Period Described, Written     
1
PrimH
2
PatrPd
3
Exd & Cnq
4
Judg
5
UnMon
6
DivMon
7
Judah
8
BabEx
9
PersPd
10
HellnPd
11
PtolPd
12
SelPd
13
MaccPd
14
RomPd


The Persian & Hellenistic Periods
 

  • During the Babylonian Exile (587-539),

    • Cyrus became king of Persia,

      • [at that time, a vassal of the Median Empire.

    • Cyrus married the daughter of the Median emperor,

      • but ultimately went to war against him and conquered Media.]
         

    • Cyrus was seen as a great liberator who would carry out the will of the local gods of people he conquered.

      • In 539, he conquered Babylon [almost without a fight].
         

  • In 538 BC, Cyrus 'the Great'  issued an edict permitting Jews displaced as a result of the exiles to return to their ancestral homelands.

    • & gave financial assistance for rebuilding of Jerusalem & the temple.

    • Not all returned. In fact, most didn't. Why?
       

    • 2 reasons:

      • In the 48 year period, a generation had passed, and many Jews had no knowledge of Judah,

        • and no desire to make the sacrifices necessary to return.
           

      • Babylon was a religiously tolerant environment-

        • Jews could practice their religion,

        • even built a temple for the Lord in Babylon.

        • [they participated in Babylonian culture and prospered-

        • some became so wealthy they saw no reason to return.

        • another take on the Priestly creation-

          • in Babylon, Judaism was neither suppressed nor suppressor- it was 'free' to compete with other religions]
             

      • Jews that did return brought back a diff. religion from what had existed in Judah before [thanks to Ezekiel, esp.],

      • and they found 2 diff. religions already existing in the area of the 2 kingdoms:

        • In the north (Israel/Ephraim), now called Samaria, a form of Israelite religion w/ only the Torah.

        • In the south (Judah), a form of Judaism w/ a diff. understanding of the exiles, less literate, composed of the poor.

        • The smaller kingdoms around Judah were also resistant to the return [Edom, Ammon].
           

    • Persians did not permit the re-est. of the monarchy,

      • Judah became a theocracy-

        • ruled by the priesthood, initially a council, eventually a high priest.
           

    • complexities of resettlement prolonged the time for re-est. and rebuilding the temple,

      • not rededicated until 516 BC (4 years to construct)

      • begins the period known as '2nd Temple Judaism.'

        • from 516 BC-70 AD.
           

    • 2 men are esp. important to the resettlement:

      • Nehemiah- [former cupbearer to Artaxerxes I,] made governor of Judah in 445 BC.

        • Returned to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem- essential for defense.
           

      • Ezra- priest and scribe who led 5k Jews back to Judah to enforce Mosaic Law on behalf of Persia.

      • contemporary of Nehemiah

        • may have had greater impact on Judaism than anyone since Moses-

        • may have composed final version of the Torah.
           

      • These 2 men had an important impact on Judaism:

        • Jews became a 'people of the book'

          • emphasis shifted (somewhat) from collective, nationalistic ritual and worship

          • to introspective, individualistic, personal relationship with God.
             

        • importance of preserving received tradition.

          • prophecy continued, but less about innovation/revolution,

            • more abt continuity with earlier prophets.

            • books often written under assumed names (3 Isaiah, 2 Zech, Daniel)

              • 'pseudepigrapha' or 'false writings'
                 

          • also deemphasized b/c of tension w/ priesthood.

            • books less likely to be seen as inspired,

            • sometimes set in the past, when prophecy was more accepted.
               

        • they became more isolationist, even xenophobic,

          • both N. and E. banned mixed marriages.
             

    • Judaism was influenced by Babylonian & Persian Religion:

      • Judaism & Babylonian religion were antagonistic-

        • some Biblical images may have Babylonian origins (serpents, Eden, beasts composed of parts of different animals, etc.)

        • but Judaism defined itself in contrast to Babylon.
           

      • Not so w/Persia-

      • principal Persian religion was Zoroastrianism,

        • [named after prophet Zoroaster/Zarathustra

          • much in common w/Judaism:

            • belief in a supreme, eternal, good god (Ahura-Mazdah)

            • no images/idolatry
               

          • But also significantly different:

            • Dualistic- believed in two gods,

            • one 'good' (Ahura Mazda)

            • one 'evil' (Angra Mainyu)

              • neither created by the other,

              • each opposed to the other,

              • in a conflict that would conclude with 'good' defeating 'evil' at the end of time.]
                 

