F. Gerald Downing, CHRIST AND THE CYNICS; John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography Selections by Peter Myers, November 11, 2001; update September 11, 2011. My comments are shown {thus}.

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(1) F. Gerald Downing, CHRIST AND THE CYNICS (2) John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

(1) F. Gerald Downing, CHRIST AND THE CYNICS: Jesus and other Radical Preachers in First-Century Tradition, JSOT Press, Sheffield UK, 1988.

This book shows that the early Christians were followers of the Cynic philosophy - Taoists, in effect. The first part is Downing's Preface; the second part is the parallel passages showing the Cynic derivation of much of the Synoptic Gospels. This material suggests that Jesus and his disciples were NOT Zealots, as Jewish writers like Hyam Maccoby and Robert Eisenman would have us believe.

{p. v} PREFACE

Our oldest traditions about Jesus clearly stem from Jewish Palestine in the early first century. The names of people and places belong there, as do most if not all of the customs and institutions taken for granted, along with details of the topography and climate, as well as many apparent allusions to other strands of contemporary history. In these accounts the only other literature drawn on for illustration, for support and for interpretation is contained almost entirely in the Jewish canon of writings (the 'Old Testament', itself by now virtually finalised). This source is supplemented on a very few occasions by more recent compositions: but they are still clearly Jewish. No proof of any important direct literary dependence on non-Jewish sources has emerged from two centuries of close study.

On the other hand, the documentary evidence on which we rely for our knowledge of these traditions is itself written in Greek to audiences that would seem to belong outside of Palestine. Those first listening to the Gospels being read may well have included Jews - even Jews who had grown up in Galilee or Judaea. But most of the Jewish Christians listening would seem to have been Jews who had grown up in Greek-speaking, largely 'pagan' cities (of which there were many in Galilee itself, of course). Paul's letters and Luke's Acts of the Apostles would suggest that within perhaps twenty years the majority of Christians outside of the Jewish homeland were converts from 'paganism'. Some may have had prior contact with Jewish tradition, perhaps even attending synagogues. But sufficient seem to have come in from 'outside' to need to have Jewish customs explained to them.

Thus the audiences for the documents we have are likely at least to have been aware of the popular culture of the hellenistic cities and towns; and for most of them, this will have constituted their natural way of conversing and thinking, and interpreting what they heard or read. Jewish tradition in Galilee and Judaea as well as in the rest of the Mediterranean world had, of course, itself been encountering hellenism for more than three centuries. The extent of hellenistic influence in the homeland continues to be debated. Yet whatever our conclusion on that contentious issue, the former conclusion seems indisputable: our early Christian documents are addressed in Greek to people for whom it was natural to converse and think in Greek, people living in, and mostly immersed in a popular hellenistic culture.

The traditions about Jesus, then, are Palestinian Jewish, with supporting and interpretative literary material drawn from Jewish writings. The audience is 'hellenised', and perhaps mostly 'hellenistic'. We are aware that for any communication, and especially in a largely oral culture, 'feed-back' from the audience is extremely significant. The growth of the Christian movement must have involved effective communication. So we are bound to assume that the presuppositions, the prior interests of those who joined in, and those being approached, are likely to have had a significant effect on what was said and later written. At the very least, the listeners will have made clear what was getting home to them, and what was leaving them cold, what was answering their questions and what seemed to be beside the point, and not worth repeating. This will have affected selection; it may also of course have influenced style, and even content.

{p. vi} If we want to understand these documents as they came into being, we need then to understand the audiences that will have helped to shape them. For that we need to glean what we can of popular hellenistic culture at the time (always open to the likelihood of considerable diversity).

The evidence assembled in the first few pages of texts printed in this collection would seem to suggest that at least one important (but not at all monochrome) strand was provided by radical 'Cynic' philosophers. Although this 'movement' often figured quite prominently in New Testament scholarship in the first third of this century, it then seems to have suffered something of an eclipse, and has only slowly been re-emerging to view. It is sometimes pious, but often sceptical, sometimes gentle, but often radical and shocking, and for some decades scholars seem to have preferred to look to more devout, more obviously 'religious' sources: to mystery religions, to academic philosophy, even, and to an imagined pervasive 'gnosticism', rather than to the Cynics.

Yet if the first Christian missionaries obeyed instructions of the kind recorded in Mt. 9.35-10.16, Mk 6.6-11, Lk. 9.1-5, 10.1-12, they would have looked like a kind of Cynic, displaying a very obvious poverty. Not all Cynics wore exactly the same dress (§40, §151); not all of them even carried the staff that for some was symbolic. But a raggedly cloaked and outspoken figure with no luggage and no money would not just have looked Cynic, he would obviousiy have wanted to.

Perhaps a wandering Christian preacher repeated the approach ascribed to Jesus in the tradition, 'How's your health today? Feeling well, are you? I'm only here for the ones who are ready to admit they're a bit sickly, and need the doctor,' (§159). But that was a standard Cynic gambit, from the earliest days (even if they weren't the only ones to use it). 'You're sick with worry about your house when you're away from it and about your job when you're at home,' he might have continued; 'and about whether the fleet will bring a decent catch in tomorrow, and about the winter clothes you put away last month. One day's worry at a time is enough. Take a lesson from the wild birds and beasts and flowers. They live very well without grain stores. God cares. Believe me.' (§58, §59, §115).

But the last Cynic who came your way (nice lad, cobbler from the next town up the valley) had said much the same. Well, perhaps he said 'gods', sometimes, as well as 'God' other times. And he talked about Diogenes and Herakles the son of Zeus, not Iesous Christos, son of God. You asked him what he expected to get out of it, throwing up his job and taking to the road. That last one expected exactly what he did get, an earful of abuse, and a kick that landed him in the gutter. This new one, Christicos or Christianos they say he is, this one seems to be just about as hopeful: 'the really happy person is the one who's being abused and hated.' (§16)

In these last two paragraphs I have been deliberately paraphrasing. But time and again the excerpts here collected clearly provide remarkably close 'parallels' with the material in the Jesus tradition in the first three the 'synoptic" gospels, very often the closest parallels to be found among near contemporaries. The full signficance of these parallels is obviously a matter for judicious reflection and debate. As the person responsible for the present collection I am myself certain that they have an important and

{p. vii} positive significance for our understanding of Christian origins, including our understanding of Jesus himself. But these passages are presented here in the hope of stimulating a discussion, not foreclosing it. They demand concerted consideration rather than piecemeal treatment, (let alone silent neglect).

Yet their possible relevance is not a twentieth century discovery. Many early Christians, and others, were aware - and happily aware - of the similarities between strands of Jesus' preaching, and the much older Cynic tradition. In the mid-second century a satirist called Lucian tells us of a man he's sure is a charlatan, a man called Proteus Peregrinus, whom followers of Jesus called 'the Christian Socrates', and Cynics hailed as the greatest man since the original Diogenes, accepting his Christian sufferings as part of his Cynic credentials. There's a story from even later of a man going to be consecrated as bishop of Constantinople still wearing his Cynic cloak; and there's much more besides.

But the main weight of my argument lies in the passages here collected together. They are deliberately left with the minimum of comment, so they may have a chance to 'speak for themselves'. When a reader has allowed them to do that, the next step will be to check with some recent thorough commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke, James (or on the "Q" material: see below).

It seems to me that it will appear that Christians who shared publicly the teaching and stories that go to build up our first three gospels must have been entirely happy to sound as well as look like Cynics, content to find themselves saying a great many things of the kind that the Cynics were saying. They focussed on the same topics, very often pressing the same conclusions, and that frequently in very similar language.

