It is amazing to recognize how great a part ignorance plays in admiration of the Bible and other scriptures, and in reliance upon scripture for moral guidance.

At the time that Jesus is reputed to have walked the earth, Aristotle had already written extensively on ethics, Stoicism had matured and diversified, and Lucretius had already expounded and expanded upon Epicureanism. These philosophies, and others, were comprehensive systems of analytical thought.

The Greeks and Romans had already recognized that ethics and morality were the subjects of philosophy, not of religion. They had recognized that the world could be explained as the result of natural processes; supernaturalism was sidelined to minor conjectures. Gods, if they existed at all, were erratic beings, not paragons of virtue, with little impact on humans.

In comparison, the books now known as the Old Testament were crude and confused. To the extent that they were in any way systematic, they were trivial, dogmatic, and rife with supernaturalism. They posited and portrayed a violent god who constantly meddled in human affairs, and who had constantly to be appeased. They made no real attempt to systematize ethics or to explain the natural world.

When the authors of the New Testament books wrote their works, they paid more attention to the primitive Old Testament than to the works of the Greeks and Romans. It is likely that they were largely ignorant of these more sophisticated sources. To the extent that they were aware, they adapted the more supernatural elements of the Greek and Roman philosophies.

We can only imagine what Jesus would have espoused if he had been educated in the Greek and Roman traditions. As for Paul and the other New Testament authors: would they then have been able to get away with creating the Jesus persona and attendant nonsense that has come down to us?

Mohammed, too revealed his ignorance of the Greek and Roman sources by the fact that he plagiarized large parts of the Bible, but not the classical writings.

It is in fact a great irony that after the Koran was written, Islamic scholars did encounter Greek and Roman writings, thereby inspiring a brief Islamic “golden age” which expired when those writings were suppressed by a return to Islamic orthodoxy.

Turning to modern-day adherents of the various scriptures, it is obvious that they have no excuse for being ignorant of the classical literature. Or, if aware of it, they have no excuse for not weighing it against their scriptures and noting its superiority.

It must be self-imposed ignorance that allows people to claim that the Bible or the Koran is a suitable and complete source of moral guidance.

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