Greek Heroes vs. Hebrew Heroes

These are the notes I made for a presentation to a theological discussion group. They’re raw, but I think you will get the point.

 

Recently I was reading an essay by a historian who said the following, “The Greeks invented hero-based history.” That is to say, to study history by studying great leaders was invented by Herodotus, Plutarch, and Thucydides. That statement floored me. As I am studying through Judges, I wanted to show that Yahweh invented the study of history, and if we’re talking about civilizations, the Greeks likely gained what they learned about this historical method from the Jews.

The book of Judges is a book of heroes; the term “judge” can mean leader in more than a judicial sense. These heroes are great leaders but none can truly lead reformation in Israel (because Reformation begins in the house of God, a.k.a. the Levites).

The word “hero” comes from the Greek word “heros” which means “great warrior, defender, or protector.” The historian Thomas Carlyle developed an entire theory of heroes, saying that great men move events in history. He published a book, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, that listed six types of heroes: The hero as divine, the hero as prophet, the hero as poet, the hero as priest, man of letters, and king. Another book, entitled The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama, by Lord Ragland, listed 22 elements of a hero in ancient literature. Our own good teacher, Dr. Leithart published a book on the subject entitled Heroes in the City of Man, a study in Greek literary heroes.

The main difference I see between the Greek view of heroes and the Hebraic view (if you could even call it a view) is the Greeks view heroes as the makers of their history, whereas the people of Yahweh understand that Yahweh providentially guides history while raising up men and in some cases women to complete His work.  Most of the Greek heroes are men whose strength and power to perform bold exploits. Men like Hercules, Theseus, Achilles, and Odysseus all were warriors, most of whom defeated terrible enemies and protected their people. Alexander the Great held Achilles as one of his primary examples. The Greek heroes are ends in themselves, that is they accomplish their work and things go back to normal. The Hebraic view of heroes is that they work toward the fulfillment of Yahweh’s purposes. There are similarities in the two civilization’s views of heroes, but they are not working toward the same ends. All the heroes in the Old Testament are shadows of the one true warrior and protector of God’s people: Jesus the Messiah. (more…)

Too many similarities

“We don’t see humanists bowing down to their gods, we but we do see them studying them, lecutring about them, writing books about them. and we don’t see Christians bowing down to the Lord either, but we do see them studying Him, preaching about Him, and writing books about Him.

Thus, there is indeed a big difference between ancient religions and modern ones. Ancient man primarily worshiped his gods, while modern man primarily studies his. This is true both of pagans and of conservative, orthodox Christians.” – James Jordan, Judges, God’s War Against Humanism, p. 35

Reading the Bible again

James Jordan recently spoke to a church in the U.K. where he gave a series of talks titled, “How to Read the Bible the First Time…Again.”  The pastor, Steve Jeffrey, has made those talks available for free.  They will challenge anyone who loves the Word in a positive way.  If you’re up for the challenge, check them out here.

To celebrate or not to celebrate

Here are a few links to interesting articles about Christmas.

This one discusses why December 25 was chosen as the date for Christmas.  It leans against the belief that Constantine started it.

This article is an excerpt from a recent book by Doug Wilson on how our celebration of Christmas displays the grace of God.

The last one is not for those with sensitive skin.  James Jordan explains why we should not eat Chinese food (yes it relates to the topic).

Enjoy!

Hearing the Word 1

Throughout the study of how we grow closer to God, I’ve purposely left out one particular area until now:  hearing God speak.  If you’re charismatic you might think I’m referring to being quiet enough to hear the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, which is subject is something I hope to discuss at a later time.  The hearing of God’s voice that I’m referring to is truly a special revelation—the revelation of His Word to us.  This may sound disappointing because we might think it would be great if we could be spiritual enough to hear the Spirit of God speak on a regular basis, but He never promised that.  Rather He promised to convict us, comfort us, and lead us in all truth.  The primary way He does that is through His word.

This important method of growing closer to God is through (more…)

Suffering in the Kingdom of God

In discussing prophecy views with others, the question has been presented to me more than once (as a postmillenialist), “What do you do with all the passages that involve suffering?”  With the revival of postmillenialism among the rising generation, there has been a lack of teaching on the role of suffering in God’s kingdom.  Because we live in America (and face fewer trials than previous generations) we’ve neglected the fact that God is still sovereign and He sends things that are impossible to understand.  So when that happens, what do we do?  Does this mean our belief for the future should be negative instead of positive?  No.  It means we must be biblical in our beliefs, not just systematic.  James Jordan has a great article on that subject, entitled Yuppie Postmillenialism.  It presents a balanced view of how those who believe the kingdom of God will conquer in history should look at suffering and calls them to embrace the sovereignty of God while believing His promises.  Great stuff!

Imprecatory Prayer – 5

What does it do?  It calls God to act on our behalf – Rev. 8:1-5. 

  • The prayers of the saints were offered to God, and He in turn poured out fire upon them. 
  • When did fire come upon God’s people?  At Pentecost. 
  • I believe here we have a heavenly picture of what happened in (more…)

Imprecatory Prayer – 4

Does praying these prayers mean we seek the death of God’s enemies? 

  • It could be misunderstood that we desire the death of all those who oppose us in this life, but we don’t. 
  • We don’t know who is elect and who isn’t.  The Lord is angry with the wicked, but He loves the righteous. 
  • How do we pray this properly?  Psalm 137:8-9.  This is one of the most often quoted verses by atheists to prove that the God of the Bible is vengeful. 
  • We know better, but as James Jordan points out, we have a bigger problem.  This passage, written during the exile in Babylon, contradicts Jeremiah’s command from God to pray for Babylon’s peace (Jer. 29:7). 
  • Is the Psalmist praying contrary to God’s command?     (more…)