Article on 'Alexander the Great' by former Minister Nicolas Martis, April 1997

ALEXANDER THE GREAT

A 'National' precursor of Christ

Alexander the Great has left his mark on world history as a national precursor of Christ. In this regard, not only was he instrumental in the spreading of Greek civilisation to the East and the establishment of Greek as the only language of the peoples of the region, but also he was a vehicle for the diffusion of Christian ideals, the messages of love, peace and coexistence which he so eloquently proclaimed to the huge gathering of 9000 Greeks and Asian officers at OPI where he condemned race discrimination.

This characterisation of Alexander the Great as a forerunner of Christ is further demonstrated by :

  1. The fact that the prophets of Israel had spoken of him and also by the way he managed to unite Hellenism and Judaism in Jerusalem. Through his humility he fused idolatry, paganism and the belief in a single God and thus paved the way for the propagation of Christianity.

  1. As Plutarch wrote "Alexander who acted as he taught and spoke ... was a philosopher"

  1. The influence of his actions on other religions and peoples.

The prophets and Alexander

1. Prophet Isaiah (750 BC.)

(i) Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 17 , paragraph 20 says "When the Egyptians call the Master, he will send them a man to save them. He will rule over them and protect them from all dangers" According to Professor P. Trembellas (Memorandum to Prophet Isaiah p. 232) this "man" is Alexander the Great, who freed the Egyptians from the Persians and who was considered by the former as a Messiah. It is known that Alexander was declared a Pharaoh by the Egyptian clergy and there is a statue of him dressed as a Pharaoh in the Cairo Museum. These facts surely demonstrate Isaiah's prophecy.

(ii) The same Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 17, paragraph 23 praises "the years when there is a happy and free communication between the Assyrians and Egyptians" - something which facilitated greatly the propagation of Judaism. Those "years " according to Professor Trembellas (p.234) are the years of Alexander.

(iii) In paragraph 18 of Chapter 6 , the prophet Isaiah says "I come to gather all the nations" Professors Trembellas writes "... he clearly stated that not only was he concerned in saving the Judean nation but had in mind all the nations".

Plutarch says about Alexander that he declared at the OPI meeting "I want peace and friendship and an equal society for all peoples everywhere ..." and in paragraph 19 ".... I will persist and send those who agree with me to all nations and into Hellas".

That prophecy was fulfilled by St. Paul.

2. Prophet Daniel (550 BC.)

(i) Prophet Daniel (Chapter 2, paragraph 39) saw the coming of the Kingdom of Alexander the Great onto the throne of King Solomon. He says King Navouhodonosor had a dream which disturbed his spirit to such an extent that he didn't want to remember or talk about it. Daniel prayed to God to reveal the dream to him.

Explains Daniel:

The prophecy was borne out.

The prophet Daniel (Chapter 8 , 1-22) prophesied that the King of the Hellenes would win over the King of the Persians and that the first King would be followed by four others of the same nation. Every interpreter of Prophet Daniel refers to Alexander the Great as the King of the Hellenes and his four Macedonian successors. However, beyond these interpretations lies also the reference in the Old Testament where the Chapter on Maccabeans (4-1) begins "Alexander from Macedonia, son of Philip, beat Darius..."

Iosipos (Judean Archaeology IA 329) says that after the conquest of Tyra and the siege of Gaza, Alexander the Great went to Jerusalem where outside the town he was greeted by the Judean High Priest along with his clergy and a big crowd.

Alexander the Great bowed before the High Priest while the latter put his arms around Alexander. Then Parmenion approached Alexander and told him that everybody was displeased at his haste to greet the High Priest. Alexander replied: "I did not greet the High Priest but the God he represents."

Following the directions of the High Priest, Alexander offered a sacrifice in the Judean Temple and allowed the population of Jerusalem and its surrounding regions to continue to use their traditional laws and religion. (An example of piety and message of religious tolerance and freedom.)

Alexander asked the High Priest to place a picture or a statue of himself in the Temple. The High Priest replied that "God has ordered that no picture or statue are ever placed in the temple". However, he told Alexander that he would do something for him that will live forever. He ordered that every male child fathered that year by priests of the Levi tribe will be named Alexander. Thus the name entered the Talmud and even today many Jews are named Alexander.

