The Gospel and the Greeks
Ronald H. Nash
The gnostic question has plagued Christianity since the beginning of the enlightenment — given Christ never did claim to be God, given that this man Jesus either never existed, or was simply a “Palestinian wise man who fighting for social justice,” as the modern myth has it, where did Christianity come from? If Jesus didn’t start Christianity, then who did? This problem is made more urgent in modern times, when Christianity is the “alien,” or the “other,” which must be brought low if the world is to be “saved.” What better way to erode the roots of Christianity than to claim it began with something close to what modern spiritualists believe, simply being corrupted by men like Paul into the form we see today?
This entire line of thinking falls apart in the face of actual study, as Rondald Nash shows in The Gospel and the Greeks. There is not only evidence that the foundational ideas and rites of Christianity were stolen from Gnosticism, an ancient form of the panentheism that envelopes our modern world in political correctness, but that many of the arguments made in the Gospels and Epistles were actually aimed squarely at differentiating Christianity from Gnosticism.
Dr. Nash begins his examination of the evidence by explaining the various forms of Greek religion dominant at the time of the Apostle’s writings. This is a necessary piece of the puzzle; how can we determine whether or not Christianity stole ideas from the Greek religions if we don’t understand the Greek religions themselves? In short order, the author lays out a high level overview providing a good understanding of the religious environment into which Christ appeared.
From this point, he explains the origins and nature of the various “mystery religions,” the Gnostic warpage of the Greek religions from which Christianity supposedly sprang. he then dives into comparing Gnosticism and Chrsitianity directly, specifically showing how Christianity is not related to Gnosticism in any way. Based on the timeing alone, Dr. Nash shows that many of the elements critics claim were stolen into Christian belief systems were, in fact, not even current at the time they were supposedly stolen.
One interesting point the author develops throughout this book is that the book of Hebrews was specifically written to Christians who had been raised in the world of Philo, who merged the mystery religion idea with Torah observance to create a Jewish mystery religion that stood apart from the Greek mystery religions. These Christians were considering moving back into this syncretic world, and the book of Hebrews was written to convince them that Christianity has more to offer than these mystery religions —that Jesus is superior to the angels and the logos as conceived in these mystery systems.
Overall, a well argued expose of faulty beliefs about the origin and development of Christianity, and it’s relationship to Greek mystery religions in general, and Gnosticism specifically. Well worth reading in a world captured in the thrall of silly modern myths about lost gospels, the “wife of Jesus,” and Gnostic thought in general.