Who Were They?
Who were the great philosophers, writers, religious leaders
who paved the way for acceptance of Jesus� teaching in the first and succeeding
by Carolyn Kendall
Amenemope is described in The Urantia Book as a �seer�, who
lived in Egypt.� When he
lived is open to debate.� The book says
he lived after Melchizedek (1900 � 1800 B.C.) and before Ikhnaton who ruled in
the 14th century B.C.�
However, scholars date him at about 700 B.C.� They have found papyri of his writings, which may not be the
Amenemope believed that �God-consciousness was the
determining factor in all conduct; that every moment should be lived in the
realization of the presence of, and responsibility to, God.�� �Riches take wings and fly away.�� �Man proposes, but God disposes.�� U.B., P. 1046.
His writings were translated into Hebrew and incorporated
into the Old Testament book of Proverbs:�
Chapters 15, 17, 20, 22:17-24; and 22.�
The first Psalm was authored by Amenemope and was the heart of his
teachings.� Amenemope�s teachings were
later translated into Greek and colored all subsequent Greek philosophy.� A copy of Amenemope�s Book of Wisdom was
possessed by Philo, the first century Alexandrian philosopher.
(Read Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience, P. 321-322 �
�The religious views of��)
Ikhnaton is described in The Urantia Book (P. 1047) as
having �possessed an amazingly clear concept of the revealed religion of Salem�
He kept alive Melchizedek�s doctrine of El Elyon, the One God, in Egypt, thus
maintaining the philosophic monotheistic channel which was vital to the
religious background of the future bestowal of Michael.�� He reigned about 18 years, between 1375 and
Great Religious Leaders, Charles Francis Potter, P.
21:� �Atenism, the religion of Akhnaten,
which started out so gloriously, fell so ignominiously, for several
reasons.� First, its initiation had been
too abrupt.� The polytheism of Egypt had
hardly evolved from animism� To expect a whole race to change to monotheism so
pure that the god was a disembodied philosophical idea was beyond reason.� Atenism was a court fad, a diversion of the
bored nobility.� Only Akhnaten
passionately believed it. �The people of
Egypt probably did not know what it was all about.�
Potter P. 22:� �If a
prophet is a little ahead of his people he can lift their religion to his.� If he is farther in advance they may rise a
little and then sink back toward, but not to, their former level.� But if he is too far ahead for them to
comprehend him, they may follow for a short time and then sink back in reaction
into a worse orthodoxy than before.� Orthodox
Amenism was stronger ten years after his death than it was at this birth.� Egyptian religion never remotely approached
his level afterward.�
Potter P. 23:� �The
Hymn to Aten (the Sun Hymn), later incorporated into the 104th
Psalm) is spiritual and beautiful, but it lacks ethical content.� It has much about God�s relation to man, but
too little of man�s relation to God, and nothing of man�s relation to man, save
a vaguely implied brotherhood.� Still it
nourished one great soul.�
Potter P. 22:� �But
Atenism will come again and better than Atenism.� The Eternal Life and Light at the heart of the universe must
continually manifest itself.� Moses
evidently caught the gleam, dimly at least, and passed it on.�
Potter, P. 24:�
�Christianity and Islam are direct outgrowths of the Judaism which Moses
founded, and are still rooted in his ethical system�� Jesus said, �I came not to destroy the Law of Moses but to
fulfill it.� �
(Read U.B., P. 1009, #3.�
�The post-Melchizedek era.�)
According to hints in the book, Moses led the Exodus in
about 1230 B.C., which would have been during the reign of the Pharoah
Pythagoras lived about 580 to 500 B.C.� He was a Greek philosopher, mathematician
and religious reformer.� He discovered
the regularity of the mathematical laws of numbers, which he then transposed
into the establishment of basic laws of existence.
