Hellenistic Judaism

Hellenistic JewishHellenized JewsHellenisticHellenistic JewsGreek-speaking JewsHellenised JewsHellenistic JewHellenizersJudaismHellenistic Judaic
Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in classical antiquity that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture.wikipedia
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Judaism

JewishJewsJew
Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in classical antiquity that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture.
Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations.

Antioch

Syrian AntiochAntioch ad Orontesthe city
Until the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the early Muslim conquests of the eastern Mediterranean, the main centers of Hellenistic Judaism were Alexandria, Egypt and Antioch (now in southern Turkey), the two main Greek urban settlements of the Middle East and North Africa area, both founded at the end of the fourth century BCE in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Some historians believe that a sizeable proportion of the Hellenized Jewish communities of Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the "Melkite" (or "Imperial") Hellenistic churches of the MENA area: "As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria."
It was also the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period.

Second Temple Judaism

Second Temple periodJudaismSecond Temple
The major literary product of the contact 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 Koiné Greek.
Hellenistic, 333–164 BCE

Jewish Koine Greek

Jewish KoineGreek-speaking
The major literary product of the contact 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 Koiné Greek.
Jewish Koine Greek, or Jewish Hellenistic Greek, is the variety of Koine Greek or "common Attic" found in a number of Alexandrian dialect texts of Hellenistic Judaism, most notably in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible and associated literature, as well as in Greek Jewish texts from Palestine.

Septuagint

GreekLXXGreek versions
The major literary product of the contact 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 Koiné Greek.
The translation process of the Septuagint itself and from the Septuagint into other versions can be broken down into several distinct stages, during which the social milieu of the translators shifted from Hellenistic Judaism to Early Christianity.

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch

AntiochGreek OrthodoxAntiochian Orthodox
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.
Hellenistic Judaism and the Judeo-Greek "wisdom" literature popular in the late Second Temple era amongst both Hellenized Rabbinical Jews (known as Mityavnim in Hebrew) and gentile Greek proselyte converts to mainstream Judaism played an important part in the formation of the Melkite-Antiochian Greek Orthodox tradition.

Philo

Philo of AlexandriaPhilo JudaeusPhilo Judaeus of Alexandria
Mentionable are also the philosophic and ethical treatises of Philo and the historiographical works of the other Hellenistic Jewish authors.
20 BCE), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.

Biblical Aramaic

AramaicBAChaldaic
The major literary product of the contact 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 Koiné Greek.
Biblical Hebrew was gradually reduced to the status of a liturgical language and a language of theological learning, and the Jews of the Second Temple period would have spoken a western form of Old Aramaic until their partial Hellenization from the 3rd century BCE and the eventual emergence of Middle Aramaic in the 3rd century CE.

Logos

λόγοςWordWord of God
Consequently, Hellenistic Judaism emphasized monotheistic doctrine (heis theos), and represented reason (logos) and wisdom (sophia) as emanations from God.
Within Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria (c.

God-fearer

godfearersGod-fearingGod-fearing man
The Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles report that, after his initial focus on the conversion of Hellenized Jews across Anatolia, Macedonia, Thrace and Northern Syria without criticizing their laws and traditions, Paul the Apostle eventually preferred to evangelize communities of Greek and Macedonian proselytes and Godfearers, or Greek circles sympathetic to Judaism: the Apostolic Decree allowing converts to forego circumcision made Christianity a more attractive option for interested pagans than Rabbinic Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts (see Brit milah).
God-fearers (, Phoboumenos ton Theon) or God-worshipers (, Theosebes) were a numerous class of gentile sympathizers to Hellenistic Judaism that existed in the Greco-Roman world, which observed certain Jewish religious rites and traditions without becoming full converts to Judaism.

Early Christianity

early Christianearly churchearly Christians
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. Both Early Christianity and Early Rabbinical Judaism were far less 'orthodox' and less theologically homogeneous than they are today; and both were significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion and borrowed allegories and concepts from Classical Hellenistic philosophy and the works of Greek-speaking Jewish authors of the end of the Second Temple period before the two schools of thought eventually affirmed their respective 'norms' and doctrines, notably by diverging increasingly on key issues such as the status of 'purity laws', the validity of Judeo-Christian messianic beliefs, and, more importantly, the use of Koiné Greek and Latin as liturgical languages replacing Biblical Hebrew ...etc.
The term "Logos" was used in Greek philosophy (see Heraclitus) and in Hellenistic Jewish religious writing (see Philo Judaeus of Alexandria) to mean the ultimate ordering principle of the universe.

