/commands prevail in your life.