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The Macedonians, upon the conquests of_Alexander the Great, planted their colonies everywhere. They built Grecian cities even in Media. “On the Tigris, Seleucia was principally inhabited by Greeks: to the southeast was the magnificent Ctesiphon; and to the northwest was Sitace. Babylon imitated Macedonia ; in its neighborhood lived Greeks and Macedonians. From thence along the Euphrates upwards lay Nicephorium, a Grecian city, surrounded also by other Greek towns; and further on in Mesopotamia was Charrae, a settlement of the Macedonians. But not to enter into details, we refer (in Appian) to a large catalogue of cities in Further and Hither Syria, which were reckoned to the Greeks. Tigranes, the Armenian, in his march to Phenicia by way of Syria, destroyed no less than twelve Greek cities. Between Syria and Babylonia we meet with the ruins of Palmyra, on which are found more Greek than Palmyrene inscriptions. Even some written in the Palmyrene character, are nevertheless in their language Greek. In Hither Syria, on the boundaries of Palestine, and in Palestine itself, the Greeks, as was natural from the situation and neighborhood, made still greater intrusions.” Antioch, the capital of Syria, was peopled by its founder with Greeks and Macedonians, and acquired a reputation for Greek refinement and science. Tyre and Sidon adopted the Greek language. Caesarea was peopled chiefly by Greeks. Gadara and Hippos, on the east of the Jordan, became Greek cities, and the former possessed men learned in Greek science. So also did Gaza, a city on the southwest border of Judea. Philadelphia, east of the Jordan, is still majestic in its Grecian ruins. Indeed the country east of the Jordan, was towards the north Greek, and towards the south mostly in possession of the Greeks.*
In this manner were the Greek language, manners and institutions generally diffused. As early as the time of Cato, that language was understood and spoken throughout the civilized world. Homer was read in Persia, and it is supposed even in India. In Carthage navigators described their voyages of discovery, and Hannibal wrote a history of his wars, in the language of the Greeks.*
* Hug on the prevalence of the Greek language in Palestine, etc. Bib. Repos. Vol. s. pp. 536–550. Prof. Pfannkuche, in his dissertation on the prevalence of the Aramean language in the same country in the time of the apostles, restricts the use of the Greek to narrower limits. Bib. Repos. Vol. I. pp. 317–363. The reader will in cline to the views taken
“Græca leguntur," says Cicero," in omnibus fere gentibus.” During the reign of Augustus, the study of the Grecian philosophy was so generally prevalent, that almost every statesman, lawyer and man of letters was conversant with the writings of the philosophers. This philosophy originally embraced all inquiries about the nature of God, the origin and destiny of man, and the phenomena and powers of the material world. Afterwards the consideration of physical topics was to a great extent excluded. Socrates, as is well known, exerted his influence to direct the investigations of philosophy to subjects in morals and religion, and in social and
political economy. It is no doubt true, that comparatively few of the people knew anything of the different sects of Grecian philosophy, yet the fact that their disciples were so generally dispersed, must have had no small influence on the minds
of men.t A consideration of the schools and the public libraries which are known to history, will assist our impressions as to the state of education in those large cities, in which were the recorded labors of the apostles and their associates. Athens for many ages had been renowned for her schools; and though at one time these were removed to Alexandria, and at another suffered much in the conquest of Greece by the Romans, yet they revived, and were resorted to from all quarters by those who were eager for learning. They even survived the incursion of the Gauls in the fourth century, and continued to Aourish till after the time of Justinian. In the period under consideration they had rivals at Apollonia on the western shore of Macedonia, where Augustus finished his education, not far south of Illyricum and Dalmatia ; at Rhodes; at Pergamus, where was one of the seven churches; at Tarsus, the birth-place of Paul ; and especially at Alexandria in Egypt. The law school at Berytus, in Syria, was of a subsequent date ; and the schools of Antioch, Smyrna, Caesarea, Edessa and Seleucia, were of christian origin, and arose after the death of the apostles. The christian school at Alexandria was opened in the latter part of the second century. But the school of pagan philosophy in that city, at the era of our Saviour's advent, was thronged from
* Schlegel's Hist. of Literature, Vol. I. p. 111.
† Eschenburg's Manual of Class. Lit. translated and edited by Prof. Fiske ; and Enfield's Hist. of Philosophy.
all quarters, and is said to have sent forth eminent philosophers of every sect to distant countries. The celebrated library at Alexandria needs no description. About one hundred and Gifty years before Christ, Pergamus contained a library of 200,000 volumes, rivalling the collection of the Ptolemies. Before the era of our missions, Mark Antony had presented it to Cleopatra, to replace the one in the Museum, which had been destroyed by Julius Cæsar during the siege of Alexandria.