        • contributed new ideas to Judaism:

          • angelology-

            • angels appear in OT b/4 Persian period,

            • but all named ones (Gabriel, Michael, Rafael, etc.) appear after.
               

          • demonology-

          • some pre-Persian examples in the HB,

            • Lilith (Isaiah 34:14) and Azazel (Lev 16),

            • no explanation of their origins,

            • never portrayed as working in opposition to the Lord, as they are in the NT.
               

          • During/after the Persian Period, speculation about demons exploded (Tobit):

            • 1 Enoch (Intertestamental) explains their origin in terms of the Nephilim:

              • Nephilim were children of 'fallen angels,'

              • & demons were disembodied spirits of Nephilim.
                 

        • Concept of Satan develops.

          • Hebrew hasatan, 'the adversary'

            • something like a defense attorney or interrogator.

            • not someone opposed to God.

          • In most passages of the Hebrew Bible where the word appears, this is probably what it means.
             

        • [Examples where it is clearly NOT a proper name:

          • 1 Sam 29:4

          • 1 Kings 5:4/ NAB 5:18

          • Num 22:22, 32 (here used to describe an angel of the Lord)

          • Ps 109:6

          • Job (chs. 1-2)
             

        • Debatable:

          • Zech 3:1-2 seems to be a courtroom setting, so most likely not (more like Job), but could be.]
             

        • Where it is most likely a proper name:

          • 1 Chr 21:1 (compare to 2 Sam 24:1)

            • text is clearly Persian Period.
               

    • [As a side note:

      • 'Devil' is never used in the HB.

      • 'Baalzebub' (used in 2 Kings 1) means 'Lord of the Flies,'

        • prob. a pun on Baalzebul, 'Lord of the Heavens'

        • both prob. refer to a specific Syrian/Canaanite god,

        • in the NT, the Aramaic Beelzebul  is used for Satan (like Mt10:25)

      • 'Lucifer' is not used in the Bible, but was the Latin word used in the Vulgate to trans. Isaiah 14:12, 'morning star.']
         

      • Why did concept of Satan appear at this time?

        • After the exile, Jews rethink the notion of divine justice,

          • to explain why sometimes even the righteous suffer.
             

          • Much Jewish Lit. explores this theme

            • Jonah, Job, Ecclesiastes
               

        • The idea of a force opposed to God was projected back into other OT stories

          • i.e. the serpent
             

        • but Satan and his servants (demons) were not seen as a force equal to God, rather

          • Satan had 'fallen,' and was allowed by God to exist in opposition to him until the End Time (Eschaton)

             

      • Resurrection of the Dead

        • Prior to this, little is said in the HB about the afterlife.

        • assumed that 'justice' (reward/ punishment) was rendered in this life,

          • the dead all faced the same fate: Sheol.
             

        • justice was collective-

          • nation suffered/prospered together.
             

        • [In the Latter Prophets, this changes-

          • see Jer 31:29-30, Ez 18:1-4, 19-20

          • but it is still rendered in this life.]
             

      • In the Intertestamental period, Jews became divided on subject of the afterlife:

        • Some see death as the end.

        • Some think the soul separates from the body and has a different fate.

          • [But most likely from the Greek period.]
             

        • many came to believe in bodily resurrection-

          • dead would rise again, be judged as righteous or wicked.

          • a belief essential to Zoroastrianism,
             

        • but also typical of many ancient religions:

          • Canaanites [dead buried inside their homes]

          • Babylonians [feeding tubes into graves for wine and blood]

          • Egyptians [pyramids, burial of servants]

          • Greeks [the mystery cults, the Elysian Fields]
             

        • In many cases, increase in speculation abt afterlife corresponded to threat of the nation/race being destroyed.
           

    • Some important points about the Persian Period:

      • establishment of the Diaspora, or 'dispersion,'

        • refers to Jews who lived outside of Palestine.
           

      • common language for Jews shifted from Hebrew to Aramaic-

        • language of Babylon (& Persia), related to Hebrew.
           

      • Some degree of 'Syncretism' of belief-

        • Judaism was open to influence from other belief systems,

        • to the extent that those systems elaborated but did not contradict what they held as revealed by God.

