The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 30 May 2020 - Page 12

“It has often been observed that the Hebrew and Greek traditions occupy different difficult to reconcile dimensions of our cultural heritage. It has been claimed that the roads leading from Jerusalem and the road leading from Athens into our modern cultures are different parallel roads without intersection points. Alexandrian Jews, however, seriously question this early hypothesis partly perhaps because they were Greek speakers and sought in the writings of ancient Greek Philosophers confirmation of the articles of their faith. Professor Brett has this to say: "The Egyptian Jews appear to have formed a mixed society mainly Hellenic in manners and language, but still thoroughly Jewish in temper. For this community the Greek version of the Septuagint was made available somewhere about the year 250 BC. Into the disputes on the nature and authority of this translation, the version of the Septuagint, there is no need to enter: it is sufficient to remark that it was a version not wholly free from innovations. Even if there were no self-willed theorists among the translators and no direct intention to give the Scriptures a Stoic or Platonic colouring, there must have still been many an instance when the change from Hebrew to Greek words involved a change of atmosphere that amounted to a change of doctrine."(Brett's History of Psychology)” These translation difficulties would of course become a matter of academic dispute long after when it came to the translation of certain key Greek terms into Latin. Heidegger has pointed to the problems of the translation of terms relating to Truth but there have also been problems with the translation of terms such as eudaimonia when it was translated into English as “happiness”.(good spirited or flourishing appears to be more accurate in many contexts of translation). Philo “The Book of Wisdom ascribed to Solomon, to take one example of the difficulties of translation, involved preachings by Ecclesiastes that appeared to traditional Jewish scholars to contain a number of mistranslations. Philo's position in this debate was that there were aspects of Judaism that needed correction by Greek Philosophy and there were also aspects of Greek Philosophy that needed reinterpretation in terms of Judaic wisdom in relation to the doctrine of the eternal life of the soul. Such eclectism would have seemed to Aristotle to be a form of madness but as we know Aristotle's philosophy at this time was conspicuous by its absence. Philo's preference for a Platonic form of dualism ranging over the mind-body problem and the reality-appearance problem essentially ignored Aristotelian solutions to these problems. In Philo, as in Plato, we also encounter a penchant for allegorical illustrations in his interpretations of the Scriptures.” The term “symbolic pictures, again springs to mind in this context. This question emerges with renewed force with the writings of St Paul: “St Paul, we know traveled the road to Damascus and had an experience of the invisible that spiritually transformed him. Writing after such a spiritual transformation Pauls writings have very little, if any, Aristotelian content. Paul clearly distinguishes between the mind controlled by reason which for him fails to survive the death of the body and the soul as immortal spirit related to God not via knowledge but via a "moral vision" that presumably can only be explicated by "symbolic pictures". A moral telos was, of course, the theme of Plato's Republic