His followers established the first true sect.� They shut themselves off from the world, had
many rules, rituals, taboos, and prohibitions, including one against animal
food.� The schools taught transmigration
of souls.� They associated with Delphic
Plato lived about 428 to 347 B.C. in Athens.� He was a younger friend of Socrates.� According to Edith Hamilton, The Greek
Way:� �Socrates can never be
separated from Plato.� Almost all that
Plato wrote professes to be a report, or dialogues, of what Socrates
said.�� There has been much conjecture
about whether the ideas were original with Socrates, or with Plato.� Socrates was a real person, however, Plato
was more than a �reporter�.
From Encyclopedia Britannica:� Socrates/Plato believed that the counselor within him which
guided him in all his dealings and enabled him to maintain a perfect serenity
of spirit.� The soul is immortal because
it has within itself a native source of spontaneous movement.� The soul formerly shared the life of the
gods, enjoying direct contemplation of reality.� He knew of a certainty that no evil can happen to a good man
either in life or after death.� When
�Socrates� died, he said, �Cannot I make (you) believe that the dead body will
not be me.� You will not be burying me,
only my body.�
Teachings of Plato:�
Service of God, which is religion, means cooperation with God in
the creation of a noble work � tending of the soul.� He had a mission from God to make his own soul as good as
possible, and to incite mankind to do the same.� The great concern of man is the development of a rational moral
personality.� If man knew what absolute
good is, he would never pursue anything else.�
The Phaedo is believed to provide a clue to the structure of the
universe.� The survival of death is a
consequence of inherent divinity.
Death is the separation of the soul from the body.� In life, the body constantly interferes with
the soul�s activity.� Its appetites and
passion interrupt our pursuit of wisdom and goodness; Its infirmities
perpetually hinder our thinking.
He believed in reincarnation:� The soul has a succession of many lives.� When it was born, it has come back from
another life.� What we call learning
is really recollection, being reminded of what we had previously
learned.� The soul actually makes its
own body, even a long succession of bodies.�
When the time comes that it can no longer make a fresh body, it will
disappear.� He believed there were �good
souls� and �bad souls�.� At the approach
of death, the soul must assume its prescribed new form.� If it refuses, it will be �retired� to
another region, or it may be annihilated.
(Read U.B., P. 1637, ��the inclusion of many of Plato�s��)
From Encyclopedia Britannica:� The city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great as a
center for literature, arts, and philosophy.�
The Ptolomys, the sovereigns of Egypt, successively established the
Library, the Museum, and attracted leading writers, teachers, artists, orators,
and philosophers.� They bought up all of
Aristotle�s library.� A group of 70
scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (Septuagint of the
Pentateuch).� All travelers were
compelled to leave a copy of any work they possessed.
Alexandria was the only home anywhere in the world for pure
literature.� All official copies of
Athenian works were brought there.� This
period covered 306 to 30 B.C.
Under Roman sway (30 B.C. to 642 A.D.) Alexandria developed
a new movement.� Its character included
oriental Gnosticism, Jewish, and later, Christian elements.� This second Alexandrian school resulted in
the philosophy of the Neo-Platonists and the religious philosophy of the
Gnostics and early church fathers.
In the schools of philosophy, any doctrine which claimed
infallible certainty received a hearing.�
These included various Eastern religions, notably Judaism.� A characteristic feature of Alexandrian
thought arose which has been called Gnosticism.
Of the so-called pagan schools of philosophy, their
doctrines were a synthesis of Platonism, Stoicism, and alter, Aristotilianism,
including oriental mysticism, which gradually became more important. The world
to which they spoke had begun to demand a doctrine of salvation to satisfy the
human soul.� They began to examine the
nature of the soul and taught that its freedom consisted in communion with God,
to be absorbed into a sort of ecstatic trance.�
(Plotinus� doctrine).� From here,
it degenerated into magic.� This pagan
theosophy was driven back to Athens, but it had enormous influence on Clement
and Origen.� There was a swarm on
semi-Christian Gnostic sects, many of which existed side-by-side with
Christianity for hundreds of years.
