Quora answer: Isn’t it far more accurate to call the U.S.A. a Greco-Roman nation than a Judeo-Christian one?
Rome was an extension of Greek culture. Our culture IS GrecoRoman without a doubt. Just go to Washington and look at the architecture. There are only a few native democracies: Athens, Roman Republic, Magna Carta, US Constitution with precursors in the Mayflower Compact and the Pennsylvania Frame of Government and the French revolution. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_democracy
Our democracy is in a direct line of succession from those earlier direct or oligarchic democracies. The Magna Carta limited the power of kingship. But it seems to me that many of the American Founding Fathers were directly influenced by models in Plato, Aristotle, and Aristophanes as well, since many of them were classicists. Plato, Aristotle, and Aristophanes were part of the elite oligarchy and they feared direct democracy as much as sovereignty and so that fear caused the Founding Father to attempt to design in checks and balances. The French revolution showed how democratic revolution can go wrong with excessive terror being deployed which led directly back to sovereignty in the form of Napoleon. And Hegel recognized that this Terror was the result of Kant’s modernist program that emphasized rationality, too much rationality is irrational, as Blake showed though Urizen in the Four Zoas. Hegel saw Napoleon is the manifestation of the Spirit of his age. Greece, Rome, England, as well as the US Americans and French are all Indo-European, and democracy has a distinct Indo-European strain to it as we can see in the Swedish Thing and the Finnish AlThing. Thing means a social gathering in Old English as well. We see this kind of gathering to discuss strategy together in the Iliad as well. So both the rule of sovereignty and the exception to that rule in democracy are two sides of the same coin in Indo-European cultures. For instance the Dutch could not find a king, and so they settled for a republic, but they kept searching for a suitable King and they were only a democracy so long as they could not find a king to suit them. So believe it or not sovereignty is preferable, as for Plato and Aristotle and Aristophanes who was from the ruling class and for whom direct democracy was a grave danger to their social position, especially when anyone could be banished on the whim of the electorate. Our representative democracy tries to deal with this situation by placing representatives between the masses and the exercise of power. French revolution is a case in point when things can go very wrong and sovereignty looks better than democracy because the country is in Chaos. So our political system stems directly from previous anomalous direct democracies in Western history. But these were also fairly anomalous in world history as well. Seems Democracy as a counterweight to Sovereignty is an Indo-European idea. Sovereignty seems preferable, but if it breaks down there is the alternative of Democracy, normally after a bad spate of sovereigns, or in the case with the Dutch when no one is willing and able to take the office of sovereign.
Now add into this mix the intermixing of Semite and Indo-European roots in religion and we get a volatile mixture. It has been pointed out before by me and others that it just so happens that the myth of the “Crucified Son of God” which Paul came up with and which has little to do with the actual teaching of Jesus (cf. Bert Erhman), just happens to fit nicely with the Indo-European idea of Avatarism in Hinduism, and the idea of Odin hanging nine days and nights on a tree (Yadrassil) as a sacrifice from himself to himself in order to get the secret of the Runes. Thus the Paulistic mythology of the resurrection which fit Pauls his eschatology about the end of the world being very soon, just fits too well within previously prepared niches within the Indo-European psyche. It is not then surprising that Paul is from Tarsus, which was the center of Mithrism, which is the Greek Mystery religion that Christianity was founded on, besides the apocalyptic vision of Jesus amplified by Paul. Paul combined the attributes of the two universal religions of his time, Mithrism which was followed in the Roman Army, and Messianic Judaism. Thus the parts of the story of Jesus that fit into the Indo-European psychic landscape the best were adopted and others left behind in the development of Paulism. Paulism competed with other versions of Early Christianity, and what eventually won out was the Roman version. Already Rome was split between the religion of the Citizens which was basically a latinization of Greek Gods, and Mithrism which the Romans took from the Pirates from Turkey that took over the Mediterranean for a while. This volatile cocktail of the synthesis of Indo-European and Judaic elements went on to become the great dualistic religion which would stamp out any nondual suggested alternatives, and when Islam came along as precisely a heresy based on Western Indo-European prototypes but which took over and reinterpreted nondually the Semitic heritage and tried to strip it of its Indo-European elements that were foreign to the Semitic branch of the commingling steams of two nomadic cultures. The Jews stood between Sumeria/Mesopotamia and Egypt the great agricultural and settled empires. Both Semites and Indo-Europeans were nomadic raiders or the people of the Middle east between these two empires.
