The apostle Paul knows how reasoning works

Monday Musings for January 31, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

Jesus only ministered 3 ½ years on this earth. Have you ever wondered why God sent Jesus there — to Galilee, Judea and Samaria — and why he sent him then — 2200 years ago — when Koine Greek was the lingua franca… and before indoor plumbing?

I wonder about this a lot, and I keep coming back to the same answer: the Hellenized and Romanized world had structures in place that would optimize the spread of Jesus’ teachings.

Western Civilization owes a great debt to the ancient Greeks. People who lived around the Mediterranean Sea twenty-six centuries ago developed math, logic, philosophy, law, rhetoric, architecture, music, theater and writing to mention a few.

As you can see by my list, I am not talking about physical structures… although those were significant. I’m talking about the cultural structures that made these people hungry to hear new ideas and evaluate their propositional content (Acts 17:21).

Our species is — and uniquely so — philosophical. This didn’t just show up in us one day. It’s always been part of who we are — even before we began writing things down. But starting with people like Thales and Anaximander back in the 6th century BC, people began thinking about philosophy as a separate discipline — even though that discipline was already the basis for all logical thought. A parallel case might make it clearer.

People were using language long before we were writing that language down. But one day (— not literally one day, of course —) someone made some marks on the ground... or a stone... or clay tablet... or a sheet of A4 paper — and they said, “We’ve been making these sounds... but is that particular sound transitive or intransitive?” — and here we are!

Philosophy was just like that. Even before people developed official rules for evaluating propositional content, people were using those rules intuitively. By the time of Jesus’ birth, writing was well-established. They had scribes! But language does not develop in a vacuum. There is a reason that people speak to one another... and this reason is to transmit propositional content.

So, when Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), people understood what those words meant... and they could understand how Jesus meant to apply them to himself. When John introduced him as “the word” (logos), people wrestled with this... but they “got it.”

This explosion in thought was much like that of the industrial revolution or the information age. These thresholds changed what we could do collectively as a people — and that’s what the Body of Christ is — a collection of people.

When we add the fact that the Roman empire allowed people to travel further and safer than ever before, we have a structure for exchanging ideas over long distances. My thesis is that God sent Jesus to the optimal place, at the optimal time, and at the first moment he could.

 

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