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The Surprising Links Between Alexander the Great and Christianity

The Surprising Links Between Alexander the Great and Christianity


Alexander the Great died three centuries before Christianity officially appeared, but his cult was so strong that some symbols connected with the ancient Macedonian king were adopted by the new religion. Moreover, one of the most famous churches in Italy contains an adventurous history connected with him.

When Christianity started to gain more popularity, bishops expanded their influence very quickly. They tried to destroy ancient cults, but many people kept their faith in the old Gods. Moreover, some of them supposed that the new faith was not really new, but just a different presentation of the old beliefs.

Alexander the Great died at age 33. His death was a surprise and had a big impact on the geopolitical world of the 3rd century BC.  When he died, his cult flourished. He was buried in a monumental tomb in Alexandria called ''Soma'' (Greek ''Body''). For centuries, many pilgrims visited the last palace of Alexander, worshiping him and asking for support in their daily problems or to accomplish goals. Alexander was believed to make dreams come true and to bring happiness and wealth. He wasn't just a dead king, he was regarded as a real deity, and one of the most important Gods in the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia.

A Pagan God in Christianity

The history of Alexander the Great highly influenced the stories which created the base for the Christian doctrine. Alexander the Great brought the Hellenistic civilization to the East more than anyone had done before him. Although many parts of Anatolia and its proximities were already influenced by the Greek language, creating the Empire of Alexander made it more popular than ever before. According to a specialist of ancient languages, it became the main reason why this language was so popular three centuries later - in the times of Jesus.

The Nike of Samothrace is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Hellenistic art.

The Nike of Samothrace is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Hellenistic art. (Public Domain)

Alexander loved peacocks. He apparently saw these beautiful birds in Asia and decided to bring them to his homeland. Their feathers became the symbol of Alexander's power, but centuries later it was adopted as the symbol of the highest bishop of the Catholic Church. Moreover, it is believed that the earliest pictures of a young Jesus portrayed the prophet of Christianity with light brown hair because it was the color of the young Alexander's hair as well.

Prophets and the King

In Judaism, it is believed that several prophets had visions of Alexander the Great many centuries before he was born. The prophet Isaiah, who lived 5 centuries before Alexander, wrote in Chapter 19, paragraph 20 about his vision:

"When (the people of Egypt) exclaim to the Lord, then the Lord will send them a man to save them. He will rule them and will save them from dangers".

Scholars suggest that the man described in this prophecy was Alexander. During Persian domination, Alexander was considered as an incarnation of the expected Messiah. The same prophet suggests that the period of his ruling would be prosperous for Egyptians and Assyrians.

The Nike of Samothrace is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Hellenistic art.

Name of Alexander the Great in Egyptian hieroglyphs (written from right to left), c. 330 BC, Egypt. Louvre Museum. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Two centuries later, Prophet Daniel foresaw that there would be a king who would occupy the throne of Solomon. The Assyrian King Nebuchadnezzar had a nightmare, so Daniel asked God about the meaning of the dream. The answer suggested that he saw the kings who would change the history of this land - including Alexander the Great. Prophet Daniel also foretold that the Hellene King would conquer the Persian Kingdom and be succeeded by four kings of his blood.

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream.

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream. (Public Domain)

Also Prophet Joel in the 5th century BC saw Alexander in his visions: "Children of Juda and Jerusalem you have been attracted to the Hellenes".

It seems that Alexander was strongly expected by the nation that created the foundation for Christianity.

Hebrew and Early Christian Imprints of Alexander

In circa 70 AD, the historian Josephus Flavius wrote that after the conquering of Tyre and the siege of Gaza, Alexander visited Jerusalem. At the entrance of the city, he met the Hebrew Archpriest, Simon the Just, and many other priests and people.

