Brother AACOOLDRE : Pliny the elder, Stoics and the NT

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    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

    United States
    Jul 26, 2001
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    By Andre Austin

    In Joe Atwill’s book Caesar’s Messiah he reports that in future books “We will identify him as one of the people who worked on the writings of the Gospels” p.395.

    Pliny was an advisor to Emperor Flavian Vespasian and he dedicated his book Natural History to Vespasian son and future Emperor Titus. His book is an encyclopedic work embracing all aspects of nature and natural science.

    Pliny states in his preface: “…I might be on my guard against those ‘Scourges of Homer’ that you mention. For I hear that the Stoics, members of the academy and Epicureans-I have always anticipated this from philologists-are in labor producing a reply to the book I have published on grammar. Indeed during the past decade they have suffered a series of miscarriages, although even elephants give birth more quickly.

    As if I did not know that a woman had written a book against Theophrastus, who was so outstanding as an orator that he acquired the epithet ‘out of this world’. This was the origin of the expression ‘hoist (raise) with one’s one own petard’ ( breaking wind/air). End of Pliny quote to his preface.

    We already know Stoic attitudes are reflected and aligned in the New Testament. Famous Stoics like Seneca, a rhetorician and Philosopher, Epictetus, a slave to Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:18-22), and secretary to Emperor Domitian, Persius a poet and lastly Marcus Aurelius.

    But for this essay I’m more concerned with Theophrastus who was a Botanist and Greek philosopher who died in 287BC. The 1st century botanist Pedanius would use his unique botanical words that would help create the Flavian dynasty satire in the NT. I could not help to notice the two quotes from Theophratus about “out of this world & “hoist with one’s own petard”. If we look at Paul’s “Out of body” with “out of this world”. If we combine 2 Cor 12:3 with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 we could a marvelous match up of ideology.

    Most of the Stoics believed that the soul perishes with the body until modified by Posidonius (135-51BC) who said: “ …it (soul) continues to live in the air, where in most cases, it remains unchanged until the next world-conflagration. There is no hell, but the wicked, after death, are not so fortunate as the good, for sin makes the vapors of the soul muddy, and prevents it from rising as far as the good soul rises” (A History of Western Philosophy By Bertrand Russell p.259).

    These vapors would be the equivalent of the cloud transportation to the out of body experience of going to heaven. When 2 Peter 2:17-22 talks about slaves being promised freedom probably talking about the same Spirit/air +Freedom as Paul in 2 Cor 3:17. Peter thinks that some are entangled in this freedom by an analogy of a dog returning to Mud. With our white robes being symbolic of clouds stay clean we stay righteous (Rev 19:8). The ancient Egyptians used to burry the body in tombs with mud bricks covering up the body. Plato and Socrates talk about this mud on the body too.


    For more information about Pliny the Elder and its relationship with Christianity see atwill’s Shakespeare’s Secret messiah p.175-186