The Greco-Roman World

Home > NT Biblical Studies Articles > The Greco-Roman World
  • File

    Ascough, Richard S.

     (166K)

    Greco-Roman Philosophic, Religious, and Voluntary Associations

    "Voluntary associations in the Greco-Roman world have a long history, going back at least to the laws of Solon in sixth-century B.C.E. Athens. Such associations continued to grow through the classical period and were flourishing in the Hellenistic period. During the first century C.E. their presence was felt throughout the entire Roman Empire in cities and villages alike—although, of course, there is considerably more attestation for associations in urban centers than in rural areas. A variety of extant sources attest to various voluntary associations in antiquity."
  • File

    Bonz, Marianne

     (155K)

    Religion in the Roman World

    "Early Christian preachers such as the Apostle Paul brought the gospel about Jesus Christ to an empire already crammed full of deities. The citizens of the Roman empire and, within certain limits, even its rulers were extremely tolerant of foreign gods. The oldest and most accepted group of foreign deities were the gods of ancient Greece. These gods had made their home in the Roman world at an early time, along with Greek art and literature. Some of these Greek gods shared Roman names and acquired some Roman characteristics. But many others were simply accepted as they were."
  • File

    Grant, Robert M.

     (91K)

    "The Graeco-Roman World", Chapter 17 of A Historical Introduction to the New Testament

    "It is obvious that in dealing with the Graeco-Roman world at the time when Christianity came into existence our problem is not to obtain sufficient materials for study but to make some kind of selection from these materials. We can discuss only those matters which seem to possess fairly immediate relevance to Christian origins. We shall therefore limit our discussion to those aspects of Graeco-Roman life which bear directly, or almost directly, upon our subject."
  • File

    Hock, Ronald F.

     (102K)

    Writing in the Greco-Roman World

    "The skills and techniques that are necessary to be able to write any number of genres are taught in every educational system. Education in the Greco-Roman world was no different, though perhaps it did so with a rigor and thoroughness that would surprise those who are familiar only with current methods of teaching writing. Writing was also central to Greco-Roman education, at least in the latter stages of the curricular sequence. Just when and how writing was taught will be the burden of the following discussion of Greco-Roman education."
  • File

    Lameter, Christoph

     (131K)

    The Graeco-Roman and Jewish Context of the New Testament

    "The context of the New Testament has always been under extreme scrutiny. The opinions about the influence of the Hellenistic and Hebrew culture and worldview on the New Testament have shifted back and forth over the last centuries. In nineteenth and the beginning of this century we had a very strong emphasis on the dominating presence of the elements of the Graeco-Roman worldview in the New Testament. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the fifties of this century opinions shifted to the other extreme by viewing the New Testament predominantly under the influence of Jewish ways of thinking. Lately there seems to be more balance in the views propagated and it is widely acknowledged that both cultures have in different ways affected the formation of the New Testament and its theology."
  • File

    Levine, Lee I.

     (530K)

    "Hellenism and the Jewish World of Antiquity", Chapter 1 of Judaism and Hellenism in Antiquity: Conflict or Confluence?

    "One of th emost engaging and productive areas of research in the modern study of Jewish history in antiquity is the issue of Hellenization. In attempting to legitimize the scientific study of Jewish topics, nineteenth-century scholars often highlighted phenomena common to Jews and their surrounding society. Only in the twentieth century, however, has this field become central to the concerns of both Jewish and Christian scholars."
  • File

    Nash, Ronald

     (226K)

    Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?

    "During the first half of the twentieth century, a number of liberal authors and professors claimed that the New Testament teaching about Jesus' death and resurrection, the New Birth, and the Christian practices of baptism and the Lord's Supper were derived from the pagan mystery religions. Of major concern in all this is the charge that the New Testament doctrine of salvation parallels themes commonly found in the mystery religions: a savior-god dies violently for those he will eventually deliver, after which that god is restored to life. Was the New Testament influenced by the pagan religions of the first century A.D.? Even though I surveyed this matter in a 1992 book, the issues are so important - especially for Christian college students who often do not know where to look for answers - that there is considerable merit in addressing this question in a popular, nontechnical format."
  • File

    Oakley, H. Carey

     (192K)

    The Greek and Roman Background of the New Testament

    "In this brief sketch of the Greek and Roman background of the New Testament, we shall consider, first, the external world in which Christianity grew up―the world of the Roman Empire; and, secondly, the religious and philosophical ideas that were current in that world."
  • File

    Skarsaune, Oskar

     (367K)

    "The Cultural Dimension: Judaism and Hellenism", Chapter 1 of In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity

    "Modern Christians in general assume that the Judaism that was the mother soil of Jesus, the apostles and the earliest Christian communities was the Judaism Christians know from the Bible...This assumption is fundamentally misleading, and many phenomena in the New Testament and the early church are not properly understood unless this assumption is corrected. To put it briefly: Some very important things happened to Judaism and the Jewish people in the period 'between the Testaments,' and these are essential for understanding the origin of the Jesus movement and the early church."
  • File

    Tabor, James D.

     (85K)

    The Christians as the Romans Saw Them

    "The following are the earliest references to the Christians from non-Jewish sources. Most of them are from the beginning of the 2nd century C.E. What they reveal in terms of attitude and content is most fascinating. For a full treatment and discussion see the book by Robert Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (Yale University Press, 1986)."
  • File

    Tabor, James D.

     (134K)

    The Roman World of Jesus: An Overview

    "The Hellenistic/Roman world of Jesus is a fascinating one, but unfortunately, more often than not, it is largely ignored by students of the New Testament and Christian Origins. It is important to become familiar with the political, social, cultural, and religious ideas and realities of this wider Mediterranean context. Even Judaism, as particular and different as it was from other religions of the time, can only properly be understood as set against this broad background. This is even more the case in trying to come to an understanding of Jesus as a Jew in Palestine in his time, but also a subject of the mighty Roman Empire."
  • File

    Winter, Bruce W.

     (114K)

    You Were What You Wore in Roman Law: Deciphering the Dress Codes of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

    "One unique aspect of the first century is the extent to which Roman law, including criminal law, undergirded all aspects of society. This phenomenon was peculiar to that empire, and Roman legal historians contend that it was never replicated to the same extent in subsequent civilizations. That being the case, one would expect that conventions concerning various spheres of life as well as appropriate dress codes would have been reflected in Roman law. In The Digest that codified Roman law and its interpretation, Roman legislators and jurists made rulings based on the premise that in the society of their day 'you were what you wore.' This applied equally to men and women in daily life."