Alexandria was destroyed by Arabs in 642 A.D.� Massive fires had already consumed the
library and its retained literature.
Philo of Alexandria
Philo lived 30 B.C. to 40 A.D., and was born into a wealthy and
influential family.� Philo was the great
name in Jewish philosophy at the Alexandrian school, and has been called the
first theologian.� He took Greek
metaphysical theories and adapted them to the Old Testament; he developed an
elaborate theosophy which was borrowed from, and was a synthesis or oriental
mysticism and pure Greek metaphysics. �His greatest concepts included the following:
- The meaning of human life through the relative nature of Man and God.
- The Divine nature and the existence of God.
- The great Logos doctrine as the explanation of the relation between God
and the material universe.
(Read U.B., P. 1433.�
Gonod had business with Philo�s brother)
Philo�s doctrine of God states that God is a being devoid of
body and soul, of other elements, or of substance.� God has no limitation; he is eternal, unchangeable, or simple
substance, free, self-sufficient, better than the good and the beautiful.� God cannot be reduced to the level of finite
existence.� One can say that God is,
but not whathe is.� God
is absolutely perfect, pure, and lofty.�
While God does not personally touch the world, he utilizes an infinite
variety of divine forces which act as mediators.� These mediating forces can be ideas, or they can be angels
or other entities acting independently for God.
The Logos, or Reason of God, is the highest mediator between
God and the world.� It is the first-born
son of God, the archangel who is the vehicle of all revelation, and the high
priest who stands before God on behalf of the world.� Through him the world was created, and so he is identified with
the creative Word of God in Genesis.�
(In Greek, logos means both �reason� and �word�.)
(Read U.B., P. 1009, #5, Greatest teachers:� Paul and Philo)
(Read U.B., P. 68, Christianity:� Jesus, Paul and Philo)
(Read U.B., P. 1338, �Philo was a great teacher��)
Philo�s doctrine is derived mainly from Plato:� Man is a twofold being with a higher and a
lower origin.� The pure souls fill the
airy space, while those nearest the earth are attracted by the �senses�, and
descend into bodies, which have senses.�
Man also has in him a fountain of sin and evil.� The body is like a prison, which restrains
the soul from rising to God.� The
highest maxim of Philo�s ethics is deliverance from the world of sense, and the
mortification of all the impulses of sense.�
A truly wise and virtuous individual will be lifted above his existence
after death and the soul returned to its original condition; it came from God and
it can return to him again.� All others
will pass into another body after death � transmigration.
(Read U.B., P. 1811, Jesus on reincarnation, Plato, Philo.)
Paul is often included among Jesus� apostles, although he
was not one of the twelve.� He
experienced a vision of Jesus on the Damascus road and was transformed from a
persecutor of Christians, to a believer.�
He was a Jewish tentmaker from Antioch; former student of Gamaliel, the
great Jerusalem teacher.
(Read U.B., P. 1339, �Many, but not all, of Philo�s��)
(Read U.B., P. 1340, �Paul�s cult of Christianity��)
(Read U.B., P. 1011, �The Christian religion��)
Pantaenus and Clement of Alexandria
(Read U.B., P. 2074, discusses the decline of Rome in the
second century regarding Alexandria:�
�Conditions were not so bad at Alexandria�continue to end.)�
Pantaenus was known to be the head of the catechetical
school at the Alexandrian school of philosophy.� Concerning Pantaenus; following Nathaniel to India, read from Pagans
and Christianity.� Possible
influence of Rodan; Nathaniel was apostle who Jesus assigned to Rodan.
Read U.B., P. 1772, Intro. And P. 1783 Intro.)
