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Comparing Socrates and Jesus

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Comparing Socrates and Jesus


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            Socrates, a Greek Philosopher, believed in virtue, that there was right way fro men to act. He spent his life seeking knowledge of what is right, as determined by means of dialogue (conversation between two or more persons), which he engaged in for the purpose arriving at a truth. His ideas and methods had a lasting influence on Western Philosophy, especially his concern with moral behavior, his use of logic in his questioning, and his examination of a subject until what appeared to be a universal truth was discovered.

            According to tradition Socrates was the son of a stonecutter, and as a young man decided to spend his life seeking wisdom. Professing to be completely ignorant himself, began conversing with leading Athenians, asking questions that invariably led his respondent into contradictions and confusion. The respondents were furious at being humiliated in this manner, and Socrates made an enemy of many a person of power and influence in Athens.

However he won the admiration of many young men, who became his pupils. Socrates did not open a school or take fees for teaching, but lived in poverty, in contrast to the Sophists, who were paid teachers. On the public mind Socrates was identified as an eccentric Sophist and was presumed to hold in contempt the traditional religious beliefs as the Sophists did, although in fact he was very pious.

            Socrates was conscientious citizen and did military duty in Peloponnesian War. He believed that power should be held only by those who possessed wisdom, and it was plain to all that he questioned the competence of Athens’s political leaders after the death of the great statesman Pericles.

            When Athens’s lost the war, its citizens sought someone to blame. Socrates had been the teacher of both Alcibiades, a general who turned a traitor, and Critias, a self serving political leader who had hundreds of Athenians put to death. The old Philosopher was charged with impiety and the corruption of youth and was brought to trial before a tribunal of 501 citizens. He was condemned to die by drinking hemlock poison. He refused to make a serious plea for leniency, an act that probably would have saved his life. Surrounded by his friends, Socrates drank the poison and met death with serenity.

            Socrates’ trial, imprisonment, and death are described in detail, although it can not be known with that accuracy, in Plato’s’ Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.

            Socrates wrote nothing, and is known only through the works of other’s. the historian-soldier Xenophon, a pupil of Socrates, wrote his recollections of him. The playwright Aristophanes in the Clouds ridiculed Socrates. Most information, however, comes from the philosopher Plato, also a pupil, whose writings are in the form of dialogues in which Socrates asks questions. Scholars realized that, since Plato adopted these form for expressing his own ideas where actually those of Socrates.  Socrates’ believed in virtue. The method of consisted of asking a pupil about a particular circumstance and by skillfully questioning to lead him to a general definition of virtue. Socrates believed that if a person knew what was good, he would do good. In contrast to the Sophists, who taught by example and especially valued the power of words to establish meaning only. Although, a pupil of Plato is considered the founder of logic, it actually began with Socrates. Socrates’ pretense of being ignorant is known as Socratic irony. It reflected his belief that an individual must recognize his own recognize his own ignorance on order to free his mind for the knowledge that will emerge through the use of logic. Plato, profoundly affected by Socrates’ teaching, passed on his own interpretation of it Aristotle. Other followers of Socrates who developed their own interpretations included Antisthenes, who founded the Cynic School of Philosophers, and the Aristopus, the founder of the Hedonist, or Cyrenaic, school. These philosophies, in turn, influenced Stoicism and the Epicureanism.


            Jesus, the founder of Christianity. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means “God’s saves.” Christ is a title, and is the Greek term for the Hebrew Messiah, “the Anointed One.”

            There are two basic conceptions of Jesus Christ as the founder of Christianity; (1) that he is the Son of God, one in the Trinity; and (2) that God sent him into the world to live as human beings live, to suffer as they suffer, to die for man’s redemption, and to rise on glory from the grave. It was said in John 3:16 “For God so love the world the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have an everlasting life”.  The belief is that Jesus Christ was both a divine and human, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He was tempted as men are tempted but lived without sin. Christians regarded Jesus as a Redeemer and Savior, who was sent to atone for the sins of mankind and to open the door to eternal life for everyone. They believe that he will come to earth again at the Last Judgment to judge the living and the dead and to bring the present world order to an end.

            Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a village in Palestine which was under Roman domination with Herod the Great as its puppet leader. There is no way reckoning Jesus’ exact birth date. The Christian Calendar devised in the sixth century, places the Nativity in the year 1 A. D. Most scholars, however, believe that Herod died in 4 B.C. and that Jesus was born two or three years earlier. The Nativity has been celebrated on December 25 since the fourth century A.D.

            When about 30 years old, Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. He rejected three temptations. The work of Jesus as a prophet, teacher, and healer is called his ministry. He began his ministry shortly after he came back from the wilderness. It is commonly believed that he taught three years, but some scholars believed that his ministry lasted only one year. His ministry cannot be traced in detail since the accounts differ.  Jesus spent most of his time in Galilee, especially in Capernaum and around the Sea of Galilee. He preached in synagogues and homes, on hillsides and along the lakeshore. Much of his teachings were in parables, such as the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus performed many miracles. He healed many sick and raised several persons from the dead, like Lazarus.

            Jesus preached the existence of the Kingdom of God, a society divinely constituted and controlled. It was to arrive in the future, yet is within men’s souls now; it will come in a flash, yet will grow as quietly as a mustard seed. The Sermon on Mount (Matthew 5-7) describes the character and conduct of citizens if the Kingdom. The Sermon which contains of the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Golden attitudes which contrast the old law within the law of love. Love is the central motive of Jesus’ system.

            There were many against Jesus. Opposition came from the Pharisees. They denounced him for taking liberties with the Law and fro associating with sinners. Due too many great powers against Him like Herod Antipas. And the evening, when they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was arrested. His disciples could not do anything for Jesus wanted them just to pray and continue to spread His Gospel. Jesus was also betrayed by Judas, one of his disciples. Jesus was led to the high priest Caiaphas, and he was taken to Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council. He was condemned to death for blasphemy, accused of contending he was the Son of God. The sentence had to be confirmed by Pontious Pilate, the Roman Procurator. Since Rome was not concerned about religious offenses, the enemies of Jesus had devised some political charge. They charged that he was preparing to set himself up as a king of the Jews. Pilate, wishing to avoid trouble with the religious leaders, condemned Jesus to be crucified.

            On Calvary, or Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. The Four Gospels report the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and record the simple “Seven Last Words” of Jesus from the cross. Jesus was crucified at the sixth hour (noon), and died at the ninth hour. On the first morning of the week, Sunday, two women went to the tomb to anoint the body, but found the tomb empty. On that day, the First Easter, Christ presented himself in glorified but recognizable form to several of his followers. On his final appearance, just before his Ascension into Heaven, Christ commissioned the disciples to be his Witnesses on earth.


Blum, A. F. Socrates: The Original and its Image.  Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978


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Comparing Socrates and Jesus. (2016, Sep 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/comparing-socrates-and-jesus/

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