           

  • The Greeks...

    • Persian Period ended in 332 BC,

    • w/ conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great:

      • student of the philosopher Aristotle, himself a student of Plato, himself a student of Socrates

      • These 4 men = primary architects of the Hellenistic worldview-

        • grounded in the questioning of Socrates,

        • systematized in the writings of Plato,

        • critiqued/refined by Aristotle,

          • who taught it to Alexander,

          • who carried it throughout the known world.
             

    • Way, way less than you really need to know about each of these men:
       

      • Socrates (469-399 BC)

      • Athenian philosopher known almost entirely through the writings of Plato.

        • Killed by the Athenian senate for encouraging the youth of the city to question the existence and authority of the gods.

        • his method, the dialectic- was to question belief rigorously to show the true limits of what we know vs. what we think we know.

          • 'the unexamined life is not worth living.'

          • 'know thyself'

      • Plato (427-347 BC)

      • wrote a series of dialogues with Socrates as the main character, in which his philosophy is discussed.

        • Most important (and complete) is the Republic,

          • probably the single most significant book in the history of Western thought [aside from the Bible, of course].
             

      • Briefly:

      • Deals w/ the question 'What is justice?'

      • ideas/images that are foundational to Hellenism & Western culture
         

      • 'Metaphysical Realism'- belief that there are Forms or Ideas that are eternal, transcendent, 'perfect'.

        • things of the physical world are temporal, perishable, imperfect 'shadowy' copies of the Forms.

        • the Forms are more real than anything in the physical world,

          • which is always changing, always 'becoming,'

          • as opposed to the Forms which never change, and are always 'Being.'
             

        • Things in this world 'participate' in the Forms to the extent that Forms are recognizable in them:

          • we recognize justice in law, actions b/c these participate in the Form 'Justice.

          • we recognize beauty in art b/c the art participates in the Form 'Beauty'
             

          • the things of this world point us in the direction of the Forms,

            • this world is known through the senses,

            • the Forms are intelligible- known via intellect.
               

            • Many see beauty in art, few see past that to 'Beauty itself'
               

          • hierarchy of knowledge, 'the Good' at the top (=the Sun in the Allegory of the Cave).

          • Other Forms beneath it:

            • Truth, Courage, Justice, Moderation, Love, Beauty, Wisdom...
               

      • Main point for our purposes:

        • In the Platonic worldview, the invisible, 'spiritual' world of the Forms is vastly superior to the physical world.

        • It is our soul that is most like it (from it, in fact)-

          • It is immortal, transcendent, 'spiritual'

          • A well-ordered, harmonious soul is virtuous:

            • Reason dominates Spirit, directing it only towards true honor.

            • Reason and Spirit control Appetite, so that greed, lust, gluttony, etc. are not indulged.

            • The soul is directed towards 'the Good,' which, like the sun, illumines all things, enabling the soul to see the Truth.


The Allegory of the Cave & The Truman Show:

Which Character Would You Choose to Be? Which Would Plato Choose?
 

Truman?

Meryl?

Audience Member?

Christoff?

  • In brief:

    • Soc. asks Glaucon to imagine-

      •  a cave where prisoners are shackled in chains so they cannot see anything except that which is directly in front of them-

        • the wall of the cave.

          • They are kept this way their entire lives,

          • They know no other reality.

          • They are "like us."
             

    • Behind them is a raised platform w/ a wall,

      • Behind the wall are men w/ stick figure puppets,

      • And behind those men is a fire.
         

    • light from the fire causes shadows of the puppets to be cast on the wall in front of the prisoners.

      • This is their reality:

      • Shadows of images of objects cast on a wall.
         

    • Behind the fire & platform is the ascent to the exit of the cave.

      • Light from the sun shines in,

      • but not into the depths of the cave.

      • So the prisoners are not aware of it.
         

    • Imagine that one of them is set free…

      • He has not used his muscles or eyes,

      • so he endures pain to become aware of the puppets, their masters and the fire.
         

    • Some might turn back, content to avoid pain and return to their seats.

      • Imagine that one finds the strength to go on,

      • and realizes that what he once thought was real was merely a shadowy illusion.

     

    • If he escapes the cave altogether?

      • He will be blinded by the light of the sun, initially, but as his eyes adjust, he will see

        • First, shadows of things on the ground,

          • or reflections in water.

