Hebrew Mind vs. Greek Mind
by Brad Scott
There have been some areas in which we have compared very general subjects which could have gone on and on. Most of you have grasped the material very well. This class is not designed to inundate you with heady material that the average person you meet is unable to converse with you about. It is designed to reveal some very fundamental differences in the contrasting ways we all look at life. I remember growing up in the fifties and sixties and considering myself a Christian, and yet allowing evolution to fit very conveniently in my frame of thought. The evidence all around me seemed to fit evolution so well. As a teenager, I was convinced I knew everything. The world around me and how it got there seemed logical to me. Not one single person ever challenged my views. I was certain that there were as many Christians as there were evolutionists, so evolution must fit Christianity, for no Christian ever challenged it. It was not until the late 1970's that I ever heard a Christian state that evolution was not scriptural! WOW! I had never heard such a thing. As I began to learn, I also began to see my world much differently. I could testify about this for a long time, but that is not my point. My point is that as we grow we see things from greater perspectives, and we must acknowledge along the way that we do not know everything yet, and that even the things we think we know we may see differently in the future. I do not want to seem too elementary here, but the facts are that YHVH does know everything, and He reveals many things that we have not learned by experience yet. We can learn and grow from these, if we are willing to concede this fact. For example, in a tiny baby's world, food comes from a breast. This is all he/she knows as reality and truth. As he becomes a crawler his reality shifts to a bottle. Food comes from a bottle. A little later he realizes that food comes from a jar. This is it! This is where food comes from. As he begins to walk, he discovers that the source of food is the big white box in the kitchen. At last, the source of food. One day his mother puts him in the car and they travel to a big store that is jam-packed with food. So this is where food comes from. His realities keep changing as long as he is willing to accept the new information. It is usually around the second grade before he finally realizes what he is eating and where it really comes from. Thank YHVH, that this was not revealed to him when he was crawling!
THE GREEK VIEW OF EDUCATION
One of our realities today, so it seems, is our public education system, which comes straight from the Greeks. One of the main reasons for the creation of the great polis or city-state, was to achieve excellence through community education, to build gigantic gymnasiums for the purpose of educating the children. The elite were gathered into these community buildings and quickly stripped of whatever realities they possessed at that point. By the way, the word gymnasium is from the Greek word gymnos which means naked. The many were taught by the few and given instructions on every conceivable subject. The point was that knowledge was the key to excellence, and to know was to rule. The poor, however, were not permitted to be educated this way. The parents of the poor were discouraged from teaching their young the sciences or the arts. They were trained in a trade and this was perfectly acceptable. Most poor people were barely able to write their name. Less well to do mothers and fathers were not trained to educate. So the elite were raised by the village and were advanced by the simple fact that they participated in the community education system.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF EDUCATION
It is perhaps becoming more obvious by now, what the scriptural view of this subject will be. We are talking about the ancient view and not the more modern Rabbinical system. Fathers and mothers were responsible for the education of their children. Knowledge was the focus, but the knowledge was from their Creator and His moral values and judgments. The arts and sciences were taught as well, and all knowledge was founded upon scriptural principles. Some knowledge was not made available, even if it was truth. Sex education was not part of the curriculum. This is one of the most life saving principles of the culture of the Hebrews. We have been trained by our western education system that the more we are educated about the sexual experience, the safer we are. This was the thinking of the 1950's, for example. Certain venereal diseases were on the rise, barely notable by the way, and something must be done. Sex education was introduced in the public system to provide knowledge to children about everything concerning the sexual experience. Unwanted pregnancies were dominating the landscape and education was the answer. Since that time, venereal diseases have multiplied beyond control, and teenage pregnancies are common place. But that is not the point. From the view of our Hellenistic culture, knowledge is power and the answer to our calamities. The conclusion is simple. Education leaders are responsible for the administering of knowledge. They are not, by nature, concerned with the moral values of your child. The whole idea of the nature of your child's education is similar to the Greek view of heaven or salvation. Correct ideas and right thinking is the goal. What you do with those ideas is irrelevant. Fathers and mothers, on the other hand, very much have a stake in their children's future. The child's future affects the parent as well as the child. What the child does with his life is imperative. The child's longevity is part of the motive. His health is also at stake. The parents have the entire life of the child in mind.