The entry of the name Alexander to the Jewish Genesis, surely elevates the King of the Hellenes to the level of God's instrument. This fact alone allowed Hellenism to touch Judaism and prepare the ground for Christianity.

Rabbi Moses Ben Maimou (1135 - 1206) says that the Helleno-Macedonian Dynasty was the main instrument for the fusion of Hellenism and Judaism.

The Talmud (the post -Bible documents of the Rabbis) also makes reference to the dialogue between Alexander the Great and the High priest Somon the Just in the Temple.

3. Prophet Joel ( 500-400 BC).

He also talked extensively about the Hellenic Macedonians . In Chapter 4 paragraph 6 he says 'Children of Judah and Jerusalem, you sold out to the Helenes". He said, that during the period of the Macedonians, successors of Alexander the Great, Jews gave Hellenic names to all the nobles and were won over by Hellenic traditions and ethics.

Hellens and Jews

An additional fact which demonstrates the great connection between the Hellenic Macedonians and the Jews is the following incident which also relates to the birth of Christ.

The Three Wise Men arriving in Jerusalem on their way to Bethlehem exchanged the coins of their country with the local Hellenic coins and used them on their journey. These coins had the head of Hercules on the one side (he was considered the beginning of the line of the Macedonian Kings) while on the flipside they had an eagle from the period of the Hellenic Macedonians of Selevkides in Syria. They were the official coinage in that part of Judea from 126 BC to 66 AD and were the only acceptable means of exchange in the temples.

The above information is referred to by Mr Jacob Masarer, numismatist of the Israeli Museum of Jerusalem, talking to Mr Korl Katz, Archaeologist and Historian of the New York Metropolitan Museum in the documentary entitled 'The journey of the Kings' shown by ERT 1 on 24-12-88.

According to the Greek Historian Paparrigopoulos, the word synagogue comes from the Greek (syn = together and agoge = education) and dates back to Alexander's decree giving freedom to the local Judean Clubs. The large annual National Get-together of these clubs was also called Sinitrins from the Greek word 'Synedrio = Conference'.

Alexander's ideas, words and deeds

As mentioned earlier Plutarch characterised Alexander the Great as a philosopher and said of him "Alexander who acted as he taught and spoke...".

Alexander's vision and achievements in politics, economics and cultural development constitute, even today, a shining example for popular leaders as well as international organisations.

According to Plutarch, he surged out of Macedonia not to acquire wealth or satisfy wants but to unite people with the bonds of peace, coexistence and communication. This desire was expressed clearly by Alexander when he met Diogenes in Corinth.

His ideas included respect for the traditions of subjugated peoples, their participation in government, the gradual disappearance of the distinction between the conquerors and the conquered and a decentralised system of government - all of which guided Romans and Byzantines alike in their methods of ruling people.

The social structures introduced by Alexander were far more important than the battles he fought: Social welfare, public education and justice for the weak.

Alexander changed the image of world history. He contributed with his ideas to the notion of humanity and with courage put his ideas into practice.

With the spread of Greek and its establishment as the official language for his Asiatic and African State, the Hellenic language became the main communication tool for the diverse populations of the East. Alexander the Great and his successors became not only local but also international carriers of Hellenic language and culture so that the world could ready itself to receive and understand words spoken on the mountain from the Nazarene.

As underlined by Strabo, Alexander kept himself fully informed, by the scientists who followed him, of every new ethnological, geographical, zoological or botanical novelty encountered on their campaigns. He internationalised commerce as he believed exchange brought people together and communication brought about harmony. He also unified the monetary system - the Attican drachma became an international currency.

Diodoros, referring to Alexander the Great, says "He forced his enemies to prosper" ; if one takes into consideration Alexander's historical period in which the word philanthropy was unknown, we can understand why he could be seen as a precursor to Christ. Especially if we think of events which have taken place since and the hardships, inhumanity and selfishness which reign even today.