There were differences. But then there were considerable differences among pagan Cynics themselves. Some talked about God and prayer and life to come; others were more sceptical and 'humanist'. All were opposed to cant and hypocrisy, opposed to letting public opinion live your life for you, opposed to finding your reality in property or expensive enjoyment. They wanted to be free of ali that, free to live their own lives - and free of the great men who liked throwing their weight around and expected everyone else to see them as benefactors (§30, §151, §173). Cynics do not look very 'political' to many of us today. They didn't organise political parties, they didn't (for the most part; there were some exceptions) have political programmes. But they certainly got up the noses of people in authority, and were likely to find themselves in exile. They seem to have appeared political (and subversive) in their own day. But they weren't exactly anarchists, either. They expected that if everyone lived more simply we could do without most of the rules and regulations; but the result would be more peaceful and more orderly - as well as more enjoyable. They were against what we might call a 'consumerist' society. They favoured passive resistance. And the authorities often saw this as a very real political threat, and took it very seriously indeed.

Even that is an over simplification. Some Cynics were very elitist, sure that the Cynic way was only for heroes. But many seem to have been much more popularist, and we have contemporary impressions of numbers of workers

{p. viii} downing tools and taking to this ascetic way; ...

When Christians didn't just repeat Jesus' teaching, but talked a lot about him, that would have been distinctive. (But some Cynics talked a lot about their founder, Diogenes.) When Christians said, Your attitude to Jesus' teaching now will decide the verdict on you in the judgment to come, that would have been distinctive. (But we have two Cynic pieces that seem to allow that sort of possibility: the teacher will be the judge after death, (§78)). When Christians said, God is ending this phase of the world's existence, and soon, it would have been unusual. (Yet some Stoic-inclined Cynics in particular themselves believed the present phase was only temporary, and not a few other pagans considered things to be run down enough for the end to be near, (§78, again)). And when these Christians talked about Jesus as 'saviour' and 'liberator', and you imagined they meant what a Cynic using those words of Diogenes might mean, on closer inspection you might find something rather different intended. Still, they don't seem to have had a lot of words from Jesus about 'liberation' or 'salvation' (§173). ...

{p. ix} Of course, even if we found pagan Cynics and early followers of Jesus uttering identical words in sentence after sentence, they could still be 'meaning' something rather different by them. Yet to say that is to say no more than many scholars would say of Matthew and Luke when they included similar sequences of words in their respective works. The similarities remain significant, even if in context the 'meaning' can be shown to be distinctive. The point being made may be of some importance. It is NOT being suggested that similarities in wording, imagery or subject matter necessarily indicate agreement in meaning, let alone any kind of dependence in either direction. It IS being argued that where any such similarities appear they must be examined, and not be dismissed without careful consideration as though bound to be 'merely superficial'.

And the only point I am hoping to place beyond dispute with this collection is that some early Christians and some radical pagan preachers (seen by others and by themselves as Cynics) would often have sounded alike to their hearers.

However, it does then seem to me extremely unlikely that these early Christians were unaware of all this; and with such a considerable range of similar utterances, they must in fact have been quite happy to sound familiar in this way. They could have avoided it. A Christian like Paui sounds much less Cynic (though there are parallels in his writing, too), and John has practically nothing in common with Cynic material (§§281-289).

If this point is agreed, it would seem to entail that these Cynic-sounding Christians did in fact mean (or often meant) also to be understood in much the same sort of way as the general run of Cynics seemed to be understood. If that were not so, we may assume they wouid have selected from the Jesus tradition teaching and stories that were more distinctive, or would have taken more care to make the differences explicit, or would have gone in for the more abstract theologising of someone like Paul.

Further, if the arguments of these last two pages be accepted, then, as things were understood in the first century, it would make those early Christians appear both political and subversive. That is how those in authority saw Cynics.

For anyone now wanting to maintain some continuity with early Christianity, some response to New Testament documents that takes their likely original intention and reception seriously, that must be important. It does not provide a political programme for the late twentieth century; (it did not for the first, in our sense of a programme). But it does provide a very powerful socio-economic and cultural 'ethos'. It stands against any ideology (capitalist or Marxist) that defines people as producers or as consumers, and against any system that enforces that definition as the one by which people are obliged to live and suppose themselves living fully. And it insists that such a Christian ethos must never be simply an ornament, a beautiful ideal. It demands actign.

{p. x} Then yet another question asks to be considered. How was it that these early Christians could display so much of the Jesus tradition, so often so tellingly matching the concerns, convictions and even preferred metaphors of the pagan Cynics? As noted right at the beginning, there is so much that looks to be Palestinian-Jewish in the synoptic gospel tradition. There seems to be no plausible scenario in which such a colouring would have been imposed on or threaded into Cynic teaching simply borrowed in some hellenistic city: any such borrowings would surely not have seemed to be 'improved' by adding a Palestinian-Jewish colouring. We seem to have to accept that in all likelihood most if not all the material taken to come from Jesus the Jew of Nazareth came already 'looking Cynic' and 'sounding Cynic', from the first re-telling of the stories and teaching. The Cynic colour is the colour Jesus of Nazareth Nazareth himself gave to his teaching.

Jesus would have been able to give his teaching this Cynic colour either by pure coincidence - or because the Cynic preachers had themselves not missed Galilee in their endless wanderings, which took in 'barbarian' (non-Greek) as well as Greek-speaking cities and territories. (And, anyway, ordinary ('koine') Greek may well have been at least a widely used second language in Galilee. In the next century Jews were often writing even grave inscriptions in it.) If Cynic 'missionaries' reached Galilee they are likely to have homed in on Sepphoris, Antipas' new and splendid hellenistic capital for the territory, being built all the while that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, six miles away. Part - though only part - of the ethical, cultural, and religious stimulus that Jesus received as he grew up may well have included some variants of this Cynic radicalism, which would often also have matched the concerns and ethical convictions of the ancient Israelite prophets. Certainly Josephus thought that a case could be made for calling the radical libertarian movement started by Judas of Galilee, the Jews' 'fourth', that is, Cynic, philosophy; (see Introduction). ...

{p. xi} Much recent scholarship has been concerned to explore cultural contexts for Jesus in a Palestinian Judaism seen as non-Greek or at most only marginally Hellenised, and has used Dead Sea Scroll, Rabbinic, and other matter often labelled 'sectarian', or 'apocalyptic' or 'apocryphal'. In what follows I set out where I can the most striking parallels from this Jewish literature currently suggested as context for the Jesus tradition, for the sake of comparison. On a few occasions they are much closer here than are the Cynics, especially in the areas I have listed as 'christological', 'eschatological' and 'soteriological'. But for the bulk of the material, the Cynic parallels seem to me much more strlking; and the best Jewish ones are often in fact from Philo, who knows and uses the Diogenes tradition, sometimes explicitly, often (as is usual) without acknowledgment.

This Jewish material is given first, in [square brackets]. Not all that is available is given each time, only items that are as close or closer than the pagan parallels. As just noted, where such comparable matter is known, it can be found in most of the longer current commentaries./13/ ...

For better or worse the translations are the author's own, but should integrate readily with the standard translations of the New Testament and of the relevant texts in the Loeb Classical Library.

The other source most often tapped these days for supposedly illuminating parallels is tne 'Gnostic' library of Nag Hammadi. It is argued (or often taken for granted) that it was this psycho-therapeutic retreat into an inner religious security that was popularly in demand in the first century, and that it was to this demand that the Christians more or less drastically adapted. There is actually no evidence for any such popularity of anything one may call 'gnostic' in the first century; the only popular demand for which we do have evidence is that displayed in the material assembled here. The Jesus tradition was as earthed (and as earthy) as the Cynics, certainly concerned with inner authenticity, but only as exhibited in a succesful engagement with the world around, not in any 'cowardly' flight inward and away. No attempt is made here to engage with gnostic writings.

{p. xii} The first set of New Testament passages to be chosen is the material that Luke and Matthew have in common, but which does not appear (or not in this common form) in Mark. This is the so-called 'Q' material, the supposed common source that Matthew and Luke may have used, independently of each other, in producing their interpretative expansions of Mark. By no means all scholars are convinced of the validity of this hypothesis (though the present writer is, and has contributed to the debate). Anyone not persuaded can still make use of the material collected here, noting - perhaps with interest - just how much Cynic-sounding material Matthew was willing to borrow from Luke (or vice-versa). It still leaves the material itself looking Cynic.

