Could the Christian story be influenced by the current greek influences of the time?

I’m currently taking Art History and I encountered the differences between Greek and Egyptian mythology. There I learned that Greeks believe that gods can become men and men can become gods and it got me thinking, is it possible that the story of our Lord Jesus Christ can be influenced by that story mixed with the Jewish story?

In other words, what differentiates Jesus’ incarnation than the current trend of their time?

Another conclusion that I made is the amazing timing God placed Jesus in history that the people could be familiar with gods becoming men, making it easier for the Greeks to understand a bit of the gospel story.

I would say your second conclusion sounds closer to the mark. All the pagan mythologies that contain echoes of the gospel are what C. S. Lewis called “good dreams that God has given to the human race.”

As such, you could include fairy tales in that category. When critics say that the gospel story is a fairy tale, they’re actually far closer to the truth than they imagine, but for a very different reason than they think!

I think you might really enjoy a book that I read decades ago called Eternity in their Hearts by Don Richardson (also available on audio books). He’s the same author who wrote Peace Child, which I think you would also enjoy.

He demonstrates how even the most primitive cultures have retained broken reflections of the truth that all of our common forefathers once knew. And he shows in both history and the Bible how missionaries who will find those gospel glimmers can make connections between tribal traditions and the Christian message to form the bridge that will lead the lost to Christ.

You can see Paul doing this very thing with the Greek influences you’ve specifically asked about in Acts 17:22-34. Richardson goes into the very interesting back story of the Athenians’ unknown God that Paul was declaring to them.

I would say that the big difference between your first hypothesis and the second is which story you’re proposing is the original, and which is the broken reflection.

I hope this will help you!


Hello Mr. James. Thank you so much for this. :smile: However, I’d like to ask, what do you mean by broken reflection when you said that it is closer to the mark?

Well, what I was saying sounded closer to the mark was the second conclusion that you made about God’s amazing timing in placing Jesus in history so that the Greeks could more easily understand God becoming a man. The reason I called it closer to the mark than the first view was that the first view asked whether it was possible that the Greek and Egyptian beliefs might have influenced the story of Jesus.

I was saying that it seems more biblical to say that Jesus’ story is the source of truth - and I’m including all the Jewish prophecies and “gospel glimmers” throughout the Old Testament that climaxed in His appearance in the Gospels.

God did not have to borrow from man’s false religions in order to help Him make up a better mythology than theirs. He revealed a redemption plan beyond anything that men or angels could have conceived - and He gave it through prophets centuries before it unfolded on earth - and its fulfillment was surprisingly against all odds and contrary to all expectations. Even the angels are marveling at the wisdom of what God is doing down here through His Church (Ephesians 3:9-10, I Peter 1:12).

So I could see pagan mythologies plagiarizing elements of the gospel far more easily than the other way around. And those plagiarized elements are what I meant by “broken reflections”. They have similarities to the gospel, but distorted to refit into mythologies where they don’t really belong.

I hope this will address what you were concerned about.


Oh that helped a lot! I understand it clearer now. Thank you so much Mr. James! God bless :smile:

Hello David,
Obviously your course has got you thinking that’s…that’s a good thing. :thinking: As I read the description of your course; it is about Greek and Egyptian “mythology” . A myth is a story with out any facts or evidence in real history to give reliability to the story. People go along with it because it sounds good or because they like the world view and life style that it allows them have.

Here is where Jesus and the incarnation separates itself from myths and all other religions. Jesus birth, life’s journey, death and then resurrection are testable through examining the historical record. The Old and New Testaments are the most accurate historical documents of their time (archeologists in the middle east always start with the Bible as they look for old forgotten historical sites). Secondly if people don’t trust the scriptures the can check other historical accounts written by Josephus, Pleny the Younger, or others to verify Jesus historical place in history. :smiley:
The resurrection itself is one of the historically verifiable events of history. Jesus physically appeared to more than 500 people. The dramatic change of the lives of the disciples from fear and discouragement to courage and confidence does not occur from those that are trying to tell lies. People will willing die for what they know to be true but they won’t willingly die for a lie. :blush:

This may also be a factor but I think the most critical factor was the common language within the Roman empire. The commonality of the Greek language through out the empire allowed the gospel to be easily shared and understood through the whole land. Thus being able to be shared and communicated to others effectively. It was important for this to happen in the initial stages of Christianity. :smiley:
Blessing, I hope your study of Art History will lead you into a study of the history that surrounds the life of Christ. It’s an amazing story to know the details of.