Brother AACOOLDRE : Dispute with stoicism in the parable of the Rich man and lazarus

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    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Jul 26, 2001
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    Dispute with Stoicism in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

    By Tim Brookins Baylor University, Waco, TX

    Here are excerpts from

    My question is why Scholars don’t apply the rich man poor Lazarus also with a Stoic attack on the Lukewarm Rich church of Laodciea in Rev 3. Brookins make the same mistake Bible scholars made on the term Lukewarm thinking it related to indifference “neutral”. “It is a tenet of theirs (Stoics) that between virtue and vice there is nothing intermediate. For, say the stoics, just as a stick must be either straight or crooked, so a man must be either just or unjust, nor again are there degrees of justice and injustice” (Diogenes Laertius volume 2 book VII On Zeno).

    Brookins essay should have been on how NT writers were distorting Stoic teachings to make their doctrines look good.

    Brookins states:

    “Past scholarship has often treated the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16.19-31) comparatively, seeking to answer questions of origin and integrity by setting it alongside other ancient literature. In particular, much has been made of an Egyptian folktale dealing with the retribution of a rich man and a poor man in the afterlife.1 Since several stories in the Palestinian Talmud bear similarities with the folktale, it was thought that the Egyptian account had found its way into popular circulation in Palestine, where it was ultimately taken up by Jesus and framed as we have it in our parable.

    It will be argued that, while the parable may share a Cynic viewpoint on the issue of wealth, it also conveys pronounced resistance to certain Stoic ideas on this issue. As a supporting argument it will further be suggested that the parable reflects elements of rhetorical ‘declamation’ (declamatio), which was in certain circles closely associated with Stoic philosophy. With these substantive and formal features taken together, we shall see that the parable means to interact with Stoicism, though in a way that is subversive to the Stoic

    To conclude, the chief payoff of understanding the parable in relation— or rather in opposition—to Stoicism has been in how it underscores the meaning of Jesus’ teaching regarding rich and poor in Luke’s Gospel. While speaking in a Stoic-declamatory form of discourse, Luke’s Jesus remains far from endorsing the Stoic view that disease, poverty, early death and pain are ‘indifferent’. Instead, he designates these things as unfortunate and inherently bad. If one thinks otherwise—like a Stoic— one runs the risk of justifying neglect of the indigent on the basis that their situation is not pitiable, but simply neutral, and, moreover, none of one’s business—as we have seen, this is often how the Stoic doctrine of indifferents was construed. Finally, in drawing our attention to wealth and poverty in relation to ‘good’ and ‘bad’, this approach has highlighted 46. Not to mention the very fact that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable, a form of discourse indisputably used by Jesus. 50 Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 8 the point that luxury and lack, while amoral in themselves, do provide an impetus towards certain moral dispositions—that is, moral ‘good’ and ‘evil’—which, as Abraham avers, have critical eternal consequences. And so, as much as Luke disagreed with the Stoic viewpoint on wealth, he would have found himself largely in agreement when they said, ‘The use we make of materials is not a matter of indifference’ (Epictetus, Discourses Book 2:5.1)”

    Now my take:

    Everybody knows the phrase neither Hot or Cold can be traced to Stoicism who ask memebers to be indifferent to it not neutral.

    The stoics said: “Always remember what is your own, and what belongs to another; and you will not be disturbed” (The Discourses By Epictetus Book 2:chapter 6)

    The stoics didn’t want your passions to be disturbed whether you lived in poverty or wealth they didn’t want you to loose balance and do sinful deeds. Poverty is neutral but stealing for money and food is a violation of the law. Being rich is neutral but when you take out adds in the newspaper to attack innocent people and never repent is sin on top of sin. It’s the use we make of poverty or wealth that counts and being indifferent meant avoiding sin when sin is thrown in your face.

    The Stoics were like Socrates who didn’t care about drinking warm water in his house.

    Epictetus said:

    “When you are thirsty from heat, take in a mouthful of cold water, spit it out and tell nobody” (Discourses Book 3: chapter 12). Then we find an allusion when Lukewarm is spit out being neither Hot or Cold. The Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius told his people “Let it make no difference to you whether you are cold or warm…Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its value escape you” (Meditations Book VI: 2-3). This lead me to believe that Lukewarm was a form of Looking within. Luke can be spelled Leuke=a form of Look or refer to white spots or clouds in eyes like Leukomas. Just like judges are supposed to blind themselves and be neutral to the Hot-prosecutor and Cold-Defense until he executes justice.

    We can take another route of equating Lukewarm with the Greek goddess Ino-Leukothea who strips her clothes to save Homer’s Odysseus life and switches her children’s clothes from black to white to save them too. This same request is implied in Rev 3:17 when god demands they put on white (Leukos) garments and stop worrying about getting rich off of selling glossy black wool clothes. They are in effect spiritual naked before god.