The next section is the 'special Matthew' material - with some further striking parallels with Cynic motifs, perhaps particularly unexpected when Matthew above all is seen as the 'Jewish' gospel. Maybe Matthew would better be seen as a deliberate combination of Cynic with Jewish strands, for a mixed Christian community; perhaps also as evidence for the wider penetration already of some areas of the Jewish population by Cynic preaching. (There is some evidence that the second century Cynic Oenomaus, from Gadara, in the Decapolis, not far from the lake of Galilee, was highly regarded by some contemporary Rabbis.)

The third block is the Markan 'teaching' material (for the miracle stories there is no claim to find Cynic parallels). Then fourthly, the special Lukan material (somewhat sparse, despite Luke's supposed antipathy to riches, and so forth). Fifthly there is the letter of James. For anyone convinced for other reasons that James cornes from the pen of the brother of Jesus, or at least from the Jerusalem Christian community, this should offer still further evidence for the penetration of the Jewish homeland by Cynic ideas. However, James seems much more often than does the synoptic material to have its closest parallels with Philo.

Penultimately there is a brief consideration of Paul, with special reference to work by Professor A. J. Malherbe. ...

Oh, and 'Cynic'? It means something like 'doggy', or perhaps better, 'dogged' - one of those rude words which the disparaged pick up and wear with defiance. Our 'cynic' and 'cynical' come from this group's refusal to be

{p. xiii} hoodwinked by others' (or even their own) pretensions. Someone who suspects everyone's motives and presses them to look closely at their own failings is a 'Cynic'. As Jesus seems to have been. ...


Not only does most of the early Christian material here set out readily find Cynic parallels, but most of the Cynic preaching, as seen by contemporaries, readily finds Christian parallels. ...

{Here begin the passages from the Cynic philosophers and the Synoptic Gospels}


Most Cynics and at least most Christians saw their message as aimed in a similar direction: to the mass of ordinary people. ...

{p. 2} There is no Jew, no Greek, no slave, no free citizen, no male, no female. You are all one in Christ Jesus - Gal. 3.28

There aren't many among you who'd normally be thought clever, not many important people, not many from the city aristocracy. God has chosen people others think simple... and powerless... from the despised bottom of the heap... - 1 Cor. 1.26-28 (Compare notes of poverty: 2 Cor.8.2, 1 Thess. 4.11, 2 Thess. 3.10.)

The mass of the people accept our Cynic aims. But when they see how hard it is to realise them, they desert our speakers - ps.Crates 21.

You must try going out into the market place, where the mass of people spend their time - ps.Diogenes 6.

If the opportunity offers, the Cynic must speak up on the public platform like Socrates - Epictetus III xxii 26; and:

You must be able to explain to individuals as well as to a crowd of people the battle they're embroiled in - Epictetus III xxiii 24; (and cf. IV iv 26-27). ...

The mass of ordinary people keep a clear memory of these sayings ascribed to Diogenes - Dio 72.11.

Almost everywhere you go is crowded with this kind of [Cynic] philosopher - Dio 72.4.

He calls a popular assembly all on his own - Dio 80.2.

Many would come up to me and ask me my thoughts on what's good and what's bad - Dio 13.12, Rome; (cf. 8.6; 13.14, 31; 32.20, Alexandria; 34.2, 'the many', Tarsus; 54.3; 60.10).

I stayed away from the towns, passing my time... in the countryside, finding lots to think about, mixing with herdsmen and hunters, very genuine people with their simple and straightforward life-style - Dio 1.51.

Make your way to the most crowded places - Lucian, Philosophies for Sale, 10, cf. Peregrinus 2-3; Demonax 9, 11, 61.

{p. 3} ... the respect the mass of the people show my fellow philosophers - Lucian, Runaways 12.

Virtue is the same for women and men alike - Antisthenes, LEP Vl 12, (where 'virtue' is what the Cynic way is all about).

Women are not by nature inferior to men... and it would be a disgrace, Hipparchia, for you to change your mind now, when you've already covered half the way - ps.Crates 28; cf. epp. 29-33; Diogenes ep. 3.

Would it ever be proper for men, and only men, to try to give careful consideration to the issue of living their lives well - in effect, to do philosophy - would it be proper for men to do this, but not women? Musonius III.

Lucian chides 'working class' Cynics with 'excessive interest in women', persuading them to leave home, 'pretending they are going to be philosophers,' - 'The Runaways' 18, cf.16, and see below; cf. also Peregrinus 12, (aged widows in attendance).


The gospel must first be preached to all the nations - Mk 13.10. Make disciples of all the nations - Mt 28.18. You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judaea and Samaria and right to the ends of the earth - Acts 1.8; cf. Acts 2.9-11. From Jerusalem right round to Illyricum (Yugoslavia)... to Rome... to Spain - Rom. 15.19, 24. Pontus, Galatia, Cappodocia, Asia, and Bythinia - 1 Pet. 1.1.

I am a citizen of the world - Diogenes, LEP Vl 63.

'Hipparchia... you must seek out wise men (sic), even if it means going to the very ends of the earth' - ps.Crates, 30.

I visited as many countries as I could... sometimes among Greeks and sometimes among barbarians... arriving in the Peloponnese, I stayed away from the towns, passing my time... in the countryside - Dio 1.50

I've just completed a very long journey, all the way from the Danube - Dio 12.16

The deity ordered me to keep on with what I was doing, 'till you reach the very ends of the earth,' - Dio 13.9.

Peregrinus ('the one and only rival to Diogenes and Crates') left home a second time to wander far and wide. The Christians provided him with sufficient resources for his travels - (in Asia Minor, Syria, including Palestine, Greece, Egypt, Italy and Rome) - Lucian, Peregrinus 15-16.


Fishermen (Mk 1.16-20); tax-collector (Mk 2.14); carpenter (Mk 6.3); leather-workers (Acts 18.3; cf. 1 Cor. 4.12).

They noted that Peter and John were uneducated and very ordinary... - Acts 4. 13.

How has this Jesus achieved such literacy, without any education ? - Jn 7.15.

Where are the sophisticated, the highly literate, the debaters? - 1 Cor. 1.20.

People spinning and weaving wool in their own houses, and leather-workers and fullers and farm labourers' - Celsus, in Origen, contra celsum III 55.

(Women are first to be commissioned to proclaim the resurrection [Mk 16.7 Mt. 28.7; they do so, Lk. 24.11, Jn 20.18].)

Many of the Samaritan townspeople believed in Jesus because of what the women said in witness - Jn 4.39.

When Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos they took him in and expounded God's Way more accurately for him - Acts 18.26.

Phoebe... Prisca and Aquila... Mary who exerted herself ('apostolically'?) for you... Andronicus and Junia, kinspeople, fellow prisoners, and notable apostles... Tryphaena and Tryphosa, and beloved Persis too, women who also exerted themselves ('apostolically'?) - Rom. 16.1-12.

Euodia and Syntyche ... two women who exerted themselves with me in apostolic evangelism, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers - Phil. 4.2-3.

Monimus... a pupil of Diogenes... was a slave working for a Corinthian banker - LEP Vl 82. (Compare 'Simon the Cobbler', LEP II 122; and Socratic epp. 12 and 13.)

You only need to learn how to live a healthy life, like a slave or a labourer, like a genuine philosopher... like Cleanthes, who studied while he pumped water for a living - Epictetus III xxvi 23.

NO matter whether your teacher's a Greek or a Roman - or Scythian or Indian, for that matter - Dio 13.32.

[Dio, during his exile] planted and dug, drew water for baths and gardens and performed many such menial tasks for a living - Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 488.

I particularly recommend the life of a shepherd. There's nothing to compare with doing philosophy while working on the land, certainly nothing preferable - Musonius Rufus XI.

