Jesus Against Socrates

Socrates, known as the famous Greek philosopher and one of the wisest people around, was looked at as being a very strong willed and “stand-by-his-opinion” kind of man. Jesus, on the other hand, was a man who went through his life not by blatantly expressing and sharing his wisdom, but by making his “students” think things through for themselves in order to gain understanding and wisdom in certain topics.

Based on what is known about Jesus and Socrates, two major moral figures in the world, it is hard to comprehend the major similarities that they obtain with one another because of their radical differences on how they lived their lives focusing on the way in which they were raised, what exactly they were standing up for and the way in which their lives ended because of it. Looking at their background, both were very similar with the way that they were raised and brought up.

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Both Jesus and Socrates came from small countries and were raised by common people; Jesus’ father was a carpenter whereas Socrates’ father was a sculptor. More significantly though, neither of them wrote anything- their teachings were only taken down by their followers at some point and were spread all around by word of mouth (1). Even though both men lived very simple lives only living on the bare minimum, they both made many enemies throughout their life, although for different reasons, it all leads back to their main beliefs and morals (2).

Jesus had enemies mainly because he taught about the spiritual aspect of the kingdom and the ideals that go with it and that his “messiahship was spiritual instead of temporal as they wanted” (1), which is not what the higher officials wanted people to be preaching about. Socrates, on the other hand, had enemies because he proved to people that they didn’t know half as much as they thought, especially with a focus more on the political aspect of life; it was said that because he taught men how to think clearly on the idea of moral values and spiritual nature is what really brought his enemies into focus.

Both of these figures stuck to what they believed in and would continue to preach about it no matter what people thought of them. When looking at both people in the aspect of ways that they view themselves and their mission, Socrates was ignorant and would say that men who claimed they knew the truth were wrong and they actually didn’t know anything at all.

He never let people put him down or make him change his ways of spreading his views which was seen in this quote “throughout my whole life, in whatever acts I have done in public, I have manifestly behaved as I have in private, never consenting to injustice by anyone, much less to injustice by any of those whom my slanderers claim are my disciples” (3) which just shows how much he really stuck with his beliefs. Jesus, who was persecuted for what he preached about and believed in, also never backed down from his mission which was to proclaim what the truth really based off of his affirmations that he prophesized.

Going off of the idea of what exactly Socrates and Jesus stood for, although they may be different topics, they are both very similar in actuality. Socrates, as previously stated, believed that even men who knew the truth were wrong and Jesus preached about “the possibility of a new social and spiritual order available and evoked in the phrase kingdom of God” (4), which is, the way of life and how to live the “perfect life” as best as humanly possible.

Socrates’ main goal in life was to be able to figure out what ‘the good’ in society is exactly, remembering that we all come from human parents and are subject to mistakes throughout or lifetime, ending up not living out the “perfect life” (5). They both pushed their followers to understand and grasp a much bigger concept and to not settle with what they think is good.

Both Jesus and Socrates wanted their followers to understand the points that they were originally trying to force and instill within them so that when they did die their deaths, their followers would be able to carry on the same exact message to the rest of the world just like they did. Both of these figures ultimately “believed that man had the potential to enjoy perfect happiness” (5) no matter what that happiness may be, as long as it allows a ‘peaceful’ after life experience.

Socrates himself stated that “I hope that there is something in store for the dead, and, as has been said of old, something better for the good than for the wicked” (5), proving that Socrates hopes that he lived his life as perfect as he possibly could have. A major similarity that may be the most important of them all is the fact that both of these figures didn’t become “famous” or influential to people until after their deaths. When Jesus was alive, he went through various types of persecution.

It was stated in the gospel of John “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (6). Jesus knew that he was not going to be liked during his duration on Earth and he warned his followers that because people didn’t like Jesus, they also would not like his followers, which is exactly what happened.

Socrates also knew that people, especially higher officials, did not like him or what he preached about. While Socrates knew this despise that the officials had against him, some of his last words included “I go to die and you to live, who knows which is the better journey” (5) proving that both lifestyles are learning experiences that we can only grow and learn from. For both of these men, the higher officials both looked at the men as a threat (5) to their society by the messages that they were spreading.

By teaching their ways the way that they did to their followers, it was a foreshadowing of the way that they would have to live their life after Socrates and Jesus died for what they believed in and that the followers would have to be willing to make that sacrifice as well. In conclusion, although Jesus and Socrates were both very different people in the aspect of what exactly they did preach about, they both were trying to express the same message in the end. These two men paved a path which lead them to being remembered by all beings for all of the wisdom, teachings, sufferings and examples that they made throughout their lifetime.


1. Bostick, William F. “Jesus and Socrates. ” The Biblical World. 4th ed. Vol. 47. N. p. : University of Chicago, 1916. 248-52. JSTOR. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://www. jstor. org/stable/3143019>. 2. “Who Was Socrates? ” Who Was Socrates? Columbia University Press, 1991. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://www. columbia. edu/itc/lithum/wong/Socrates. tml>. 3. Graham, Daniel W. “What Socrates Knew. ” Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 20 (1997): 25-36. JSTOR. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. 4. McLaren, Brian D. “The Secret Message of Jesus. ” Tikkun 2006: 19-21. Ethnic NewsWatch; ProQuest Research Library. Web. 6 Dec. 2012 . 5. Hughes, Bettany. “The Hemlock Cup – Bettany Hughes. ” The Hemlock Cup. Alfred A. Knopf, n. d. Web. 01 Dec. 2012. 6. The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999; Bartleby. com, 2000.

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