Aristotle was born in Stagita, Greece in 384 B.C. Though he was neither Christian nor Jew, his thinking has had an influence on the Christian church. He was a student of Plato.
Aristotle tried to teach on every area of knowledge in a logical and systematic fashion. He emphasized rationality and observation in determining truth. He taught by walking with his students and asking them questions. He had a brilliant mind and he is one of the most influential people of Western history. Since Christianity originated in the Middle East and traveled through the Roman Empire, the indirect effects of Aristotelian thought using logic, questions and answers, etc., were the cultural context in which much of the New Testament was written. He was studied heavily by Thomas Aquinas, the great Medieval theologian of the Catholic Church.
Aristotle taught that God was pure mind and that we are imperfect creatures who cannot completely understand God. "Aristotle believed that the relations between man and God are so different because man has imperfections and hindrances that do not exist in the perfect God. God, according to Aristotle, goes through no processes as man does. He is pure mind, which can contemplate in a single instant. He is the one full and perfect being. God does not go out to the world, but the world cannot help going out to him. He is the necessary goal of perfection, and he moves as the object of desire. According to Aristotle, God is the Unmoved Mover.1
Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great who conquered the Mediterranean world and introduced the Greek language, philosophy, and thought. It was in this setting that the Roman empire arose and within that Empire that Judaism abided in Israel until finally Christianity was born.
He fled Athens after being accused of lack of reverence to the gods. He went to Chalcis and later died there.
- 1. HDouglas, J. D., Comfort, P. W., & Mitchell, D. (1997, c1992). Who's who in Christian history. Illustrated lining papers. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.