Damien F. Mackey
“Clement of Alexandria even believed that Sirach had influenced the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (Strom. 2.5; Bright 1999:1064)”.
Chris de Wet
Some of the greatest presumed founders of religions and philosophies we have found to be composite, non-historical persons based upon real (often biblical) personages.
Thus, for instance, the seminal Thales, was based upon the Egyptianised Joseph, son of Jacob, of the Book of Genesis
Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy
And, likewise, Pythagoras:
Hebrew Foundations of Pythagoras
In the case of the Buddha, we found that he was primarily based upon Moses:
Buddha based on Moses and Jesus
Heraclitus – who, or whatever he may have been – was said to have come under the influence of the biblical (in Catholic bibles) Sirach.
Chris de Wet tells of it in his article, “John Chrysostom’s use of the Book of Sirach in his homilies on the New Testament”: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:ABbef
The golden age of Greek patristic literature, that is, the fourth and fifth centuries, are no exception as far as the popularity of Sirach. Besides John Chrysostom, nearly all of the most prominent authors of this period cite from Sirach, including, inter alia, Clement of Alexandria … Ambrose … and Augustine…. Clement of Alexandria even believed that Sirach had influenced the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (Strom. 2.5; Bright 1999:1064). Sirach was also popular with authors such as Tertullian, Origen and Cyprian. Jerome, however, rejected the canonical status of Sirach. The first full commentary on Sirach was only completed in the ninth century by Rabanus Maurus (Bright 1999:1064).
Even the great Socrates, who has similarities to the Hebrew prophets, was likely a composite, non-historical character. Thus I have written:
‘Socrates‘ as a Prophet by Damien F. Mackey I put ‘Socrates‘ in inverted commas here because I suspect that he, as is the case with the Prophet ‘Mohammed’, had no real historical existence, but is basically a biblical composite. Introduction For the substance of this article to be fully appreciated, one needs to be aware of …
‘Socrates‘ as a Prophet Part Two: Presumed Era by Damien F. Mackey The era in which ‘Socrates‘ is thought to have emerged pertains to c. 600-300 BC, known as “The Axial Age”. It is thought to have been a time of some very original characters and religio-philosophical founding fathers: Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and …
‘Socrates‘ as a Prophet Part Three: A Composite Figure by Damien F. Mackey Was ‘Socrates‘ a prophet? The question may not be as silly as it might at first appear. The Evolution of ‘Socrates‘ Though the prototypal Socrates, and indeed Mohammed, are (according to my view) composites, based chiefly upon persons …
And, assigned to AD time, the highly influential Prophet Mohammed turns out to be quite an historical anomaly:
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History
Scholars have long pointed out the historical problems associated with the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the history of Islam, with some going even so far as to cast doubt upon Mohammed’s actual existence. Biblico-historical events,… more
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part One (b, ii): Mohammed and Nineveh
Nineveh, which was destroyed by the Medes in c. 612 BC, and not re-discovered until the C19th AD – “Before that, Nineveh, unlike the clearly visible remains of other well-known sites such as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, was invisible,… more
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Three: Adding Montuemhat
The name Montuemhat itself may have great significance following on from my argument, albeit most controversial, that Tobias/Job was the ‘matrix’ for the Prophet Mohammad.
Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage
The ‘life’ of Mohammed will be shown to consist of, to a large extent, a string of biblical episodes (relating to, for instance, Moses; David; Job/Tobias; Jeremiah; Jesus Christ), but altered and/or greatly embellished, and re-cast into… more
Might not the same sort of situation apply again for Zoroaster?
Indeed, according to certain traditions, Zoroaster was the biblical Baruch, scribe of the prophet Jeremiah: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/baruch-baruk-baruk-in-ar
Baruch is of interest to Iranian studies chiefly because he was identified with Zoroaster by the Syriac authors Išoʿdād of Marv (3rd/9th cent.) and Solomon of Baṣra (7th/13th cent.), an identification perpetuated by some of the Arab historians (see the material collected by Richard Gottheil, “References to Zoroaster in Syriac and Arabic literature,” in Classical Studies in Honour of Henry Drisler,New York, 1894, pp. 24-32, as well as Joseph Bidez and Franz Cumont, Les Mages hellénisés. Zoroastre, Ostanès et Hystaspe d’après la tradition grecque,Paris, 1938, repr. Paris, 1973, I, pp. 49ff., and the texts referred to and published in the second volume).
Thales; Pythagoras; buddha; heraclitus; Socrates; Zoroaster; prophet Mohammed.
These famous sages and philosophical luminaries, and founding fathers of some of the greatest world religions even of our present day may not be all that they seem.
Academic bias towards Greeks
“Philosophy is essentially a western phenomenon because of the
individualistic nature of the great philosophers”.
