WWW: When Athens Met Jerusalem by John Mark Reynolds

February 5, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
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When Athens Met Jerusalem
by John Mark Reynolds

I bought this book for two excuses reasons. First, I thought it would help me studying up for the talk I’m writing for this summer’s conference {not that they’ve asked me to speak yet — how presumptuous of me!}. In reading some of it, the jury is still out on whether this is so, but I like it, so there you go. Second, John Mark Reynolds was at Biola when I was there and, though I never had a chance to study under him, I always loved any opportunity to hear him speak in chapel {or any other venue that was available}. So, naturally, I wanted to read his book when I heard about it.

I’ve only read the Introduction and part of the first chapter, but it’s been a delightful romp through philosophical history thus far. The whole thing dovetails nicely with the Year Six readings I’ve been doing in order to discuss with my oldest. While The Story of the Greeks reminds me of Plutarch, full of myths and wars and political intrigue with a few chapters on famous philosophers {such as Socrates}, this book is focusing on the history of philosophical thought, beginning with pre-Socratic thinkers. Fascinating! I’m saving snippets to read aloud to my son.

What I love the most, though, is his focus on how this prepared the way for the Church, how Greek thought and language helped to bring about the fullness of time in which Christ was born.

The desire to do philosophy did not dry up, and in fact it grew in centers like Alexandria, but the quality was low. Ideas after Aristotle multiplied but did not progress. There is a great deal of water in a swamp, but it doesn’t go anywhere. The man who had the answer to this stagnation was Saint Paul. {p. 16}

To be truly Christian, after all, was to believe some things and not to believe others. The very idea, however, makes conversation with those who deny logic in their religion impossible. {p. 21}

The irony is that secularists have no more use for old books and writers than the most anti-intellectual Christians. {p. 21}

To study the Greek thinkers before their contact with Christianity is to see the best that human reason and imagination is capable of without divine revelation. {p. 22}

In the year 585 BC and Ionian philosopher name Thales accurately predicted an eclipse of the sun, and philosophy was born. His prediction was remarkable because it was not just a lucky guess but part of a well-ordered cosmology. {p. 30}

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