Christianity under the Influence of Hebrew, Hellenic, and Roman Cultures

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Christianity under the Influence of Hebrew, Hellenic, and Roman Cultures


It is hard to forecast what would have happened if the Christian religion had appeared in the empty world without cultural and ethnical diversity. Early Christianity was the background and primary source of one of the most popular faiths in the contemporary world. However, this religion appeared under the pressure of Roman Empire, in the heart of the Hebrews civilization, was sufficiently influenced by the Hellenic traditions, and emerged as a result of the Macedonian military penetration. Although it seemed that the tension among the intercultural relations negatively affected Christianity, the religion combined different ingredients of culture, economics, social affairs, and the conceptions of the world, which are firmly adjusted to the modern civilization. Hybridization of the cultural variety and specific components of ethnicity designed Christianity in its full essence, which is admired by people as a source of divine spirit. Thus, the cultural influence of the ancient civilizations formed Christianity because such impact had a positive effect on the religion despite of the pressure and persecutions.

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Roman Empire and Christianity

The political and military interference of Roman Empire into the internal affairs of the Hebrew kingdom provoked a certain collision of cultural and ethnical norms, which were the background for formation of the new religious conceptions of Christianity. Actually, the penetration of Rome into Judea had a relatively peaceful character since the conquerors of the country allowed their Jewish supporters to rule the kingdom, showing respect and submission to Rome. It was the first collision of Hebrew’s and the Empire’s traditions as Romans were polytheists, which was not appropriate for Jewish nation with monotheistic cult. Thus, resistance of the province population was a moderately normal phenomenon. Furthermore, ancient prophesy promised arrival of Messiah, who would come and save them. However, people believed that their Savior would rescue them from Roman invasion. Consequently, the birth of Jesus Christ was the beginning of the new form of Judaism under the pressure of Roman Empire. Apostles and the followers of Jesus were the first Christians. In other words, the Roman Empire invasion to Judea was the reason for launching a new religious conception and beginning of new resistance. In fact, Christianity was not legal in Roman Empire and its provinces. The first Christians were strictly punished and killed. The emperors of the ancient Empire considered Christianity as a serious threat since many Romans accepted new doctrine and found certain moral and spiritual shelter among the first Christians.  The more Roman Empire tried to destroy their conceptions and kill all the followers, the more early Christian organizations became stronger and extended their influence in all the provinces. In addition, it was hard to resist them since the polytheistic culture was considered by the Christians as the devil’s mission, and they had to overcome humiliation and pain in the name of God and in order to save their souls (Dunn and Mayer 176).  

Nevertheless, the emperor Constantine started a new era for the religion. He was clever enough to understand that the Roman Empire pressure made Christianity so strong that even the most powerful army in the world could not resist it. It was something innovative for the nations worshiping pagan gods, as they really felt love, protection, and possibility to be saved by God. The strongest spirit of ever existing transformed Christians into a separate nation. Constantine tried to achieve the Christian’s support and indicated their faith as a national religion of a transformed Roman Empire. Thus, Roman Empire was the reason for launching Christianity, made it the strongest conception with the help of bloody persecutions, and transformed it into the biggest source of religious doctrines and political power.

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Moreover, Roman Empire brought the biggest changes in the formation of the doctrine. Certainly, Christianity had Judean roots and was associated with Hebrew’s beliefs and traditions. Nevertheless, Roman Empire changed the religion significantly with the help of reforms and modifications, which had the western character. Within the Christian norms, the church principles became quite complicated and attained a new form of a cult. It was the beginning of transformations. Hence, Jewish culture achieved elements of Roman practice and polytheistic culture. The temples resembled somehow old pagan temples with luxurious furnishing, ornamentation, hymns, and liturgies (Ekeke, 27). Furthermore, Christians accepted one of the most obvious pagan traditions – the day of the sun worshiping. According to Hebrew’s beliefs people should dedicate the seventh day of Saturday to God, but Roman culture initiated Sunday for this mission. Anyway, all the Christians accepted that new rule. Moreover, Christianity attained evident character of polytheism. Roman Empire accepted worshiping and adoration of many divine personalities somehow connected with Jesus Christ. The Virgin Mary beneficiation and the saint Apostles worshiping was uncertain and unacceptable for traditional Jewish rituals. Emperor Constantine together with his mother transformed true essence of Christian religion and brought changes to spiritual aspect of the conception. Honor and idolatry of many material things were positioned as an additional source of spiritual power. Thus, Helen, a mother of Emperor, presented a new holy thing for the Christians – the true cross, on which Jesus Christ had been crucified (Ekeke, 27). Thus, Roman Empire was a significant factor for the early Christianity formation and influenced its character as a religious doctrine, penetrating evident pagan traditions. However, Roman Empire was not a single source for evolution of a new conception.

