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What influence did Greek philosophy have on the formation of orthodox Christian doctrine?

Particularly, what Christian doctrines or paradigms of understanding God and reality can be traced to have been influenced by Greek thought?

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  • After seeing some answers, I see that this might give birth to another trinity argument on this site. While I welcome evidence that the trinity doctrine's formation was directly influenced by greek thought, I'm also interested in paradigms of greek thought, not just doctrine. For example, I've heard it said that God existing “outside time” is a greek understand of God’s eternity rather that a Hebrew one, and that that a dichotomy between heaven and earth is also Greek, while a Hebrew understanding is different, yet I've to encounter clear evidence that supports these claims. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 23:39
  • Could you clarify is this question specific to the Eastern Orthodox Church?
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 1:56
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    No, by Orthodox I mean all mainstream Christianity that holds to the creeds, such as the Nicene, Athanasian, Chalcedonian creeds, etc. Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 2:02
  • That’s what I figured. I merely wanted to clarify. Thank you
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 2:59
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    Personally, I'm as sceptical when people claim things about the "Hebrew mind" as I am when they claim that something is adopted from Greek thinking.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 8:13

4 Answers 4

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There were a lot of things that Greeks taught and believed that resemble what mainstream Christianity has come to embrace. For example

The concept of a soul within us that cannot die first became a ‘Christian’ doctrine at the end of the second century AD. Hell had been taught in Greek philosophy long before the time of Jesus, with Plato (427-347 BC) as the important leader in this thinking. The teaching of an everlasting place of punishment for the wicked is the natural consequence of a belief in an immortal soul. By the year AD 187, it was understood that life, once we have it, is compulsory; there is no end to it, either now or in a world to come. We have no choice as to its continuance, even if we were to commit suicide to end it.

More detail given at Truth According to Scripture

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  • Your answer gives one the impression that Christianity was nested in Greek history and culture when in fact it was nested and birth in a Hebrew context with Jewish leaders and Jewish writers, with far greater historisty and influence than the Greeks had on the early Church writings. The NT is mirrored in the OT Scriptures and prior to its compilation all they had was the Hebrew Scriptures as their guide. Unless you know of Apostles making doctrines from the writings of the Greeks who in turn got much of their influence from the Northern Thracians culture/s. You might make a case for the RCC
    – Autodidact
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 1:03
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    @Autodidact No one is saying the scriptures themselves are tainted with Greek philosophy but in the first few centuries after the NT was completed Greek philosophy heavily influenced the orthodox doctrine formation.
    – 007
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 1:10
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This question bothered me for ages. At one point I entertained the idea that there had been Hellenistic elements that needed to be purged. But Pope Benedict cured all that.

Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria—the Septuagint—is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity.

– Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with the Representatives of Science (University of Regensburg), “Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections,” September 12, 2006

So we have Reason shedding the light it can and Revelation proper giving what only it can.

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The early church fathers though maybe influenced were very much sympathetic to many stoic philosphers ideas of morality being an abstract thing not to do with the gods. As a concept of morality being written on the heart, the early church fathers knew the motivation for the ideas of logos was because the roman and greek pantheon of gods did many immoral things so the romans had to get their heads around a deity that did good and was the source of good.

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In 2018 I wrote an article titled "Ousía and hypostasis from the philosophers to the councils" which probably answers most of this question, so I will just link to it. It is also in PDF format in academia.edu.

http://ousiakaihypostasis.blogspot.com/

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