Greek culture dominated the audience of the Sermon on the Mount, which was from the Jewish population of the Decapolis. Romans ruled the area with military might, but Rome adored the culture of ancient Greece, so the people of that region had looked to Greek culture for generations. The concepts of healing familiar to them were based on Greek medicine.
Here in America, we have something in common with the people of Decapolis: we have been exposed to an admiration for Greek culture, too. We have developed an entirely different system of medicine, but our nation has likewise looked to the ancient Greeks and built upon Greek values, as have most democracies of today's world.
Jesus had not much use for democracies nor republics either. If such governments exist to help people cooperate, they are seldom successful. His was not an earthly kingdom, yet Jesus had in mind to show us how to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth: "The kingdom of Heaven is within (or among) you." In other words, the solution to man's inhumanity to man isn't in our governments. It's in our hearts. Yet to bring the Kingdom to earth, we need to follow our hearts and create outside of ourselves the renewal and restoration we find within.
The Greeks loved independence, individuality, competitiion, achievement, moral excellence, art and art objects, wealth, wisdom, and retribution. They longed to become divine through human effort.
Do any of those values resonate with us today?
The next eight blog posts will take a look at the Beatitudes from the Greek perspective. The First Beatitude is discussed here.