From Alexander to Antiochus - Hellenization & Idolatry

A Special Late Summer Adult Study

When asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not, Jesus replied:  
19 “Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”   (Matthew 22:19-21)

This oppressive, colonial tax system began with Alexander the Great's empire, long before Jesus’s time under Roman rule.  A later Hellenistic king, Antiochus IV, had also placed his likeness on a coin (see header image). The reverse bore his appellation, Epiphanes – Greek for ‘God manifest’. In such coins, we see how Hellenization and idolatry became two sides of the same coin well before the Roman denarius mentioned in the Matthew passage above. Thus, when Jesus made it clear that the emperor on the coin is not God, Jesus invited the Herodians specifically to clarify who God is in contrast to the idolatrous imagery created by the ruling empires for many generations.

Join us for a four-week Zoom series studying Hellenization in Israel from the arrival of Alexander (330 BCE) to the death of Antiochus IV (164 BCE). Using a curated reading list from 1 and 2 Maccabees, we will gain insights into this important historical period that will complement other offerings from Christian Education, such as the ongoing Second Sunday Roundtable series and the Adult Sunday School Class beginning in September. 

August 16 - 
The Intensification of Unforced Hellenization
August 23 - 
Forced Hellenization: Enemies Foreign and Domestic?
August 30 - The Martyrs of Maccabees and the Hanukkah Story
September 6 - What is Daniel Writing at the Time of Maccabees?

Sundays at 10:00 am 
or call 301-715-8592: meeting ID: 875 267 398

Click here for a list of the readings for each week.


Header Image published by British Museum under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. See British Museum link: Also see similar coin on Bible Odyssey