"Neither Jew nor Greek". Peter Myers, June 30, 2002; update September 27, 2012. My comments are shown {thus}.

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You are at http://mailstar.net/neither.html.

Commentary on St Paul's text from Galations 3:28 is by F. Gerald Downing, in his book Paul and the Cynics. Downing has pioneered the study of the similarities between early Christianity and the Cynic philosophical movement; his main book is Christ and the Cynics: downing.html.

The Cynics were independent thinkers in the mould of Socrates (whom one must free from Plato's political use of him to promote Sparta), and advocates of the simple life; they had similarities with the early Taoists.

(1) F. Gerald Downing, Paul and the Cynics
(2) "there is no male or female"
(3) Alain Danielou on the link between the Cynics of Greece and the ascetics of India
(4) "Why do you quote the Bible without believing in God?"
(5) Taoism and Albert Einstein's "cosmic religious feeling"

(1) F. Gerald Downing, Paul and the Cynics (Routledge, London, 1998).

{p. 12} 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal 3:28).

{p. 13} In his very thorough discussion H. D. Betz commends the standard derivation of the first pair as arising from Hellenistic Judaism and the early Christian mission, where "mission" and "Hellenization" must necessarily have become one and the same thing. But Paul's formula does not say, 'x becomes y', 'Hellene becomes Jew' or 'Jew becomes Hellene'. It says neither x nor y. It thus contrasts with the note from Plutarch cited in illustration by Betz, Plutarch's account of the effects of Alexander's campaigns, where every man of excellence was to be seen as a Hellene, every corrupt man as a barbarian. In Galatians we have instead, quite bluntly, 'neither'.

{p. 14} In fact it is among Cynics, claiming to be kosmopolitai, citizens of the world, that the similar frequently opposed pairs, 'Hellenes and barbarians' or '... Persians', 'Scythians' and so on, are ruled irrelevant (rather than honorary transfer being accorded). So Antisthenes rules foreign or mixed origin irrelevant, as does Demonax {footnote: Anisthenes in Diogenes Laertius, 6:1; Lucian, Demonax 34}. Pseudo-Anacharsis 2 insists that 'stupidity ... is the same for barbarians as for Greeks'. In pseudo-Diogenes 7 only a Cynic escapes the common slavishness of Greeks and barbarians {footnote: Ps.-Anacharsis, ps-Diogenes, etc., in A.J. Maltherbe, ed. (1977)}. Dio's Diogenes excels Greeks and barbarians, and contradicts precisely the kind of picture Plutarch presents of Alexander's unifying Hellenization, belittling the contrasts Greek-Persian, slave-free (and, less explicitly) male-female (true 'manliness' is not male superiority over women, but anyone's superiority over the passions). Dio's Diogenes also insists, 'Bad people are injurious to all who make use of them, whether Phrygian or Athenians, bond or free' (ean te phruges osin ean te Athenaioi, ean te eleutheroi ean te douloi.) {footnote: Dio Chrysostom (of Prusa), Discourse 9.1, and 4.4-6 and 73-74, etc.; and the passage quoted, 10.4 (L.CL)}

{p. 16} The full extent of the divergence from hallowed custom can only be gauged from hints in Paul's letters. But the impact of what is related must have been considerable. Becoming 'neither Jew nor Greek' was a major step with massive implications for 'Greeks' (quite as significant as it was for Jews) ... {end of quotes}.

Paul's "universal" Christianity had as its main rival the "Jewish" faction of Christianity, Jerusalem-based and led by James, which retained circumcision, the kosher food taboos and pharisaic legalism. James' faction disappeared after the Jewish uprising was put down by the Romans in 70AD. Downing shows that early Christianity of St Paul's faction, far from being bigoted-fundamentalist or militant-zealot, was a broadminded movement grounded in the most universalist part of Hellenistic philosophy, on which it explicitly drew; this Cynic philosophy is also comparable to the best of Chinese philosophy (early Taoism) as well.

F. Gerald Downing, in his book Chist and the Cynics, shows that the Early Christians followed the Cynic philosophy, much like the Taoist: downing.html.

More on the Cynics, and other Hellenistic philosophies: http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch12.htm.

(2) "there is no male or female"

This part of the quote from Paul is, in part, an embarrassment to me, because it might be used to justify the current Unisex/Androgeny movement.

Paul's statement resembles Sayings 22 and 114 in the Gospel of Thomas: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/thomas.htm. The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of sayings and parables closely related to the lost "Q" source (of sayings of Jesus) drawn on by the four gospels in the New Testament.

