The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:19 PM
Švejk Švejk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Did Jesus Read "The Republic"? Did Plato know the Bible??

Probably not, but still - when Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were alive, was the Old Testament (or parts of it) available to them in any way? Would they have known about Moses, for instance? And Jesus? Would he have have been in touch with Socratic philosophy in any way, shape, or form?

I am putting this in GQ in hopes that there's an actual answer but any speculation as to what the answer might be is very welcome.

Last edited by tomndebb; 01-04-2015 at 08:16 PM.. Reason: This ZOMBIE thread from Oct '11 was revived in Post #14.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:30 PM
constanze constanze is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
IAMNABible Scholar, just a lay reader, but from what I know:

The Greeks didn't have much contact with, or interest in, other philosophies.

The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible was

Quote:
According to the legend first recorded in the (pseudepigraphic) Letter of Aristeas, and repeated with embellishments in Philo, Josephus and various later Jewish and Christian sources, Jewish scholars first translated the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) into Koine Greek in the 3rd century BCE.[7][8] The traditional explanation is that Ptolemy II sponsored the translation [9] for use by the many Alexandrian Jews who were fluent in Koine Greek, but not in Hebrew. According to the record in the Talmud,


'King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: "Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher." God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did.'[10]

The date of the 3rd century BCE is confirmed for the Pentateuch translation by a number of factors, including the Greek being representative of early Koine,[11] citations beginning as early as the 2nd century BCE, and early manuscripts datable to the 2nd century.
Since Plato was born around 429/423 BC, he couldn't read it.

As for the other way, in John's evangelion, there are many specific phrases and images that point towards John being a Jew educated in not only Greek language but also Hellenic thought and philosophy and merging it with his hebrew faith when viewing Jesus.

Since Jesus himself was, according to the little we know about him, a not-wealthy man from country background who spoke Aramic dialect instead of Hebrew, the normal assumption would be that he wasn't educated about Greek philosophy.

On the other hand, trade routes went quite far in those days already, and we don't know where Jesus went or what he did before he became public around age 30. Some people speculate he went to India to learn from Yogis their powers and point to certain parts of NT; speculating that Jesus met with some Greek traders or even educated Greeks (or Jews) in cities and discussed philosophy with them is far less unlikely.

OTOH, the attitude about mankind, gods, the universe and everything, the starting and end position of both systems - the classical Greek philosophy and the Christian worldview* - is quite different.

* Considering as always in those questions that we don't really know how much of Christian thought comes from Jesus exactly and how much from Paulus and his letters and influence in shaping the early church.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:36 PM
davidm davidm is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Near Philadelphia PA, USA
Posts: 6,959
Was Jesus even literate?

Seriously, I can't recall any mentions of him either reading or writing anything, and literacy was the exception back then.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:42 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 30,057
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Was Jesus even literate?

Seriously, I can't recall any mentions of him either reading or writing anything, and literacy was the exception back then.
Luke 4:16-21
Quote:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:45 PM
Cmdroverbite Cmdroverbite is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Švejk View Post
Probably not, but still - when Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were alive, was the Old Testament (or parts of it) available to them in any way? Would they have known about Moses, for instance? And Jesus? Would he have have been in touch with Socratic philosophy in any way, shape, or form?

I am putting this in GQ in hopes that there's an actual answer but any speculation as to what the answer might be is very welcome.
For what it's worth, my copy of the Oxford Annotated Bible I had in college stated that a number of the (chronologically) later books of the Bible (the book of Wisdom in particular, if memory serves) show distinct signs of the influence of Greek philosophy, which shouldn't be surprising since Alexander the Great's empire and its successor kingdoms had pretty much made the Greek language and Greek ideas the lingua franca of educated folks in the whole Middle East. One of the things the Maccabees were revolting against was (what they perceived to be) excessive Greek influence in Hebrew culture. So assuming Jesus was a person of education, he would have at least a nodding familiarity with Greek ideas, though possibly as a set of alien philosophies to be shunned.

Less sure about the other way round, but I'd be legitimately surprised to learn that the Greeks had any particular knowledge of Hebrew religious writings, since Israel and Judah, even at their height, were tiny, peripheral states that spent most of their existence as tributaries of bigger empires.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-31-2011, 03:45 PM
constanze constanze is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
Was Jesus even literate?

Seriously, I can't recall any mentions of him either reading or writing anything, and literacy was the exception back then.
Of course he was. He was called Rabbi, which means teacher, and had several disputes with the Pharisees about interpretation of the Torah. In one of the Evangelions it's told how on Schabbat he happened to be in his home town (village) and was called forward to read from the Torah and interpret, and he talked about how a prophet (referring to himself) isn't respected in his home town.