The Indo-European culture and traditional society has two modes, that of sovereignty (alpha male with harem staking out territory) and the mode of the outcast males and females that are not part of the territorial economy of any alpha male. So democracy, contract, and the idea of horizontal rather than vertical and hierarchical relations between sovereign and Knights and People. Semitic culture is based on the family, and they worship a family of gods and goddesses as we see in Ugarit. This takes its basis more from the Sumerian/Mesopotamian side rather than the Egyptian side of the cultural divide in the Middle East. But what Christianity takes from the Egyptian side is this fondness for Trinity (Amun, Ra, Aten/Atom/Atum]). So the Western worldview is really a combination of four worlds, two stable and agricultural, and two nomadic. We have learned more about the contributions of the Sumerians and the Egyptians since we brought them back from oblivion after learning to read their languages and thus their surviving records. But before that we had the Greco/Roman tradition of Sovereignty tempered by democracy, and to that was added the Semitic idea of Sovereignty tempered by prophecy. Because of the existence in the Indo-European tradition of the idea of Vedic Seers who shaped the Vedas as songs of praise to the gods and told stories like that of the Mahabharata it was possible to connect with the rather unique idea of the Semitic Prophecy. And of course the Indo-European culture also had its prophet Zoroaster who caused the split between the Hindu and Persian branches of the Indo-European tradition. Paul had the idea that Gentiles deserved to be Jews too, since the end was near and Jesus associated with disreputable characters. He expected Jews to carry on doing what they had always done, and he just condoned lower standards for the Gentiles because he had low expectations of their capabilities. Little did he know that this new splinter religion based solely on his idea of the meaning of Jesus supposed resurrection would take off, and Gentiles would outnumber the Jews in it, and eventually see the Jews as a race as responsible for the death of Jesus. Of course, this persecution of the Jews later was only the mirror image of the persecution of the Christians by the Romans who found the cult to be extremely dangerous. Mainly because it was like Mithrism had gotten out of the Army and there was a new God trouncing around that claimed to be the Avatar of the Jewish God who denied the existence of all gods other than the god of Israel. So Christianity started out as a mystery religion and cult of immediate apocalypse where Jesus was conflated with the Son of God. Son of God is distinguished from Son of Man. Son of Man was a figure who Jesus said was coming to establish God’s kingdom on earth, as Muhammad did. Son of God was an honorific for the kings and prophets of Judea. For Gentiles Son of God meant actually a Son of a god. And if you conflate Son of Man who Jesus bore witness to coming after him, with the Son Of God, then you get the ManGod, or GodMan, which is the Avatar. Gentiles understood avatars. And so the conflation that Paul made that saw Jesus as the Son of God and Man, fit perfectly into a niche in the Indo-European psyche called Avatar, the embodiment of God on earth in the form of a man like Krisna.
So when we come down to it, Paulism which is Messianic Judaism who saw Jesus as Messiah, who was resurrected being the first to be resurrected in the Kingdom of God established by the Son of God (prophet or king) that was also the Son of Man (representative of God on Earth in His earthly kingdom at the end of time when the dead were resurrected). This had almost nothing to do with the actual teaching of Jesus which was much like the teaching of John the Baptist, about an impending judgment, which attempted to get people to change their ways before the end of time which was neigh. And of course that end of time did come for the Jews but it was exercised by the Romans when they sacked Jerusalem after the rebellion in 66-73 AD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_rebellion) 132-136 AD the Bar Kokhba revolt put a seal on the death of Israel as a political entity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Kokhba%27s_revolt). This led to an even greater diaspora of the Jews which started with the first destruction of the Temple by the Mesopotamians and the exile into Mesopotamia for many of the upper class Jews (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(597_BC)). The upshot of all this is that the Jews who vacillated between the influence of Egypt and Mesopotamia became truly nomadic and had to learn to carry on their religion without a temple which was a major transformation in the Jewish religion, from a sacrificial religion to a religion of the Book and nostalgia. Later when the Romans called themselves Christians they continued to harass and use the Jews as pharmacons. The Jews began living in Ghettos, and were forced into dealing in Usury which was against their religion, because other work was banned for them, and because the Christians carrying on the ban against Usury needed that function to be performed by someone. The Jews basically became the untouchables of Europe. The Christians took their religion from the Jews but then blamed them for it. Christianity is nothing if not paradoxical or even absurd. According to Chesterton, Zizek’s favorite theologian, the lure of Christianity is precisely its absurdity. And Kierkegaard reaffirmed this in his own time in reaction to Hegelianism which said religion was rational. Nietzsche said that the only true Christian was Jesus himself, and everyone else had been diverted into Paulism to who Nietzsche attributes every ill of European society. He recognized that Paulism could not be the actual teaching of Jesus. How could the myth of his resurrection be the teaching of Jesus himself? His message was basically the same as that of John the Baptist which was apocalyptic but Jesus said that we are waiting for the Son of Man (who will establish Gods Kingdom on Earth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_man). Muhammad saw himself as that figure that Jesus, the prophet not the avatar, foretold of. Muslims originally prayed to Jerusalem not Mekkah. Muhammad went on his Mirage from Jerusalem. Son of Man can also mean an orphan which Muhammad was, i.e. one who was a son of a man, but who is frail and helpless and living from the generosity of others who are meeting his needs, so that every man is his father. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraclete).
