Behold the Man!: Christ in the Iliad, Classical Greek Drama, Plato, and Greek Literature from Herculaneum

Behold the Man!: Christ in the Iliad, Classical Greek Drama, Plato, and Greek Literature from Herculaneum

by J. Marc Merrill


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ISBN-13: 9781491807408
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 08/16/2013
Pages: 414
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.92(d)

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Christ in the Iliad, Classical Greek Drama, Plato, and Greek Literature from Herculaneum

By J. Marc. Merrill


Copyright © 2013 J. Marc. Merrill
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-0740-8


Philodemus: The Beloved People

Philodemus in Italy: The Books from Herculaneum by Marcello Gigante examines the ancient library that was discovered in the so-called Villa of the Papyri located just outside Herculaneum, one of the nine towns or cites buried by Vesuvius in 79 AD. The writings were on rolls of papyrus. Dirk Obbink, in the preface to Philodemus in Italy, assumes that "the books stem from a group of intellectuals of the late Republican period in Italy; the majority are by the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus" (v).

It is important to know that the

charred papyri – preserved in various states of disarray, fragmentation, and physical deterioration sustained over two millennia – are among the most difficult Greek texts to edit. They are written in Greek so esoteric [i.e. written for a specific group] that they would be hard to restore and to translate even if they had come down to us in perfect condition. (Obbink, "Craft, Cult, and Canon in the Books from Herculaneum" 5)

As for Philodemus, he is believed to have been from Gadara, a city that was a few miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Obbink assigns the approximate dates of 110-40 BC to Philodemus (5), who is regarded as "a Greek philosopher, poet, and literary theorist who worked in Italy, furthering the intellectual interests of the powerful Roman aristocrats in return for social patronage" (Obbink vi).

Marcello Gigante himself indentifies Philodemus as the author of On Gods, On Piety, and On Freedom of Speech (6). He also claims that Philodemus was responsible for establishing the library at the villa (9), but this is merely speculation. There is nothing in writing from the first century BC or the first century AD to confirm this claim.

More sound is Gigante's observation that "in the Herculaneum library we have a 'coexistence of various and incomplete editions,' which are combined and integrated with each other" (18; Gigante is quoting Guglielmo Cavallo). Of special interest is Gigante's statement that "the most ancient core of the library was formed outside Campania" (18).

Gigante calculates that sometime between 75-50 BC Philodemus published the Syntaxis or Index of Philosophers ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). This Syntaxis or Index is referred to by Diogenes Laertius in his Life of Epicurus where we find mention of Neocles, Chaeredemus and Aristobulus, who are thought to have been brothers of Epicurus and who were as dedicated to philosophy as he was. This claim is supposedly attested to by Philodemus the Epicurean "in the tenth book of his Syntaxis of Philosophers. And the same was said of his slave Mys...." (21).

We need to take a look at the title [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/ Suntaxis ton Philosophon, for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] has meanings other than "system, arrangement, organization". For example, the word can mean a "company" or a "troupe", and it can mean a "covenant" or a "previous arrangement" (Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, compilers of A Greek-English Lexicon, 1996 edition, page 1724; hereafter this source will be cited as L & S; also, the compilers' use of italics in their definitions will be omitted throughout this work).

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is the plural possessive case of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/ philosophos, which is defined by Liddell and Scott as a "lover of wisdom" (1940). So then, Suntaxis ton Philosophon could be written as The Covenant of Lovers of Wisdom instead of Index of Philosophers.

Faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ have throughout the ages made covenants with Christ to obey his commandments and to live according to his teachings. Going back to the first generation to inhabit this planet, the saints have treasured the wisdom of their Redeemer.

This having been said, let us take a look at the "name" Mys. On page 21 of Philodemus in Italy Gigante has an asterisk after these three letters. The asterisk directs us to the bottom of the page where Gigante notes that Epicureans seemed to be unique in permitting both men and women of all ages, as well as slaves such as Mys, to enlist in their schools.