And among the Jews, literacy for men was expected and taught, because they had to read the Bible out loud on Schabbes and interpret it. True, that was uncommon during those times compared to other nations where most farmers were uneducated, but as a devout Jew, Jesus would have been able to read and write Hebrew.

Whether he could read and write Greek is up for guess: Likely not because of his circumstances we know about, but nothing says he didn't learn it during his wanderings.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-31-2011, 04:11 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,085
Quote:
Originally Posted by constanze View Post
And among the Jews, literacy for men was expected and taught, because they had to read the Bible out loud on Schabbes and interpret it. True, that was uncommon during those times compared to other nations where most farmers were uneducated, but as a devout Jew, Jesus would have been able to read and write Hebrew.
Really? Even while there were still priests in the temple? I always assumed the sabbath-at-home rituals were a necessity born out of the destruction of the temple and the end of the priesthood.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-31-2011, 04:15 PM
constanze constanze is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
The priests were in the main temple in Jerusalem for the big festivals and sacrifices, but as you can see in Fear Itself's nice link, the towns had their own synagogue for the weekly sabbat.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-31-2011, 04:31 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,085
Doh! Missed that.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-31-2011, 05:02 PM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by constanze View Post

The Greeks didn't have much contact with, or interest in, other philosophies.
That is utter nonsense. Many of the earliest Greek philosophers, the presocratics, were well known for having traveled widely beyond the lands of Greece, and it is thought likely that philosophy as such - i.e., the tradition of thinking critically about belief systems - probably emerged in Greece when it did precisely because of their awareness of the sophisticated intellectual traditions of older (but still extant) civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Socrates and Plato may not have taken much interest in non-Greek intellectual traditions (they did not like to read too much anyway), but they lived some two centuries after the time of the early presocratics, and in that period Greek philosophy had advanced to be streets ahead of the older (and, mostly, non-critical) traditions. Despite that, in the next generation Aristotle took a great interest in other cultural traditions, receiving reports about them from the armies of his patron, Alexander, as they rampaged through the lands where the earlier civilized traditions had flourished. He also collected a large personal library, probably the largest library in existence up to that time (setting aside such things as the ‘library’ of Asurbanipal, which was, mostly, really more of an archive of civil service records).

¬¬¬

Whether any of them were aware of The Bible is another matter. At that time, the Hebrews were a small culture, little known and considered of little significance outside of the small area where they lived. It is quite possible their traditions were overlooked by the earlier Greek thinkers who took an interest in such matters. Nevertheless, within a generation or so of Aristotle’s time, the Library of Alexandria (an institution inspired, in many respects, by the Aristotelian tradition of scholarship) was collecting texts of the Hebrew scriptures.

So, Socrates and Plato very likely were not familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, although some of the earlier philosophers who influenced them may have known of the Hebrew traditions. Aristotle may possibly have had some knowledge of them, but he probably would not have regarded them as very important or interesting. Later Greek and Hellenistic philosophers would certainly have had the opportunity to access them, but I know of no evidence that any took any particular interest (unless they were actually Jewish, of course).

To be frank, unless you antecedently take it to be the word of God, there is not very much of philosophical interest in the Old Testament. A lot of it is, at best history and at worst myth and legend, and its ethical theory (which, I hasten to add, is not the ethical theory of either Christianity or modern Judaism) amounts to little more than “follow these rules because God says so.” Greek philosophical ethical theory was already light-years ahead of this by Socrates’ time. Sure, once you have the cultural tradition of thinking that the Bible is a terribly important document, then you can extract all sorts of allegorical meat from it, and put all sorts of interesting philosophical glosses on its contents, but the pre-Christian Greeks had no inkling that it was an important book - it was the myths and legends, and the eccentric laws, of a small, unimportant tribe - and probably found it rather dull and silly for the most part, if they ever bothered to look at it.

