I have been working on a project for the past month or so. I thought that maybe some of my research would be worth sharing. Not really a forum friendly topic, so starting a blog seemed like a good idea.
“Judge not, that you be not judged." - Matt. 7:1, ESV
"Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place." - Hillel, leading Pharisee and theorist of Judaism during the time of Herod the Great. (Pirkei Avot, 2:5)
Turn the Other Cheek
"But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." - Matt. 5:39, ESV
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." - Epictetus
Pluck Your Eyes Out
"And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire." - Matt. 18:9, ESV
"Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men's desires, but by the removal of desire." - Epictetus
The Golden Rule
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -- Matthew 7:12, ESV
"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary."
– Hillel, leading Pharisee and theorist of Judaism during the time of Herod the Great. (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Shabbat 31a.)
Good Ol' Matt doesn't disappoint here either. He really goes the extra distance in searching out those spurious sources not listed in the Bibliography, doesn't he?
At least it was time period appropriate. But wait, Jesus was borrowing from the teachings of the Pharisees? Say it ain't so!
It gets better though....
"That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another." -- This comes from the ancient Egyptians. And that smashes the hard heart of Pharaoh.
"Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him." -- Pittacus (Ancient Greece)
"Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." -- Isocrates (Ancient Greece)
"It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing 'neither to harm nor be harmed'),and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." -- Epicurus (the first agnostic/atheist philosopher, ancient Greece)
"One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him." -- Plato
"...it is not so, as you might believe, that one is made happy through the unhappiness of others" -- Seneca (Ancient Rome, would have been a contemporary of Jesus)
"Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself." -- Mahabharata, (Vedic (Hindu) holy text, as old as the Torah, maybe older)
What exactly was special about the teachings or sayings of Jesus? There is nothing new, unique or superior about the teachings of the godman. The only reason why they are still held as examples today is because we have lost the knowledge of the ancients. We have only begun to rediscover their philosophies and debates, their dramas and their histories. Sadly, only a small portion of us in the West are actually interested. The rest are content to rest in Christ, dreaming of a heaven where they reign alongside their King Jesus in everlasting glory.
The world grows restless, waiting for something beyond the passions of the Christ. Perhaps the next generation will pave a way for a revolution. Perhaps the faith will welcome skepticism, criticism, and scholarship. Perhaps the church will welcome the shining lights of reason and we can finally take a step into the future with our children and grandchildren.
"And do not say "When I free myself of my concerns, I will study,'' for perhaps you will never free yourself." - Hillel