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II. The Zeitgeist of the Times Before, After, and During the Rise of the Church

The Fall of Alexander and the Rise of the Seleucids

In order to discuss the influence of Greek Religion upon early Christianity, it is necessary to offer a rough description of the doings in the Middle East in the time period surrounding Christianity's rise. In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great came charging out of Macedonia and conquered Greece, the Middle East, Egypt, and the rest of the known world. Immensely impressed with the culture of these subjugated Greeks, Alexander made Greek language and Greek culture the standard of the new empire, and Hellenism became all the rage. After Alexander's death, his generals carved out chunks of his kingdom for themselves.

Persia went to Seleusis I, and he formed the Seleucid empire. The Seleucids loved Hellenism as much as everyone else, and they thrust it enthusiastically upon their peoples – but they did not emphatically demand acceptance. For the most part, the Seleucids simply fought wars with the other kingdoms formed from Alexander's shattered empire, particularly against the Ptolemys of Egypt. And then Antiochus IV came to rule the Seleucid Empire, and he took the name Antiochus Epiphanes (god manifest).

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