Site Loader

Unquestionably, early Christianity was influenced by the Hellenistic philosophy of Stoicism. The ideas of Stoicism were widely taught during the time of Christianity’s emergence as a dominant religion:  “In the third and fourth centuries a.d. and later, Neoplatonic and Christian writers built on key Stoic ideas and absorbed them into their systems”; and there is even historical evidence to suggest that very late Stoic thinkers and writers were actually influenced by the Gospels and other ideas in Christian thought.   (Gill, 2003, p. 33)So there is good reason to believe that the Stoic way of thinking played a large role in the development of Christianity. This influence is seldom, if ever acknowledged by Christian thinkers. Obviously, the influence of Stoicism is on ethical, rather than metaphysical or mystical, ideas. The influence of Stoicism on Christian ethics makes Stoicism a ” a part, but a largely unacknowledged part, of the Christian tradition” where the “assimilation of Christian and Stoic ethics tended to blur the profound differences that really exist between the two belief systems, to the detriment of the Stoics’ originality” (Long, 2003, p. 367).The similarities that are most visible between Christianity and Stoicism are those relating to practicality; Stoicism being “an eminently practical system” it gave Christianity a “solid” backdrop for ethical ideas where the Christian tradition was elsewhere influenced by non-practical, mystical ideas and rituals. Like Christianity, Stoicism exalted “inward, or spiritual excellence” and paid little heed to earthly accomplishment. Like the Christian, the Stoic  held that “power, fame, wealth, even health and life, as possessions to be resigned without a murmur”The question of the influence of Stoicism on later developments of Christianity is more difficult to categorize or cite with certainty. Christianity and Stoicism stand as opposed to one another on the issue of spiritual exaltation and the idea of an afterlife or eternal life or heaven and hell. The Stoics do not embrace the idea of a soul or an afterlife or a heaven or Hell. This distinct difference between the two philosophies would at first glance seem to destroy any idea of a melding of the two philosophies. However, Christianity as noted in the above discussion drew influence from the Stoics not in regard to spiritual or mystical ideas but purely in regard to practical ideas of ethics.Modern Christianity and modern ethics are still influenced by Stoicism although this influence is pretty much an “invisible” influence. It seems doubtful whether a revival of classical Stoic ideas in modern times would take place, but the continued subtle influence of Stoicism in regard to ethics and practical ideas of human behavior may yet gain a more solid influence over modern thinkers.When studying the thoughts and beliefs of the Stoics, it is interesting to note that theri philosophy attempted to be a whole philosophy and provide a framework by which any individual could base their life and life decisions. Such complete models are rare in the modern world where “specialization” seems to be the rule rather than grasping for a complete vision. Both Christianity and Stoicism do not shy away from this attempt at completeness: that fact indicates another influence of Stoicism on early Christian thought.

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

x

Hi!
I'm Tamara!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out