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Was Jesus Influenced By Hinduism And Buddhism?


kismet
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When you purchase bananas from the grocer, do you engage in philosophical discussion?

 

The article mentioned that silk was found "as early as 1070 BCE," but there is nothing documented about the Silk trade until about 200 BCE in Mesopotamia, which may or may not have included ancient Greeks and Romans. Further, the ones doing the trading were NOT Chinese. They never left China. There were middlemen involved twice removed from the Chinese. It is probable that the people who sold silk to the Romans were from the Middle East.

 

The first MENTION of silk in the possession of Romans is by Pliny.

 

I still seriously doubt - not saying it's impossible - that Jesus would have any contact with Buddhist missionaries. Even if he had, he would have no way to understand their language.

 

NORM

 

Not with my grocer Norm, but I did use to have long discussions with my Italian butcher. I'd get my meat and then sit out the back with him whilst he had a smoke. Once we touched upon religion but usually it was politics and also his experiences in the old country with criminals.

 

You might be aware that the first ancient author who affords any evidence respecting the use of silk, is Aristotle (H.A. V.19). After a description, partially correct, of the metamorphoses of the silkworm (bombyx, Martial, VIII.33 (reference http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Sericum.html ). Maybe that's not strictly 'silk trade' material but it just goes to show that hundreds of years before Jesus existed, different cultures were somewhat aware of each other at the very least. To think that in no way their ideas or philosophies didn't cross borders, to me seems be very unlikely. But they are just my thoughts on the matter and I have no proof of course.

 

...and I still seriously think that it could be completely possible that Jesus, or if not Jesus certainly others in Israel, could have easily come into regular contact with others who whilst maybe not Buddhist missionaries still knew a thing or two about Buddhist philosophy, and who could share that information. I imagine that over time such people would have developed the ability to communicate with the other cultures to further their trade efforts.

 

I know when I've first visited countries like Thailand and Indonesia, it only takes a day or two to learn the basics. I think a month or two would see some serious ability gained.

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I agree, PaulS....we don't have to know what religion someone else is, religion may never be mentioned, but we are still going to be communicating ideas out of our personal worldview shaped by that religious background. And, introduce others to new ideas and ways of thinking, and be ourselves influenced in return.

 

Jenell

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...and I still seriously think that it could be completely possible that Jesus, or if not Jesus certainly others in Israel, could have easily come into regular contact with others who whilst maybe not Buddhist missionaries still knew a thing or two about Buddhist philosophy, and who could share that information. I imagine that over time such people would have developed the ability to communicate with the other cultures to further their trade efforts.

 

 

 

I grant that there is a slight possibility that Jesus may have come into contact with a talkative Buddhist-reeking silk trader having a smoke in the Negev.

 

However, when I see something such as an unexplained simpatico between Buddhism and Christianity, I apply lex parsimoniae to the equation. It is far more believable to me that 4th and 5th Century Bible copiers inserted their own Buddhist leanings into the scriptures and embossed them onto the character of Jesus.

 

NORM

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I grant that there is a slight possibility that Jesus may have come into contact with a talkative Buddhist-reeking silk trader having a smoke in the Negev.

 

However, when I see something such as an unexplained simpatico between Buddhism and Christianity, I apply lex parsimoniae to the equation. It is far more believable to me that 4th and 5th Century Bible copiers inserted their own Buddhist leanings into the scriptures and embossed them onto the character of Jesus.

 

NORM

 

I thought smoking was banned in the Negev for health reasons around that time :)

 

Thanks, Norm.

 

Cheers

Paul

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The human mind may be similiar, but I don't think it's a stretch to imagine Buddha's teachings to have made their way across to Israel, and other countries surrounding India, during the some 400 years before Jesus existed. Rome was occupying Israel for some 60 years before Jesus. Plenty of time for worldly Romans to introduce other religous concepts and ideas, let alone traders and other travellers.

 

I think it is unlikely that Jesus visited India (however it is possible), and imo I think a large number of the phrases attributed to Jesus just sound so remarkably like the Buddha some 400 years earlier, that I doubt it was simple pure coincidence or that Jesus just happened to come up with similiar thoughts 400 years after Buddha. To me the odds are simply in favour of Jesus having heard of, or been exposed to, Buddhist teachings, one way or another.

 

That's not said to take away from Jesus' teachings or in any way reduce them, it just seems to me too much of a coincidence to say that Jesus had zero exposure to Buddhism.

Elaine Pagels argued in her book, The Gnostic Gospels, that Gnosticism was heavily influenced by Buddhism through trade between India and Israel, so I wouldn't be surprised if the canonical gospels had some influence from Buddhism as well. I find it interesting that you see the similarities as proof there was a historical Jesus who was exposed to Buddhism whereas Jesus Mythicists see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity as proof there was no historical Jesus and Christianity had plagarized its scriptures from Buddhism, paganism, and other earlier religions.
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Elaine Pagels argued in her book, The Gnostic Gospels, that Gnosticism was heavily influenced by Buddhism through trade between India and Israel, so I wouldn't be surprised if the canonical gospels had some influence from Buddhism as well. I find it interesting that you see the similarities as proof there was a historical Jesus who was exposed to Buddhism whereas Jesus Mythicists see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity as proof there was no historical Jesus and Christianity had plagarized its scriptures from Buddhism, paganism, and other earlier religions.