{p. 5} They were learning to be cobblers or builders' labourers; they were occupied with fullers' vats, or they were carding wool to make it nice and easy for the women... Lucian, Runaways 12; cf. Dio 72.4.

Even if you are quite ordinary - a tanner, fisherman, carpenter, money-changer - there's nothing to stop you annoying others, so long as you have the cheek, the nerve... How about boat-man or gardener? Lucian, Philosophies for Sale, II.

It would be shameful, when you have taken up the Cynic life with your husband, living in porches, forgoing wealth, to change your mind now and turn back when you've covered half the Way - ps.Crates 28, to Hipparchia (cf. ps.Diogenes ep. 3, again).

Does it really seem to you that I was ill-advised to devote my time to a philosophical education rather than waste it on a loom? - 'the female philosopher', Hipparchia - LEP Vl 98.

Some people are sure to say that women who spend their time with philosophers are bound to become self-willed and arrogant, deserting their households for the company of [other ] men, practising speeches, talking like sophists, when they ought to be sat at home spinning - Musonius III; (though Musonius thinks philosophy should make both men and women more dutiful - the women philosophically domestic.)

Some even run off with their hosts' wives, like the adulterous young Trojan in the old tale, pretending that the women are going to become philosophers - Lucian, Runaways 18, again.


No clever oratory, no intellectual sophistication... - 1 Cor. 2.2.

I serve God in accordance with the Way. They call it a school. - Acts 24. 14.

The wordy way to well-being is long; daily Cynic exercise is a short-cut ps.Crates 21.

if Cynicism is really a school of philosophy, and not, as some maintain, just a way of life - LEP Vl 103.

Philosophy is nothing other than knowing about living... Particular clarity and forcefulness in speech... I don't rate all that highly, even in men - III and IV.

Though you have so many enjoyable things to see and to hear, powerful speakers, delightful writers in verse as well as in prose, a peacock-like procession of multifarious sophists, borne on wings of fame by a crowd of disciples - yet despite all these counter-attractions, here you are, coming up to me, waiting to listen to what I have to say, though I know nothing and make no claims to knowledge (i.e., like Socrates) - Dio 12.5. ...

I - THE "Q" MATERlAL (in the Lukan order).



Diogenes marched into a theatre against the tide of those coming out. Asked why, he said, 'This is what I spend my life practising' - LEP VI 64.

No one makes any strenuous effort to become a good man and true - LEP Vl 27.

Diogenes was asked what he could do. 'Lead men,' he replied - LEP VI 29; cf. 27-30.

A real Cynic well prepared will not be satisfied with having been well-trained himself. He must realise that he has been sent as God's messenger to his fellow humans, to show them where they've gone astray over what is right and what is wrong [the good and the bad] - Epictetus III xxii 23.

If someone has any wisdom to share, he should make his home where fools are thickest - Dio 8.5 (compare all of Dio 8 and 9).


You brood of vipers - Lk. 3.7, Mt. 3.7; cf. §39, 56, 58, 70, 264.

When Diogenes saw professional dream-interpreters and seers and their customers - or people who'd let fame or fortune go to their heads - he thought human kind the most obtuse of all the animals - LEP Vl 24; cf. 46-48.

You certainly look human, but at heart you are apes - ps.Diogenes 28.1; cf. epp. 29, 47, and ps.Heraclitus 9, people are worse than animals.

With a wave of her wand Pleasure drives her prey into what amounts to a sty, and shuts him in. From then on the human that was lives on as a pig or a wolf. And Pleasure brings into being all kinds of snakes and creepy-crawlies - Dio 8.24-5; (cf. 8.3, 14, 17, 36 [water-snake] and 9 passim).

The poor woman... has been changed from a human being into a viper - Epictetus I xxviii 9.

The man becomes a wolf, or a snake, or a wasp, instead of a human being - Epictetus IV i 127; (cf. I iii 7-9, xxiii 6, 9, III xiv 14, xxiii 5).

Seneca, de ira 11 xxxi 6; Lucian, Demonax 28, 49; Musonius X, XIIIB; but note in §56, God's positive csre for animals.

(4) THE WRATH TO COME ('eschatology')

God brings into balance aspects of things that are out of true, he puts together again what has been broken apart, he hurries to press down what has started to slip out of place, he collects together again what has been scattered, he cleanses what is unseemly... he brightens up the darkness with light... he moves through everything that exists, moulding it, adapting it, disssolving, solidifying, melting... these are his remedies for a sick world - ps.Herclitus 6.3-4.

The Ephesians... will pay for their insolence and are paying for it already, already themselves fully under sentence for their wickedness. It's not by taking wealth away that God punishes, but by giving it to wicked people. He does it so that, with the means for sinning to hand, they may be convicted - ps.Herclitus 8.3.

Come, let us obey God, so we may not remain under his anger - Epictetus III i 37.

We might follow the example of some of those who perform initiations and purifications, appeasing the wrath of Hecate, claiming to make a person sound. Before the cleansing begins, I gather, they set out and expound the many varying visions that the Goddess, they say, sends to those with whom she is angry - Dio 4.90.

Are you not aware of the stable, true and ageless harmony of the elements, as we term them, of air and earth and water and fire...? If this common partnership were ever broken and followed by mutual conflict, the elements are not by nature sufficiently resistent to destruction or decay for them to escape being thrown into chaos. They would undergo sn unthinkable and unimaginable dissolution from being to non-being... the greed and lawless discord of all else carries with it the greatest risk of ruin. Yet such destruction will never overtake the universe as a whole because an all-embracing peace and righteousness remain within it, and everything everywhere serves the law of Reason in attentive and obedient compliance - Dio 40, 35-37.

And when the guests (sc., mortals enjoying life) have to leave, the profligate and intemperate are dragged out and hauled away... But the others walk out on their own, steady and erect... light-hearted and happy, with nothing to be ashamed of. God keeps an eye on all that is going on, like a host in his own house, and notes how each guest behaves. The best of them he always calls up to be with him; and if he happens to be especially pleased with anyone, he orders him to stay and be his drinking partner and his friend - Dio 30,43-44.

{p. 10} (5) REPENTANCE

... All philosophers were trying to persuade the unconverted to change their minds; and a stress on the importance of words matching deeds was not confined to Cynic preaching. But with the Cynics espousing 'more a way of life than a philosophy', changing people's life-style was their primary aim. Dio makes the contrast explicitly, comparing useless academic philosophy with the populist Cynic concern for praxis (Dio 32.8, 19-20).

You need someone good with words, someone who can encourage and dissuade, to show each individual the conflict he's caught up in, with all the wrong that results. He needs to show him clearly that he's not doing what he wants and is doing what he doesn't want to do. As soon as you show someone this, of his own accord he'll refrain completely - Epictetus II xxvi 4; cf. I iv 18.

A courageous and humane ruler who means well towards his subjects will induce the wicked to change their attitude of mind, and also help the weak. He does both without diminishing in any way his respect for high moral standards, and his determination to be second to no good man in that respect - Dio 2.77; cf. Dio 31-43, urging cities to change their ways.

{p. 11} There are two ways to cure wickedness or prevent it, just as with other ills. One resembles dieting and drugs, the other is like cautery and surgery (the penal system) ... It is clearly preferable not to resort lightly to drastic measures. The task that really needs doing is the gentler one, to be performed by people able to sooth and reduce a soul's fever by persuasion and reason - Dio 32 17-18.

What makes us worst of all is each one's failure to look back over his own past life - Seneca, EM LXXXIII 2.

I don't despair even over the most hardened case. There 's nothing that determined effort and attentive and assiduous treatment won't overcome - Seneca, EM L 5 et passim; cf. XXV, XXVIII 9, Lll, LXXV, LXXXIX etc.

Demonax considered that it was human to go wrong (sin), but the act of a God or a godlike human to set the wrong right - Lucian, Demonax 7 (cf. 10).


