Alexandria (Acts 18)

The city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. in the Northwestern Egyptian delta between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mareotis, quickly became one of the great cities of the Hellenistic culture. A centre for education, it boasted the most renowned library of ancient times. As its harbour stood the lighthouse of Pharos, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Recently, the harbour waters of Alexandria have been the site of submarine archaeology; researchers have discovered under the sea magnificent examples of Egyptian and Greek art and also what may be remnants of the great lighthouse.

Alexandria, home to a large Jewish community that flourished even though the Jews there sometimes clashed with other groups, was also a centre of Dispora Jewish learning. By legend and no doubt in fact, much of the work of translating the Old Testament into Greek (the Septuagint version) was accomplished there. The great Jewish philosopher and Biblical scholar Philo (died ca A.D. 50) also lived and worked in Alexandria. Acts 18:24 describes Apollos of Alexandria as a Jewish intellectual, and what we know of the city and its Jewish population accords well with this description.

With the rise of Christianity, Alexandria became a centre of Christian learning. A number of Christian scholars, including Clement and Origen, made the city their home. Following the lead of Philo, who read the Old Testament as an allegory of philosophical truth, the city became the centre of “Alexandrian” interpretation, a method of reading much of the Hebrew Bible as an allegory for Christian teaching.

%d bloggers like this: