Posted by: religionthink | May 4, 2011

Hellenistic Paul: Letter To The Romans- Chapter One

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Hellenistic Paul: Letter To The Romans- Chapter One

 What the Greeks and Romans heard. A translation  with editing based on The Letter to the Romans from Paul while comparing ideas from Greek thought and philosophy in order to highlight the hellenstic ideas in the writings of Paul. Below is Chapter 1 of Roman’s. This is  a  fictional text. The references in the “Notes” section are theological and philosophical ideas that would apply to the context of Romans.

I, Paul, am a devoted slave of twice born Dionysus on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim virtue’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the followers in Rome, Virtue’s friends. The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on Virtue’s Son. His descent from Zuse roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of Zeus was shown by the Spirit when Dionysus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the chosen one, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Virtue. You are who you are through this gift and call of Virtue! And I greet you now with all the generosity of Zeus our Father and our master Dionysus. I thank Zeus through Virtue for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of Virtue, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And Zeus, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son– Virtue!–knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you.

The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver Zeus’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you. Please don’t misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I’ve made plans for Rome. I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of Zeus’s work among you, as I have in so many other Greek and Roman towns and communities. But something has always come up and prevented it. Everyone I meet–it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple–deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation. And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of Zeus. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of Virtue’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts it, starting with Greeks and then right on to everyone else! Zeus’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Hesiod teachings has said all along: “Through him mortal men are famed or un-famed, sung or unsung alike, as great Zeus wills. For easily he makes strong, and easily he brings the strong man low; easily he humbles the proud and raises the obscure, and easily he straightens the crooked and blasts the proud, — Zeus who thunders aloft and has his dwelling most high.” But Zeus’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of Zeus is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!

By taking a long and thoughtful look at what Zeus has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew Zeus perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like Zeus, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of Zeus who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. So Zeus said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true Zeus for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the Zeus who made them–the Zeus we bless, the Zeus who blesses us. Oh, yes! Worse followed. Refusing to know Zeus, they soon didn’t know how to be human either–women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men–all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it–emptied of Zeus and love, godless and loveless wretches. Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge Zeus, Zeus quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in Virtue’s face. And they don’t care–worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best! – (Rom 1:1-32) The Message Bible Translation where not edited.

Notes:

I will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele, how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian (30) pirates on a well- decked ship — a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway, put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings. They sought to bind him with rude bonds, but the bonds would not hold him, and the withes fell far away from his hands and feet: and he sat with a smile in his dark eyes. Then the helmsman understood all and cried out at once to his fellows and said:

`Madmen! What god is this whom you have taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either Zeus or Apollo who has the silver bow, or Poseidon, for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods who dwell on Olympus. Come, then, let us set him free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.’

So said he: but the master chid him with taunting words: `Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is bound for Egypt or for Cyprus or to the Hyperboreans or further still. But in the end he will speak out and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our way.’

When he had said this, he had mast and sail hoisted on the ship, and the wind filled the sail and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either side. But soon strange things were seen among them. First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell arose, so that all the seamen were seized with amazement when they saw it. And all at once a vine spread out both ways along the top of the sail with many clusters hanging down from it, and a dark ivy-plant twined about the mast, blossoming with flowers, and with rich berries growing on it; and all the thole-pins were covered with garlands. When the pirates saw all this, then at last they bade the helmsman to put the ship to land. But the god changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship, in the bows, and roared loudly: amidships also he showed his wonders and created a shaggy bear which stood up ravening, while on the forepeak was the lion glaring fiercely with scowling brows. And so the sailors fled into the stern and crowded bemused about the right-minded helmsman, until suddenly the lion sprang upon the master and seized him; and when the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard one and all into the bright sea, escaping from a miserable fate, and were changed into dolphins. But on the helmsman Dionysus had mercy and held him back and made him altogether happy, saying to him:

`Take courage, good…; you have found favour with my heart. I am loud-crying Dionysus whom Cadmus’ daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.’

Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song. –Homeric Hymn to Dionysus, Translation by Evelyn-White.

Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth (6). The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis (7), with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil. – Works And Days, lines 170-201 by Hesiod

Whether such matters are to be regarded jestingly or seriously, I think that the pleasure is to be deemed natural which arises out of the intercourse between men and women; but that the intercourse of men with men, or of women with women, is contrary to nature, and that the bold attempt was originally due to unbridled lust. The Cretans are always accused of having invented the story of Ganymede and Zeus because they wanted to justify themselves in the enjoyment of unnatural pleasures by the practice of the god whom they believe to have been their lawgiver. Leaving the story, we may observe that any speculation about laws turns almost entirely on pleasure and pain, both in states and in individuals: these are two fountains which nature lets flow, and he who draws from them where and when, and as much as he ought, is happy; and this holds of men and animals-of individuals as well as states; and he who indulges in them ignorantly and at the wrong time, is the reverse of happy. -The Laws Book 1, By Plato


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Responses

  1. […] Hellenistic Paul: Letter To The Romans  What the Greeks and Roman's heard. A fictional writing with editing based on The Letter to the Romans from Paul; while comparing ideas from Greek thought and philosophy in-order to highlight the Hellenstic ideas in the writings of Paul. Below is Chapter 1 of Roman's. The texts in the "Notes" section is why I think this way. I, Paul, am a devoted slave of twice born Dionysus on assignment, authorized as an a … Read More […]

  2. […] A great related post about this: https://religionthink.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/hellenistic-paul-letter-to-the-romans/ In addition you can check out this related post: […]

  3. I guess this shows how biblical writings are similar to Near Eastern and Greek mythological writings? Interesting. Am I getting this right? Thx

  4. I didn’t know that.


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