Sexual polarity is natural, even though its expression varies in different cultures; but "racial" or "ethnic" polarity is a mere product of circumstances. People of good character cross the racial/ethnic divides, and so do people of bad character. F. Gerald Downing shows that the "neither Jew nor Greek" part derives from earlier Cynic claims that the Greek/Barbarian divide is spurious.

Sexual Polarity differences are natural and important. Even so, we two sexes are halves of a higher unity, incomplete without each other.

Trotskyists, and the New Left (which, I argue, is inherently Trotskyist), reduce people to mere individuals, dissolving all polarities including the sexual one. Thus women should have the same life as men, and be freed from marriage.

They even wanted to break the tie between mother and children, i.e. children would be reared not by their mother, but by professionals. This is one of the most sinister aspects of Trotskyism; see Sex in the Soviet Union: sex-soviet.html.

Kibbutzes in Israel did the same.

The domestic home, in which the mother cooks for the family, would be replaced by the "mess hall", in which just a few people cook and wash up for hundreds. I have lived in such circumstances: (1) in Catholic seminaries, from 1966 to 1969 (2) in work camps of the Hydro-Electric Commission in the remote west coast of Tasmania, in 1980. They are ok in such situations, but no substitute for the domestic hearth. Everyone needs parents; the anonymous "state" can't be one's parents. To attempt such would amount to rearing all children as orpans, in orphanages. What nerve the Trotskyists had, to attempt to impose such a system.

Anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis wrote in his book Millenium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (Viking Penguin, New York, 1992):

{p. 125} The ancient Egyptians believed that a totality must consist of the union of opposites. A similar premise, that the interaction between yin (the female principle) and yang (the male principle) underlies the workings of the universe, is at the heart of much Chinese thinking. The idea has been central to Taoist philosophy from the fourth century B.C. to the present day {p. 126} and is still embraced by many Chinese who are not Taoists. Nor is the idea confined to the Egyptians and the Chinese. Peoples all over the world, in Eurasia, Africa and the Americas, have come to the conclusion that the cosmos is a combining of opposites and that one of the most important aspects of this dualism is the opposition between male and female. {endquote}

Feminism is based upon denial of that sexual polarity. The denial begins with a definition of sexual polarity as "oppressive".

Feminism, which is part of the Communist movement, thus shows striking similarities to early Christianity. Whereas those Christians encouraged women to be celibate, and thus a sexual monopole (a rejection of sexual complementarity), today's Feminism encourages women to live the life of men, equally a rejection of sexual complementarity.

Ferdinand Mount on attempts to suppress Marriage and the Family, in Christianity and in the Communist movement: mount.html

Karl Kautsky, a Jewish author, wrote that the Communism of the early Christians had Jewish roots. He blames Paul for the Church's rejection of the Jews, and attributes the move of spiritual centre to Rome, to the failure of the Jewish uprising of 70AD:

A similar "Jewish" view can be found in Frederick Engels' writings on early Christianity. Engels drew attention to the strong parallels between the Communist movement and early Christianity:

(1) Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity:

(2) On the History of Early Christianity: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894chri/index.htm

Also see the writings of S.G.F. Brandon, Hyam Maccoby, and Robert Eisenman:

(3) Alain Danielou on the link between the Cynics of Greece and the ascetics of India

Alain Danielou, While the Gods Play (Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont 1987. Translation from the French by Barbara Bailey, Michael Baker, and Deborah Lawlor):

{p. 15} Shaivism, the religion of the ancient Dravidians, was always the religion of the people. Its metaphysical, cosmological, and ritual conceptions were preserved by communities of wandering ascetics living on the fringe of the offical society, whom the Aryans scornfully called Yati(s) (wanderers), Vratya(s) (untouchables), or Ajivika(s) (beggars).

{p. 17} Gosala was one of those non-Aryan wandering ascetics of humble origin whom bourgeois society called Ajivika(s) (beggars). He was very early preoccupied by the activities of extremist sects such as the Kapalika (Skull-Bearers) and the Kalamukha (Black Faces), whose magical practices and antisocial attitudes shocked the urban society of their time. He sought to reinstate the philosophic and rationalist aspects of the ancient pre-Aryan culture, which were in opposition to popular ecstatic and mystical Shaivism. ... The Shaiva ascetics went about naked, their bodies smeared with ashes, practicing orgiastic dances. They refused to be participants in a society oriented toward productivity and puritanism. With matted hair and haggard eyes, they lived away from villages and towns and refused to take an interest in material wellbeing. In the same epoch, the sect of Cynics, of which Diogenes is a typical example, flourished in Greece and is clearly related to the Kalamuka(s) of India.