Hellenic Culture and Christianity

Christianity encountered the culture of Greece, which was famous in the world as Hellenic. Prior to the Romans, Alexander the Great explored traditions and views of Greeks around the word with the help of conquests. Certainly, his tendencies had relatively peaceful character, and although he was a conqueror, his arrival in the majority of Asian countries was accepted as an act of peace. In fact, Alexander explored Hellenic traditions around the world. It was some kind of ancient globalization, and the Christianity was also transformed with the help of new cultural domains. The philosophers of Greece were the first who rejected the religion of polytheism and called it ridiculous. They were sure that many gods existed according to traditions and customs, while the true god existed according to true nature (Ekeke, 30).  Nevertheless, it is hard to define whether it was reflected in the conceptions of Hebrews. Remarkably, many philosophical ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers coincided with Jewish practice and beliefs. For instance, Plato’s philosophy stressed existence of another world, which is holly. He considered that the material things were temporal, when life of a soul was eternal. Christianity favored his concepts. Moreover, the religion attained evident characteristics of Hellenic culture. Philosophy was the most powerful factor for it, since it helped to enrich the ideas of Christianity. It is necessary to admit that religion achieved strong status of a philosophical doctrine with the help of Greek influence. Thus, a new conception appeared when the Hellenic culture covered the entire world. It was stoicism associated with the main Christian rules because stoics considered religion as a part of ethical idea. Christianity actively absorbed ideas of the stoics and enriched their worldview. The resemblance between those two issues gave the possibility for the philosophers to explore Christianity and include it in their philosophical schools (Bevan). Thus, a new monotheistic religion attained characteristic of philosophy and borrowed many elements from the Hellenic culture. Christianity accepted philosophy of Plato and incorporated it in some Biblical teaching, presenting it as part of Christian ethics and theology (Ekeke, 30).  Furthermore, Greeks translated the Apostles’ first Epistles, giving them quite traditional Greek character and transformations.

Contemporary ideas of the Bible and Jesus’s life are associated closely with Greek culture. It is normal since the Hellenic culture bewitched the whole ancient world. Thus, the Biblical personalities and names of all the saints are known only in its Greek transformation. That influence of Hellenism was the strongest because the modern understanding of the Christianity is available only because of the Greek culture impact and transformations. It is possible to assume that the majority of Christians knew about that religion only because of Hellenic assistance, having no idea about the original aspects of the conception. Thus, the language was one of the most important issues, which early Christianity easily adopted. It became the unique European language and universal way of communication in the world. Certainly, the first followers of the religion wanted to use that measure for exploration religion in the world. With the help of it, a new doctrine rapidly extended. In addition, Christianity needed the sufficient cultural framework for initiation its power.  Ekeke Emeka stressed that religion did not fall into the dry earth; it interacted with different cultures and art (32). In comparison with the other traditions and practices, Greek culture and Christianity did not conflict, but they were more like complementary, and they suited to each other by their spiritual environment. Greeks were quite kind and friendly toward something new. It was a favorable circumstance for the exploration of that conception. Thus, the contribution of Hellenic culture was peaceful and useful for Christianity. In comparison with the Roman Empire, Greeks accepted new ethical and religious doctrine with high enthusiasm and without persecutions. Among the other civilizations and cultures, Hellenic contribution was the most useful. This idea can give evidential explanation for the reason why the biggest shrines of the Christianity and the most important abbeys are located in Greece even now, though the essence and origin of Christianity was in the heart of Judea, in the Hebrews civilization.

