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Plato, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1

January 9, 2009 Leave a comment

In response to tonight’s Common Ground message, an overview of Hebrews and an exposition on chapter 1, I did the following Google search: plato colossians 1 hebrews 1

One of the top results was “Plato 1 lecture outline

Victor Shepherd was awarded an honorary doctorate from Roberts Wesleyan in 1995. I wonder if I was there when he was honored? I remember several speakers receiving honorary doctorates during chapel services.

Shepherd writes, “The Apologists and Fathers of the early church saw large affinities between Plato and biblical thought.” However, “the Middle Platonists (1st cent. BCE) identified the forms with the divine mind. Now the universe was deemed to be a reflection of God’s mind (rather than a reflection of the forms.) Result:

  1. the study of the created universe leads to a knowledge of the mind of the creator
  2. science can arise, for now it is affirmed that natural things aren’t God.
Christians who took over Plato at this point falsified him, since for P the mind is receptive, not creative: it recognizes its objects but doesn’t create them. For P the world of forms is independent of mind. For P, forms can be grasped by the mind and are used to order matter, but forms arise from neither mind nor matter. The forms are part neither of the craftsman’s mind nor the world soul’s mind.”

This gives me pause. Clearly, Plato’s ideas were a precusor to biblical thought and concepts in the New Testament, but Dr. Shepherd makes a strong case that the connections between the Bible and Plato may not be as strong as I originally thought.

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