Alexander always respected the rules characteristic for the places he visited, so he descended his horse and went to greet the Jewish Archpriest. Alexander’s general Parmenion suggested that the soldiers were displeased that he greeted the Jewish Priest first. Alexander answered that he didn't greet the priest, but the God he represented. As Josephus wrote:

''And when he had said this to Parmenion, and had given the high-priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him where in Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.''

Alexander's name was added into the genealogy of the Jewish community, giving him a divine quality.  Moreover, the Greek word ‘Synagogue’ dates back to the times when Alexander gave freedom for various Jewish gatherings. The annual Hebrew Convention that used to take place in Jerusalem was also called "Synitrins", from the Greek word Συνέδριο.

Statue of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Statue of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology Museum. (Public Domain)

In the times of early Christianity, St Vasilios the Great suggested that Alexander was a role model for Christian self-discipline. The main language of Christian texts was Greek. According to the Apostle Paul, Christians accepted Greek intellect and teachings, which became fundamental to the new religion.

The Venetian Tomb of Alexander

In Alexandria in the 1st century AD, St Mark, a man who was one of the paramount creators of Christianity, died. He was buried in the eastern part of the city, close to the ruined Soma. In 828 AD, during the domination of Islam, two merchants, Bruno of Malamocco and Rustico of Torcello, stole the body believed to be St Mark and took it to Venice.

Christians there built a magnificent church, currently known as the Basilica of St Mark. However, it is unknown if they actually took the remains of St Mark, an unknown person, or Alexander the Great. There are two main arguments which suggest that Bruno and Rustico could have taken the bones of Alexander to Venice. First of all, the Christian pilgrim, Bernard the Wise, described in 870 AD that the church with the remains of St Mark was located out of the eastern walls of the city.

St Mark's Basilica.

St Mark's Basilica. (Public Domain)

The most suggestive part of the story is a strange sign carved on the tombstone of a man who is buried in the Basilica nowadays. It is a symbol which looks like a symbol of a star characteristic of the dynasty of Alexander the Great. Unfortunately, no researchers have had the opportunity to examine the remains covered under this tombstone. It would be very easy to find out if the remains belong to Alexander as opposed to St Mark - the Macedonian king was mummified and fully decorated with gold.

A King of Nations

Alexander the Great appears in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. He lived a relatively short life, but his charisma was stronger than death. In early medieval times, Christian women in southern Europe believed that a coin depicting Alexander would bring them happiness on their wedding day and in their marriage. With the expansion of devotion to Jesus, Alexander lost some popularity, but his name has never been forgotten.

The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great.

The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great. (Public Domain)

Featured image: Summit Cross (Public Domain), and a statue of Alexander the Great in Khujand, Tajikistan. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

By Natalia Klimczak

References:

Nicholas J. Saunders, Alexander's Tomb. The Two Thousand Year Obsession to Find the Lost Conqueror, 2006.

Vojtech Zamarovsky, Tropami Siedmiu Cudów Świata, 1990.

http://www.macedonia.info/Martis_connection.htm

http://www.theswordbearer.org/rcH005_Alexander.html

http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alexander/alexander_t35.html

Comments

It's just some unrelated topics innocently mixed-up in this article: according to 7th-9th century Arabic scholars, the Prophet Muhammad's name was mentioned in all early versions of Old and New Testament (and even in _Zabur_ - David's book which is lost to us), talking about the Last Prophet, the Praised One (i.e. _"Ahmad"_ in Arabic, _"Paraklitos"_ and its variants from Greek in later translations of Bible). And that was quite detailed to the level of physical appearance, including the _"Prophethood Emblem"_ on Last Prophet's right shoulder etc. Every priest, shaman and oracle of the time had this knowledge and almost every nation and tribe hoped He comes from amongst them, considering it a great honor.