As to the influence of the Jews in their dispersion, it may be remarked, that as long ago as the reign of Ahasuerus, or Artaxerxes Longimanus, they were found in considerable numbers in all the provinces of Persia. The evidence of this is in the book of Esther. At the commencement of the christian missions, this people were dispersed over the Roman empire. The geographer Strabo, quoted by Josephus, says, “ The Jews have already passed into every city; nor were it easy to find any place in the world, which has not received this nation and been occupied by it.” Strabo flourished in the Augustan age. At that time, the antiquities and sacred books of the Jews began to attract the attention of pagan scholars, and conversions from paganism to Judaism were not uncommon. Synagogues, composed in great measure of proselytes, existed in many of the Grecian cities. Schools are said to have been common among the Jews; and no one can doubt that this dispersion of the Jews must have had a great effect on the gentile mind.*
From all this it would seem, that education and knowledge must have been considerably prevalent in the countries where were the missions described in the New Testament. Especially is it almost certain that men of education would be found in those cities generally, in which they gathered churches. Some of them would already be among the proselytes to Judaism, and it is highly probable that these would occasionally embrace the christian faith. The apostle Paul does indeed say, that “not many wise men after the fesh” were called. By these he may perhaps have meant the philosophers. It was, however, then no doubt much as it is now. In every city where converts were multiplied, there were a few from the less proud and ambitious classes of educated men. These would be superior to most of the apostles in respect to mere learning, and sometimes, it may be, quite equal to Paul himself, the best educa
• Eschenburg's Manual, etc. p. 282.
ted among the apostolical missionaries. In point of fact, the standard of education among the Gentiles, in Syria, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, was at that time higher, than it was among the Jews, and the amount of education was greater.
I am now prepared to state some facts, illustrative of the apostolical missions, which are important to the main object of this discussion. One of the most prominent of these is, the small number of missionaries sent by the Holy Ghost into the several heathen countries. The New Testament gives no evidence that more than three apostles visited Asia Minor. call in the aid of ecclesiastical history, we have but four. To these add Barnabas, Luke, Mark, Silas and Apollos, and there are but nine missionaries in all. Timothy was a native of the country. So was Titus ; at least he was a Greek. The list of the seventy disciples now extant, which would make nearly all the Christians named in the Epistles to be missionaries sent from Judea, is rejected by ecclesiastical writers as fictitious. But even if this list were authentic, it would then not more than a dozen missionaries were sent to the countries of Asia Minor ; and, excepting Syria, no other country appears to have been so much favored in this respect.
Now we are told that Paul and Barnabas, in their missionary tour through Asia Minor, “ordained elders in every church.” Whom did they ordain? Sixteen cities are named where there were churches, and passages might be quoted from the Acts and Epistles, implying that a far greater number of churches were planted. Paul also informs Titus, that he had left him in Crete, among other reasons, that he might “ordain elders in every city." Whom? Not men sent for the purpose from the churches of Judea. Not missionaries. The elders thus ordained were chosen from among the native converts themselves.
Such was the usage of the apostles. They preached the gospel. Converts were multiplied. These were embodied in a society, and one or more of their number best qualified by talent, education, or miraculous gifts, or it may be in all these ways, were ordained over them in the Lord.
Now, in what manner did the apostles obtain, in every city, men qualified for such a trust? It
appears that their missionary labors, so far as they are recorded in the New Testament, were in the best educated, and in some respects highly educated, portions of the world, that
they were chiefly in cities, and, excepting Rome and a few others, in Grecian cities, including most of those which were distinguished for learning and general civilization in those times; that in most places they must have preached more or less to educated men, rendering it not improbable that some of these were among their converts; and that these
with special instructions in the knowledge of the gospel, would be fitted to preach the gospel and take the pastoral charge of churches. During the three years Paul spent at Ephesus, and the year and a half he labored at Corinth, he might have trained numerous candidates for the ministry. Wherever the apostles went preaching the gospel, they found mind in that erect, intelligent, reasoning posture, which is the result of civilization -a more learned and refined civilization even, than existed in the communities from which the missionaries themselves proceeded.
It would seem, however, that whatever was the amount of education in the communities favored with the labors of the apostles, it was impossible to supply the gentile churches properly with teachers, without a miraculous agency; for, in these churches, the Holy Ghost saw fit to put forth a supernatural inAuence to raise up prophets, teachers and governors, that they might the more speedily and effectually be built up in the faith and order of the gospel.
On this subject, Mosheim gives his opinion as follows : “As there were but few among the first professors of Christianity, who were learned men and competent to instruct the rude and uninformed on religious subjects, it became necessary that God should raise up in various churches extraordinary teachers, who could discourse to the people on religious subjects in their public assemblies, and address them in the name of God. Such were the persons, who in the New Testament are called prophets. Rom. 12: 6. 1 Cor. 12: 28. 14: 3, 29. Eph. 4: 11. The functions of these men are limited too much by those, who make it to have been their sole business to expound the Old Testament Scriptures, and especially the prophetic books. Whoever professed to be such a herald of God, was allowed publicly to address the people ; but there were present among the hearers divinely constituted judges, who could by infallible criteria discriminate between true and false prophets. The order of prophets ceased, when the necessity for them was past.
• Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. Vol. I. p. 83.