Of the many cities Alexander founded, none came close to the magnificence and splendor of Alexandria. Within a century Alexandria became the grandest commercial center in the world and the most influential center of culture, scholarship, intellect and science than the world had ever known, surviving to this day. Alexandria was the site of the famous Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. A magnificent Museum was founded as a university and was used as a meeting place for scholars, scientists and philosophers from all over the world.

Alexandria lies on a plain just slightly above the Mediterranean Sea, northwest of the Nile delta on the north coast. Alexandria is noted for its temperate winters, scenic coastline, magnificent scenery and beautiful white sand beaches. Founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC after the start of his Persian campaign, it was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates. Alexandria was to be the capital of Alexander's new Egyptian conquest and its harbor provided a natural naval site that could control the Mediterranean. The founding of cities was a royal pastime in those days, and Alexander embraced the task. As well as the military advantages and the beauty of the surroundings, the commercial prospects soon became obvious.

Settlers from the Four Corners of the World were invited to colonize Alexandria, and the Jews of the Diaspora flocked there. The Jewish religion had mated with Greek philosophy so wonderfully that it was to frame the intellect of Europe. Jewish inspirational thought in Alexandria was more liberal than their Palestinian counter-parts so interpretation was not fettered by the conservative legalism of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The once House of Bondage of the patriarchs in Egypt now becomes the home of the profound wisdom that was to have a very distinctive effect on the Christian theology soon to come.

Alexandria in the first century was the greatest commercial city of the Mediterranean world and the greatest intellectual center. The Jewish quarter was so large that the town became the largest Jewish city in the world, with many more Jews in it than there were in Jerusalem. Next to Rome and Antioch, it was the most magnificent city in the Roman Empire and in learning and literature, exceeded any other.

Large numbers of Jews made Alexandria their home, they were said to number a million, Jerusalem and Alexandria were considered sister cities. Many of the Jews in Alexandria were assimilated into Greek culture but most held to the faith and remained distinct. They still recognized Jerusalem as Zion, paid their temple taxes and when possible made pilgrimages to the Holy City on feast days. They built their own temples, one of which was patterned after the one at Jerusalem. Alexandria also was an important center of Jewish learning. The Septuagint translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek was produced because Greek was so prevalent in the Egyptian synagogues that many Jews had forgotten the Hebrew. They had their own temples, their own worship, languages, and customs.

The greatest names in scholarship boast of an Alexandrian education. Euclid, Plotinus, Ptolemy, Archimedes and Eratosthenes all studied at the research institute of the Alexandrian Museum. The Alexandrians boasted of their great National Library with the largest collection of books on philosophy, history, religion, literature and science that had ever been assembled, more than the rest of the world combined. The library was supposedly destroyed on several occasions first by Julius Caesar and rebuilt with books from the library at Pergamos, again by Christians in the third and fourth and fifth centuries and finally by the Muslims in the seventh century, all contested. No one seems to agree as to the true nature of the fires involved but very few of the books survived. What a tremendous loss that was.

The Jews of Alexandria competed with Greeks in the trades, business and in the marketplace and labor in general. The Greeks were enemies of the Jews, disputed their equality as citizens, envied their economic prosperity and privileged status and tried to undermine their society whenever possible.

The school of Alexandrian thought appealed naturally to the inspired spirit of the Christian mind. Saint Mark moved to Alexandria around the middle of the first century and founded his famous catechetical school there. Pantaenus was the first great teacher of the school in the second century.
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