The primary threads of Western thought are woven together out of the Greek mountains and seas and out of Middle Eastern foment and desert disciplines. It is said in current scholarship that Jesus as a builder under his dad, growing up in Nazareth, would most probably commute to Sepphoris (Tzippori) to ply his trade. That center of Hellenistic and Roman influence was populated by cosmopolitan Jews and Gentiles alike, perched on the trade routes in the area.
Sepphoris held the opportunities for employment that would secure the family. Sepphoris was older, less than four miles from Nazareth, the newer and more Jewish community. Sepphoris dated back at least to the Assyrians and perhaps to the northern extent of Egyptian influences. Also, it is thought that Jesus' mother Mary was born in Sepphoris so he likely had mother's side relatives (the more important Jewish bloodline) still living there.
If Jesus received any Greek education at all (and he probably did) it was here that he found it, an easy walk from his Nazarene home. It is likely, then, that in Jesus the precise mix that was to eventually sweep Europe and then much of the world started in Sepphoris.
The classical Roman Empire was pushed aside and largely replaced in Europe by internal splits and external invasions, and by the eastern Constantinian maneuvers which culminated in the Holy Roman Empire and the varieties of outlying Christian influences. This eastern influence heavily modified the Christianity of Rome itself.
The Roman rite claims primacy through Paul and Peter, thus emphasizing the Hebraic legacy of Jesus' lineage, undergirding the claim that Jesus is The Second in a triune godhead. The Eastern rite claims primacy through the legitimacy of the Constantine legacy, a more pragmatic connection to the Grecian world and love of philosophy, theology and public devotions. This stream contains the gatherings of the Christian councils under Constantine's protection, councils which created the Creeds (the Nicene and Apostle's) that define public Christian membership today.
The growing influence of private devotions to Jesus and His Abba/Father (as currently interpreted) is much more modern, permitted mainly by the Protestant split from Rome and Constantinople. This influence of privacy, which of course includes the introduction and reintroduction of heretical and non-Christian spiritual variants is rolling back on the Rites. The consequences of such a change are nowhere near finished.
Rome and Greece, the Levant and the Galilee, the sweep through the Middle East and around into Egypt and the North African coastline are the historical sources of the western mind. Persia and India nibble on the edges. China resides in the fog beyond the Himalayas and the jungles of Southeast Asia and contributes mainly through transplantation of early technology and agriculture. However, be assured that the forces of human enterprise pushed more or less constant traffic along the Silk Road from west to east, east to west, and back again.
It is difficult then to separate out strands of human perception and belief, dreams and thinking from this ancient global ebb and flow. Who thought or believed what first and who found what fruitful relationship to God, philosophy and science is really not possible to finalize.
Orion's sword shines
with a cold and distant light.
He threatens me like
he always does, called
to it like you called to me.
I am to rebel
is what you laughing
said, and to doubt you most days.
Orion is pissed
that I too should have
this roll he thought his alone
but since has had to
share with so many
gods and kings, critters and more
to come I expect.
January 18, 2014 7:36 AM
Daniel Seiter's 1685 painting of Diana over Orion's corpse (Diane auprès du cadavre d'Orion):
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.