Study of the Graeco-Roman World
Classical language, rhetoric, philosophy, and culture have had a continuing impact on study of the Bible since antiquity. When Tertullian (c.160–225 CE) asked, ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’, he anticipated the ambivalent relationship between the classical and biblical worlds. Though he had a good classical education and used its tools, he was suspicious of their effect on scripture. The rise of formal biblical scholarship during the Renaissance set the study of the Bible firmly and naturally within the humanist and intellectual context of the study of the Graeco-Roman world. The development of critical biblical studies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries triggered another major leap in the importance of classical study upon biblical studies, for virtually all scholars of theology and biblical studies then had deep classical roots. Greek and Roman languages, literatures, and histories directly and indirectly informed the study of the Bible. The influence of those worlds on biblical studies declined in the mid-twentieth century as the balance shifted from the study of theology to the study of religion. In recent years, new approaches to the study of the Bible have prompted a vigorous return to investigations of the riches of Greece and Rome.