The key point in all this is that for the most part the things taken from Messianic and Apocalyptic Judaism were those things that fit in well with concepts from the Indo-European worldview, and those things that did not fit well, were twisted until they did fit, thus producing non-sequitors and confusion. The major pattern that was used as a template for this transformation and translation was Mithrism a Greek Mystery Cult with Oriental (Persian) elements and content. If we can have a mystery cult with Persian content why not Jewish content. Maybe we can substitute the Jewish content for the Persian content, so says the gentile recently become Christian who served in the Roman army and was a new Roman citizen due to his service. Constantine promoted both Christianity and Mithrism in his time, and seems to not have been able to tell them apart very well, both of them seemed as sun worshiping cults to him.
All this says that the Jewish content is weak in what was taken into Christianity, and Judeo-Christian is a way to rehabilitate the Jews from phamacons into co-dwellers in the same worldview. Now we see the same thing happening with Muslims, and so eventually we will talk about the Islamo-Judao-Christian worldview, i.e. all the Abrahamic religions are basically the same. This trend will continue as the percentage of Muslims in America grows due to their higher than average birth rates in relation to the other segments of the population. Eventually the Muslims will undergo the same rehabilitation. But since Islam is a Western heresy and the West has only killed off its heretics not taking any chances with the non-representable quality of nondual proto-concepts. So basically under Greek Philosophy’s auspices Jewish and then Christian and then Muslim Theology promulgated an extremely dualistic model of the nature of man and god and their relations. What is interesting is that the Jewish relation with god was though contracts and the contracts in each case between Abraham and God or Moses and God is different. But also in Indo-European society contracts were the very basis of social relations, and there were Gods who would attack anyone who stole property rather than bartering for it. Mithra is the God of Contracts in Persia, and Varuna was the one who would come out and be heavy to whoever does not uphold the contract. So the two cultures held contracts in high esteem but in one case it is a relation among men and in the other it is a relation between God and Man.
So Greco-Roman means Indo-European.
Christian and Jewish means that the Gentiles have overrun Judaism and reworked them into what is from the Jewish perspective a monstrosity as Zizek contends. Avatarism, Sons of gods, of the Indo-European traditions, like the Pandavas, have been used to reinterpret the phrase the “Son of God” producing Paulist Christeology. And the Son of Man mentioned by Jesus as one coming to establish the kingdom of God on earth, became Jesus himself after his supposed resurrection, who was expected to return quickly. We are still waiting. In the meantime the whole history of these dualistic religions have played themselves out in violence, most of it coming from the Christian side as befits the origins of this faith in the Roman army being different from the religion of the Citizens of Rome which were Sumerian and Ugritic and Greek family Gods with upstarts like Zeus and Baal. However, Judaism and its monotheism have had profound effects on our Western culture though the Old Testament and via the parts of Judaism that survived the translation between Jewish embodiments and Christian imitations.
So I think I do agree with the premise of this question, that we are Indo-European first and thus owe much to the Greek and Roman first democracies. What we have of Judaism in Christianity is only that which easily fit with Indo-European ideas already. Judaism has been filtered through an Indo-European way of looking at things. The fact that the bible is such good literature, the fact that basing society and culture on a book is more stable than local ritual and myth recited at pagan ceremonies. Mithrism was lumped together with the other polytheistic religions. It was lost in oblivion before Cumont put the pieces together that were scattered in Museums all over the extent of the Roman Empire.