Another text box:
the time of the New Testament, Stoicism was the most influential of the Greek philosophical
schools, and some of Paul’s ethic may reflect Stoic influence. The school itself was founded by Zeno of
Citium (ca. 334-ca. 262BC). His group became
known as the Stoics because they met in the colonnade called the Stoa Poikile,
in the Greek agora (marketplace).
key idea of Stoicism is to “love your fate” (amor fati). The universe is governed by divine Logos
(Word). It is the Reason or Mind that
orders everything. You can resist it,
but it is pointless because the Logos determines what will happen. We all have seeds of this overall Logos inside
of us, logoi spermatikoi. This is
the “divinely implanted word” (cf. James 1:21).
ideal is thus to live in accordance with the reason that is inside of you. The Stoics believed that emotions were the
enemy of reason and thus that a person should strive to eliminate all emotion,
to achieve apatheia or an emotionless state. Similar to Paul, a person should be content
with whatever circumstances come their way (cf. Phil. 4:12). We should strive for oikeiosis, to accept
the situations of our lives as our true home.
contribution of Stoicism to moral discussion is the idea of adiaphora, things
neither good nor bad, things that are neither appropriate or sins. Cicero in the century before Christ and
Seneca at about the same time as Paul were very influential Roman Stoics. A mixture of Stoicism with Platonism called “Middle
Platonism” may stand behind much of the New Testaments use of the word logos
and may have influenced the way early Christians talked about Christ before
he came to earth (e.g., John 1:1; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:2).
Already in the chapter we have seen how the words “cynic,”
“skeptic,” and “epicurean” have changed their meaning over time. The word “stoic” today actually remains similar
to the ancient Stoics and refers to someone who is very disciplined and
rational, without much emotion. On the
other hand, the word apatheia did
not mean what the word “apathetic” means in English. To be apathetic in English has a negative
sense, while Stoic apatheia implied no feeling at all.