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Hebrew’s Influence on Christianity

The contribution of Hebrews to Christianity is considerable in comparison with all other cultures. It is hard to understand why the biggest religious conception originated in the Hebrews Civilization. It is unclear whether it happened accidentally, or it was the highest divine decision. In any case, the Christianity formed original uniqueness and exceptional character from all the aspects of its development, evolution, and transformations. The major desert of it belonged to the Jewish nation. Naturally, they presented the world as the background for development of a perfect religion, which made people feel happy. However, such approach was associated with many contradictory issues since the Jewish did not accept Christianity as rapidly and massively as the other nations. It seemed quite inconsistent when the nation waited for their Savior, loved, welcomed him, and decided suddenly to crucify their Messiah. Christians considered that the Jewish committed the biggest crime of ever existed. They did not accept the most outstanding philosophy, ethical concept, and religious norm, being the closest to it. Thus, the biggest contribution was the arrival of Jesus, whose name was Yahshua in original translation (McCutchen 17). The second major contribution was a primary source of the ideology – the idea of a Son and a Father. Therefore, the Jewish gave some kind of impulse for the Christianity development. The Hebrews have still worshiped the highest Supreme God, when Christians moved further and accepted his Son as their biggest object of worship and love. The ancient civilization initiated the beginning of new Era being away from it. Thus, the greatest value of Christianity appeared in Judaism and attained new name – Old Testament, derived from Torah. It prepared population for the new low, which is humanistic, moral, and kind. The Hebrews appreciated and valued that book. Christians also respected it, but the book was just a primary source of their religion, serving for the early Christians as a moral and spiritual preparation. In fact, it informed about the future and the arrival of Messiah.

In addition, Jewish nation was monotheistic and that conception of monotheism was not acceptable in the world. It is possible to assume that Hebrews presented the world the new idea and approach to religion. As it was a comfortable form of the political and economic views, people accepted those tendencies quite rapidly. However, the Christians could not understand why the Jewish did not accept Jesus as he was promised by His God. The reason was more political than religious. They expected the appearance of a Messiah who could rescue them from Roman Empire but not a person who promised them eternal life. 

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The Holly Scripture was read in the synagogue, and it was the first place where Christians admired and listened to Lord’s Word. Although, the followers did not recognize synagogue, Jesus Christ accepted it.  Moreover, the ideas of Gospel were available for people only in synagogues. It concerns the first Christians, though they did not even know that it was the beginning of a new religion. The heritage of the ancient inhabitants of Judea is closely connected with the Christian conceptions. Even some elements of worshiping had also Hebrew’s roots. Christians started to respect the traditions that derived from Judaism. For instance, first Christians respected the memory about Jesus crucified on the Cross on the day of the Easter. However, it was the day of memory in Judea about their slavery in Egypt and Exodus. Nevertheless, the first Christians respected that day in a memory of Jesus but in Jewish traditions. The contemporary Christian doctrines are still the same, and people have not even paid attention to the issue that they preserved old Jewish conception and culture. Religion became an important means of transmission of the Hebrew culture, which initiated Christianity. Angelo McCutche explores this idea and summarized that people should understand the Jewish roots of their faith.

Jesus was born in the city which is rendered form Jewish – “the house of bread.” It was a slight hint on the mystery of Eucharist. Furthermore, all the Apostles were Jewish as well as the authors of the most respected Holly book in Christianity – Gospel (with the exception of Luke as he was Greek). Thus, the information, which the first Christians received from the Holly Scripture, was also Hebrew in its nature. It presented multiple traditional words of Judea like: “amen,” “halleluiah,” and others.

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Thus, Christianity is a unique, monotheistic religion that came from Judea and developed under the influence of different cultures and civilizations. The formation of Christianity was in the circumstances of the Roman Empire pressure. However, it affected the religion positively and made it strong and widely spread. The conquests of Greeks brought to Christianity prosperity and enriched it with its deep philosophical culture. Moreover, the influence of the Jewish culture was the original source of Christianity. The contribution of Hebrews is sufficient and fundamental since all the Apostles, days of memory, Jesus, language, and expressions were rooted in Judean culture. Thus, ethnical and cultural elements of different civilizations formed Christianity in its full essence in the circumstances of wars, expansions, persecutions, and transformations. However, those issues made the conception even stronger and more popular in the present culture.

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