Jerusalem and Athens

Readability

Jerusalem and Athens

More than 1500 years ago, the great The­olo­gian Ter­tul­lian posed the ques­tion: What has Jerusalem have to do with Athens?

This is an inter­est­ing point of inquiry. On the sur­face, one might think that this is an incon­se­quen­tial issue. How­ever, per­haps it is not so much what the two cities of antiq­uity have in com­mon that is impor­tant as much as it might be what they both represent.

With­out the Jerusalem and Athens of antiq­uity there would not be mod­ern Europe or the United States as we know them today. Each of those two cities have made invalu­able con­tri­bu­tions to both the moral and intel­lec­tual mosaic of what is known as West­ern Civilization.

Jerusalem takes on tremen­dous sig­nif­i­cance because it sym­bol­izes our great Judeo-​Christian her­itage. Nearly 3,300 years ago the great Hebrew prophet Moses led the chil­dren out of 450 years of cruel Egypt­ian bondage. Accord­ing to the book of Exo­dus in the Old Tes­ta­ment, Moses is divinely cho­sen by GOD [lit­er­ally the great “I AM”] to lead His peo­ple known as “Israel” out of Egypt and into a land that “flows with milk and honey.” As the chil­dren of Israel depart from Egypt, GOD com­mands them to stop at a moun­tain known as Sinai where he imparts to His peo­ple the “Divine Law” which is pop­u­larly known as “The Ten Commandments.”

GOD instructs Moses to tell the chil­dren of Israel that they are not to wan­der in the wilder­ness doing what is right in their own eyes [Deuteron­omy 12.8], but they are account­able to GOD’S Law and to each other in a Covenant relationship.

What many peo­ple in the United States today may not real­ize is that in our colo­nial period, the great legal jurist Sir William Black­stone use to lit­er­ally carry a copy of the Bible with him along with his law books as he handed down his legal decisions.

[One could only imag­ine the hol­ler­ing that would take place by groups such as the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union as they would accuse Black­stone of attempt­ing to impose a “theoc­racy” on our land.]

The Old Tes­ta­ment law imparted to us the notion that nei­ther King nor Queen has absolute power but that ulti­mately “the Law is King.” We later became a nation of “laws and not men.”

Athens is impor­tant to West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion because it was here nearly 2,500 years ago that the ancient Greek itin­er­ant philoso­phers began to ask ques­tions such as: “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” Where am I going” “How did I get here?” “What is the ulti­mate mean­ing of life?”

In our law schools today, pro­fes­sors employ a ques­tion­ing method of teach­ing known as the “Socratic method.” The Socratic method has irri­tated many a law stu­dent! Pro­fes­sors con­tin­u­ally ask their stu­dents why they hold a par­tic­u­lar opin­ion or view on a legal case or issue. What many of the prospec­tive law stu­dents may not real­ize is that Socrates use to walk around Athens ask­ing dis­turb­ing ques­tions that upset that the “sta­tus quo.” Socrates averred that “the unex­am­ined life is not worth living.”

Where would West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion be — and the United States in par­tic­u­lar — if we did not pos­sess a peo­ple with both the moral imag­i­na­tion and the philo­soph­i­cal moor­ings to ques­tion whether or not a par­tic­u­lar action is just or unjust?

Great move­ments such as the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion and the Abo­li­tion­ists strug­gle and the fight for Women’s Suf­frage would not have taken place were it not the legacy that was passed on to us from both Jerusalem and Athens of yesteryear.

The New Year is an excel­lent time to study the Holy Bible and the lit­er­ary clas­sics and to remind our­selves that Civ­i­liza­tion is both a bless­ing and a trust that we must faith­fully pre­serve for our­selves and for our posterity.

May GOD richly bless ALL of you with a great and joy­ous 2014.

More than 1500 years ago, the great Theologian Tertullian posed the question:  What has Jerusalem have to do with Athens?

This is an interesting point of inquiry.  On the surface, one might think that this is an inconsequential issue.  However, perhaps it is not so much what the two cities of antiquity have in common that is important as much as it might be what they both represent.

Without the Jerusalem and Athens of antiquity there would not be modern Europe or the United States as we know them today.  Each of those two cities have made invaluable contributions to both the moral and intellectual mosaic of what is known as Western Civilization.

Jerusalem takes on tremendous significance because it symbolizes our great Judeo-Christian heritage.  Nearly 3,300 years ago the great Hebrew prophet Moses led the children out of 450 years of cruel Egyptian bondage.  According to the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, Moses is divinely chosen by GOD [literally the great “I AM”] to lead His people known as “Israel” out of Egypt and into a land that “flows with milk and honey.”  As the children of Israel depart from Egypt, GOD commands them to stop at a mountain known as Sinai where he imparts to His people the “Divine Law” which is popularly known as “The Ten Commandments.”

GOD instructs Moses to tell the children of Israel that they are not to wander in the wilderness doing what is right in their own eyes [Deuteronomy 12.8], but they are accountable to GOD’S Law and to each other in a Covenant relationship.

What many people in the United States today may not realize is that in our colonial period, the great legal jurist Sir William Blackstone use to literally carry a copy of the Bible with him along with his law books as he handed down his legal decisions.

[One could only imagine the hollering that would take place by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union as they would accuse Blackstone of attempting to impose a “theocracy” on our land.]

The Old Testament law imparted to us the notion that neither King nor Queen has absolute power but that ultimately “the Law is King.”  We later became a nation of “laws and not men.”

Athens is important to Western Civilization because it was here nearly 2,500 years ago that the ancient Greek itinerant philosophers began to ask questions such as:  “Who am I?”  “Where did I come from?”  Where am I going”  “How did I get here?”  “What is the ultimate meaning of life?”

In our law schools today, professors employ a questioning method of teaching known as the “Socratic method.”  The Socratic method has irritated many a law student!  Professors continually ask their students why they hold a particular opinion or view on a legal case or issue.  What many of the prospective law students may not realize is that Socrates use to walk around Athens asking disturbing questions that upset that the “status quo.”  Socrates averred that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Where would Western Civilization be – and the United States in particular – if we did not possess a people with both the moral imagination and the philosophical moorings to question whether or not a particular action is just or unjust?

Great movements such as the American Revolution and the Abolitionists struggle and the fight for Women’s Suffrage would not have taken place were it not the legacy that was passed on to us from both Jerusalem and Athens of yesteryear.

The New Year is an excellent time to study the Holy Bible and the literary classics and to remind ourselves that Civilization is both a blessing and a trust that we must faithfully preserve for ourselves and for our posterity.

May GOD richly bless ALL of you with a great and joyous 2014.