Paul the Apostle

PaulSaint PaulSt. Paul
The Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles report that, after his initial focus on the conversion of Hellenized Jews across Anatolia, Macedonia, Thrace and Northern Syria without criticizing their laws and traditions, Paul the Apostle eventually preferred to evangelize communities of Greek and Macedonian proselytes and Godfearers, or Greek circles sympathetic to Judaism: the Apostolic Decree allowing converts to forego circumcision made Christianity a more attractive option for interested pagans than Rabbinic Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts (see Brit milah). Some scholars consider Paul of Tarsus to be a Hellenist as well, even though he himself claimed to be a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).
Writing later of the incident, Paul recounts, "I opposed [Peter] to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong", and says he told Peter, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"

Sophia (wisdom)

SophiaWisdomHoly Wisdom
Consequently, Hellenistic Judaism emphasized monotheistic doctrine (heis theos), and represented reason (logos) and wisdom (sophia) as emanations from God.
Philo, a Hellenized Jew writing in Alexandria, attempted to harmonize Platonic philosophy and Jewish scripture.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Antiochus IVAntiochusAntiochus Epiphanes
Relations deteriorated under Antiochus's successor Seleucus IV Philopator, and then, for reasons not fully understood, his successor Antiochus IV Epiphanes drastically overturned the previous policy of respect and protection, banning key Jewish religious rites and traditions in Judea (though not among the diaspora) and sparking a traditionalist revolt against Greek rule.
Antiochus decided to side with the Hellenized Jews in order to consolidate his empire and to strengthen his hold over the region.

Second Temple period

post-exilicSecond Templepost-Exilic period
Both Early Christianity and Early Rabbinical Judaism were far less 'orthodox' and less theologically homogeneous than they are today; and both were significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion and borrowed allegories and concepts from Classical Hellenistic philosophy and the works of Greek-speaking Jewish authors of the end of the Second Temple period before the two schools of thought eventually affirmed their respective 'norms' and doctrines, notably by diverging increasingly on key issues such as the status of 'purity laws', the validity of Judeo-Christian messianic beliefs, and, more importantly, the use of Koiné Greek and Latin as liturgical languages replacing Biblical Hebrew ...etc.
They flourished first under the Persians (c. 539 – c. 332 BCE), then under the Greeks (c. 332–167 BCE), then under an independent Hasmonean Kingdom (140–37 BCE), and then under the Romans (63 BCE – 132 CE).

Religious male circumcision

circumcisioncircumcisedreligious
The Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles report that, after his initial focus on the conversion of Hellenized Jews across Anatolia, Macedonia, Thrace and Northern Syria without criticizing their laws and traditions, Paul the Apostle eventually preferred to evangelize communities of Greek and Macedonian proselytes and Godfearers, or Greek circles sympathetic to Judaism: the Apostolic Decree allowing converts to forego circumcision made Christianity a more attractive option for interested pagans than Rabbinic Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts (see Brit milah).
Contact with Greek polytheistic culture, especially at the games of the arena, made this distinction obnoxious to Jewish Hellenists seeking to assimilate into Greek culture.

New Testament

NewNTthe New Testament
But Paul, himself a relatively 'liberal' Hellenist convert to Christianity, was later threatened by more religiously conservative Jewish Hellenists as seen in the New Testament Acts 9 verse 29: "And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him."
Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, is frequently thought of as an exception; scholars are divided as to whether Luke was a Gentile or a Hellenistic Jew.

Melkite

MelchiteMelkite ChristianMelkite Catholics
Some historians believe that a sizeable proportion of the Hellenized Jewish communities of Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the "Melkite" (or "Imperial") Hellenistic churches of the MENA area: "As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria."
Hellenistic Judaism and the Judeo-Greek "wisdom" literature popular in the late Second Temple era amongst both Hellenized Jews (known as Mityavnim) and gentile Greek proselyte converts to Judaism played an important part in the formation of the Melkite tradition.

