Hebrew Mind vs. Greek Mind
SALVATION AND PRAYER
by Brad Scott
The whole idea of salvation to the Greek mind is wrapped up in the state or eternal status of the soul. As we have discussed before, in Greek dualistic thinking, only the soul or the domain of the nous (νοϋς) or mind is godly, or can be godly. Salvation is right thinking and creedal in it's nature. To believe is to know the right things. This knowledge comes only from the gods. Many even believed that there would be doorkeepers at the gates of the heavens and that secret codes would have to be declared before entrance. This could be where we get all the St. Peter jokes. Salvation, none the less, was confessional and directed at the soul. The following is an early example from the gnostic document, The Gospel of Philip:
"The Lord revealed to me what the soul must say when ascending into heaven, and how she must answer each of the upper powers: I have come to know myself, and I have collected myself from everywhere, and I have not sown children to the Archon but have uprooted his roots and have collected the dispersed members, and I know thee who thou art: I am of those from above. And thus she is released."
To be saved in Greek thought is to be released from this evil world. Salvation is a matter of creeds and correct knowledge about the gods. In gnostic thought, the concept of keys are mentioned quit liberally. Scriptural terms such as, believe, to know or knowledge, word or words, keys and gates, confess and faith, are all tied in with this esoteric knowledge given by the gods. These terms were easily transferred to New Testament teaching. When Yeshua' said "I am the door ... I am the good shepherd ... I am the light of the world. .. I am the way, the truth, and the life ...", these were understood to speak of the logos (λόγος) or the nous come down from heaven to distribute this knowledge or gnosis (γνωσις). He came to bring the keys of salvation. Let me remind you that in Greek thought the logos was the collective mind or nous of the gods. In order for the soul to be destined for heaven one must believe certain propositions about the logos. The early church remained very hebrew for the first two centuries and this is why there is no record of creeds being established. The creeds come later when the church is dominated by gentiles and the Jewish believers have been chased away by the Jews and the Christians.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF SALVATION
In scriptural thinking, salvation is not limited to the soulish area. This is because 'Elohiym sees a person as one or echad (אחד) (a unity). Salvation involves the spirit, soul or mind, and the body. All three are seen as the one person. As far as life goes, there is no separation of these three. Salvation is relationship centered, as YHVH is seen as Father and not a collective mind separated from humanity. YHVH is seen as being involved in all areas of life, and so doing the right things as a result of trusting is part of salvation. Salvation begins with trusting in His words which leads to right action. Salvation is not leaving this world but becoming actively involved in changing what is wrong and sustaining what is right. Peace in Greek thinking is to escape the pressures of life. Peace in Hebrew thought is to actively take part in the completion of what is good and righteous. Peace and salvation involve being a whole human being. YHVH gives instructions to guide us in our growth to be a full person, spirit, soul, and body, and to save us, spirit, soul, and body from whatever would desire to destroy any of these three areas. YHVH placed this pattern in the building of the Tabernacle in Shemot (Exodus) 25-35. (For a series on the Tabernacle, start here.) But to sum up, YHVH has an order that He has designed. He must begin in the Most Holy place first. Then to the Holy place, followed by the court. Then, when approaching Him, man must begin in the court and proceed to the Holy place and finally the Most Holy place. This is the peace or shalom (שלוֹם) that Yeshua' came to give (Yochanan (John) 14:27).
As you read and search out salvation in the New Testament dictionary (the Old Testament), you will find that salvation is consistently deliverance from evil or contrary circumstances, not escape to paradise or some otherworldly existence. In Greek thinking, heaven is the goal, in Hebrew thinking, heaven is the reward. Deliverance in Hebrew thinking was being rescued from ways that were contrary to Yah's ways. This is why the first words from Yeshua''s mouth, and Yochanan the immerser, was REPENT! They both cried these words to the Jewish leadership which had gone its own way and had strayed from His ways. The word yeshua'h (ישוּעה) means salvation or deliverance. Deliverance from what? From the direction they were going. Yeshua' was a light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of his people Israel. For more details, see Salvation Part One and Salvation Part Two. (You will not be tested on this material.) In Greek thinking, the savior was the coming of the "mind of the minds", the "god of the gods" to rescue the soul from this world. His mind was to bring us inner peace until that great day of deliverance. His words were our "spiritual food" to feed our souls that we might grow inwardly. Laws or instructions concerning the physical things were only for the "weak in the faith" who needed such things to guide them, for they lacked inner maturity or gnosis. This doctrine quite naturally led to a distaste for the Jews or anything Jewish, and you can see how this would eventually lead to the destruction of those who were hindering the coming of YHVH. This might also explain why songs such as "I'll Fly Away" and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" or "God's got a Mansion For Me" would be very popular songs.
THE GREEK VIEW OF PRAYER
Praying or communicating with the gods was not an everyday, consistent event in Greek life. The gods were primarily called upon when something was wrong or someone was in need. Prayers were offered by the individual spontaneously. When celebrations in the great arenas were observed, this would be a time of group participation in communicating with the gods. This would be primarily to help with the success of the spectacles arranged to entertain the participants. Prayers would usually be lengthy and colorful. Leaders in the gatherings would usually offer up these prayers to the gods for the people. Communication with the gods was primarily help and request orientated. The success or failure of prayer was assigned to the gods. If fair weather was requested and it rained, then the gods were displeased. Why they were displeased was impossible to determine in that the gods were fickle and inconsistent. To please the gods was to adore and worship them.
THE HEBREW VIEW OF PRAYER
In Hebrew thinking, prayer is both ritual and spontaneous. Prayer was usually communal and in the plural. In Hebrew thinking, prayer is usually blessing 'Elohiym, thanking Him and speaking in the past tense. Prayer is much like the feasts in that it is also assigned to set times. Prayer is part of discipline, to train one to daily communicate with the Creator. Certain times of the day were consistently set aside for blessings and communication. This was designed to teach them to routinely give YHVH attention. In Hebrew thinking to pray continually was to observe these periods during the day. Hebrew prayer is short, extremely frequent, and observed at the same times each day. This would also ensure that all of Israel was praying together, as each individual saw himself as part of one collective person. Prayers were seen as we, us, or our, rather than me or I. This is part of the reason why the so-called "Lord's prayer" begins with "Our Father ..." rather than "My Father ...". Most Hebrew blessings begin with the same preamble if you will: "Baruch atah YHVH 'Elohenu melech haolam" or "Blessed art thou O YHVH OUR 'Elohiym, King of the Universe ..." Much of Hebrew prayer is thankfulness, thanking Him for what He has done. Acknowledging what He has done builds strength and trust for what He will do. Many times in the Tanakh you will see YHVH teaching this concept to His people. For example, in Devariym (Deuteronomy) YHVH says:
Devariym 20:1When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, and chariots, and a people more than you, be not afraid of them; for YHVH your 'Elohiym is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
YHVH says this many times in the Scriptures. To have confidence in the future is to have a rock solid foundation laid in the past. This is how prayer was focused in Hebrew thinking. Prayer was also spontaneous and request orientated. It was and is the combination of daily ritual and spontaneity that made up Hebrew praying.
Many times today I do not see prayer as a personal activity in corporate settings. Most of the time someone is doing the praying for the masses, and every one is encouraged to agree. Many times the prayer at the end of the service is another sermon couched in prayer-type language. I see the Praise teams singing for everyone, the minister praying for everyone, the Pastor studying the Scriptures for everyone, and distributing the wealth for the few. Greek thinking? Maybe.Take Test Number Three
Shalom Alecheim! ◊