        • Then, the things themselves,

        • Then, gradually, he will "glimpse" the Sun.
           

    • This allegory encompasses everything Socrates has said in reference to

      • the Tripartite Soul,

      • the Sun,

      • and the Divided Line.
         

  • How? And what the heck does it mean?

    • The cave is the physical world-

      • the world of sensible things.

    • The shadows are images of sensible things-

      • the world of imagination.

    • The world outside the cave is filled with shadows of "real" things of which the puppets are images-

      • the world of Mathematical Objects.

    • The real things, illuminated by the sun, are the Forms.

      • The Sun itself is the Good.
         

    • There are three "levels" to the Cave-

    • occupied by those whose soul is characterized by different desires:

      • Those controlled by Appetite stay in their chairs, finding the alternative painful.

      • Those controlled by Spirit stay on the platform, exercising control over the rest of us.

        • They are "above" us, and see no need to make further sacrifice and risk losing their status to go further.

      • Only those controlled by Reason will make the full journey-

        • only the true philosophers.
           

    • The Cave
       

    • But there is more…

      • What must the philosopher do once illuminated by Truth?

        • He must be compelled -even against his will- to return to the Cave, to release others.

        • But his eyes have adjusted to sunlight,

          • and the return to the cave is disorienting,

          • he is blind.

        • When he seeks to release others, he looks to them like a fool, clueless, out of touch.
           

        • How will they listen...?

        • The Allegories, related

  • [Our Platonic inheritance:

    • 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'
       

  • How Platonic is the Creed?

    • 'We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

    • We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.
       

  • Biblical Passages:

    • 1 Cor 15:50-58]
       

  • Aristotle, the 'Philosopher of Common Sense':

    • Plato's pupil, and his critic.

    • placed greater trust in the physical world as a source for knowledge-

      • saw knowledge of the Forms as derived from our experience of particulars.
         

    • known as the 'father of logic.'

      • developed the syllogism-

        • systematic approach to reasoning.

        • the basic formulation of all argument:

          • (At least) 2 premises leading to a conclusion.

            • premises are statements assumed to be true by all parties.

            • the conclusion is a statement that follows logically and inevitably from the premises.
               

      • The syllogism is the basic structure of any argument.

      • More important:

        • to reason is the purpose for which we are designed.

        • also something we share with the divine-

          • reality is intelligible b/c an intelligence designed it,

          • and b/c human intelligence uniquely comprehends it.

        • Greek: logoj

          • 'word, reason, divine will'
             

        • logoj is the very mind of God,

          • revealed in the nature of creation,

          • reflected in the ability of language to communicate that objective nature universally.
             

        • So, we come to know God, to the extent that we perfect reason via logic to seek Truth.
           

  • Alexander believed that the Greek worldview was universally true. Through conquest, he sought to spread it, and w/ it enlightenment.
     

    • In 323, Alexander died [leaving a son too young to succeed him].

    • Civil war followed, and when the dust settled, his empire was divided amongst his generals, incl.:

      • Antigonus became emperor of Macedonia
        (the Antigonid empire)

      • Seleucius became emperor of Syria
        (the Seleucid empire)

      • Ptolemy became emperor of Egypt
        (the Ptolemaic empire)
         

    • Of these, Ptolemaic Empire was 1st to rule Palestine.
       

    • Ptolemaic Period, 305-198 BC

      • [Initially, devastating (Ptol invaded on Sabbath)-

      • Jews were sold into slavery and deported, further contributing to the Diaspora.

        • Jewish pops. began to grow, b/c they refused to adopt the Greek practice of infanticide.]
           

    • for the most part, benign rulers-

      • during their reign, the LXX was produced-

        • a Greek trans. of the Hebrew scriptures included in the library at Alexandria.
           

    • In 198, the Ptolemies were driven from Palestine by the Seleucids.
       

    • Seleucid Period, 198-167 BC

      • Initially, also benign rulers.

      • [but much more committed to Alexander's program of spreading Greek culture.]
         

      • During this period, Rome began to spread eastward and conquered some Greek cities.

      • Seleucids came to their aid but suffered heavy losses to Rome,

        • Antiochus III agreed to pay a heavy tribute to end the conflict, and sent his son Antiochus IV to Rome as a hostage.
           

        • In 174, Antiochus returned to Antioch and became king, declaring himself 'Epiphanes'- the god revealed.