Council of Jerusalem

councilJerusalem CouncilActs 15
The Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles report that, after his initial focus on the conversion of Hellenized Jews across Anatolia, Macedonia, Thrace and Northern Syria without criticizing their laws and traditions, Paul the Apostle eventually preferred to evangelize communities of Greek and Macedonian proselytes and Godfearers, or Greek circles sympathetic to Judaism: the Apostolic Decree allowing converts to forego circumcision made Christianity a more attractive option for interested pagans than Rabbinic Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts (see Brit milah).
(See also Supersessionism, New Covenant, Antinomianism, Hellenistic Judaism, Paul the Apostle and Judaism.)

Judaizers

JudaizingJudaisticJudaizing Christians
The Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles report that, after his initial focus on the conversion of Hellenized Jews across Anatolia, Macedonia, Thrace and Northern Syria without criticizing their laws and traditions, Paul the Apostle eventually preferred to evangelize communities of Greek and Macedonian proselytes and Godfearers, or Greek circles sympathetic to Judaism: the Apostolic Decree allowing converts to forego circumcision made Christianity a more attractive option for interested pagans than Rabbinic Judaism, which required ritual circumcision for converts (see Brit milah). Hellenistic Judaism also existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, where there was conflict between Hellenizers and traditionalists (sometimes called Judaizers).
Hellenistic Judaism

Hellenistic philosophy

HellenisticHellenismHellenistic philosophers
Both Early Christianity and Early Rabbinical Judaism were far less 'orthodox' and less theologically homogeneous than they are today; and both were significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion and borrowed allegories and concepts from Classical Hellenistic philosophy and the works of Greek-speaking Jewish authors of the end of the Second Temple period before the two schools of thought eventually affirmed their respective 'norms' and doctrines, notably by diverging increasingly on key issues such as the status of 'purity laws', the validity of Judeo-Christian messianic beliefs, and, more importantly, the use of Koiné Greek and Latin as liturgical languages replacing Biblical Hebrew ...etc. Philo of Alexandria was an important apologist of Judaism, presenting it as a tradition of venerable antiquity that, far from being a barbarian cult of an oriental nomadic tribe, with its doctrine of monotheism had anticipated tenets of Hellenistic philosophy.
Hellenistic Judaism was an attempt to establish the Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism.

Ben Sira

EcclesiasticusJesus, the Son of SirachThe Wisdom of Ben Sira
Ben Sira, also known as Yesu'a son of Sirach, leading 2nd century BCE Jewish scholar and theologian who lived in Jerusalem and Alexandria, author of the Wisdom of Sirach, or "Book of Ecclesiasticus".
2nd century BCE) was a Hellenistic Jewish scribe, sage, and allegorist from Jerusalem.

2 Maccabees

IISecond Book of Maccabees2 Macc
While Hellenism has sometimes been presented (under the influence of 2 Maccabees, itself notably a work in Koine Greek), as a threat of assimilation diametrically opposed to Jewish tradition,
This had little immediate impact on Christians, however, since most Christians did not know Hebrew and were familiar with the Hebrew Bible through the Greek Septuagint text from hellenistic Jews, although some researchers believe that under Christian auspices the books known to Protestants and Jews as apocryphal and to Roman Catholics as deuterocanonical were added to the Septuagint.

History of the Jews in Egypt

EgyptEgyptian JewishEgyptian Jews
Andronicus ben Meshullam, Egyptian Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. One of the first known advocates of early Pharisaic (proto-Rabbinical) 'orthodoxy' against the Samaritans.
The Hellenistic Jewish community of Alexandria translated the Old Testament into Greek.

Koine Greek

GreekKoineBiblical Greek
The major literary product of the contact 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 Koiné Greek. Both Early Christianity and Early Rabbinical Judaism were far less 'orthodox' and less theologically homogeneous than they are today; and both were significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion and borrowed allegories and concepts from Classical Hellenistic philosophy and the works of Greek-speaking Jewish authors of the end of the Second Temple period before the two schools of thought eventually affirmed their respective 'norms' and doctrines, notably by diverging increasingly on key issues such as the status of 'purity laws', the validity of Judeo-Christian messianic beliefs, and, more importantly, the use of Koiné Greek and Latin as liturgical languages replacing Biblical Hebrew ...etc.
These could have been induced either through the practice of translating closely from Biblical Hebrew or Aramaic originals, or through the influence of the regional non-standard Greek spoken by originally Aramaic-speaking Hellenised Jews.