Regarding Mys, if these three letters give the impression of being an abbreviation of a longer word it is because they are. But in order to explain what the three letters mean we need to turn to Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D'Ancona. In The Jesus Papyrus Thiede and D'Ancona submit an important discovery regarding Christian manuscripts written in the first century AD. They reveal that gospel writers such as Matthew abbreviated certain words. "Jesus", for instance, which is spelled [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/Iesous in Greek, was shortened to Is, the first and last letters in the name.

These abbreviations, Thiede and D'Ancona assert,

became popular in early Christianity.... The sudden and general adoption of this new system seems to have been a conscious attempt to emulate the Jewish custom of abbreviating the name of God. It was a momentous decision for ... it implied a dramatic theological claim about the nature and role of Jesus. (106)

Thiede and D'Ancona go on to cite examples of abbreviations where either the first two letters and the last letter or the first letter and the last two letters are used. The authors stress that the scribes of the first century did not employ abbreviations for "idle reasons or simply to save space on a sheet of papyrus". Rather the use of abbreviations "reflected a theological position" (125).

One example of the Jewish or Hebrew abbreviation of the name of God is El, which is how it appears in Genesis 14:20. The two Hebrew letters are 'Aleph and Lamedh. El is the abbreviation of the Greek word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/Emmanouel, using the first and last letters. Emmanouel is translated as "God [is] with us" (James Strong, The New Strong's Complete Dictionary of Bible Words 614, entry # 1694; like Liddell and Scott, Strong uses italics in his definitions, but the italics are deleted in this work).

We find Emmanouel being used in Matthew 1:23 as a name for the child to be delivered by the woman who would become the mother of Christ, the Anointed One, the God who would be with the descendants of Jacob (for the Greek text of the New Testament The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, translated by Arthur L. Farstad et al., is used throughout this work).

Abbreviating key Greek words in Christian documents makes it possible to explain the three letters Mys, which can also be written as Mus since U and Y are the same in the Greek alphabet. In fact, the Greek text by Diogenes Laertius, which is the source Gigante uses, has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] instead of Mys (see page 530 of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Diogenes Laertius II, translated by R. D. Hicks).

Now, in John 3:18 we find the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/monogenous, which is translated as the "only begotten". This phrase modifies "Son of God". Mus is the abbreviation of monogenous when the first and last two letters are selected.

If we change the word "slave" in the phrase "his slave Mys" to "bondservant"—the Greek word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/doulos can mean either "slave" or "bondservant" (see Strong 606, entry # 1401)—we can identify Mus as Christ, for in Philippians 2:7 Paul the Apostle says the Son of God took "the form of a bondservant". The pronoun "his" in "his slave Mys" refers to Christ's eternal Father.

"Neocles", believed to be one of three brothers who dedicated themselves to philosophy, is not a name. Neo' is the abbreviated form of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/neos, "new, fresh ... unexpected ... lately ... anew" (L & S 1169), while "cles" or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/kles, the correct Greek spelling, is an earlier version of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/kleis, meaning "key" (L & S 957). Christ was the "new key" to salvation and exaltation for members of the New Testament church.

"Chaeredemus", supposedly the second brother of Epicurus, is likewise a combination of two words. "Chaer" is from the Greek [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/chairo, "rejoice, be glad" (L & S 1969). "Demus" in Greek is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/demos and demos means "country, land ... the people, inhabitants" (L & S 386). "Chaeredemus" means "let the people rejoice!" (The second e in "Chaeredemus" indicates the use of the imperative.) Gigante notes that epigrams attributed to Philodemus "talk about the 'joy of living'" (9).

