This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Simply ... should I read the bible?

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Jump to comment 68 by JHJEFFERY

Comment 66 by Red Dog

Keep in mind that the bible was subtly altered by the Catholic scholars who both translated and recopied it. To really judge if that or any section was truly Platonic I think you need to go back to the original Greek and also keep in mind there is some possibility that even that may have been subtly altered.

Sure. Although before 325 there was no such thing as a Catholic. You can find dualism in the writings of many of the early pre-nicaean writers. Try Origen and Tertullian. BUT, the entire concept of spirit and body being separable is present in all (well, almost all) Judeo-Christian thought (developed further by Christians for sure). There is no support of which I am aware for the wholesale change in theme you suggest might have been made at the hands of CE scribes. Proto-orthodoxy held that Jesus was at least part spirit and that man could become the same. Even most of the Gnostic gospels share this dualism. And try not to constrain the concept of dualism with the ideas of Plato--it comes in many shapes and forms. Dan Dennett is a good modern source with his investigation of why humans think that consciousness is somehow disconnected from the material body.

Christianity took its first tenuous hold on the lowest socioeconomic classes of the Empire--promising a wonderous afterlife for the surviving soul after the misery of slavery and poverty were interrupted by bodiliy death. The mechanism, slowly evolved (and this may be close to what ig is arguing for). But the fundamental attraction of the religion insisted that (whether you believe in bodily resurrection or only that of the soul) is that there is more to man than the material--that his essence can remain even after the body has disintergrated.

I'm not saying that I know for sure that that particular quote doesn't reflect Platonism, just that its a complex issue to really understand.

For that quote I merely went to BibleGateway and searched for "soul". The quote is just the first of many similar NT ones. I invite you to look.

As certain sects of Christianity moved from Jesus as a great teacher to divine, the duality was undoubtably modified toward that end both before and after Nicaea. However, I don't think any reasonable interpretation of the NT can deny that all we know about it denies dualism. I think you will find Ehrman in concert (don't trust Pagels).

Anyway, that's just my opinion and I can be wrong (on leap years when the 29th falls on Friday). But if even the early Christians did not believe in dualism and the promise of eternal life I cannot think of any reason for their bothering with it.



Tue, 21 Aug 2012 00:05:52 UTC | #951093