Introduction to Philosophy
Dr Tom Kerns

Differences between

Greek & Hebrew


simplistic, quick & dirty



Differences between the Greek and Hebrew World Views



  Spiritual means immaterial

 Spiritual means life-giving

 From Plato, via Augustine

From the Jews, via prophets & Jesus 

Matter is sinful or, at most,

Matter is God-made and holy 

One should limit pleasures 

Ecstasy is a gift of the Creator 

Religion is private (God and me)
[I do not agree with this characterization of Greek religion]

 Religion is political (God and us)

 Centered around theological theme of the Fall and humankind's need for redemption

  Creation is good, and we say thank you for it by enjoying it, and sharing the enjoyment of it

 Artists choose between sacred and secular subjects, between spiritual and material expression

Every experience of beauty is an experience of God. Artistic expression shares the beauty of God 

Humankind's relationship with God is vertical; God is up, humankind is below

  Humankind's relationship with God is horizontal. God as more pantheistic

from Matthew Fox,
On Being a Musical, Mystical Bear,
Paulist Press, 1976

My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that some of these characterizations of differences between the Greek and Hebrew wisdom traditions are a bit overdrawn and over-generalized. Just to put this in context, in Matthew Fox's book (from which this chart is taken) he is trying to make a case for the Hebrew perspective and against the Greek perspective.


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