Clement was first an assistant, and then the successor of
Pantaenus.� Later he became the
presbyter (the Elder) of the church of Alexandria.� He was the first to bring the culture of the Greeks and the
speculations of Christian heretics to bear on Christian truth.� He was knowledgeable of the systems of the
Encyclo. Brit.:� Born
in 150 A.D. in Athens.� At first he
believed Christianity was just another philosophy, but one, which urged
adherents to live a nobler, holier life; then realized the Greeks had had only
glimpses of truth; Christianity as revealed through Christ was absolute and
perfect truth.� Greek philosophy, he
believed, was a preparation of the Greeks for Christ.� He thought that Plato may have got his
wisdom, or part of the Reason direct from God.�
Christ was the end to which all true philosophies pointed.
Clement believed in evolution.� Worship of the heavenly bodies, he thought, was (a dress
rehearsal) for the worship of the Creator.�
All of the world�s history was preparation leading up to this full
revelation, and God�s care was not confined to the Hebrews alone.� Man goes through various stages before he
reaches Christian perfection.� This
development takes place not merely in this life, but in the future through
successive grades.� The Jew and the
heathen had the gospel preached to them in the world below by Christ and the
apostles.� Christians will have to pass
through purification and trial after death before they reach knowledge and
Man�s salvation was to be gradual.� First, faith; then love; then full and complete knowledge.� There could be no faith without knowledge.
The object of the incarnation of Christ was to free man from
sin, and in the end to elevate him to the position of a god.� Man had to free himself from the power of
passion; give up thoughts of pleasure; resist temptations of body,
keeping it under strict control; prefer goodness; contemplate God, the supreme
good; live a life according to reason.�
Strive for likeness to God as revealed in Christ.
In his teachings about the relation of Jesus and God, he
wrote:� Christ was the Logos, the
Reason.� God the Father was ineffable
(incapable of being expressed in words).�
The Son alone can manifest him fully.�
God is the Reason that pervades the universe, brings out all goodness,
guides all good men.� While Clement
believed that Jesus was the personal Son of God become incarnate, he didn�t
attach much value to his human nature.
Pelikan, Jesus Through the Centuries:� P. 40, �Clement believed that Plato�s
statements about the creator as �father�, and the three levels of divine
reality were evidence of nothing else than the Holy Trinity.�
(Read U.B., P. 1785, Sec. 2, (Rodan) Divine Nature of Jesus)
One of Clement of Alexandria�s pupils was Origen.� Born in 185 A.D., of Christian parents.� He was a writer, Christian theologian and
teacher.� Origen was the most
influential of all theologians of the ancient church except Augustine.
He had listened to the lectures of Pantaenus and Clement
(when 15 years old) in the catechetical school of Alexandria.� This was the only institution where
Christians were instructed in Greek science and doctrines of the Holy
Scriptures.� The school had closed its
lines against heathenism and heresy.� At
18 Origen became head of the school.� He
studied Plato, Stoics, Pythagoreans.�
Learned Hebrew so he could read the Old Testament in the original.� Authored 6,000 works.
Origen was ascetic; castrated himself so he could instruct
women without preoccupation.� He
preached throughout the Roman world without being ordained.� Established a school at Caesarea in
Palestine.� Was imprisoned and tortured
during persecutions in 250 A.D., and died in 254.
Man may attain the likeness of God through contemplative isolation and
self-knowledge.� Complete and certain
knowledge comes only from divine revelation.�
Christ is the Logos � the Word of God that became incarnate in Jesus �
who is with the Father from eternity.�
From Pelikan, P. 227, �Jesus, the Logos and the healing power within him
are more powerful than any evils in the soul.�
Origen explained the sinfulness of all men by a hypothesis
of pre-existence and fall of each individual soul.� Successive stages; a transcendental fall; creation of the
material world; punishment and redemption; fallen souls are born into flesh;
dominion of sin, evil and demons on earth; appearing of the Logos; Christ�s
union with a pure human soul; Jesus� preaching of salvation; his death in the
flesh; imparting of the Spirit; ultimate restoration of al things.� Origen later fell out of favor because of
his doctrines of pre-existence of souls, the resurrection of the flesh, and
belief in the existence of many worlds.
