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A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Classic.


THERE is a certain analogy between civilization and an infectious disease. Both pass from one community to another by contact, and whenever either breaks out, one of our first thoughts is, Where did the infection come from? In both alike there is the unanswered question, Where did it first originate? Do all outbreaks trace back to one primary source, or have there been several independent starting points?

Not all Muslims approved of astrology. There were many who held that, as all events happen by the will of God, they could not be controlled by the stars. This was admitted, and by it came a modification of astrological theory in Orthodox Islam: the stars were no longer regarded as "rulers" as in pagan astrology, but simply as "indicators" showing beforehand what God has decreed. Still some theological purists objected, and astrologers produced apologetical works to defend their science. But the Jews frankly recognized the stars as "rulers "on the ground of Genesis i, 14-16, which seems to teach that God set the lights of heaven to rule the earth, and in this were followed by the Christians.

Arabic science flourished most in the atmosphere of courts. Scientists usually depended upon wealthy and powerful patrons. They appealed little to the average man, and this chiefly because scientific and especially philosophical speculation was regarded as tending towards free-thinking in religion, and so "philosophers"were classed as a species of heretics. Ultimately the philosophers themselves partially acquiesced in this judgment, and adopted the view that the inspired Qur'an was well adapted for the spiritual life of the unlettered and simple, but the illuminated saw beneath the written word and grasped an inner truth which it was not expedient to disclose to the simple.

Meanwhile, Islam generally had its own wise men, men learned in jurisprudence, tradition, and Qur'an. These were universally respected witb, ungrudging esteem, such as was never rendered to the scientists who were only tolerated because they were under state protection. It very much tempers our estimate of Arabic leaming to remember that scientific and philosophical scholarship was confined to one privileged coterie.

Syria had by then long ceased to be a danger. Parthian control had passed away from Mesopotamia and Syria, as the Parthians had to deal with threatening pressure on their own eastern borders. Under the degenerate Seleucids Syria was near a state of Anarchy. The real masters of the country were the Arab tribes, many of them roarning the country as brigands, others settling down in lands they conquered and forming native states.

When Syria became a Roman province it was secured against the immediate menace of its two oriental neighbours, Parthia and Armenia. Roman arms protected the border and sometimes crossed victoriously into enemy territory. But with this began a long series of wars lasting for some seven centuries, in which the frontier frequently shifted according to the fortunes of war. There was a debatable territory between the Tigris river and the Libanus mountains, which was sometimes GreecoRoman, sometimes Parthian or Persian, and these political vicissitudes had their effect on the cultural life of the area involved.


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