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Catholic Dictionary




The language of the New Testament and the dominant culture of the Mediterranean world in which Christianity was first established after its origins in Palestine. Its significance in the books of the New Testament lay in the fact that it became the primary linguistic bearer of Christian revelation and ever since has remained normative for the original meaning of the inspired text. Its importance as a civilization lay in the extraordinary intellectual development, which St. Paul calls the wisdom (sophia), of the Greeks and which thus became the cultural incarnation of the Church as the Messianic Kingdom. There was, then, a providential merger of the Jews, who were God's chosen people of whom the physical Christ was born in the flesh; and of the Greeks, who were the most civilized people of their age, among whom, as the society of believers, the Mystical Christ took root.