Jesus of Nazareth, preaching, in the First Century, to the...

The Christian Science Monitor

Jesus of Nazareth, preaching, in the First Century, to the shepherds and fishermen, to the laborers and artisans, of Galilee and Judaea, spoke to them with a marvelous simplicity which revealed the deep things of God in a way which they, equally with the cultivated Pharisee and the scribe, the Sadducee and the physician, were able to comprehend. Humanly, it must have seemed that he spoke only to be forgotten. The country was a province, certainly, of the Roman Empire, but a province regarded always as turbulent and disaffected, on which the hand of Caesar might any moment fall with swift and cruel vengeance. He spoke, too, almost in the last failing accents of a perishing tongue, itself a mere barbarian jargon in the streets of Rome or Athens. He taught, too, with no man to record his words, save a handful of unlettered fishermen and a publican from the tollhouse, on the Damascus road. Very different was the manner in which the words of the great pagan teachers were spoken and recorded, Plato lecturing to the Academics amongst the olive groves of the Academy, Aristotle wandering with the Peripatetics along the sculpture bordered walks of the Lyceum. Yet it was not Plato, nor was it Aristotle, but the carpenter out of Nazareth, whose Academia was the prow of a fishing boat, and whose Lyceum was a Syrian hillside, who was able to say: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." And the disciple, the student, who recorded those words was a tax-gatherer of Capernaum, and no Speusippus nor even Andronicus, working from carefully preserved manuscripts and notes.

Almost twenty-three centuries have passed since Aristotle sat at the feet of Plato in the Academia, or wandered with his own disciples in the Lyceum. Libraries, huge and vast, have been published of their works and of the studies and elucidations by other men on their works, with the result that the world is still discussing what Plato really did mean by his philosophy of ideas, and how much Aristotle may have understood or misstated his conclusions. It is, in short, a battle of words, and this for the simple reason that the two philosophies are colossal hypotheses, incapable of reduction to definite demonstration, because, instead of being based upon Principle, they are a collection of the impossible, in other words, of what the human mind has for centuries described as principles.

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