Aristoboulos, the Greek spelling for aristobulus, said to be the third brother, is defined as the "best in counsel" (L & S 241); aristos is "best" or "morally best" (L & S 241), and boulos is "counsel, advice" or "council of elders" (see [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/boule, L & S 325; boulos is the masculine form). The word "elders" does not always mean "elderly men"; as often as not it means holders of the higher priesthood (for information on the two priesthoods delineated in the New Testament see Hebrews, Chapters 5 and 7).

"Philodemus" is also a combination of two words: demos plus [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/philos, "beloved" (L & S 1939). "Philodemus", then, means "the beloved people". The word "people" refers to the disciples who were "beloved" by Christ. John T. Fitzgerald, in the "Introduction" for Philodemus and the New Testament World, makes it known that "[o]ther Epicurean writers are also represented in the Herculaneum papyri, though their identity is unknown" (10).

At this point it will be enlightening to point out the fact that every Greek letter has a numerical value and therefore every Greek word has a numerical sum. The singular genitive or possessive case of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/demou, "of the people". The letters of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] have a numerical sum of 522. The Greek word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/isaggelos also has a numerical sum of 522. Isaggelos means "like an angel" (L & S 836). The faithful saints, as members of the New Testament church were referred to by Paul, were like angels, messengers that is, carrying Christ's message to the world.

And yes, the church that was restored by Christ in the first century AD welcomed both men and women of all ages, as well as slaves, and all were taught in the theological "schools" established throughout the Roman Empire. As Gigante states, Epicureanism was "not just an ethical system but a pedagogical one" that permitted "the transmission of the Master's wisdom to young people and the achievement of progress in spiritual life" (24). "Epicureanism" can and should be accepted as a synonym for Christianity.

On page 29 of Philodemus in Italy Gigante quotes Michel Foucault as saying that the more learned members of the Epicureans were expected to teach beginners, and "this was the task defined as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('salvation' or 'safety through each other')".

The same could be said of Christians of the first century AD.

On page 30 Gigante notes that letters were used to develop the spirituality of the disciples of Epicurus, and letters, of course, were used by Simon Peter, Paul and other leaders of the church to teach correct principles to the saints wherever they lived.

Philodemus, says Gigante, wrote a great work on Epicurean theology that has the title of "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [Peri tes theon diagoges], How the Gods Live (book 3 of On Gods)". Gigante refers to G. Cavallo, who points out that in this work Philodemus makes frequent use of abbreviations (40).

With this reference to abbreviations we have a connection with the practice of gospel writers such as Matthew. But let's pause to take another look at the translation of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/ diagoges. Liddell and Scott define this word as "course of instruction" or "way or course of life" (392). Christ's "course of instruction" was—and is—the way of life (see John 14:6).

As for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the plural form of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Paul remarks in 1 Corinthians 8:5 that "there are many gods", and he was not talking about pagan gods as is claimed by many Bible scholars. Paul also knew that in the future there would be even more gods because the faithful saints who endured to the end of their lives would become "joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17); that is, they would share equally with Christ, and Christ had "said that God was His Father," and he considered himself "equal with God" (John 5:18). After his conversion, Paul came to realize that the god who attended to Moses was in fact Christ as a personage of spirit (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Gigante mentions the influence that Philodemus apparently had on the first book of Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods" (40). Marcus Tullius Cicero is believed to have lived from 106-43 BC. Since "Philodemus" is not a name but is correctly understood as "the beloved people", the "Philodemus" who influenced Cicero were members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Bible scholars who continue to maintain that Christianity did not exist before the first century AD ignore everything that Christ says in the New Testament about the prophets of the Old Testament period having not only believed in him but having written about him, and that being so, Christianity can be traced back to the first generation, beginning with the first patriarch, Adam.

"Epicurus", incidentally, taught that the gods were anthropomorphic (Gigante 19). Anthropomorphic means having a human form. Christ came "in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7). He died as a man and was resurrected as a man, and since he was in the image of his Father (see 2 Corinthians 4:4), and in fact looked exactly like his Father (John 14:9), then his Father, who is the Father of all the spirits who come to this earth, is also a man, a perfected man, but a man nonetheless.