THE GREEK VIEW OF THE WORLD TO COME
In Greek thought, heaven is a totally separate place from this present life. It is a world that can be entered by denying the existence of this present world, and accepting the gnosis of the initiated. Once this profession has taken place, then one has changed his state in life and is translated into another existence. As I have stated previously, in the spiritual world there are no laws or demands for all is perfect and there is no need for laws. Laws are designed for physical existence from which the initiate has just separated himself. This is seen as the presence and indwelling of the logos or divine gnosis. Those who attempt to obey laws or rules are demonstrating the lack of this gnosis, hence the term legalist. The reason you are here on earth is to find this state of existence. The purpose of sharing this knowledge is to place this gnosis in the next person. Once you have found the logos, you have entered the world to come, the ultimate goal. Heaven is a place of peace and tranquility that can be experienced only by trance-like activity. It certainly cannot be found by participating in the mundane affairs of life. This existence is particularly enhanced by sharing it with other like-minded people. True reality is the spiritual realm, and all that mankind shares now is not true reality but a passing phase that one must enter in order to have a part in the world to come.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF THE WORLD TO COME
In Hebrew thought, there is a world to come, and just like Greek thought it is a place that one can enter while still in this tabernacle. However, there are major differences. Just as the spirit, soul, and body are one life, so are these two worlds. In Hebrew thought, man exists in both worlds and is responsible to be righteous citizens of both worlds. The spiritual realm is to guide the physical realm. His ultimate eternal existence is a reward. He is responsible to take part in this existence and sustain the words of YHVH. True knowledge comes from YHVH only, and it's purpose is to sustain life in this world; to restore where corruption has taken place; to give life where there is no life; to preserve His creation. Heaven is a present place that guides and directs physical life, a perfect kingdom to rule over an imperfect, corrupt world.
I thought I might take some time to provide a short explanation of some other aspects of life that are seen differently by these two views. I will not labor through long explanations.
THE GREEK VIEW OF LOVE AND HATE
In Greek thought, love is a feeling or emotion that is solicited, and demonstrated by feeling or emotion. There are different kinds of these emotions and different Greek words to define these emotions. There is brotherly love, erotic love, and committed love, for example. Committed love is the love that man is to have for the gods. This is the famous agape kind of love that is taught in the church today. This love, however, is demonstrated by feelings or emotion, as an act of expressing true commitment. Hate is also a feeling or emotion that is generally reactionary. One can love until something negative is expressed and then love can quickly turn to hate. Hate has not a place in Greek thought as an original action. It is a reaction. One could easily hate the gods as an emotional reaction to negative circumstances, and one could just as easily love them when the circumstances change. When love is based on feeling or emotion then feeling or emotion can change it to hate.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF LOVE AND HATE
In Hebrew thought, ahav or love is based on the idea of preference or choice. It is not an emotional concept. When YHVH said that "He loved Ya'akov and hated Esav", He meant that He chose Ya'akov and did not choose Esav. When YHVH, in Bere'shiyt (Genesis) 22, said that He loved Isaac, He meant that He preferred Isaac. Love and hate are not emotional concepts in scriptural thinking. When Yeshua' said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments", He was saying that if you have chosen me or if you prefer me, then do what I say. When He said that men loved the darkness rather than the light, He was saying that men preferred or chose the darkness over the light. In a Hebrew betrothal, the father chooses his son's bride. When vows are spoken, the son and the bride choose each other. In the commandments it is written that you are to LOVE YHVH your 'Elohiym. You are to prefer "the Lord your God". This is directly related to the first two commandments that state that you are to have no other gods before Him. It is a matter of choice. In the Greek culture, emotion is solicited first, then commitment. Emotion must be sustained or the commitment fails. Why? Because it began with emotion. In Hebrew thought, emotion is a result of commitment.