Alexander did not follow the advice given to him by Aristotle, his tutor, who told him to behave as a King to the Hellenes but to treat non-Hellenes as inferior beings. Alexander considered all men and women as equals and tried to make the vanquished equal to the Hellenes.

We are reminded here of the "There are no Judeans or Greeks" by St. Paul which was declared and practiced first by Alexander who was a fierce opponent of race discrimination. Let us not forget that he married Roxane, daughter of the vanquished Persian Emperor Oxyarthos, while on the same day 100 of his officers were married to Persian women as well as the fact that he trusted many Persians with positions of authority.

Before St, Paul's declaration that women are equal to men (see his letter to Galatians, C28), Alexander demonstrated chivalry of the noblest kind towards women. Arrianos is particularly positive about Alexander's behaviour in this respect.

Plutarch relates that Alexander who "considered that to conquer oneself is nobler than to conquering one's enemies" had not touched a woman until he married. When he first saw Roxane, daughter of his enemy Oxyarthos, she was dancing among the captured women. He fell in love with her but did not defile her - instead he married her immediately.

The respect shown to the mother of Emperor Darius, when she was captured is also legendary. She loved him, as a result, as if he were her own son, not following Mazalos when he tried to free her, and according to Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, when she heard of Alexander's death she fasted for five days and then committed suicide.

St. Basil, in a lecture he gave to young men, also portrayed Alexander as a prime example of self-restraint. Alexander forced about 10 000 of his soldiers to marry the Asiatic women they lived with, giving money and dowries to those who could not afford it.

Alexander was a compassionate man and as Arrianos says of him on freeing the Hellenic cities of Asia Minor from the Persians "he transformed the oligarchies into democracies and forced everybody to obey the laws"

For example, he paid all the debts accumulated by his Macedonian soldiers while he respected fully public property and money.

Arrianos says of him that he was "extremely sparing of money for his own pleasures while being very generous in lending a helping hand to others". Kanellopoulos writes, he used to "punish severely those embezzling public money or behaving badly towards the citizens."

Effects of Alexander's achievements on other religions and peoples.

a) Buddhism

Indian gods and Buddha, who were initially never reproduced in image form, began to appear painted in full body after the meeting of the Indian civilisation with the Hellenic world, thanks to Alexander. Early statues of Buddha resemble those of Apollo with Hellenic tunic and shirt.

A statue of Buddha found outside Kabul (as mentioned in my book on the falsification of Macedonian history) has a head of Alexander next to Buddha's head.

From the Hellenic coins found in Pakistan we draw the conclusion that about 30 Hellenic Kings reigned in the country during the Hellenistic period.

b) The Romans

The Romans deified Alexander. In the museum of Florina there is a plaque dating back to 3rd century AD with the inscription: "Julius Aurelius, son of Lysimahos dedicated to God Alexandros". In fact, it was the Romans who first wrote the word 'Great' after Alexander's name. The Roman councillors and Caesars felt proud in considering themselves successors of Alexander the Great.

c) Islam

Mohammed in the Koran includes Alexander, giving him the name Zoul Karnein, among the prophets who did good and gave sound advice to the world.

The Macedonian successors to Alexander the Great

With Alexander's death, his generals, proved to be valiant successors, continuing his achievements and realising his vision for humanity, with specific centres of activity. On the one hand the Ptolemees in Alexandria while on the other the Selevkides and Antigonides in Antalya, Pergamo and Efes.

Ptolemy I, who studied togeher with Alexander in the school of Aristotle, established, after advice given to him by Demetrios Falireas, the well known Alexandria Museum and Library. The library flourished and by the reign of Ptolemy VII it had reached the incredible figure of 700,000 books in its shelves.

Rome's largest library, on the other hand, had been established and belonged to Perseas, King of Macedonia. This library was wrecked by the Roman Emilio Paul (Plat. Em. Paul 28).

The Alexandrine literati, with the assistance of the Ptolemean Dynasty, worked and processed the manuscripts, cleaning them up and saving them from obscurity. They put them into some priorotarian order, translated many of them and, most importantly, reproduced them sending copies to Rome, Athens and Constantinople.