On page 48 of Philodemus in Italy Gigante writes that the Villa of the Papyri is marked by "the imprint of a man from Palestine". Gigante of course means Philodemus, but there was more than one of "the beloved people" associated with the villa. The single most influential man, who was the real subject of the writings found there—writings produced by such spiritual giants as Simon Peter, Paul, Luke, and John Mark—was Christ, the Anointed One, the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].


Epicureans And Christians

Plate 7, which is between pages 58 and 59 of Philodemus in Italy, features a photograph of a bust said to be Epicurus. In Greek the word is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/epikouros. Epikouros means "helper, ally ... defender ... patron, protector: (L & S 640). Epikoupias, a feminine form of epikouros, is used in Acts 26:22, where the word is translated as "help", but a better translation would be "helpers" or "allies" because the suffix –ias is plural. This translation would also be more in keeping with the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/prophetai, "prophets", which is used in the same verse. Prophets, meaning those who have the authority to speak for God, are helpers or allies of Christ.

Luke was an ally of Christ, and the bust seen in Gigante's plate 7 is a portrait of Luke. The face is identical to a bust that can be seen on pages 26 and 37 of Ancient Rome: History of a Civilization That Ruled the World (the text is attributed to Maria Liberati and Fabio Bourbon). All that is different between the two busts is the beard and the hair being brushed in different directions. The forehead, the eyes, the cheeks, the nose, and the lips are all the same.

And yet we're told that Epicurus was born about 341 BC while the man depicted by the bust in Ancient Rome: History of a Civilization That Ruled the World is, in the words of Germain Bazin, "L. Junius Brutus, who in 509 B.C., according to tradition, liberated Rome from the Etruscan yoke and became the first consul of the Republic" (The History of World Sculpture 171). However, Bazin goes on to argue that this bust would "have to be a reconstituted portrait, for the work could date from no earlier than the 3rd century B.C." (171).

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Table of Contents


The Hebrew Alphabet....................     ix     

The Greek Alphabet....................     xi     

Part One Greek Literature From Herculaneum....................     1     

1. Philodemus: The Beloved People....................     3     

2. Epicureans And Christians....................     10     

3. Divine Offspring Of The Stone....................     20     

4. Perfect In Human Form....................     26     

Part Two Classical Greek Drama Of The Fifth Century BC....................     43     

5. The Persians—But No Greeks....................     45     

6. Agamemnon: Lines 1-145....................     75     

7. Agamemnon: Lines 179-535....................     102     

8. Agamemnon: Lines 539-733....................     119     

9. Agamemnon: Lines 782-1207....................     131     

10. Agamemnon: Lines 1210-1389....................     154     

11. Agamemnon: Lines 1399-1563....................     170     

12. Agamemnon: Lines 1566-1673 And An Epitaph....................     182     

13. Bacchae: Hypothesis....................     198     

14. Bacchae: Lines 1-16....................     210     

15. Bacchae: Lines 32-84....................     217     

16. Bacchae: Lines 100-261....................     224     

17. Bacchae: Lines 282-700....................     234     

18. Bacchae: Lines 776-1161....................     250     

19. Bacchae: Lines 1170-1361....................     259     

20. Frogs—So Then, Rejoice....................     265     

Part Three The Iliad....................     273     

21. The Iliad: Overview And Book 1....................     275     

22. The Iliad: Book 2....................     303     

23. The Iliad: Book 3....................     330     

24. The Iliad: Books 4-8....................     337     

25. The Iliad: Books 9-17....................     352     

26. The Iliad: Books 18-24....................     363     

Part Four The Writer Of The Iliad And Plato's Wise Man Who Drank Poison...     378     

27. Who Was Homer?....................     379     

28. A Word On Socrates....................     384     

Works Cited....................     393     

About the Author....................     401     

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