The following excerpts taken from Alistair Sinclair’s book What is Philosophy? An Introduction (Dunedin Academic Press Ltd., 2008) are perfect examples of the type of indoctrination according to which we westerners have thus been ‘educated’, that wrongfully gives all the credit to the Greeks – an entirely Western-biased view of the origins of philosophy:
- 15 Philosophy as a western phenomenon
The great philosophers were all western philosophers because philosophy developed as a distinct subject in ancient Greek culture. The word ‘philosophy’ was popularized by Pythagoras but it was Plato who delineated the role of the philosopher and distinguished it from the role of the sophist.
…. Philosophy is essentially a western phenomenon because of the individualistic nature of the great philosophers. Each of them is one of a kind. Eastern thinkers in contrast tended to be more embedded in the prevailing religion and culture in which they had lived. They were more like cult figures than individualists obstinately ploughing their own fields.
Moreover, classical Greek philosophy in particular applied reason to the material world in a way that is not found in the speculative systems of India, the mysticism of Taoism, or the gentlemanly precepts of Confucianism. The ancient Greeks believed that reason was an essential feature of human beings and not just the prerogative of philosophers. It was fashionable among the Greeks to be lovers of truth who were possessed with a passion for knowledge of all kinds. Otherwise, they would have had no lasting interest in philosophers or their offerings. Such singlemindedness in the pursuit of philosophy has been a particular characteristic of western culture. It was not found anywhere else in the world until recent times.
- 22 Pythagoras (c. 570-500 BCE)
The name of Pythagoras outshines that of any other early Greek philosophers, and rightly so since the whole science of mathematics originates in his work and that of his successors. He was reputedly born on Samos and his interest in mathematics may have been stimulated by early visits to Babylonia and Egypt ….
Certainly he brought to the study of mathematics something of an oriental adoration.
‘The European philosophical traditions consist of a series of footnotes to Plato’ …so said [Professor] A.N. Whitehead.
Zoroaster, Sirach, Heraclitus
“Heraclitus did not merely employ an oracular mode of expression: he was an oracle. What he said was a revelation and he was its prophet. Heraclitus was far from the early rationalist or primitive scientist he has been made out to be. He was what we today would call a mystic”.
Nicolas Elias Leon Ruiz
“The Zoroastrian origins of Greek philosophy”, as argued in an article entitled:
The Beginnings of Greek Philosophy
would mean more specifically, according to traditions about Zoroaster as previously mentioned, the ‘Jewish (Baruchian) origins of Greek Philosophy’.
Although Hebrew-Jewish influences upon Greek philosophy and its origins extended back far beyond Baruch, the suggestion that the Greeks were by no means the founders of philosophy is right in accordance with my theory (based in part upon part clues left by the Church Fathers) that the earliest philosophers whom one meets in any standard History of Ancient Philosophy – the so-called ‘Ionian Greeks’, beginning with Thales – were in fact Hebrews/Israelites (later Jews).
Upon Thales, one of the so-called ‘seven sages of antiquity’, is bestowed the honorific title, “First Philosopher”. He, supposedly an Ionian Greek, that is, from western Asia, was actually, as I have argued elsewhere, the great biblical Patriarch Joseph, distorted by Greek legends. The name ‘Thales’ is likely a corruption of Joseph’s name in Egypt, Ptah-(hotep), the wise and legendary Old Kingdom scribe who, like Joseph, lived to be 110. He is also the genius, Imhotep, builder of the famous Step Pyramid of Saqqara: what we have considered to be a material icon of his father Jacob’s dream of a staircase unto heaven (Genesis 28:12).
Mark Glouberman has ironically, in “Jacob’s Ladder. Personality and Autonomy in the Hebrew Scriptures”, exalted the supposed rational triumph of the ‘Greek’ Thales, “Western rationality’s trademark mastery over the natural world”, over the “earlier [religious] mode of thought” of the Hebrews. “… Thales forecast the bumper crop by observing climatic regularities, not by interpreting dreams of lean kine and fat, nor by deciphering the writing on the wall …”.Glouberman calls this a “Hellenic Götterdämmerung” (Mentalities/ Mentalités,13, 1-2, 1998, p. 9).
So my view of who influenced whom with regard to early philosophy is quite the opposite of what our western education has told us.
Now, this brings me to another important Patristic contribution relevant to the biblical Sirach: the view of Saint Clement of Alexandria, that Sirach had influenced Heraclitus.
Chris de Wet tells of it in his article, “John Chrysostom’s use of the Book of Sirach in his homilies on the New Testament”: http://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10500/4624/DeWet-SHEXXXVI_2_-October2010.pdf?sequence=1
The golden age of Greek patristic literature, that is, the fourth and fifth centuries, are no exception as far as the popularity of Sirach. Besides John Chrysostom, nearly all of the most prominent authors of this period cite from Sirach, including, inter alia, Clement of Alexandria … Ambrose … and Augustine…. Clement of Alexandria even believed that Sirach had influenced the Greek philosopher Heraclitus (Strom. 2.5; Bright 1999:1064). ….
Chronologically, this is an extraordinary statement by Saint Clement, considering that Sirach would conventionally be located centuries after Heraclitus. It ranks in conventional chronological awkwardness with the view of St. Ambrose that Plato knew Jeremiah in Egypt.
