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Controversies in Early Christianity: "Pagan" influences on Early Christian Philosophy

  • Origins of Christianity (Wikipedia)
    Both early Christianity and early Rabbinical Judaism were also significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion.
  • Gnosticism (Wikipedia)
    Gnosticism was primarily defined in Christian context, or as "the acute Hellenization of Christianity...."
  • Hellenistic philosophy and Christianity (Wikipedia)
    Over time, however, as Christianity spread throughout the Hellenic world, an increasing number of church leaders were educated in Greek Philosophy. The dominant philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world at the time were Stoicism, Platonism, and Epicureanism. Of these, Stoicism and particularly Platonism were readily incorporated into Christian ethics and theology.

    Christian assimilation of Hellenic philosophy was anticipated by Philo and other Greek-speaking Alexandrian Jews. Philo's blend of Judaism, Platonism, and Stoicism strongly influenced Christian Alexandrian writers like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, as well as, in the Latin world, Ambrose of Milan.
  • The Nag Hammadi Scrolls: A Surprising Mix of Early Christianity with Buddhism, Manichaeism and Gnosticism
  • Neoplatonism and Christianity (Wikipedia)
  • Neoplatonism and Christianity: Alexandrine Teaching
  • Educating Early Monks...The Alexandrian Schools and the Beginnings of Christian Philosophy
  • Educating Early Monks...Notes on Alexandrine Teaching
  • The Gospel of John and the Hellenization of James Still
    "We see in John a desire to use Greek pagan concepts and philosophies as a tool for communicating Jesus as the Logos to a Christianized Gentile audience. John's Logos would not be understood by Jews and his book would only be familiar to someone practiced in the pagan mystery cults that flourished in the Hellenistic world. Heraclitus of Ephesus used the word Logos around 500 BCE to describe his concept of the regularity with which the universe seemed to operate. The universe was a divine machine and Heraclitus credited the Logos (literally the reason) as the ultimate rationale which secretly operated the universe and the heavens above."
  • Origen and the Incorporation of Platonic/Apophatic Theology into the Christian Bren Hughes
    "It has long been recognized that the theological formulations of the early church fathers were influenced by their external philosophical milieu. In fact, the earliest post-biblical Christian writers were apologists who, like the Jewish theologian Philo of Alexandria, sought explicitly to reframe their religion in terms that would be acceptable to Pagan intellectuals (with the aim of convincing them that Christianity was superior to the Pagan systems). This was not only an evangelistic maneuver, but also an appeal to avoid persecution by the Roman authorities."
  • Origins of Christianity (Wikipedia)
    Both early Christianity and early Rabbinical Judaism were also significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion. Christianity in particular inherited many features of Greco-Roman paganism in its structure, its terminology, its cult and its theology. Titles such as Pontifex Maximus, Sol Invictus were taken directly from Roman religion. The influence of Neoplatonism on Christian theology is significant, visible e.g. in Augustine of Hippo's identification of God as summum bonum and of evil as privatio boni. Striking parallels between the New Testament account of Jesus and classical gods or demi-gods such as Bacchus, Bellerophon or Perseus were recognized by the Church Fathers themselves, and discussed in terms of "demonic imitation" of Christ by Justin Martyr in the 2nd century.
  • Did Constantine Invent Christianity?
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