¬¬¬

There is no evidence (and, I think, nothing in the Bible to suggest) that Jesus ever read any works of Greek philosophy. However, by the time of the origins of Christianity, the relevant part of the world was saturated with the Greek intellectual tradition, and there is no doubt that ways of thinking pioneered by the classical Greek philosophers (Plato especially) played a large role shaping early (and not-so-early) Christian thought. Jesus himself (who, if not illiterate, was probably educated only in the Jewish scriptures and traditions) may not have been much affected by it, but Paul and the Gospel writers (especially, but not only, John), who all wrote their works in Greek, certainly were, and slightly later Christian theologians, the so called “Church Fathers,” even more so. Whether or not Paul or the Gospel writers had ever actually read any of the works of Plato or other classical Greek philosophers, they certainly felt their influence.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-31-2011, 06:27 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 57,119
Paul makes reference to Epimenides in one of his epistles; if he was aware of Epimenides, I have to assume that he was also aware of the other great Greek philosophers. Of course, Paul was more widely-traveled than Jesus, too, so that might not imply much about what Jesus knew.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-31-2011, 09:26 PM
Švejk Švejk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Thank you all for some great answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
There is no evidence (and, I think, nothing in the Bible to suggest) that Jesus ever read any works of Greek philosophy. However, by the time of the origins of Christianity, the relevant part of the world was saturated with the Greek intellectual tradition, and there is no doubt that ways of thinking pioneered by the classical Greek philosophers (Plato especially) played a large role shaping early (and not-so-early) Christian thought. Jesus himself (who, if not illiterate, was probably educated only in the Jewish scriptures and traditions) may not have been much affected by it, but Paul and the Gospel writers (especially, but not only, John), who all wrote their works in Greek, certainly were, and slightly later Christian theologians, the so called “Church Fathers,” even more so. Whether or not Paul or the Gospel writers had ever actually read any of the works of Plato or other classical Greek philosophers, they certainly felt their influence.
I find this in particular to be very interesting. Given that it may be hard to sort out the influence of Christ as opposed to that of later church fathers and of Plato through them (I guess Augustine was a neo-Platonist, IIRC), what would an example of an element of Greek philosophy in the New Testament be?

ETA: Cmdroverbite also refers to this influence in what he seems to recall was the Book of Wisdom in particular along with chronologically younger parts of the NT. Can anybody expand on this influence?

Last edited by Švejk; 10-31-2011 at 09:28 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-31-2011, 10:08 PM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Švejk View Post
I find this in particular to be very interesting. Given that it may be hard to sort out the influence of Christ as opposed to that of later church fathers and of Plato through them (I guess Augustine was a neo-Platonist, IIRC),
That is a bit of an exaggeration. There is excellent reason to believe that Augustine was heavily influenced by neoplatonism (the dominant philosophical movement of his time), but it is probably a bit much to say he was a neoplatonist. Also, note that Augustine was the last of the Church Fathers, and lived centuries after the time of Jesus and the authors of the New Testament. Likewise, the neoplatonist movement (as opposed to Platonism as such) also began centuries after Jesus’s time. The most influential philosophical school at the time of the New Testament, and for some time after, would have been Stoicism (although there were plenty of other philosophical schools around, including brands of Platonism).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Švejk View Post
what would an example of an element of Greek philosophy in the New Testament be?
One that springs to mind is the opening of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the word.” “Word” here is being identified with God (creating the world through his words: “Let there be light”), and with Jesus. John’s word for “word,” however, is the Greek “logos,” and the identification of logos with the controlling reason behind the apparent chaos of the universe goes back at least to the presocratic philosopher Heraclitus.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-04-2015, 12:55 PM
Frank111 Frank111 is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 11
Curious to know

For Švejk, who posted the questions. If you are still around and monitoring the possible responses to your old questions, please read below and respond.

This is not a reply to answer your questions, yet. And although your questions are very relevant in my opinion, and this relevancy would be affirmed by anyone else that is a special student of both, Plato and the Bible; my question is to ask you; why did you, specifically, identify Plato's Republic as being the dialogue that was, possibly read by Jesus? Does this, my question, mean anything to you?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-04-2015, 02:11 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 37,459
Quote:
Originally Posted by toadspittle View Post
Really? Even while there were still priests in the temple? I always assumed the sabbath-at-home rituals were a necessity born out of the destruction of the temple and the end of the priesthood.
Actually, proto-synagogues had arisen after the destruction of the First Temple as the people gathered for prayer on the Sabbath. Ezra is credited with establishing a practice of reading from the scriptures in every village during the period of the Restoration, before the Second Temple was completed. When the Pharisee and Sadducee political parties arose a bit before 100 B.C.E, the Pharisees promoted the idea that knowledge was essential to help Jews maintain their Jewish identity. With that in mind, they promoted the study of the Torah and its public reading on the Sabbath and on market days, (Monday and Thursday). In order to pursue those policies, the Pharisees encouraged greater education. Since the synagogues did not require a priest to preside, it became common for members of the congregation to lead the services, leading to further encouragement for education so that anyone could read from the Torah and other Scriptures. It is true that the first actual law promoting education, (that each synagogue in each community had to have an elementary school), did not occur until the proclamation of High Priest Joshua ben Gamala in 60 C.E., but the principles and culture that allowed him to make that declaration occurred in the century and a half that preceded it.