Origen strongly believed in the personality, the eternity
and essential divinity of the Logos.�
Origen would not have agreed with the later Arians that since the Father
imparted divinity to Christ, then, it must be a lower order of divinity.
The Arian Heresy and Athanasium
The Emperor Constantine espoused Christianity because he believed,
in part, that it had become such a strong religion that it might be able to
save the Roman Empire from further disintegration.� As soon as it became the state religion, virulent feuds broke out
over doctrines, interpretations and jurisdiction.
Arius of Alexandria maintained that Christ was neither a
perfect man, nor a perfect God.� Christ
consisted of a secondary substance or essence, enough to explain his superior
spirituality; but not enough to call him divine upon God�s level.� Arius� theory was considered too much like
the pagan philosophers � that God was a demigod.
Arius and his followers believed that the Holy Spirit was
not part of the Godhead, simply one of the ministering spirits, who differ only
slightly from angels.
Athanasius was secretary to the Bishop of Alexandria.� He asserted that God was a unified being, a
divine being, and since Christ was the Son of God, therefore God and Christ
were of the same substance, no matter in what form the Son might appear.� He stated:�
�All of us are sharers of the Godhead through the Spirit.� If the Holy Spirit were merely a creature,
no sharing would result in us; we would be joined simply to a creature and be
alien from God.� It is wrong to separate
the Holy Spirit from God, otherwise Christianity would just be a naturalistic
moralism without its supernatural character.�
The Council of Nicaea was held in 325 A.D., and ruled in
favor of Athanasius� position.� He had
the genus to choose the most important issue in early Christianity � the
non-paganization of Christ, and not compromise.� The council of 381 adopted the Nicean Creed:� �We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, how, with the Father and the
Son is together worshipped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets.�
(Read U.B., P. 2070, �Many of the great truths, Arius and
It was not primarily through the books of the New Testament
that Christianity was transmitted, rather through documents of early church
fathers and fellow Christians.� Potter, The
Great Religious Leaders, outstanding �Early Church Fathers�, between Paul
and Augustine were:
- 69-155 AD; Polycarp � Sat at feet of John; rehearsed his sayings
about the miracles and teachings of the Lord.�
Perished in Roman arena.
- 130-202 AD; Irenaeus—Wrote against heresies.
- 160-220 AD; Tertullian � Wrote many books, one against heresies.
- 185-373 AD; Origen, Arius, Athansius (See above).
- 260-340 AD; Eusebius—Father of church history; many writings.�
Opened Nicean Council; had not wanted discussion of Trinity since not
mentioned in Scriptures.
- 329-389 AD; Gregory Nazianzen � Formulated Trinity theory that although God is of one essence;
exists as three persons.
- 335-394 AD; Gregory Nyssa � Final shaping of Trinity doctrine.�
All men will finally be restored to harmony with God.� Angels and devils will be restored (a
- 345-407 AD; �Chrysostom� � nickname �golden mouth�, John of Antioch.� Preached his interpretation of
Scripture.� Was Bible critic, pointing out inconsistencies.
- 340-420 AD; Jerome � Devoted to paganism in youth.� Had near death experience and converted to
Christianity.� Learned Hebrew and translated entire Bible into Latin (Vulgate).�
Wrote 135 biographies of Christian leaders, beginning with Paul.
Augustine lived between 354 and 430.� He was considered great because:
- He explained
difficult theological concepts to the satisfaction of average Christians.
a coherent and complete system of theology for the Christian church.
demonstrated the power of Christianity to redeem a sinner and heretic.
He wrote a book about himself:� Confessions.�
Turbulent youth, had several mistresses, carouser.� Read Cicero on value of philosophy and
became converted to a search for wisdom.�
Dabbled in Manicheism, a semi-religious, semi-philosophical sect that
emphasized the doctrine of two principles at work in the world, one good, one
evil.� Along with Neo-Platonism,
Manicheism was a major rival to Christianity.