          • saw himself as Zeus incarnated.
             

        • To pay the tribute to Rome, he raided the temples of the people he ruled over, incl. the Jews.
           

        • became convinced that his empire would be stronger if culturally unified,

          • tried to impose Greek culture on his subjects.
             

        • In 167BC, Antiochus tried to impose Hellenistic culture on the Jews-

          • forbade observance of the Mosaic Law,

          • ordered copies of the Torah burned,

          • had children who were circumcised murdered and their parents executed,

          • established altars to Greek gods throughout Palestine.
             

          • he erected a statue of Zeus (himself) on the altar of the Jerusalem temple-

            • called the 'horrible abomination' or 'desolating sacrilege' in the OT.
               

        • caused a crisis for the Jewish worldview.

        • not only were the faithful suffering,

          • they were suffering for being faithful.
             

        • Recall:

    • Book of Daniel is another modification of this worldview:

      • set during the Babylonian exile, but...
         

      • portrays Babylonians as intolerant of Judaism:

        • Nebuchadnezzar commands Daniel & his companions to violate food purity laws (1:3-16)

        • Neb. commands that all of his subjects worship a statue that he sets up. (3:1-97)

        • Belshazzar raids the Jerusalem temple for its wealth. (5:1-30)

        • Darius forbids prayer to any god other than himself. (6:2-29)
           

        • contradicts what is known abt the Babylonians during this period.
           

    • Also, the book contains a series of highly accurate prophecies about the future:
       

      • Ch.2: The Statue

        • [head of gold= Babylonian

        • chest & arms of silver= Median

        • belly & thighs of bronze= Persian

        • legs of iron= Greek

        • feet partly iron & partly tile= divided Greek

        • stone hewn from a mountain not touched by human hands= kingdom of God.]
           

      • Ch.7: The Four Beasts

        • [lion w/ eagle's wings= Babylonian

        • bear w/ 3 tusks= Median

        • leopard w/ 4 wings & 4 heads= Persian

        • 4th beast, 'different from the others' w/ iron teeth= Greek

          • 10 horns= kings

          • 'little horn'= a Greek king of the divided empire, who-

            • 'spoke arrogantly'

            • 'oppressed the holy ones

            • thinking to change the feast days and the law'

          • during his reign, the 'Ancient One' appears,

            • passes judgment on the little horn

            • sets up his own kingdom,

            • and gives dominion over this everlasting kingdom to 'one like a son of man']
               

      • Ch.8: Ram & He-Goat

        • [2-horned ram= Medes and Persians

        • He-Goat w/ prominent horn= Greeks (horn= Alexander)

          • He-Goat defeats ram, but at the height of its power,

            • horn shatters (Alexander dies)

            • 4 more appear in its place (divided Greek empire)

            • Out of these comes a 'little horn' that

              • 'boasted against the prince of the host

              • from whom it removed the daily sacrifice

              • and whose sanctuary it cast down,

              • ...while sin replaced the daily sacrifice.

              • It cast truth to the ground.

              • placed the desolating sin in the sanctuary'

            • but...

              • 'when he rises against the prince of princes, he shall be broken without a hand being raised.']
                 

        • Each vision-

          • knows the sequence of empires that reign over the Jews from Babylonian to Divided Greeks

          • gets more and more precise-

            • esp. w/ respect to the 'little horn' and what he does.

          • Expects the arrival of the k. of God during the period of the Divided Greeks

          • Expects the faithful to be persecuted by the Greeks,

            • but God will rescue the faithful,

            • and condemn their persecutors.

            • thus- their suffering is a test to sift the truly righteous from those who merely appear to be, for judgment.

               

    • The Apocalyptic Cycle
       

      • Daniel is apocalyptic literature-

        • distinct from prophetic,

        • apoc. was most prominent 200 BC-200 AD.

        • typically includes visions of the End Time and judgment mediated though a divine messenger (angel) to an appointed person-

          • usually a respected figure within the tradition to whom the message is directed.
             

        • Daniel also contains 'prophecy historicized'-

          • events prophesied by Daniel are in fact history from the author's perspective-

          • they ensure the accuracy of the author's expectation that the end time is coming.
             

        • Consider:

          • Mk 8:31-33; 9:30-32; 10:32-34; 13:1-27; 14:53-65