By the time the Second Temple was destroyed, the culture and practice of nearly universal (male) literacy was already well under way.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-04-2015, 04:43 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Just to take a swing at a lob here, but in the big picture the Greeks were into (gave the West) philosophy and the Jews were into (gave the West) religion. Not finding philosophical meat in Torah, at the simplest layer, is nothing to get defensive or offensive about. (Not saying anyone here is either.)

That said, The Book of Ecclesiastes stands out as an exception, and thus it is especially interesting that it was included in the canon.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-05-2015, 08:50 AM
Švejk Švejk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank111 View Post
For Švejk, who posted the questions. If you are still around and monitoring the possible responses to your old questions, please read below and respond.

This is not a reply to answer your questions, yet. And although your questions are very relevant in my opinion, and this relevancy would be affirmed by anyone else that is a special student of both, Plato and the Bible; my question is to ask you; why did you, specifically, identify Plato's Republic as being the dialogue that was, possibly read by Jesus? Does this, my question, mean anything to you?
I completely randomly came across this - I had no recollection of even starting this thread and came across it by chance, I don't usually go into GQ anymore.

Don't attach too much importance to me picking the Republic, it's just the thread title but the OP itself and my later post as well make it clear I'm interested in possible awareness with Greek philosophy generally.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-05-2015, 10:13 AM
Malthus Malthus is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
My understanding is that the study of Hebrew affairs would have been very much a niche interest among Greeks during the Golden Age of Greek philosophy- no doubt some Greeks particularly interested in ME affairs would have known of it, but a general, well-educated Greek would likely not.

The reverse would have been true around the time of Jesus - that is, a well-educated Israelite would certainly have heard about, and possibly read, the 'Golden Age' Greek philosophers - as Greek culture had widely permiated the cultural area of 'Helenism' (and later, the Roman world), of which Judea was a part.

The issue then would be whether Jesus was himself well-educated (aside from his ability to read the Torah). This is impossible to say. However, early Christians certainly included well-educated followers among them, who would have known the Greek philosophers.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 01-05-2015, 10:22 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
It is also significant that at the time of Jesus, educated Romans in Rome mostly wrote and conversed in Greek
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 01-05-2015, 11:02 AM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
It is also significant that at the time of Jesus, educated Romans in Rome mostly wrote and conversed in Greek
Really, in Rome? I thought this was only true of the middle east. Interesting.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 01-05-2015, 03:07 PM
Frank111 Frank111 is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 11
What I'm about to write has, probably, been said already somewhere here or elsewhere.
The Original question posed about Jesus having, possibly, read the "Republic" or anything else of Plato's works, or Greek philosophy in general, is relative to one's take on who Jesus was. If Jesus was (is) the son of God, the question might be a moot point; God, or his Son, would be all knowing, and therefore, follows the logical conclusion. However, not so fast there, we are told by a passage in the NT. God only is all knowing, as pointed out by Jesus Himself; "Of the day and hour, only the Father knows", and not the angels, nor even the Son." But there, Jesus was responding to the question from someone asking Him about the time that the destruction of the Temple that Jesus was prophesying, and it is referring also to when the terrible and great Day of the Lord world come (The second coming of Christ, and the Apocalypse in John's Revelation, and also other Old Testament references by other prophets, such as Daniel, etc.) I would think, if one is a believer (Christian) that Jesus, although not knowing as much as his Father, God, would be expected to know such things as Greek philosophy, especially Plato's Socrates, who parallels Jesus, the man, as written down in the NT, and no doubt would also know the Greek Stoics way of life, which would also parallel some of Jesus' lifestyle and ideas. Therefore a Divine Jesus would know.

Let us assume that Jesus was just a man, and a sort of philosopher of "Kind" and a teacher of this kind of philosophy (a Jewish religion prophecy of a Messiah, which was later dramatized into early Christianity, based on the life and works of Jesus, professed and believed to have been the Jewish prophesied Messiah, but rejected by the majority of Jews, and accepted by a small minority of Jews, which then became what we all know today. Based on this assumption, then, according to some modern scholars, Jesus had the benefit of an education that exposed him to Greek philosophy, especially Stoicism. The argument of these scholars, which have to, indirectly, affirm that Jesus was just another man; albeit, a philosopher, is based on the premise that Jesus grew up in an area of Judea not as implied in the NT, but in another small town near Galilee. And nearby there was also a large and well established city (Cesarea) that was originally, basically, a Greek colony, where there was a large population of Stoics, and Stoics/Platonic philosophy institutions. These scholars believe that Jesus must have had the benefit of Stoics schooling, and for proof as to the probability, they parallel Jesus' meek disposition, and choice of standing up and helping the poor and their life style, which was also championed by Him; same as the Stoics beliefs of humility and helping others less fortunate, and also the other moral codes. Socratic morals were also along these lines.

