Athens and Jerusalem

Peter Green

in The Shadow of the Parthenon

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255074
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934719 | DOI:
Athens and Jerusalem

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This chapter examines one of Christianity's thorniest historical dilemmas, which was summed up in the great rhetorical question posed by Tertullian: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, what the Academy with the Church?”. It opines that it is ironic that the dissemination of Christ's kerygma beyond mere local ethnic and linguistic frontiers should have been made possible only by international Greek culture and the imperial administration of Rome, since Graeco-Roman culture (whatever Christian humanists may say) was fundamentally opposed to the entire concept of Christianity as such. Thus the immediate successors to the Apostles found themselves in a highly ambivalent position. The chapter explains that if they were to spread the Gospel message effectively, they would have no option but to borrow wholesale from the philosophy, literature, and rhetorical techniques of a pagan culture which they were committed to destroy.

Keywords: Tertullian; Athens; Jerusalem; Academy; Church; Christ's kerygma; Graeco-Roman culture; Christianity; Apostles; Gospel

Chapter.  11146 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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