Traces of both � Manicheism and Neo-Platonism � appear in
his theology.� Manicheism required
absolute chastity, abstention from animal food.� Augustine decided he was not ready for perfection.� He prayed, �Lord, make me pure and chaste,
but not yet.�
In Augustine�s time Rome fell.� Paganism, which had been abolished by the church in 300,
revived.� The old gods abandoned the
city � the deities had supposedly protected the people.� Pagans mocked Christians and asked
embarrassing questions.� Augustine had
been a rhetorician and knew how to use reason to defeat pagan sophistries.� He taught people how to respond
effectively.� His teachings:� The Fall and Depravity of Man; The
Atonement; Saving Grace; Predestination.
From Nilsson, History of Greek Religion, P. 296:� �At times there were revivals of ancient
religious practices; cultish, pagan, heretical � as usually occurs in an age
weary of its culture.�� �In late
classical times Greece was a poor and insignificant country.� The great battles between paganism and
Christianity were fought out in more important provinces of the Empire.�
Among practices considered to be pagan:� human and animal sacrifices; oracles;
worship of nature gods, sirens, Nereid, nymphs, gods, goddesses, many of whom
dwelled in caves, springs and rivers; belief that heavenly bodies control
destiny, magic symbols, amulets.�
Nilsson:� �Pagan gods have disguised
themselves in Christian dress.� Old gods
are now �saints�.�
(Read U.B., P. 2070, �But the Christians made a shrewd
(Read U.B., P. 2083, �So-called Christianity � ancient pagan
In pre-Christian times isolated religious communities
existed in India; Judea (Essenes, Nazarite, Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls), Engedi;
and Egypt.� Philo described a Jewish
monastic community in Egypt.
(Read U.B., P. 796,�
�Just about the time��)
Early Christian men and women abstained from marriage, from
meat, intoxicating drink; devoted themselves to prayer, works of charity.� Many lived solitary lives is isolated
retreats.� Anthony, a hermit of Egypt,
in 270 A.D. is credited as being the father of Christian monasticism.� Anthony interpreted portions of the Gospels
as Jesus recommending a life of withdrawal.
From 476 A.D. to the Renaissance in the 14th
century were the Middle Ages.� Within
this period � 476 to 1000 A.D. � was the age characterized by repressiveness,
lack of enlightenment, knowledge failed to advance � called the Dark Ages.� The Renaissance marked the transition from
medieval to the modern world.
Pelikan:� By the 6th
century, monasticism was in full swing.�
Jesus was �the perfect monk.��
They patterned themselves after Jesus who, they believed, lived a
monkish life; they then recreated Jesus as a monk who supposedly lived as they
Benedict�s (500) monastery was �a school of the service of
the Lord; it became the prototype for European monasteries:� self-denial, but not austerity.� Law and order prevailed.� �Perfection� meant celibacy, eschewing
family life and daily work within society.�
About 1060, monasteries were organized adhering to �Augustinian canons�
� more stringent than Benedictine.
Women�s order pre-date Anthony.� Both Anthony�s and Benedict�s sisters were nuns.� Veiled virgins were confined to
convents.� They engaged in teaching,
tending the sick, caring for orphans, prisoners, insane, aged, poor.� Most convents followed Augustinian rule.
Monasteries served a useful purpose:� Men�s communities preserved important
documents, oversaw copying of manuscripts, religious art was preserved, icons
and relics safeguarded.� Food was grown
for the local community in time of famine.�
Cloistered abbeys served as a refuge from an often, harsh life
outside.� Weaker men and women were
protected from the barbarians who roamed the countryside outside the walls.
In the 14th century monasteries became too rich
and secular, especially in France and Italy.�
Special privileges, �commendations� were granted by the Abbots �
forgiveness for money.� Communities