Antisthenes... belittled the Athenians' boast thst their ancestors had sprung from the soil. He told them it made them no better than snails or locusts - LEP Vl 1; (cf. Vl 63, 'world-citizen').

Diogenes used to pour scorn on 'good birth' and fame and all such, calling them advertisements for wickedness - LEP Vl 72.

The Lacedaemonians display good sense in lots of things, and especially in designating people as Spartans on the basis of their conduct, not their family records - ps.Heraclitus 9.2.

Why do you say you are an Athenian...? it is from God that the seeds of life have come down, not just to my father or my grandfather, but to everything that comes to birth on this earth - Epictetus I ix 1-4 (and all of I ix; also Musonius XIIIB).

{p. 12} If you are cowardly, pampered, slavish, you are no kin either to the gods or to good humans - Dio 4 . 23 .

Those who originally used these terms, 'noble' and 'of good birth', applied them to those whose high moral standards showed them well-born, without bothering about their parentage - Dio 15.29; (note all of 14 and l5 on free and servile birth; and 9.5).

If there is an incidental extra benefit in philosophy, it's that it never looks at anyone's pedigree - Seneca EM XLIV 1 ( - end; and XLVII).


The axe is already poised against the root of the tree. Every tree that bears no good fruit is cut down and burned on the fire - Lk. 3.9, Mt. 3.10; (compare §4 on judgment, 23 on the imagery, 24 on 'deeds'.)

The profligate, said Diogenes, were like fig-trees growing on a cliff, with fruit no human gets to taste - LEP VI 60; (compare Stobaeus III l5.10, of Crates; IV 31b, 48, of Diogenes; criticising a lack of appropriate action, Diogenes, LEP Vl 27-28.]

First of all take care that people don't know who you are. Do your philosophy on your own for a while. This is how fruit is produced: the seed has to be buried deep for a time, hidden away and allowed to grow slowly, so it can come to maturity. Take care, my friend, you've grown up too lushly, you'll be nipped by the frost - or it's already happened - right down at your roots - Epictetus IV viii 35-6, 39; and the whole Discourse, on appropriate action.

So, what fruit does this teaching produce? ...tranquillity, fearlessness, freedom - Epictetus II i 21.

We praise a vine if it loads its shoots down with fruit... and we praise a hurnan being for the fruitfulness that is peculiar to us... our soul, and reason brought to perfection in our soul - Seneca, EM XLI 7-8; cf XX 1.


I baptise with water, but... he with wind and fire - Lk. 3.16, Mt. 3.11. (Cf. §180, 181)

Diogenes lit a lamp in broad daylight and went around with it saying, I 'm looking for a real human being - LEP VI 41, etc.

{Was this the inspiration for Nietzsche's story about the madman?}

Diogenes saw someone engaged in a ritual lustration. 'You poor bedevilled fool! ' he said. 'Don't you realise that getting your life wrong is no more going to be helped by sprinkling yourself with water than getting your grammar wrong is' - LEP Vl 42; ...

Men of Athens, said Demonax, you see me already wreathed. Come and offer me, too, in sacrifice. On the last such occasion [Socrates] you lacked favourable onens - Lucian, Demonax 11.


There's someone greater than I am coming. I'm not fit to undo his sandal-strap - Lk. 3.16, Mt. 3.11.

Antisthenes put up with his criticisms, for he greatly admired Diogenes' character - Dio 8 . 2 .


(a) We train both body and soul, accustoming ourselves to cold and heat, to thirst and hunger on a meagre diet, and to a hard bed; to abstinence from all pleasure, and patience under pitiful toil - Musonius Vl.

{p. 15} Now's the right time for your fever - let it happen well. Now's the time for going thirsty - thirst well. It's time to go hungry - hunger well! Epictetus III x 8; cf. xxiv 17.

Once when Diogenes was sunbathing in the Craneion, Alexander came and stood over him and said, 'Ask me any boon you like.' 'Stand out of my sunlight,' snapped Diogenes - LEP Vl 38.

For a Cynic, what's a Caesar or a proconsul, or anyone else? - Epictetus III xxii 56; cf. 60; 11 xiii 24.

So who has any real authority over me? Has Philip, or Alexander, or Perdiccas, or the Great King? Where could they get it from? - Epictetus III xxiv 70.


Diogenes used to reprimand people about their prayers, telling them they asked for what people in general valued, rather than what was really good for them - LEP VI 42.

Practice reducing your needs, and so come as close as possible to God [sc., who has no needs] - ps.Crates 11.

When someone has God's kind of peace proclaimed by God through his reasoning mind (not by Caesar - how could he effect it?) hasn't he enough to satisfy him? ...Now no evil can happen to me... Another takes care to provide me with my food and my clothes, my senses, and the structures of my mind ... - Epictetus III xiii 12-14.


You are the happy ones, you who are in poverty here and now ... Lk. 6.21, cf. M t. 5.3; and, You are the wretched ones, you who are rich - Lk. 6.24; cf. §58, 59

Diogenes used ts condemn those who were loud in their praise of people who were 'right-minded', 'above matters of wealth' - yet for all their high-flown sentiments, were themselves envious of the rich - LEP VI 28 etc.

{p. 20} The King, said Diogenes, was the most wretched person there was, surrounded by all that gold, yet afraid of poverty - Dio 6.34 et passim.

Diogenes claimed that he enjoyed the sensations of warmth more than the wealthy did, and he ate his food with more enjoyment than they did - Dio 6.9.

We should not get rid of poverty, but only our (bad) opinion of it. Then we shall have plenty - Epictetus Ill xvii 8.

Is anyone going to be in two minds about putting up with poverty, to free his mind from madness? - Seneca EM XVII 7.

Only the person who has despised wealth is worthy of God - Seneca EM XVIII 13.


Don't you want to know why I never laugh? It's not because I hate people, but because I detest their wickedness... You are astonished because I don't laugh, but I'm astonished at those who do, happy in their wrong-doing when they ought to be dejected at failing to do what's right - ps.Heraclitus 7.2,3.

{p. 21} Lots of people are praising you, Antisthenes was told. Why? he asked. What have I done wrong? - LEP Vl 8.

To some Diogenes seemed quite mad, lots despised him as a powerless good-for-nothing. Some abused him and tried insulting him by throwing bones at his feet as you do to dogs. Others, again, would come up and pull at his cloak.. Yet Diogenes was really like a reigning monarch walking in beggars' rags among his slaves and servants - Dio 9.8-9; cf. 73.5-7.

As a leading figure, Demonax fell foul of the mass of the people, and gained no less hatred from them, for his frank speaking and independence [freedom] than his predecessor [Socrates] had done - Lucian, Demonax 11.

Socrates said, Follow these instructions, if you are willing to listen to me at all, so that you may live happily, letting yourself look a fool to others. Let anyone who wants to, offer you insult and injury... If you want to live happily, a good man in all sincerity, let all and sundry despise you - Seneca EM LXXI 7; cf. 18.


My soul will not sink downwards. Because it is immortal, it will fly high into the heavens, and there I shall be welcomed home, as a fellow citizen among Gods, not mere humans - ps.Heraclitus 5.2.

{p. 23} We are deliberately delayed in this mortal life to provide a rehearsal for the better and longer life ahead... the day you dread as the end of everything is your birthday into eternity - Seneca EM CII 23, 26, et passim; cf. consol. at marciam xxi-xxiii.

The soul is either sent off into a better life to live among divine beings in brighter light and deeper peace, or else, at least, it's to be mixed back again with its natural elements, without any hurt, returning to all that is - Seneca EM LXXI 16.


Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other as well... Love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return - Lk. 6.27-29, 35; Mt. 5.39-44; cf. §16, 19-21.

{p. 24} Socrates bore all the ill-treatment he received with forbearance. For example someone expressed surprise once at his self-restraint when he'd been kicked. Socrates commented, If an ass did kick me, still would it have been in order to take it to court? - LEP 11 21.

Someone told Diogenes that his friends were conspiring against him. Diogenes replied, Well now, what's to be done, when you have to treat friends and foes the same? - LEP Vl 68; [an enigmatic response, but most likely positive].

