A Comparison of the Old and New Testament and the Teachings of Epictetus
- Pages: 3
- Word count: 644
- Category: New Testament
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The teachings of the Old and New Testament and the Epictetus’ statement have two main themes. They agree on the fact that the body is just a shell that limits the soul. What matters on the inside of the body is what the bible and Epictetus agree on. What they disagree on is the belief of what the body represents and the fact that it is the human choice whether to release his or herself from that bodily bondage. This is a key factor which will soon be explained why. As opposed to Epictetus and most Greek and Roman philosophers, The Bible states that the body is a connection to the soul and spirit and that they are truly united when all three are working together. Catholics also believe that the body is a gift from God and that human beings should not reject it until God calls them to him. “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity;”( 1)” Biblical thought recognizes no division of body and soul. A human being is not a body, and in addition, a soul. The human person is a totality, an embodied spirit.
In the New Testament “body”, “flesh”, “soul” and “spirit” refer to the entire human person. The opposition between flesh and “spirit” refers simply to the unredeemed and redeemed states of human existence. When “spirit” is distinguished from “body,” it means that the spiritual order transcends the material, but in no way implies that a human being is composed of two parts.”(2) Catholics believe that God has put humans on earth for a purpose and that he calls us to him when that purpose is done. It is not the human choice to take his own life and free his soul from the body. Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (MT 10:28). Life on earth is not meant to be easy but that is why God judges our eternal salvation on the choices that we make on earth. Jesus counsels us with these words. He reminds us that it is not physical death that we should fear. Because the body and the soul are connected, it is not our place to separate those by our own choice.
In contrast, Epictetus taught his students that the body is only a prison and that to prove that none had control over you; you would release yourself from the body. “We can no longer endure being chained to this wretched body, giving it food and drink and rest and purification: aye, and for its sake forced to be subservient to this man and that.” “Here are thieves and robbers and tribunals: and they that are called tyrants, who deem that they have after a fashion power over us, because of the miserable body and what appertains to it. Let us show them that they have power over none.” The Bible teaches that the body is inseparable from the soul and that they are meant to be together according to God. Epictetus on the other hand, believes the body is just a husk entrapping the spirit/soul and preventing many spiritual freedoms. The only agreement between Epictetus and the Bible is that the Soul strives to be reunited with the Divine Creator.
While Epictetus and the Bible agree on the point that the soul strives to be reunited with its Creator, they disagree on God’s place in human decision making. This is almost expected though taking into account they’re different religions with completely different views on God/gods. The main lesson to get out of both the Bible and Epictetus’ teachings is that nothing is impossible with God helping you, and that the body, soul, and spirit, are one. It is not our place to assume God’s plan for us.