 

Mysticism practiced in the ancient world wasn't about sticking to your guns at all costs and ignoring wisdom from outside your culture. My understanding is that it was more akin to being open to any tradition that facilitated the goal, that of transcendance, and recognised the worth of allegory and parables from other traditions in that light.

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I find it interesting that you see the similarities as proof there was a historical Jesus who was exposed to Buddhism whereas Jesus Mythicists see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity as proof there was no historical Jesus and Christianity had plagarized its scriptures from Buddhism, paganism, and other earlier religions.

 

Just to be clear Neon, I don't see the similarities as proof that Jesus existed, but rather I mean that if Jesus did exist I think it reasonable that he may have had some knowledge of Buddhist teachings. But I get your point - Of course as you mention and as Norm posits, all of this could simply be the result of the later authors' doings.

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I've just done a tiny bit of research via Google. According to an article on the PBS web site, trade between India and the mediteranean commenced c. 200-100 BCE, so clearly Indian thought would have been known in Rome and Greece. Hindu and Buddhist concepts are likely to have been available throughout the Roman/Hellenic world and, I would speculate, may have influenced current thinking throughout the empire. No need to posit a direct meeting of Jesus with a Buddhist monk.

 

—Jim

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I've just done a tiny bit of research via Google. According to an article on the PBS web site, trade between India and the mediteranean commenced c. 200-100 BCE, so clearly Indian thought would have been known in Rome and Greece. Hindu and Buddhist concepts are likely to have been available throughout the Roman/Hellenic world and, I would speculate, may have influenced current thinking throughout the empire. No need to posit a direct meeting of Jesus with a Buddhist monk.

 

Jim, Are there any other Roman/Hellenic writings from the period that suggest direct Buddhist influence?

 

If this coincidence of philosophy is largely limited to one poor, rural, Aramaic-speaking Galilean Jew, I would find the case not very plausible.

 

George

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I don't know classical literature well enough to answer that, but surely if there was trade then there would have been conversation. If there was conversation surely there would have been debate relating to ideas and values. Some of this would surely have seepd through to the uneducated and poorer people over a period of a century or two just as happens today. Look at how relativity theory and quantum theoretic ideas fall off people's lips today even if often without full understanding.

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Jim, actually, connected to trade, I don't think it would have had to do much 'seeping down.' Contact and conversation between those involved in trade, both the 'foreigners' traveling in and the local traders and merchants dealing with each other would have been most directly the trade and merchant classes, more than the elite well educated aristocratic or power classes, plus, between the common labor/slave workers in their service.

Jenell

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Maybe so, Jenell, but may I let my imagination run wild.

 

Gunaketu was a Buddhist monk who had been studying Greek though at the library in Alexandria. He planned his return to the east to coincide with a caravan that would provide a measure of safety in numbers on the treacherous journey home. The caravan stopped in Galilee to purchase smoked fish to add to their provisions for a long trip. A young boy, the son of a local carpenter, had a thirst for knowledge and was immediately attracted to this stranger who had so many stories to tell …

 

Possible? Maybe as possible as some of the tales in the gospels.

 

—Jim

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Also of possible relevance in this discussion is the entry into Idia by Alexander the Great (see the description of the following video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StxBeOqbBFc

and the Wikipedia article) suggesting to me the possibility of the Greeks embracing at least some concepts from India.

 

—Jim

Edited by JimYoungman
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, but surely if there was trade then there would have been conversation. If there was conversation surely there would have been debate relating to ideas and values. Some of this would surely have seepd through to the uneducated and poorer people over a period of a century or two just as happens today. Look at how relativity theory and quantum theoretic ideas fall off people's lips today even if often without full understanding.

 

Of course, the assumption here is that these traders would have been conversant in Buddhist philosophy, and that an illiterate, 1st Century Galilean Jew who spoke a very regional dialect of an obscure (at the time) language could pick up enough to understand it.

 

Lex parsimoniae !

 

NORM

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Of course, the assumption here is that these traders would have been conversant in Buddhist philosophy, and that an illiterate, 1st Century Galilean Jew who spoke a very regional dialect of an obscure (at the time) language could pick up enough to understand it.

 

Lex parsimoniae !

 

NORM

 

Charles Sennott has written, "There are many other views on Jesus. Some scholars believe he was not a peasant at all but of a more comfortable class of artisans, and that he was most likely a learned rabbinical leader." On the other hand, the prophet Mohammed was reportedly illiterate yet seems to have been well versed in Jewish and Christian teachings even before the flight to Medina. Lex parsimoniae perhaps, but there are many possibilities.

 

I think that we know very little of the life of Jesus, and can know very little. The possibilities are, for me, exciting to explore.

 

—Jim

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Charles Sennott has written, "There are many other views on Jesus. Some scholars believe he was not a peasant at all but of a more comfortable class of artisans, and that he was most likely a learned rabbinical leader."

 

Based on what evidence?

 

 

On the other hand, the prophet Mohammed was reportedly illiterate yet seems to have been well versed in Jewish and Christian teachings even before the flight to Medina.

 

Of course! Mohammed LIVED in a world surrounded by Christians and Jews! There is no surprise there.

 

 

 

I think that we know very little of the life of Jesus, and can know very little. The possibilities are, for me, exciting to explore.

 

On that, we can agree!

 

NORM

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