The influence of Greek ideas and usages upon the Christian church - PDF book by Edwin Hatch

The influence of Greek ideas and usages upon the Christian church

The influence of Greek ideas and usages upon the Christian church



Edwin Warren Hatch was an English theologian. He is best known as the author of the book Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages Upon the Christian Church, which was based on the lectures he presented during the 1888 Hibbert Lectures and which were edited and published following his death.

From Preface: 

The Hibbert Trustees cannot add this volume to their series without a few lines of grateful acknowledgement. It is impossible to forget either the courteous readiness with which the accomplished author undertook the task originally or the admirable qualities he brought to it. When he died without completing the MS. for the press, the anxiety of the Trustees was at once relieved by the kind effort of his family to obtain adequate assistance. 

The public will learn from the Preface how much had to be done and will join the Trustees in grateful appreciation of the services of the gentlemen who responded to the occasion. That Dr Hatch’s friend, Dr Fairbairn, consented to edit the volume, with the valuable aid of Mr Bartlet and Professor Sanday, was an ample pledge that the want would be most efficiently met. 

To those gentlemen, the Trustees are greatly indebted for the learned and earnest care with which the laborious revision was made,

Contents of essays :


Lecture I: introductory -- The problem: -- How the church passed from the sermon on the mount to the Nicene creed; the change in spirit coincident with a change in soil -- The need of caution: two preliminary considerations -- 1. A religion relative to the whole mental attitude of an age: hence need to estimate the general attitude of the Greek mind during the first three centuries A.D. -- 2. Every permanent change in religious belief and usage rooted in historical conditions: roots of the gospel in Judaism, but of fourth-century Christianity -- the key to historical -- in Hellenism -- The method: -- Evidence as to process of change scanty, but ample and representative as to ante-Nicene Greek thought and post-Nicene Christian thought -- Respects in which evidence defective -- Two resulting tendencies: 1. To overrate the value of the surviving evidence -- 2. To under-estimate opinions no longer accessible or known only through opponents -- Hence method, the correlation of antecedents and consequents -- Antecedents: a sketch of the phenomena of Hellenism -- Consequents: changes in original Christian ideas and usages -- Attitude of mind required -- 1. The demand upon attention and imagination -- 2. Personal prepossessions to be allowed for -- 3. Need to observe under-currents, e.g. -- (a) The dualistic hypothesis, it is bearing on baptism and exorcism -- (b) The nature of religion, e.g. its relation to conscience -- History as scientific study: the true apologia in religion -- Lecture II: Greek education -- The first step a study of the environment, particularly as literary -- The contemporary Greek world an educated world in a special literary sense


I. Its forms varied, but all literary: -- Grammar -- Rhetoric -- A "lecture room" philosophy -- II. Its influence is shown by: -- 1. Direct literary evidence -- 2. The recognized and lucrative position of the teaching profession -- 3. Social position of its professors -- 4. Its persistent survival up to today in general education, in special terms and usages -- Into such an artificial habit of mind, Christianity came -- Lecture III. Greek and Christian exegesis -- To the Greek the mystery of writing, the reverence for antiquity, the belief in inspiration, gave the ancient poets a unique value -- Homer, his place in moral education; used by the Sophists in ethics, physics, metaphysics, &c. -- Apologies for this use culminate in allegory, especially among the Stoics -- The allegoric temper widespread, particularly in things religious -- Adopted by Hellenistic Jews, especially at Alexandria; Philo -- Continued by early Christian exegesis in varied schools, chiefly as regards the prophets, in harmony with Greek thought, and as a mainline of apologetic -- Application to the New Testament writings by the Gnostics and the Alexandrines -- Its aid as the solution of the old testament problem, especially in Origen -- Reactions both Hellenic and Christian: viz. in -- 1. The apologists' polemic against Greek mythology -- 2. The philosophers' polemic against Christianity -- 3. Certain Christian schools, especially the Antiochene -- Here hampered by dogmatic complications -- Use and abuse of allegory -- the poetry of life -- Alien to certain drifts of the modern spirit, viz. -- 1. Historic handling of literature -- 2. Recognition of the living voice of God -- Lecture IV. Greek and Christian rhetoric -- The period one of widely diffused literary culture -- The rhetorical schools, old and new -- Sophistic largely pursued the old lines of rhetoric but also philosophized and preached professionally -- Its manner of discourse; its rewards -- Objections of earnest men; reaction led by stoics like Epictetus -- Significance for Christianity -- Primitive Christian "prophesying" v. later "preaching"


Preaching of composite origin: its essence and form, e.g. in the fourth century, A.D.: preachers sometimes itinerant -- Summary and conclusions -- Lecture V. Christianity and Greek philosophy -- Abstract ideas among the Greeks, who were hardly aware of the different degrees of precision in mathematics and philosophy -- Tendency to define strong with them, apart from any criterion; hence dogmas -- Dogmatism, amid the decay of originality: reaction towards doubt; yet dogmatism regnant -- "Palestinian philosophy," a complete contrast -- Fusion of these in the old catholic church achieved through an underlying kinship of ideas -- Explanations of this from both sides -- Philosophical Judaism as abridge, e.g., in allegorism and cosmology -- Christian philosophy partly apologetic, partly speculative -- Alarm of conservatives: the second century one of transition and conflict -- The issue, compromise, and a certain habit of mind -- the Summary answer to the main question -- The Greek mind seen in: -- 1. The tendency to define -- 2. The tendency to speculate -- 3. The point of emphasis, i.e. orthodoxy -- Further development in the west -- But Greece the source of the true damnosa hereditas -- Lecture VI. Greek and Christian ethics -- The average morality of the age: its moral philosophy -- An age of moral reformation -- 1. Relation of ethics to philosophy and life -- Revived practial bent of stoicism; Epictetus -- A moral gymnastic cultivated -- (1) Askesis: Philo, Epictetus, Dio Chrysostom -- (2) The ''philosopher'' or moral reformer -- 2. The contents of ethical teaching, marked by a religious reference -- Epictetus' two maxims, ''follow nature'', ''follow God'' -- Christian ethics show agreement amid difference; based upon the divine command; idea of sin; agreement most emphasized at first, i.e. the importance of conduct -- 1. Tone of earliest Christian writings: the ''two ways'' -- Apostolic constitutions, Bk. i. -- 2. Place of discipline in Christian life: Puritan ideal v. later corpus permixtum -- Further developments due to Greece: -- 1. A church within the church: Askesis, monasticism -- 2. Resulting deterioration of average ethics: Ambrose of Milan -- Complete victory of Greek ethics seen in the basis of modern society


