Let us now leave 5th century B.C. Athens, Greece and take a trip back in time 1600 years to the city of Ur in Mesopotamia. A distance of 1400 miles separates the two cities. We leave the mild Mediterranean climate and the sophisticated life of the Athenians with their stately marble temples and travel to a semiarid climate in a much more rugged part of the world. As you can see from the map below, Ur was located in what is today southern Iraq.Continue reading “10. Abraham of Ur”
As we examine the life and impact of Socrates, we can see that there are many similarities between Jesus and Socrates. It’s not that the two men were on an equal plane, for Jesus is the Son of God and Socrates was a mere man. St. John, in the opening of his Gospel, states that Jesus is the Word. The Greek word for Word is Logos. Logos is packed with meaning. Logos means order; it also means wisdom. St. Paul states in his Epistle to the Colossians that “in Christ is hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” So if Socrates was wise, and Christ is the embodiment of all wisdom, then Socrates must have derived his wisdom from Christ. It was really Christ, the eternal Logos, working through Socrates that enlightened Athens and Western Civilization. In fact, any truth found in any civilization anywhere has its origin in the eternal Logos, for there is only one truth.Continue reading “9. Socrates and Jesus Compared”
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”1
This now famous line, which Socrates spoke at his trial, has rippled throughout Western Civilization. If I could sum up Socrates’s legacy in one maxim, it would be this quote. It is imperative that we know ourselves and by extension the reason why we are here. It doesn’t matter that Socrates got the idea from the phrase, “know thyself (γνῶθι σεαυτόν), that was inscribed on the temple of Delphi.2 Actually, the maxim, “know thyself,” goes even further back, originating with Heraclitus. The point is that Socrates made this phrase his own because he lived it.Continue reading “8. Socrates and the Unexamined Life”
What is the legacy of Socrates? For not leaving any writings behind, he had a tremendous impact on those who followed him1.Continue reading “7. The Legacy of Socrates”
The Presocratic Philosophers and Socrates
Socrates died for his beliefs and this set him apart from all other philosophers that preceded him. He changed the course of Greek philosophy1.Continue reading “6. Socrates, Martyr for the Truth”
Previously, I discussed how Socrates was convicted of “corrupting the youth” and “impiety.”1 He was accused of impiety because he tried to expand the meaning of piety beyond mere ceremony into intellectual understanding and the development of virtue. What good is honoring the gods if you are ignorant of what you are doing and you are, in fact, a rotten person?Continue reading “5. The Socratic Method”
Socrates Upsets the Status Quo
In the previous post, we saw that there were real and contrived reasons for why Socrates was brought to trial. Even though he was implicated in support of the previous tyrannical regime, he probably would have been fine if he had kept his head down and stayed under the radar. But he did just the opposite.Continue reading “4. Socrates the Reformer”
Why was Socrates executed? He was tried in front of 501 of his Athenian peers who, acting as judge and jury, declared him guilty and sentenced him to death.1Continue reading “3. The Wisdom of Socrates”
On the appointed day of his death, Socrates, at 70 years old, is in a jail in Athens, Greece. His friends and family are allowed to see him. Socrates calmly discusses matters of the afterlife before drinking the hemlock.Continue reading “2. The Death of Socrates and the Birth of Reason”
St. Paul’s Encounter with the Areopagus
“What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?
-Tertullian, Church Father (circa. 155-220)
After his 51 A.D. encounter with the Greek philosophers at the Areopagus, the Apostle Paul would probably have answered the above question with, “Not much.” Up until this time, Hebrew faith and Greek philosophy had been developing on parallel paths – separate by culture. It seems as though they had nothing in common. After all, the Greeks were the philosophical people and the Jews were the people of faith. Obviously, this is an oversimplification, but you get the point.
But here was the one chance for the two to come together – faith and reason in tandem. The Apostle Paul would bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures to the Greeks, the primary purveyors of philosophical ideas in the ancient world. With the meeting of the two, faith would have the philosophical language by which to express itself, and reason would have the revelation it needed in order to reason rightly.
Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. Paul preached on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a central tenant of the Christian faith, and received a tepid response at best. According to the account in Acts 17, when Paul mentioned the resurrection, some began to scoff at him while others asked him to return so that they could hear more. He ultimately left with only a smattering of converts. What happened?Continue reading “1. Faith and Reason”