As with any capital city in ancient times and today, Jerusalem was a melting pot of many cultures. This caused a degree of constant tension for those who were faithful to their Bible and the Hellenistic Jews. Consequently, as stated previously, there were significant differences in worldviews between the European Roman-Greeks and the common Jewish people. The Romans accepted the Greek lifestyle and are often referred to as Roman-Greeks or Greco-Romans. Modern students generally do not realize the vast degree of cultural and religious differences between these groups. Understanding these differences will not only bring insight to the Scriptures but will also bring interesting reflective insights into modern Western culture. In this chapter, the brief descriptions of ten opposing philosophical and theological positions presents a foundation of the opposing worldviews that people held.
An example of a basic cultural difference is this: If an American or European asks you what you believe, you will tell him. However, if a first century Jew wanted to know what you believed, he would have followed you for a month and then told you. Now who would have the greater degree of accuracy? The answer is obvious. The first century Jew would have placed you in your cultural context. So likewise, our perspective in understanding the gospels needs to be focused on the context to perceive the full message.
Video Insert >
02.04.01.V The Ethnic Diversities of Jerusalem. Dr. Petra Heldt discusses the ethnic diversities of Jerusalem — a melting pot city of many cultures. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. (10:25)