This view has led to an interesting question by Daniel Lattier (January 9, 2017), recalling what the Fathers had believed: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/did-plato-get-his-ideas-bible
Did Plato Get His Ideas from the Bible?
The other day I was reading St. Augustine’s (354-430) De Doctrina Christiana—a treatise that played an enormous role in shaping Western education—and came across an interesting passage in Book 2. In it, Augustine responds to the charge that Jesus Christ derived his teachings from Plato. Drawing on his mentor St. Ambrose (340-397), he denies the charge, and responds that Plato actually borrowed from Jewish thinkers!
“The illustrious bishop [Ambrose], when by his investigations into profane history he had discovered that Plato made a journey into Egypt at the time when Jeremiah the prophet was there, show[ed] that it is much more likely that Plato was through Jeremiah’s means initiated into our literature, so as to be able to teach and write those views of his which are so justly praised?”
Augustine also makes the same claim of Pythagoras, namely, that his thought on God depended upon Jewish thinkers, and by proxy, divine revelation.
In his classic The City of God, Augustine later rejected the Jeremiah connection, since the prophet was dead long before Plato visited Egypt. And he also notes that Plato couldn’t have read the Hebrew Scriptures directly, because they hadn’t yet been translated into Greek. But he nevertheless still believes that affinities between these Scriptures and Plato’s writings means that the latter probably studied them through a translator.
I looked further, and discovered that the thesis that Plato borrowed from the Jews was not uncommon in the ancient world. In a post for First Things, Peter Leithart draws upon Theophilus Gale’s 17th-century work Court of the Gentiles in relaying the tradition of this thesis:
“[Gale] knows he is in a long tradition of Jewish and Christian thought. Aristobulus, a Jew, claims that Plato followed the institutes of the Jews carefully, and this is repeated by Clement and Eusebius. All make the same claim about Pythagoras. Tertullian claims in his Apology that all poets and sophists draw from prophets.
Gale denies that the notion that Plato borrowed from Jews is a Christian prejudice. Pagan philosophers say the same. Hermippus of Smyrna, who [wrote a] life of Pythagoras, says that he ‘transferred many things out of the Jewish Institutions into his own philosophy’ and calls him ‘imitator of Jewish Dogmas.’ Gale takes from Grotius the notion that Pythagoras lived among Jews. Numenius is reputed to have said, ‘What is Plato but Moses Atticizing?
Heraclitus – who, or whatever he may have been – seems to be one of the most substantial of the early philosophers. Might he even have been based upon Sirach, a full-on sage?
Whatever may be the case, for: “We have no idea of who and what he was” (see below), it seems that there is a common mystical element to be considered, contrary to Glouberman’s mistaken view of “Western rationality’s trademark mastery over the natural world”, over the “earlier [religious] mode of thought” of the Hebrews. For studies more astute than Glouberman’s and those of his same opinion, the majority, would indicate that some of these ancient philosophers – so limited by those cramped commentators of history to merely natural philosophy and the elements (earth fire water, etc.) – were actually men of great wisdom and enlightenment, religious and mystical. For a deeper understanding of this, I suggest one read for instance: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache
Heraclitus and the Work of Awakening
A Dissertation Presented
Nicolas Elias Leon Ruiz
In his Abstract, Ruiz well explains why commentators have invariably found Heraclitus to be an ‘obscure’ thinker:
…. Heraclitus is universally regarded as one of the fathers of western philosophy.
However, the characterization of the nature of his contribution varies widely. To some he is an early example of rational, empirical, scientific inquiry into the physical world. To others he was primarily a brilliantly innovative metaphysician. Still others prefer to see him as the distant ancestor of the great German dialecticians of the 19thcentury. In the 20th century, certain existential phenomenologists all but claimed him as one of their own.
Behind all of this stands a fundamental set of assumptions that is never questioned. Whatever else may be the case, we know that Heraclitus was, essentially, a rational human being like ourselves. He was a philosopher, concerned with explanation and exposition. He was a thinker, and his fragments encapsulate his thought.
It is because of this that Heraclitus has been completely misunderstood. We have no idea of who and what he was. We do not understand what he was saying. Perhaps the greatest irony is that Heraclitus himself, at the very outset of what he wrote, explicitly predicted that this would happen.
Everyone who writes about Heraclitus will make at least passing reference to his legendary obscurity. Some will talk about the oracular character of his writing. A few go so far as to say that his thought bears the traces of revelation, his expression, of prophecy. This is as far as it goes. The problem is that this rather metaphorical way of talking about Heraclitus misses the point entirely. His writing was not just “obscure,” it was esoteric.
Heraclitus did not merely employ an oracular mode of expression: he was an oracle. What he said was a revelation and he was its prophet. Heraclitus was far from the early rationalist or primitive scientist he has been made out to be. He was what we today would call a mystic.
This estimation by Ruiz would also help to explain why it has been observed (emphasis added): “In dealing with pre-Socratic thought, A N Marlow tells us we find ourselves in an atmosphere more akin to that of the Orient than to that of the West”.