Of course, when Prophet was sent to Ben-i Hashim tribe of Quraysh, in Arabic peninsula, besides those who followed, everyone opposed Him (for that reason, Qur'an calls those scholars "Donkeys loaded with Books" - 62:4 - , i.e. those who knew it, but didn't understand and act by that knowledge, as they clearly saw all the signs in Prophet Muhammad, yet they opposed). And these opponents generally fell into two categories: 1) those who were driven by jealousy, such as the famous "Abu Jahl", who even confessed by saying "Of course I accept Muhammad as Allah's Prophet, but I can't accept Him being from another family, giving up on all the honor and glory it'd bring to mine", 2) those who have already established their rule and fame who altered previous religions for their personal gains - so what they did was to alter sacred scriptures more and gradually replace all the mention of name "Ahmad"/"Paraklitos" with other great historic figures. And since we have only those final versions of scriptures, what we will derive from them will be as "corrupt" as they are. One good move would be to research the old books of first millenium AD, or even before that, and read what those writers had to say about Old and New Testament, and verses in them: when compared, a lot of lost lore from original scriptures would surface. What I read only belonged to post-6th century.

This topic is completely different from "Jesus as Messiah near End Times" one, so one shouldn't mix these two: Islam still accepts the fact that Prophet Isa (pbuh) will return in "End Times". However that information was introduced to Abrahamic religions (Islam included) only after the murder attempt on Isa's life (who, according to Islam, wasn't crucified, but ascended - His traitor follower was crucified in His stead, as God has changed that person's face to that of Isa's). However the lore/knowledge of arriving "Ahmad" has been a knowledge since Adam (pbuh) - again, this is according to Muslim lore/knowledge (called "Siyer" - "History of Prophets" based on Qur'an and Sunnah).

The "prophet" of Islam is nowhere mentioned before the Quran and the advent of Muslim literature. I have studied both the Bible and the Quran. The Quran is simply an attempt to hijack judeo-christian traditions and if one really studies the Quran, it a very poor attempt indeed. I am not Jewish or Christian. But I know opportunistic cultism when i see it, and Islam qualifies utterly. The passages in the Quran assigning NO rights to non-muslims, not even the right to live, gives Muslims carte blanche to rape, murder, and pillage anyone not of thier "faith." Evil stuff indeed.

Using your reasoning, if the Quran 'is simply an attempt to hijack judeo-christian traditions', then it stands to reason that the Bible is nothing more then an attempt to hijack judeo beliefs.

No, Christianity hijacked nothing.
Jesus was born according to Jewish law, lived according to Jewish law and died according to Jewish law. God sent his son to suffer and die so that the faithful would have everlasting life.
God sent his son to earth to bring a new message, a kinder & gentler message. Jesus was a Man of Peace. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do", were some of the last words of Jesus.

Mohammad was a caravan raiding war lord who fought in 86 battles, Mohammad brought a message even more violent than the found in Judaism. In Mohammad's final address to his people he said, "I have been made victorious by terror". There is too much regression here to believe that Mohammad hijacked Christianity. Mohammad was a pedophile according to today's standards.
However, I can overlook Mohammad's marriage to a six year old child or even his consummation of that marriage when the child was 9 years old. 1400 years ago the standards were different, but the problem is that Islamites emulate Mohammad's actions.Child rape is a crime in the Western world, but but child rape and other crimes come with migrating Moslems.

Islam Perverted Judaism and Christianity

Jesus if such an individual lived was born into the Jewish faith. He would have lived under the commandments and guidelines of the Jewish faith. This would have included having become married and having childredn. As to his death well that came about under Roman law having been tried and found guilty in a Roman court.

Rape of any kind as are other crimes is against the law in many Christian based Western countries. But as you must be aware of this does not prevent these crimes from being committed now does it. In many cases these crimes would have been committed by those who claim to be Christians, devout Christians, Evangilistic Christians, members of the clergy of the various Christian faiths, officers of the court who swear their oaths on a Bible and many other Christians in various positions of bussines, government, military etc etc etc ..

These rapes and other various crimes are committed towards children, teens, young adults, adults either male or female.

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