It’s Time for Christianity to Ditch Diet Culture

Column by Rev. Fran Pratt on 13 October 2022 0 Comments

I no longer practice in the field of nutrition. The farther I went with it, the more deeply I realized that the field is rife with Diet Culture and toxic beauty standards, as well as ableism and health-shaming.

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I have been reading Dr. Spong’s idea that the Gospels were written for the Synagogue worship. Didn’t the Synagogue worship use Hebrew as its language? Then how did the Gospels get used if they were written in Greek? Could any followers of Jesus speak or write Greek?


Dear Bob,

Spong’s theory about the Gospels certainly is valid and compelling. We know that Hebrew was used by the priests in the Temple. And we know that Hebrew was not in common use by the general population of Israel/Judah in the 1st Century CE. To remind us, the era of the synagogues began many years before the life of Jesus; i.e., during the 6th Century BCE during a time when most of the ancient Hebrews were living in exile in the diaspora outside of Israel/Judah; i.e., during the high zenith of the Greek Empire. During that era, the entire region, including Israel/Judah, was Hellenized. They were smack in the middle of rivaling Greek Empires, the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire. Greek was the lingua franca for the entire empire(s), and the culture of the Greeks became well known and was in many ways assimilated.

To help us fathom this, it is effectively the case that the U.S.A. has replaced the British Empire – we have over 700 military bases around the globe to protect “the American way of life.” And along with this, much of today’s world conducts business via English and much of the world’s population is steeped in Western values via American movies, TV shows, music, etc. They aren’t merely “familiar” with American customs, history, myths, religion, values, etc. – they are notably knowledgeable about them. They “know their Star Wars.” When the ancient Hebrews gathered to meet (starting in exile, but also after) they did so via embracing the Greek phenomenon of synagogues. “The Greek word synagogue means a bringing together or assembly”  
(see  and also ). To be sure, they would have started gathering in similar ways during the previous Babylonian exile in the 6th Century BCE, but it wasn’t formally called synagogue until the 3rd Century BCE during their exile in Egypt. During that era, the ancient Hebrew texts were translated into Greek. Starting with the Pentateuch during the reign of Ptolemy II, and eventually more texts were translated, and the Septuagint was created – the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.

Back to your question, in the 1st Century CE, most all Israelites were bilingual. They spoke Aramaic and Greek. A high percentage of the words attributed to Jesus are of him quoting from the Septuagint and it was the Septuagint that Jesus read from when he taught in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. This suggests it was Greek that people were speaking even in the synagogues in Israel/Judah.

Some posit that Jesus was likely trilingualfluent in Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. What is clear is that Jesus frequently spoke in Greek. What’s clear is that it would have been Greek that he would have used to communicate if the Jesus of history actually had an audience with the Roman official Pontius Pilate. Also of note is the absence of Hebrew in the inscriptions placed above Jesus’s head on the cross referenced in John 19:3. Given that almost all of the New Testament was written in Greek - including the letters of Paul, the other epistles, the Gospels, James, Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation – it seems quite clear the followers of Jesus who were Jew and Gentile were fluent in Greek and that it would’ve been Greek they would have used to interact with each other and when they worshipped together.

~ Rev. Roger Wolsey




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