THE GREEK VIEW OF PEACE
In Greek thought, peace is a state of mind. This state of mind can be found in several ways: through lack of confusion or chaos. In other words, when there is no war there is peace. Peace is the lack of war. This, I believe, is part of the background of 1Thessalonians 5, when the people will cry, peace and safety. From a world wide point of view, peace is taken from the western point of view. A peaceful neighborhood is one that has no crime to speak of. A peaceful home is one where the children are not in trouble. When a mother wants to have some peace she means she wants all kids out of the house and quiet to prevail. Many people go to a quiet resort somewhere to have some peace. When Israel and her neighbors are not fighting there is peace. Monks would find peace by going to the monastery. Yoga is a way to attain peace. Nirvana is peace. Peace and quiet go together very naturally. When Yeshua' said, "... my peace I leave with you." He meant the state of mind one finds when accepting Him as Savior. This state of mind is given to you upon confession. If you lose your peace, then it can be found by stirring it up.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF PEACE
In Hebrew thought, shalom or peace, is wholeness or completeness. When a person is submitted spirit, soul, and body to His Creator, then he is at peace. Peace is being whole. A whole person is actively involved in his world, his community, his family. He is at peace when he sees the results of his harvest, when he acts upon what his Creator directs him to do. He completes the act when he does what he believes. Peace is the full realization of YHVH's word in your life and is not a "state of mind" or an emotional state.
THE GREEK VIEW OF BLESSINGS AND CURSES
To be blessed in Greek thought is to receive from the gods. Favorable conditions in war, weather, and finances are to be blessed by the gods. When a military leader is promoted, he is blessed. When financial rewards are reaped, this is a blessing. To be cursed, however, is to lose the battle or fall in financial ruin. When something seen as negative occurred, this was a curse. Curses could turn into blessings by a change in attitude toward the gods. The curses of the demiurge could be reversed through proper adoration. Simply put, blessings are when good things happen and curses are when bad things happen. Good and bad are relative, of course. If a violent thunderstorm suddenly occurred that evening, it was the direct result of displeasing the gods that afternoon.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF BLESSINGS AND CURSES
In Hebrew thought, blessings are synonymous with obedience and curses to disobedience, and are not tied to good or bad circumstances. In other words, the blessing comes at the moment of obedience, and so with the curse. Something good or bad happening could be the result of a myriad of circumstances totally unrelated to recent obedience or disobedience. The word of YHVH promises blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. This is what we know. I will illustrate with an old Rabbinical tale. In a village in northern Europe in the 11th century, there was an old Rabbi that everyone sought for wisdom. One day a white horse strays into the village. That evening the butcher's house burns to the ground. The villagers go to the Rabbi and say,"Rabbi, we have been cursed, for this morning a white horse came to town and Schlomo's house burned to the ground. What do we do?" "What!" says the Rabbi, "all you know is that a horse came to town." The next day the horse left the tiny village and that evening the butcher found a large sum of money buried underneath his burned house. The villagers came to the Rabbi and said, "We have been blessed, for the horse left and Schlomo can now build a new house." "What!" said the Rabbi, "all you know is that the horse left and Schlomo found some money." The next day the horse returned and Schlomo's son fell and broke his leg. The villagers came to the Rabbi and said, "We have been cursed, for the horse has returned and Levi's leg is broken." "What curse?" said the Rabbi, "all you know is that the horse came back and Levi broke his leg." The next day the horse left and the village went to war with the neighboring village, and most of the young men were killed. The rest of the village came to the Rabbi and said, "Rabbi, Schlomo has been blessed, for the horse has left and Levi's life was spared because he could not go to war due to his broken leg!" And on and on and on it goes.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