A rather nice part of being a Cynic comes when you have to be beaten like an ass, and throughout the beating you have to love those who are beating you as though you were father or brother to them - Epictetus III xxii 54.

Socrates... didn't just avoid conflict at every point, but wanted to keep others from conflict, too - Epictetus IV v 2; cf. 12.

Who is there among us who does not admire Lykourgos of Sparta, in his response to being blinded in one eye by a fellow-citizen. The people handed the young man over to him, to take whatever vengeance he wanted. He refrained from any retaliation in kind, but educated him and made a good man of him - Epictetus, Encheiridion 5.

If the citizens of Mallus have behaved stupidly - and they have! - it's up to you to put anger aside and forgive them the punitive revenge you thought you had a right to; and, instead, work out a solution to this dispute over boundaries - Dio 34.43 (to citizens of Tarsus).

{p. 25} Never to give way, never to concede a point to a neighbour (or not without feeling humiliated); never to marry getting your own way with allowing others to as well - that's not manly or strong-minded, it's just ignorant stupidity - Dio 40.34, (to his fellow townspeople in Prusa); compare all of Discourses 37-41, on (re-)conciliation.

How shall I defend myself against my enemy? By being good and kind towards him, replied Diogenes - Gnomologium Vaticanum 187, (in Paquet pp. l01, 183;) cf. Plutarch Moralia 88B.

Someone gets angry with you. Challenge him with kindness in return. Enmity immediately tumbles away when one side lets it fall - Seneca, de ira II xxxiv 5; cf. III v 8, xxiv 1, etc.

You ask, If a man of sense and understanding happens to get his ears boxed, what is he to do? Just what Cato did when someone boxed his ears. He stayed cool, he didn't retaliate, he didn't even offer to forgive. He refused even to admit that anything had happened. His denial was more high-minded even than forgiveness would have been - Seneca, de constantia xiv 3; cf. de ira III xxv 3.

We shall never desist from working for the common good, helping one another, and even our enemies, till our helping hand is stricken with age - Seneca, de otio i 4.

It's a pitiably small-minded person who gives bite for bite - Seneca, de ira 11 xxxiv 1.


If someone takes your cloak from you, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if someone takes your belongings, don't ask for them back - Lk. 6.29-30, Mt. 5.40-42.

{p. 26} When someone asked Diogenes for his cloak back (sic), he said, If it was a gift, it's mine. If it was a loan, I still need it - LEP Vl 62.

Crates sold up all his property - he was from a prominent family - and realised about two hundred talents. This he shared among his fellow citizens; [or threw it into the sea, according to another tradition ] - LEP Vl 87.

How much more splendid than consuming lots of goods, to do good to lots of people! How much better to spend money on other people than on bits of wood and stone for yourself - Musonius XIX.

Many's the time I've taken pity on shipwrecked strangers and welcomed them to my shanty, given them something to eat and drink, and done everything else I could to help them, and taken them back to civilisation... I never did it to win a testimonial or even gain gratitude - Dio 7.52; cf. all of Discourse 7; also 17.12.

{p. 27} (20) (a) DO AS WOULD BE DONE BY, (b) GIVE FREELY, (c) BE GODLIKE

If you want to be loved, love - Sen. EM IX 6 (quoting Hecato); cf. XLVII 11.

My advice is to rate a friend as highly as yourself... - Seneca EM XCV 63, again; cf. §18.

Take care not to harm others, so others won't harm you - Seneca EM CIII 3-4.


Don't stand in judgment, and you'll not stand in the dock. Don't condemn and you'll not be condemned; release, and you'll find release. The measure you use will be used for you. Why take note of the speck in your brother's eye, but ignore the log in your own?... you hypocrite, first throw away the log from your own eye, and then you'll see clearly to take the speck out for your brother - Lk. 6.37-38, 41-42; Mt. 7.1-2, 3-5; cf. §18.

Diogenes expressed his amazement that the literary critics worked out what was amiss with Odysseus, but ignored what was wrong with themselves... and that public speakers accorded great importance to justice, without ever practising it ... and that money-grubbers condemned money while deeply in love with it - LEP Vl 27-28.

{P. 30} A man with his cloak drawn tightly round him, walking alone, one who always starts by rebuking himself... [sc. Dio and other Cynics] - Dio 33.14. ...


Can a blind man lead a blind man? will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone fully taught will be as his teacher - LK. 6.39-40, Mt. 15.14, 10.24-5; cf. §l~ 22, 36, 37-43, 68, 221.

{p. 31} You can no more have a fool as a king than a blind man to lead you along the road - Dio 62.7. ...


There's no good tree bearing useless iruit; but neither can a tree be useless if it bears good fruit. You can recognise each kind of tree by the fruit it bears. People don't find figs on a thorn tree, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man produces good out of his heart's good treasury, and a wicked man evil out of his store of wickedness Lk. 6.43-45, Mt. 7.16-21, 12.33-35; cf. §5, 7, 24.

{p. 32} Who would think to be surprised at finding no apples on the brambles in the wood? or be astonished because thorns and briars are not covered in useful fruits? - Seneca de ira II x 6.

{p. 37} (30) UNROYAL, UNCOMMON

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? No? What did you go to see? A man in soft clothes? You find people got up like that [in fine clothes, living in luxury] in royal courts - Lk. 7.25-26, Mt. 11.7-8; on popular response to the messenger, see Introduction and §2; on attitudes to kings, §151, 173, etc.

Once upon a time Alexander came and stood in front of Diogenes and announced, I am Alexander, the Great King. And I, said Diogenes, am Diogenes the Dog [Cynic] - LEP Vl 60; cf. 43, 44, 65; ps.Diogenes 23.

{p. 38} Diogenes says, Going naked is better than all the scarlet robes in the world; and asleep on bare earth you're in the softest bed you could find - Epictetus I xxiv 7.

Take a look at me then, says the Cynic. I've no home, no city, no property, no slave ... no governor's tiny mansion, nothing but earth and sky and one worn cloak ... - Epictetus III xxii 47.

It pained Alexander to think that someone living as free and easy as Diogenes might get the better of him, and end up no less famous... Dio 4.11, et passim; and Dio 6.

It was mostly people from a distance away who came to talk with Diogenes... the common motive was just to have heard him speak for a short while, so as to have something to tell other people about... rather than look for some improvement for themselves - Dio 9. 5 .

I wonder what on earth you came expecting or hoping for, looking for someone like me to speak to you. Did you come expecting me to have a nice voice, to be easier to listen to than other people... like a song-bird?... So, whenever you see someone who begins by flattering himself on everything he does, and courting favour with his dinners and his dress, and minces around provocatively, you can be sure he'll flatter you, too... But when you see some squalid figure, wrapped tight in his cloak, walking on his own, a man who always begins by rebuking himself, then you need not look for any flattery or deceit from him... - Dio 33.1, 13-14.

{p. 39} (31) SILLY CHILDREN

What are our contemporaries like? They're like children sitting in the market place and complaining to each other, 'We played on the pipes for you, and you wouldn't dance.' 'Well, we sang laments, and you wouldn't mourn' - Lk. 7.31-32; Mt. 11.16-17.

When Diogenes joked playfully, as he did from time to time, people were quite delighted. But when he pulled out all the stops and started to be serious, they could not stand his frankness. It seems to me it was rather like children who enjoy playing with thorough-bred dogs, but when the dogs show signs of anger and bark more loudly, the children are frightened to death - Dio 9.7; cf. 4.47 (for the image), and 35.7.

{p. 40} (32) TOO HARD OR TOO SOFT

John came to people's attention as someone who refused to eat baked bread and refused to drink wine - and they said he had a daimonion. The son of man came to people's attention eating baked bread and drinking wine - and they say he's a glutton and a soak - and a friend of tax-collectors and other wrong-doers into the bargain - Lk. 7.33-34, Mt. 11.18-19.

