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Greco Roman Traditions Essay

1659 words - 7 pages

The intellectual traditions of the Greco-Roman world posed serious threats to Christianity and Islam. Greco-Roman traditions taught and emphasized logic and reason and observed the natural world to find answers, where Christianity relied on faith and belief. In some ways Christianity and Islam adopted various philosophies from the Greek world, while severely rejecting others. As a whole, we can identify which ways Christians such as Tertullian or Saint Augustine and Muslims such as Avicenna addressed Greco-Roman learning. We can also infer how they would have responded to Charlemagne’s forced conversions and enthusiasm for classical learning.
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Tertullian was opposed to Greco-Roman traditions and harshly rejected the notion of adoption into Christianity. Tertullian, a native of Carthage, was a “defender of Christian morals against both pagans and less rigorous Christians…he emphasized the sacredness of life and the Christian abhorrence of violence” (Perry, p. 171). Tertullian’s Prescriptions against Heretics embodied the negative attitude towards Greek learning that was shared by early Christians. Tertullian comments on Greco-Roman philosophy, stating that it “supplies the heresies with their equipment” and that “Heretics and philosophers [ponder] the same themes” (Perry, p. 171). Tertullian also directly opposes the art of dialect and logical argumentation. He believed that dialect taught by Aristotle “destroys as much as it builds” (Perry, p. 171). Dialect and logical argumentation was a strong basis for Greco-Roman philosophy as it taught one to pursue the truth and to question the surrounding world. Tertullian proposes that true Christian principles come from the “Porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord is to be sought in simplicity of heart” (Perry, p. 172). Stoic principles and Platonic dialect have no place in Christianity after Jesus Christ and his teachings. No longer do people need to argue or search for truth in observations and philosophy when Jesus Christ and his mission have ceased the need for speculation. Tertullian states that “after the Gospel, no need of research” which firmly opposes Greco-Roman traditions in which research, questioning, and thought never stop, and everything is to be examined and analyzed (Perry, p. 172). Tertullian closes with the notion that when one believes in Jesus Christ and his teachings, then there is no longer a desire to believe anything else, for there is nothing else to believe in except the word of the Lord.
Clement of Alexandria, in contrast to Tertullian, supports Greek learning. Clement of Alexandria was a Greek-Christian theologian, and believed that Christianity could be integrated and combined with Platonism. Clement argued that “Philosophy is a clear image of truth” in which the Greeks used before the Lord, to be righteous in their lives. Clement also argued that Philosophy prepared non-Christians for faith and the embracement of the Lord and Jesus Christ. Clement also touches upon the matter of Greek schools of thought such as, geometry, music, grammar, and philosophy. Clement believes these practices did not guide one away from faith, but rather guided one to faith. These schools were used to find truth, and one who was well versed and practiced in searching for truth is indeed a “partaker of the power of God” (Perry, pg. 173). Clement also stated that Greek learning “Prepares the way for God’s teachings,” in that, if one did not comprehend the whole truth from these schools of thought, it “molded character” and “trained” in a way that left one open to receiving the truth (Perry, pg. 173). As a whole, Clement...

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