After the destruction of the Alexandria Library, the Alexandrine works were used, especially during the Renaissance, so that the wisdom of the Ancient Hellenes belongs today to the entire humanity.

Apart from its library, Alexandria was, for 1,000 years (332 B.C.- 640 A.D.) the world's largest medical centre, controlling progress in the medical science.

There were also great achievements registered in Mathematics ( Geometry and Arithmetic), Mechanics and Geography, all of which contributed greatly to the tremendous progress of Astronomy.

In 283 B.C. Ptolemy the Philadelph set up the world's first observatory while it was in Alexandria that Aristarch from Samos discovered the Sun-centred system. Copernicus used fully Aristarch's theory in his work.

The Moslem religion was also deeply influenced by the Hellenism it encountered in Syria and Egypt.

It was as a result of Alexander's and his successors' vision and achievements that in 285 B.C. the Old Testament was translated into Greek, and became the official version in the East as well as the West, while the New Testament was written in Greek from the outset. Knowledge, in this way, began its journey from Macedonia, spread to the East while the Christian faith spread to Europe also through Macedonia.

St. Paul, under the influence of Alexander and his successors, was educated in Greek and received his knowledge from Macedonia (Philip from Kavala) and after the influence of Christ spread the word to Europe (Acts, Chapter XVI 9,10).

Holzner, in his book entitled 'Paul' writes: "Once upon a time came from Macedonia a young hero (Alexander) who in his 22 years brought the presents of the West, the Hellenic language and philosophy to the East. Now the West demanded the most beautiful present from the East, the teaching of the Nazarean".

The historical influence played by Hellenism (represented by the Macedonians) in the formation of Christianity is well documented in Chapter 12 Paragraphs 20-23 in St. John's Gospel when Philip and Andreas told Christ that some Greeks wanted to see him and he replied: "The time has come for the glory of the Son of Man".

Christ's reference to his and Christianity's glory at the moment of the Greeks' appearance tells a big story of the historical influence exercised by Hellenism in the spreading of Christianity. In particular, Alexandria, a creation by Alexander and the Macedonian Ptolemies, played a most significant role in the propagation of Christianity's bright light.

The first theological School of Catechism was set up in Alexandria in 160 A.D. and played a most important role until 405 A.D., during the heyday of the neo-Platonic philosophy. During that period, Christianity needed the Hellenic philosophy and language in order to accomplish its great mission. The first Christian evangelists grew up in Alexandria and were formed by the Hellenic language and culture.

The marriage of Christianity and Hellenic philosophy was consumated in Alexandria under the guidance of Clemes and Origenis. The three Early Fathers of the Church combined theological education and Greek culture.

"The civilisation of the Hellenistic period (a creation of Alexander the Great and his successors who followed him)", writes Abraham Rankowitz, the Russian Academician of the Soviet Union, "...along with the Roman and the Byzantine Empires and the peoples of Asia Minor, played a most important role in today's civilisation".

The conversion of the Slavs to Christianity by the Greek monks Methodius and Cyrillus, an event which marked deeply European history, must be placed in a continuum to the importance of Byzantium, and as an extension, of the civilisation of the Hellenistic period.

On April 22 1990, Pope John Paul, speaking in Czechoslovakia, declared "the fact that we, Slavs, became Christian, we owe to the the Greek monks Methodius and Cyrillus, who were born in Salonika of Macedonia, and established the Hellenic and Byzantine tradition in Europe".

The substructure of the civilisation of the Hellenistic period, and especially the greatness, the presents and the interest of the Byzantine Emperors, established and developed the unique monastic city in Mt. Athos, this thousand year old jewel box of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.

The twenty Monasteries, the nearly 1,700 buildings, the 100,000 square metre painted surfaces, the 15,000 mobile pictures, the 15,000 manuscripts, some with pictures - all of them constitute a highly valuable historical and archaelogical material which has so far has not been scientifically evaluated.

Alexander was an instrument of God.

Arrianos, at the end of his book on Alexander, writes "It seems to me that no other mortal could have achieved so much without the power of God...".