In Acts 17:18, we read that “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with Paul. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”
Every educated person in the Apostle Paul’s day had acquaintance with Stoicism and Epicureanism, which, among a few other philosophies, exerted great influence on public discourse and private life. There is abundant evidence from Paul’s writings that he was more than passingly familiar with Greek philosophy, and that in his desire to “be all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22), he adapted and corrected the popular philosophies of his day to his preaching.
This reading and discussion course aims to acquaint you with the basics of Stoicism and Epicureanism in order to enhance your understanding of Paul’s literary and cultural context, and so increase your appreciation of the Apostle’s work among the Gentiles.
In this 4-week seminar, we will explore these issues by engaging selections from Stoic and Epicurean philosophers closely on our own throughout the week and then together in a live discussion at the end of the week.
Paul and Popular Pagan Philosophy, 4 weeks – $0a live discussion
Required Text: Course packet of Stoic and Epicurean writings (no charge)