{p. 18} ... It was during the course of his father's peregrinations that Gosala was born, like Jesus, in a stable ...

The wandering Shaiva sages, asocial and marginal, both

{p. 19} ascetic and lascivious, free from the tyrannies of society, held a great fascination for the bourgeois and aristocratic young people of the cities (a little like the hippies of modern times). Hence, the great bourgeois Mahavira and the prince Gautama became disciples of Gosala. (Plutarch reports that Alexander said of himself: "If I were not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes.")

... Gosala died in 484 B.C., a year before the Buddha.

{p. 26} In Greece, the naked Gymnopedists, who were Jaina missionaries, had a considerable influence. Pythagoras taught transmigration and set up a brotherhood in the same year that Gautama became a monk (530 B.C.). He drew inspiration from the theories of the Samkhya, while the School of Cynics is, in all likelihood, an echo of the teachings of the Ajivika(s).

In China, the fifth century is the age of the birth of Taoism (Lao-tse, 604-531 B.C.) and Confucianism (Confucius, 551-479 B.C.), whose ideas are very close to some of the Indian concepts. The great system of Tao, which tries to follow the natural movement of the universe, originally appears to be based on a poetic version of the concepts of the Samkhya and of Yoga. The words Yin and Yang correspond to Yoni and Linga. ...

Confucius, who was born ten years after Gosala, in 551 B.C., and died five years after him, in 479 B.C., was an agnostic who was against Taoism and sought to resolve all difficulties in the world through morality.

{end} more from Danielou at danielou2.html.

(4) "Why do you quote the Bible without believing in God?"

Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 05:58:53 +0900 From: "Okamoto Teruko" (in Japan).

Why do you quote the Bible without believing in God? Christ is not a tolerent philosopher. If so, you will stumble over His Crufixication. {end}

Reply (Peter M.):

The Old Testament is the Jewish Bible.

I see the New Testament as representing a quite different philosophy. It still contains a lot of Judaism, but it's a more "universalist" kind.

I see the "universalism" as arising, not within Judaism itself, but outside, in the Greek culture centuries earlier.

Cynic and other universalist Greek philosophers opposed the idea that non-Greeks were "barbarians". A lot of their ideas, I think, came from India. The same new thinking manifested itself in Buddhism.

As for God, well, people talked about God or the Gods, long before "God became a Jew".

I now reject the idea that God is a Jew - I reject the Jewish Bible - but I also reject nihilism - the idea that the universe is anarchic, that there is no Human Nature, that "Man makes himself".

The push for "Gay Marriage" expresses the Nihilism of our time. Feminism and the Gay Rights movement have removed the natural complementarity between the sexes. But they will fail.

Rather, I think that we are subject to forces in the universe that we do not comprehend. This I call "Tao".

So Tao is my new concept of God. But the Taoists texts are human philosophies, not divine revelation.

The Cynic philosophers, who so greatly influenced the New Testament writers, were not Jews; instead, they were very similar to Taoists.

Shinto seems to have a lot of Taoist features. However, I don't go along with all the clapping to spirits. Do you do that?

I think that the early Christians made a mistake in accepting the Jewish Bible. Marcion was right: Christianity was an entirely different religion: philo.html. It has taken 2000 years for that to become clear.

The declaration of the Canon was a mistake, in all cases (the Canon of the Jewish Bible, and the Canon of the Christian New Testament). These books are the philosophy of the writers, their record of the past, their advice for the future.

Casting them as "revealed" takes away the human authorship, and makes the book a weight around the neck of those told - centuries and millenia later - to submit to them. How can we make up our own minds, when faced with such religious authorities?

De-Canonising them - seeing them as human products - ironically, makes them less oppressive and more interesting. Both the Jewish Bible and Christian culture preserve many valuable features of past religions and civilizations - often unwittingly.

With Christianity and Western Civilization under attack, the task is to find what is of value in our heritage.

(5) Taoism and Albert Einstein's "cosmic religious feeling"

The Taoist or Cynic philosophy I advocate is not a religion, nor a mere philosophy, but a "religious philosophy".

It's quite similar to the "cosmic religious feeling" articulated by Albert Einstein, in his article Religion and Science:


{quote} ... The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.

... On the other hand, I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research. ... A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.

This, and other writings by Einstein on Spinoza's conception of divinity, are at spinoza-pantheism.html.

Whilst I value Einstein as a philosopher, I oppose his apotheosis. He was a mere mortal, with his share of sins; not least, he was a plagiarist, as Newton was: einstein.html.

Write to me at contact.html.