Lecture VII. Greek and Christian theology -- I. The creator -- The idea of one God, begotten of the unity and order of the world, and connected with the ideas of personality and mind -- Three elements in the idea -- Creator, moral governor, absolute being -- Growth of idea of a beginning: monism and dualism -- 1. The monism of the stoics: Natura , natural and naturans: a beginning not necessarily involved -- 2. Dualism, platonic: creation recognized -- Syncretistic blending of these as to process: logos idea common -- Hence Philo's significance: God as Creator: monistic and dualistic aspects -- His terms for the forces in their plurality and unity: after all, God is creator, even Father, of the world -- Early Christian idea of a single supreme artificer took permanent root; but questions as to mode emerged, and the first answers were tentative -- 1. Evolutional type -- supplemented by idea of a lapse -- 2. Creational type accepted -- There remained: -- (i.) The ultimate relation of matter to God: dualistic solutions: Basilides' platonic theory the basis of later doctrine, though not at once recognized -- (ii.) The creator's contact with matter: medication hypothesis: the logos solution -- (iii.) Imperfection and evil: monistic and dualistic answers, especially Marcion's -- But the divine unity overcomes all: position of Irenaeus, &c., widely accepted: Origen's cosmogony a theodicy -- Prevalence of the simper view seen in monarchianism -- Results -- Lecture VIII. Greek and Christian theology -- II. The moral governor -- A. The Greek idea -- 1. Unity of God and unity of the world: will and order -- Order, number, necessity and destiny: intelligent force and law -- The cosmos as a city-state -- 2. New conceptions of the divine nature: justice and goodness in connection with providence, and a tendency to synthesis -- Through two stages -- In the use of the term God -- 3. The problem of evil emerges: attempts at solution -- (a) Universality of providence denied (Platonic and oriental) -- (b) Reality of apparent evils denied (Stoic) -- (c) Theory of human freedom -- Its relation to universality of providence: the stoical theodicy exemplified in Epictetus -- B. The Christian idea -- Primitive Christianity a contrast: two main conceptions


1. Wages for work done -- 2. Positive law -- God a lawgiver and judge -- Difficulties in fusing the two types -- (i.) Forgiveness and law -- Marcion's ditheism -- Solution in Irenaeus, Tertullian, &c.: result -- (ii.) The moral governor and free-will -- Marcion's dualistic view of moral evil -- Justin Martyr, Tatian, Irenaeus -- Tertullian and the Alexandrines -- Origen's comprehensive theodicy by aid of Stoicism and Neo-Platonism -- Lecture IX. Greek and Christian theology -- III. God as the supreme being -- Christian theology shaped by Greece, though on a Jewish basis -- A. The idea and its development in Greek philosophy -- Parallel to Christian speculation in three stages -- 1. Transcendence of God -- History of the idea before and after Plato -- Its two forms, transcendent proper and supra-cosmic -- Blending with religious feeling, e.g. in Philo -- 2. The revelation of the transcendent -- Through intermediaries: -- (i.) Mythological -- (ii.) Philosophical, e.g. in Philo -- 3. Distinctions in the nature of God -- Philo's logos -- Conceived both monastically and dualistically in relation to God -- But especially under the metaphor of generation -- B. The idea and its development in Christian theology -- 1. Here the idea of transcendence is at first absent -- Present in the apologists -- But God as transcendent (v. supra-cosmic) first emphasized by Basilides and the Alexandrines -- 2. Mediation ( = Revelation) of the transcendent, a vital problem -- Theories of modal manifestation -- Dominant idea that of modal existence: -- (i.) As manifold: so among certain Gnostics -- (ii.) As constituting a unity -- Its Gnostic forms -- Relation of the logoi to the logos, especially in Justin -- The issue is the logos doctrine of Irenaeus -- 3. Distinctions in the nature of God based on the logos -- (i.) Theories as to the genesis of the Logos, analogous to those as to the world -- Theories guarding the ''sole monarchy,'' thus endangered, culminate in Origen's idea of eternal generation -- (ii.) Theories of the nature of the logos determines by either the supra-cosmic or transcendental idea of God -- Origen marks a stage -- and but a stage -- in the controversies -- Greek elements in the subsequent developments -- Ousia; its history -- Difficulty felt in applying it to God -- As also with homoousios: need of another term -- Hypostasis: its history -- Comes to need definition by a third term -- Resumé of the use of these terms; the reign of dogmatist -- Three underlying assumptions -- a legacy of the Greek spirit -- 1. The importance of metaphysical distinctions -- 2. Their absolute truth -- 3. The nature of God's perfection

Includes bibliographical references and index

The book details :
  • Author:  Edwin Hatch
  • Publication date:1892
  • Company: London, Edinburgh, Williams and Norgate

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