Antisthenes was reproached for keeping bad company - LEP Vl 6. Diogenes was reproached for drinking in a bar - LEP Vl 66.

Though the mass of people want the same results as the Cynics, once they see how difficult the way is, they steer well clear of those who propose it- ps.Crates 21.

{p. 41} (34) LAW

Law is a fine thing, but not as good as philosophy. Where law uses force against injustice, philosophy persuades us by teaching. Philosophy is better than social pressure just to the extent that it's better to do something willingly rather than under compulsion - ps.Crates 5.

It's very much simpler to get rid of any written rule you choose than it is an item of customary morality... while laws are preserved on tablets of wood or stone, customary morality is engraved deep in our living souls - Dio 76.3 [et passim, criticising written law, and 80.5; per contra, 75, praising it].

Demonax said that laws were probably pretty useless, whether they were framed witn bad or with good people in mind. Good people don't need them, and bad people aren't in any way improved by them - Lucian, Demonax 59.


Jesus said to the would-be disciple, Foxes have their earths to go to and birds have their nests to fly down to, but the son of man has nowhere to rest his head - Lk. 9.58, Mt. 8.20.

According to Theophrastos Diogenes had watched a mouse running around, not bothering about finding anywhere for its nest, not worrying about the dark, showing no particular desire for things one might suppose particularly enjoyable. It was through watching this mouse that he discovered the way to cope with circumstances - LEP Vl 22.

The whole earth is my bed - ps.Anarcharsis 5.

People used to see Diogenes shivering out in the open, often going thirsty - Dio 6.8.

I have travelled around for so long, not only without hearth or home, but without even a single attendant to take round with me - Dio 40:2.

{p. 44} (36) (c) SKIMPED OBSEQUIES

If you die without a servant to wait on you, who will take you away to bury you? Whoever wants the house, said Diogenes - LEP Vl 52.

Some say that when Diogenes was dying he gave instructions that he should be thrown out without burial, for every wild animal to eat. Or they were to squash him down into any hole they found, and scrape a little dust over him - LEP Vl 79.

There's no need to thank your parents, either for your birth, or for being the sort of person you are - ps.Diogenes 21.

A little while before Demonax died someone asked, 'What instructions have you given about your burial?' 'No need to fuss,' he said. 'The stink will get me buried.' But the questioner went on, 'Isn't it disgraceful for the body of a man like you to be left out for birds and beasts to feed on?' 'I don't see anything amiss,' replied Demonax, 'in being useful to other living beings after my death' - Lucian, Demonax 66; cf. 35, and Teles 30H, 31H.


The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few - Lk. 10.2, Mt. 9.37; cf. Introduction.

A good physician goes to be helpful where there's most sickness. So a good philosopher should oe where there's most stupidity - Dio 8.5.

{p. 46} (38) COMMISSlONING

I believe I've taken up this task, not of my own choice, but by the decision of some divine being -Dio 32.12.

You must not refuse... to accept that a man who has arrived among you as I have, out of the blue, has come at the bidding of some divine being to talk to you and advise you - Dio 34.4; cf. 12.20.

{p. 47} (40) MISSlON EQUIPMENT

You're not to carry a purse with you at all, nor a satchel, and don't wear sandals // Take nothing for your journey, no satchel, no bread no money, no change of shirt, no sandals, no staff - Lk. 10.4; cf. Mt. 10.9-10, Mk 6.7-13; and §8, 10 (a), 14, 30, 59.

[Essenes make their way into the houses of people they've never met before as though they were their best friends. Though they travel armed against robbers, they take nothing else at all with them. They don't change their clothes or their sandals before they either fall to pieces or are worn through with use - Josephus, Jewish War II 125-127; Philo notes the Essenes' frugality, quod omnis probus liber sit 77-78, but says they had no weapons; he does also note their visiting, ibid. 85.]

According to some, Diogenes was the first person to double his threadbare cloak, Because he had to use it to sleep in, and he carried a satchel for his bread... but he took to carrying a staff for support only when he became infirm - LEP VI 22-3.

When I'd chosen in favour of this Cynic way, Antisthenes took off the shirt and the cloak I was wearing, put a doubled threadbare cloak on me instead, slung a satchel on my shoulder, with some bread and other scraps of food, and put in a cup and a bowl. On the outside of the satchel he hung an oilflask and a scraper, and then, finally, he gave me a staff, too - ps.Diocenes 30.3.

Wearing only ever one shirt is better than needing two; and wearing just a cloak with no shirt at all is better still. Going bare-foot, if you can, is better than wearing sandals - Musonius XIX; but note also XVI.

{p. 48} I visited as many countries as I could, as a beggar, and dressed for the part; sometimes among Greeks, sometimes among barbarians... then arriving in the Peloponnese, I stayed away from the towns, passing my time in the countryside, finding lots to think about, mixing with herdsmen and hunters - Dio 1.50.

{p. 66} (56) NEVER FEAR, GOD CARES

{p. 67} If we don't prepare carefully for death, a very unpleasant end awaits us... it's only with great difficulty that the soul is set free - ps.Diogenes 39.1.

God has opened the door for you and says, Go! Where to? To nothing fearful, but just to the friendly elements from which you came... There is no Hades, no Acheron... - Epictetus III xiii 14-15; cf. I xxix 28-29; 48; IV vii.

Untroubled by fears, unsullied by desires, we shall not be afraid of death nor of the Gods. We shall realise that death is in no way evil, and neither are the Gods... - Seneca EM LXXV 16-17, cf. IV, (XIII), XXIV, LXXIV 3, CII 22; Dio 30.

{end of quotes from Downing}

(2) John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

{p. x} It is precisely that fourfold record that constitutes the core problem. If you read the four gospels vertically and consecutively, from start to finish and one after another, you get a generally persuasive impression of unity, harmony, and agreement. But if you read them horizontally and comparatively, focusing on this or that unit and comparing it across two, three, or four versions, it is disagreement rather than agreement that strikes you most forcibly. And those divergences stem not from the random vagaries of memory and recall but from the coherent and consistent theologies of the individual texts. The gospels are, in other words, interpretations. Hence, of course, despite there being only one Jesus, there can be more than one gospel, more than one interpretation.

That core problem is compounded by another one. Those four gospels do not represent all the early gospels available or even a random sample within them but are instead a calculated collection known as the canonical gospels. This becomes clear in studying other gospels either discerned as sources inside the official four or else discovered as documents outside them.

An example of a source hidden inside the four canonical gospels is the reconstructed document known as Q, from the German word Quelle, meaning "source," which is now imbedded within both Luke and Matthew. Those two authors also use Mark as a regular source, so Q is discernible wherever they agree with one another but lack a Markan parallel. Since, like Mark, that document has its own generic integrity and theological

{p. xi} consistency apart from its use as a Quelle or source for others, I refer to it in this book as the Q Gospel.

An example of a document discovered outside the four canonical gospels is the Gospel of Thomas, which was found at Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt, in the winter of 1945 and is, in the view of many scholars, completely independent of the canonical gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is also most strikingly different from them, especially in its format, and is, in fact, much closer to that of the Q Gospel than to any of the canonical foursome. It identifies itself, at the end, as a gospel but it is in fact a collection of the sayings of Jesus given without any compositional order and lacking descriptions of deeds or miracles, crucifixion or resurrection stories, and especially any overall narratival or biographical framework. The existence of such other gospels means that the canonical foursome is a spectrum of approved interpretation forming a strong central vision that was later able to render apocryphal, hidden, or censored any other gospels too far off its right or left wing.

Suppose that in such a situation you wanted to know not just what early believers wrote about Jesus but what you would have seen and heard if you had been a more or less neutral observer in the early decades of the first century. Clearly, some people ignored him, some worshiped him, and others crucified him. But what if you wanted to move behind the screen of credal interpretation and, without in any way denying or negating the validity of faith, give an accurate but impartial account of the historical Jesus as distinct from the confessional Christ? That is what the academic or scholarly study of the historical Jesus is about, at least when it is not a disguise for doing theology and calling it history, doing autobiography and calling it biography doing Christian apologetics and calling it academic scholarship. Put another way, no matter how fascinating result and conclusion may be, they are only as good as the theory and method on which they are based.

