New Online Course Coming This Summer

This summer, the New Life School of Theology will offer a one day Mini-Course on the “Impact of Alexander the Great and Hellenism on the New Testament Church”. This course offers an in-depth exploration of the profound impact that Alexander the Great and the subsequent spread of Hellenism had on the birth and development of the New Testament Church. Students will delve into the historical context of Alexander’s conquests, the cultural and philosophical shifts brought about by Hellenism, and how these elements intertwined with the early Christian faith.

Course Outline

1. The Life and Conquests of Alexander the Great

  • Early Life and Ascendancy: Understanding Alexander’s background, education under Aristotle, and early reign.
  • Military Campaigns and Victories: Detailed study of Alexander’s major battles, including his victories over the Persians at the Battle of Issus and Gaugamela, and his conquest of Egypt where he was declared a pharaoh.
  • Formation of an Empire: Analysis of the strategies and tactics that enabled Alexander to create one of the largest empires in history by the age of 30.

2. Hellenism: Culture and Philosophy

  • Definition and Spread of Hellenism: Examination of how Alexander’s conquests facilitated the spread of Greek culture, language, and ideas across the known world.
  • Key Features of Hellenistic Culture: Focus on the arts, literature, science, and philosophy that flourished during the Hellenistic period.
  • The “One World Philosophy”: Understanding the concept of a unified world under Greek cultural influence and how it promoted ideas of universalism and cosmopolitanism.

3. Hellenistic Influence on Early Christianity

  • Hellenistic Religious Syncretism: Study of how Greek religious ideas, such as the notion of demigods (individuals with one divine and one mortal parent), permeated other cultures and religions.
  • Concepts of Divinity and Humanity: Exploration of how Hellenistic ideas influenced early Christian theology, particularly the understanding of Jesus Christ’s dual nature as both divine and human.
  • Language and Communication: The role of Koine Greek, the common language of the Hellenistic world, in the writing and dissemination of the New Testament.

4. The Birth of the New Testament Church

  • Historical Context: Setting the stage for the emergence of the New Testament Church within the Hellenistic world.
  • “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism”: Analysis of how the Hellenistic “One World Philosophy” influenced the early Church’s emphasis on unity and universality.
  • Spread of Christianity: Examination of the missionary journeys of the apostles and how the Hellenistic world provided a conducive environment for the spread of Christian ideas.

5. Case Studies and Comparative Analysis

  • Comparative Study of Religious Texts: Comparison of Hellenistic and early Christian texts to identify similarities and differences in thought and expression.
  • Impact on Church Fathers: Study of how early Church Fathers, such as Origen and Clement of Alexandria, engaged with Hellenistic philosophy in their writings and teachings.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the historical significance of Alexander the Great’s conquests and the resulting spread of Hellenism.
  • Analyze the key features of Hellenistic culture and philosophy and their impact on the ancient world.
  • Understand the ways in which Hellenistic ideas influenced the theology and practices of the early New Testament Church.
  • Critically assess the role of the Hellenistic world in facilitating the spread of Christianity.
  • Draw connections between the Hellenistic concept of universalism and the early Christian emphasis on unity in faith.

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between Hellenistic culture and the early Christian Church, highlighting the lasting impact of Alexander the Great’s legacy on the development of Western religious thought.

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