Plato and Christianity

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by ExpectantlyIronic, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    In the works of Plato, Socrates speaks of a perfect and unchanging God, and states that people have immortal souls. He says those souls rise up to be with God if unburdened with sin, but descend into Hades if weighted down by sin. Mind you, Plato lived more than 300 years prior to Jesus, and Judaism contains no doctrine concerning souls or an afterlife. Such things have led some to say Plato must have been inspired by God, and others to say the writers of the New Testament must have been inspired by Plato. In fact, the early Christian church is said to have made Plato an "honorary Christian".

    The other obvious parallel between the writings of Plato and Christianity, lies in similarities between the life and death of Jesus and Socrates. Socrates went around questioning established beliefs and chastising the sinful, and was later put to death for being a heretic and "corrupting the youth". Socrates was also said by Plato to have gone willingly to his death, as Plato had offered to bribe Socrates' guards so he could escape. There are many points where the stories differ, but all the same, the parallels are intriguing.

    So whether we think Plato was a Christian prophet of a sort who predated Christ, or else an inspiration for Christianity, or something else; it seems quite interesting that an ancient Greek anticipated so much of the religion.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010

  2. Diederick

    Diederick Registered Member

    Christianity is stuffed with doctrines stolen/borrowed from older religions from that neighbourhood. It wouldn't surprise me if the early great minds were in it too.
  3. aramis

    aramis Registered Member

    Platonic "Science" (more properly, Platonic Philosophy) was widely accepted as the general truth by many Greek pagans, as well as a lot of Jews, most of the Roman elite, and large chunks of the Persian and Egyptian cultures. It was also consistent with Zoroastrian worldviews.

    The inclusion of Plato's philosophical strictures into the theology and worldviews of the peoples of Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian faiths is almost inevitable by simply having been the language of the educated. Some elements of it also find their way into Islam.

    In many ways, science leads to either atheism or monotheism; polytheism and pantheonism tend to not support a a stable coherent system of rules for the universe.
  4. Boredie

    Boredie In need of Entertainment

    That's not accurate. Judaism's belief of souls and afterlife are just different than Christianity's.
  5. aramis

    aramis Registered Member

    The Jewish belief in Sheol (the place where the dead rest until the Day of Judgment) are the basis for the Catholic Dogma of Purgatory.
  6. Ramman

    Ramman Registered Member

    GOD created all Human Beings and his Grace is TRUTH.

    Jesus is GOD.

    So if you take a look at what you have written - who really came first.

    Jesus , or Plato

  7. Boredie

    Boredie In need of Entertainment

    The only ones who rest there till the day of judgement are those who are considered "re'sha'im" - evil people. All others, even those who have sinned do not remain in sheol till the day of judgement they are either reincarnated or after a day they are sent to the afterlife.
  8. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    You're right that their are passages of the Hebrew Bible that allude to or make mention of an afterlife, and souls of a sort, though arguable in a non-metaphysical sense of the term "souls". I'm pretty confident, though, that the notion of an immortal soul that rises into heaven or descends into hell owes mainly to Plato/Socrates for its popularity, if the idea itself does not owe to them (Plato is the first I know of to commit it to writing, certainly).

    Plato. If nothing else, though, I suspect we can agree that Plato was born first.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  9. quantumechanic

    quantumechanic Registered Member

    The Hebrew Bible doesn't constitute all of the Jewish faith. There are plenty of rabbinical scholars who discussed the notion of an afterlife and the existence of non-corporeal souls (such as Maimonides, for example).
    Read this: Jewish eschatology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    That point wasn't the one Boredie was contesting. You said that:
    ...which is untrue, and the point Boredie was contesting.

    Incidentally, while Plato may have been the first to commit the idea to text, the Hebrew Mishnah contains passages referring to a purgatory. It was redacted 220 BC, but contains oral traditions dating back about 300 years before that - approx. 200 years before Plato died.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  10. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    I'm taking from your post that there's no strong evidence of a Jewish belief in metaphysical souls prior to Plato that you know of? In any case, I believe I admitted that Boredie was correct in my response to her, and find your response to me a little baffling and unnecessarily antagonistic. Really, you're just erecting a man of straw there.
    If it'll make you feel better, I'll say I was wrong concerning Jewish doctrine as it concerns an afterlife. It certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong about something, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  11. quantumechanic

    quantumechanic Registered Member

    The Book of Isaiah names resurrection as one of the effects of the coming of the Messiah. I don't see how you could believe in a resurrection without also believing in an immortal soul, but I suppose that for argument's sake you could say that it's existence isn't expressly stated.
    Incidentally, this was mentioned in the linked Wikipedia article.
    My mistake, I misunderstood the part where you admitted Boredie was correct. In any case, I apologize for offending you, that was certainly not my intention.
  12. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    I've always understood that a physical resurrection of the body was implied.
  13. quantumechanic

    quantumechanic Registered Member

    But the body would require a mind to operate it, unless they believed that the personality was determined by the physical properties of the brain, which I deem unlikely for religious "prophets" of the 8th century BC.

    Well, am I forgiven? :nod:
  14. Ramman

    Ramman Registered Member

    Plato. If nothing else, though, I suspect we can agree that Plato was born first.[/quote]

    Ram: Plato didnt exist before conception however. Therein lies the difference. Perhaps a proper Exegesis of the Holy Gospel according to St John Chapter 1 is in order.
  15. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    I'm not sure they really thought about it in any extreme depth. I mean, animism (for example) is said to be the first religion, and that's said to consist in thinking everything's animated by a spirit; but that interpretation could be the result of our reading more modern metaphysical notions into it, and phrasing such things in terms that perhaps don't prove a perfect fit, due to their carrying certain inapplicable connotations. Animism could be understood as the rote and unconsidered anthropomorphization of things, perhaps, though I can't say for sure what such people thought, as they didn't write it down.

    I only focused on Plato in my OP, as opposed to Socrates, after all, because Socrates never wrote anything down. Plato certainly attributes what are assumed to be his personal views to Socrates in his writing, but it's hard to tell if such ideas were really those of Socrates, Plato, or nobodies in particular. I've heard it argued before that Plato's writings were only intended to teach the Socratic method and the such, as opposed to their being written to provide decent arguments on any particular points. I don't really buy it, but it's certainly been suggested.

    Now, it's certainly possible that ancient Jews believed in an immortal soul, but I'd guess they didn't really have an opinion either way, in general, for not having thought about it.

    Yeah. I likely took offense a bit too easily.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010

Share This Page