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Greek civilization of antiquity. It was Alexander the Great‘s policy to introduce the Hellenistic culture in the vanquished countries of the Near East. Adopting elements of Near Eastern cultures, Hellenism lost much of its pure Greek spirit. However, it held a great attraction for the conquered people, who were fascinated by the Greek language, arts and science, and the Hellenist cult of body perfection. Of the Near East cultures only Judaism opposed Hellenism. The Greek belief in many gods and Hellenistic sensuality conflicted with Jewish monotheism and strict morality. The struggle between Hebraism and Hellenism came to a head in the Maccabean rebellion. Hebraism was victorious, the Judeans regained their independence, and the spread of Hellenism was checked in Judea.

The large Jewish communities in the Hellenistic kingdoms in Asia, particularly Alexandria and Antioch, were deeply influenced by Hellenism. They became largely Greek-speaking, and the Bible was translated into Greek and called the Sep_tuagint for their use. A Greco-Jewish philosophy developed; the interpretation of the Bible by Philo of Alexandria is outstanding. Traces of Greek influence remain in some of the Jewish Wisdom literature of this period, such as Apocrypha, and in such words as synagogue, sanhedrin, and parnas which passed into the language spoken by Jews.

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