As far as Plato, and some other Greek philosophers of that time, and before, having been familiar with the Old Testament Bible, we have Justin Martyr as another witness. Justin claimed, as stated in Wikipedia: Justin includes a tract on Greek mythology in 1 Apol. 54 and Dial. 69 which asserts that myths about various pagan deities are imitations of the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament. There is also a small tract in 1 Apol. 59–60 on borrowings of the philosophers from Moses, particularly Plato. These two tracts may be from the same source, which may have been an early Christian Apology. (Justin Martyr lived from 100-165 AD)

As always with these kind of hypothetical questions, which are made opaque and difficult to find by age, we can only opinion and make our best guesses at, until such time that iron clad evidence may be found. Otherwise, the moral of the story is: Only God knows for sure. But perhaps one day, if what Socrates said about the immortality of the soul is true, we can pose the questions directly to the source, and hear it directly from "the horse's mouth."

Long live true philosophy (truth and the search for God)
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 01-05-2015, 03:58 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
I recently read Aslan's book "Zealot" which gives a very different take on the historical Jesus. Basically, he suggests that Jesus was a zealot religious type, a follower of John the Baptist; after John's death, Jesus continued preaching, railing against corruption of he temple hierarchy and promising to free the Jews from Roman oppression (somehow). He eventually collected a large crowd of followers, and made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and this scared the temple elite enough that they got him executed.

Reading between the lines, this was a fanatically religious preacher, probably barely educated and focussed on a fairly xenophobic religion that denied any connection with other religions. Likely he had no interaction with educated Greeks, nor with the more cosmopolitan Jewish educated types that would know, speak, or read Greek; nor would he have much to do with type of person who would have copies of Greek books. These were expensive items and his teachings seem to despise the rich. I don't imagine too many rural rabbis having a collection of Greek philosophy, or much of any writings from heathen neighbours.

OTOH, Aslan also points out that Joseph, and likely Jesus and his brother James before they went wandering the countryside, would have been employed rebuilding the nearby town of Sepphoris and then Tiberias; because their occupation "tekton" was more likely labourer or construction worker than carpenter. So perhaps Jesus would have encountered rich and educated people from many backgrounds, and if he presented himself as a clever man able to learn from many sources, he may have talked to and learned from people from all over the eastern empire drawn to Antipas' new cities. He may even have had an opportunity to hear about Greek writings.

Another speculation is that he was associated with the Essenes and their settlement(s) around the Dead Sea, like John the Baptist before him. Then maybe he would have learned about Greek philosophy third hand from more educated people who had retreated to the religious communities.

Last edited by md2000; 01-05-2015 at 03:59 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 01-05-2015, 06:11 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 23,806
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Paul makes reference to Epimenides in one of his epistles; if he was aware of Epimenides, I have to assume that he was also aware of the other great Greek philosophers. Of course, Paul was more widely-traveled than Jesus, too, so that might not imply much about what Jesus knew.
Or pseudo-Paul, at least. It's in the book of Titus, which may or may not be Pauline...specifically, Titus 1:12:

"One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”"

The book of Acts also has Paul arguing with some Stoics and Epicureans in Athens. From Acts 17:18:

" A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection."
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 01-06-2015, 02:48 PM
astorian astorian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
I can't and won't speak for Jesus, but Greek culture and education made their way into numerous societies, including ancient Israel. If you read the books of Maccabees, you'll find that many young Jews were fascinated by Greek culture; they joined gymnasiums, adopted Greek garb, and learned to enjoy arguing about politics and philosophy the way Greek intellectuals did.

So, while the Bible never mentions Plato, it seems very likely to me that many young Jews during Jesus' time (and earlier) had read Plato and Aristotle, and were quite familiar with their ideas.

Greeks in general were far less interested in what was going on among barbarians in backwaters like Palestine, so very few would see much benefit in reading Hebrew Scriptures.

But you never know- Greeks like Herodotus enjoyed travelling around the world, learning the lore and legends of surrounding nations. He might have gotten a kick out of reading Genesis. Beyond that, in the Gospel of John 12:20, we read that some visiting Greeks approached the apostle Philip and asked if they could meet Jesus. There is no indication that these Greeks ever did get to meet him, but it goes to show that some Greeks were curious enough about alien religions to want to see Jesus in the flesh.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:08 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.