Dr Tom Kerns
North Seattle Community College

Differences between

Greek & Hebrew


simplistic, quick & dirty


Differences between the Greek and Hebrew World Views



  Spiritual means immaterial
 Spiritual means life-giving
 From Plato, via Augustine
From the Jews, via prophets & Jesus 
Matter is sinful or, at most,
Matter is God-made and holy 
One should limit pleasures 
Ecstasy is a gift of the Creator 
Religion is private (God and me)
[I do not agree with this characterization of Greek religion]
 Religion is political (God and us)
 Centered around theological theme of the Fall and humankind's need for redemption
  Creation is good, and we say thank you for it by enjoying it, and sharing the enjoyment of it
 Artists choose between sacred and secular subjects, between spiritual and material expression
Every experience of beauty is an experience of God. Artistic expression shares the beauty of God 
Humankind's relationship with God is vertical; God is up, humankind is below
  Humankind's relationship with God is horizontal. God as more pantheistic

from Matthew Fox,
On Being a Musical, Mystical Bear,
Paulist Press, 1976

My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that some of these characterizations of differences between the Greek and Hebrew wisdom traditions are a bit overdrawn and over-generalized. Just to put this in context, in Matthew Fox's book (from which this chart is taken) he is trying to make a case for the Hebrew perspective and against the Greek perspective.