My method locates the historical Jesus where three independent vectors cross. That triangulation serves as internal discipline and mutual corrective, since all must intersect at the same point for any of them to be correct. It is like three giant searchlights coming together on a single object in the night sky.

{p. 114} Diogenes and Daedalus

Cynicism was a Greek philosophical movement founded by Diogenes of Sinope, who was born on the mid-southern coast of the Black Sea and lived between 400 and 320 B.C.E. The term itself means, literally, "dogism," coming from kyon, the Greek

{p. 115} word for "dog," and it was used, as if quoting a well-known nickname, of Diogenes by Aristotle. It was originally a derogatory term for the provocative shamelessness with which Diogenes deliberately flouted basic human codes of propriety and decency, custom and convention. We use cynicism today to mean belief in nothing or doubt about everything, but what it means philosophically is theoretical disbelief and practical negation of ordinary cultural values and civilized presuppositions. Here is Farrand Sayre's description of the Cynics' program:

{quote} The Cynics sought happiness through freedom. The Cynic conception of freedom included freedom from desires, from fear, anger, grief and other emotions, from religious or moral control, from the authority of the city or state or public officials, from regard for public opinion and freedom also from the care of property, from confinement to any locality and from the care and support of wives and children. ... The Cynics scoffed at the customs and conventionalities of others, but were rigid in observance of their own. The Cynic would not appear anywhere without his wallet, staff and cloak, which must invariably be dirty and ragged and worn so as to leave the right shoulder bare. He never wore shoes and his hair and beard were long and unkempt. {endquote}

My italics emphasize the Cynics' dress and equipment code, which was intended as a dramatization of their refusal to accept society's material values, as a clear visualization of their countercultural position.

The classic Cynic story is that of the encounter between Diogenes and Alexander the Great at Corinth in 336 B.C.E. The latter is just setting out to conquer the world through military power; the former had already done so through disciplined indifference. This oft-told tale was already known to Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations 5.92 from 45 B.C.E.:

{quote} But Diogenes, certainly, was more outspoken, in his quality of Cynic, when Alexander asked him to name anything he wanted: "Just now," he said, "stand a bit away trom the

{p. 116} sun!" Alexander apparently had interfered with his basking in the heat. {endquote}

We are back, by the way, to the quotation from Burton Mack that headed Chapter 3. The story of Diogenes and Alexander involves a calculated questioning of power, rule, dominion, and kingship. Who is the true ruler: the one who wants everything, or the one who wants nothing; the one who wants all of Asia, or the one who wants only a little sunlight? If kingship is freedom, which of the two is really free, is really king? And just as Cynicism had a first flowering after the conquests of Alexander, so it had another after those of Augustus. Both times were ripe for a fundamental questioning of power, and the Cynics did so not only in abstract theory among the aristocratic elites, but in practical street theater among the ordinary people.They were populist preachers in marketplace and pilgrimage center, and their life and dress spoke as forcibly as their speech and sermons.

The Cynics' criticism was not directed, however, just at the materialism of Hellenistic culture in the wake of either the Alexandrian or Augustan empires. It was directed more fundamentally at civilization itself, advocating a self-sufficiency modeled on that of nature rather than culture. The Roman moralist Seneca the Younger, who lived between 4 B.C.E. and 65 C.E., drew the contrast, in his Epistulae Morales 90.14-16, not just between Alexander and Diogenes but between Daedalus and Diogenes, between the one who invented the arts of civilization and the one who refused them:

{quote} How, I ask, can you consistently admire both Diogenes and Daedalus? Which of these two seems to you a wise man - the one who devised the saw, or the one who, on seeing a boy drink water from the hollow of his hand, forthwith took his cup from his wallet and broke it, upbraiding himself with these words: "Fool that I am, to have been carrying superfluous baggage all this time!" and then curled himself up in his tub and lay down to sleep. ... If mankind were willing to listen to this sage, they would know that the cook is as supertluous as the soldier. ... Follow nature, and you will need no skilled craftsmen. {endquote}

{p. 117} Cynicism is not, in other words, just a moral attack on Greco-Roman civilization; it is a paradoxical attack on civilization itself. We are back, in fact, with that distinction seen earlier between the wider phenomenon of eschatology or world-negation and the narrower one of apocalypticism as but one of its many forms. Cynicism is the Greco-Roman form of that universal philosophy of eschatology or world-negation, one of the great and fundamental options of the human spirit. For wherever there is culture and civilization there can also be counterculture and anticivilization.

{It's not really an opposition to civilization, but a correction, just as Taoism in China is a correction to Confucianism; the two can go well together as polarities. In India, Shiva plays a comparable role in a trinity, alongside Brahma and Vishnu: india.html}

Knapsack and Staff

The Cynic missionaries and the Jesus missionaries agree about wearing no sandals and spending no time on ordinary greetings and gossip on the way. But I focus now on wallet and staff, because here they are in flat disagreement.

There is extant from around the Augustan age, before and after the time of Jesus, a series of pseudo-letters or fictional communications from revered or representative Cynics. The title of this wider section, for instance, derives from the phrase "the skin of my feet as my shoes" in Pseudo-Anacharsis 65, a text already known to Cicero in 45 B.C.E. These imaginary letters are now easily accessible in The Cynic Epistles, a collection by Abraham Malherbe. In the following excerpts from Pseudo-Diogenes, letters fictionally attributed to Cynicism's founder from the first century B.C.E. or even earlier, notice the constant emphasis on cloak, staff, and bag or wallet. Cloak refers to the single heavy or doubled outer garment worn day and night, summer and winter - the only garment used. But for now, I emphasize only bag or wallet, and staff.

{quote} [To Hicetas] Do not be upset, Father, that I am called a dog and put on a double, coarse cloak, carry a wallet over my shoulders, and have a staff in my hand ... living as I do, not in conformity with popular opinion but according to nature, free under Zeus.

[To Apolexis] I have laid aside most of the things that weigh down my wallet, since I learned that for a plate a

{p. 118} hollowed out loaf of bread suffices, as the hands do for a cup.

[To Antipater] I hear that you say I am doing nothing unusual in wearing a double, ragged cloak and carrying a wallet. Now I admit that none of these is extraordinary, but each of them is good when undertaken out of conscious determination.

[To Anaxilaus] I have recently come to recognize myself to be Agamemnon, since for a scepter I have my staff and for a mantle the double, ragged cloak, and by way of exchange, my leather wallet is a shield.

[To Agesilaus] Life has a sufficient store in a wallet.

[To Crates] Remember that I started you [Crates] on your lifelong poverty. ... Consider the ragged cloak to be a lion's skin, the staff a club, and the wallet land and sea, from which you are fed. For thus would the spirit of Heracles, mightier than every turn of fortune, stir in you.

The term wallet is probably a most unfortunate translation since for us it connotes money. The Greek word is always pera in those letters, as it is in Luke 10:4 and Mark 6:8, and a good translation, for us, would be "knapsack" rather than "wallet" or "bag." What it symbolized for the Cynics was their complete self-sufficiency. They carried their homes with them. All they needed could be carried in a simple knapsack slung over their shoulders. Similarly with the staff. It represented their itinerant status, the fact that they had no fixed abode in any place, that they were always spiritually on the way elsewhere. The two items taken together underlined their itinerant self-sufficiency.

The Jesus missionaries, in contrast, are told precisely to carry no knapsack and hold no staff in their hands. Why this striking difference? Since a reciprocity of healing and eating is at the heart of the Jesus movement, the idea of no-staff and no-knapsack is symbolically correct for the Jesus missionaries. They are not urban like the Cynics, preaching at street corner and market place. They are rural, on a house mission to rebuild peasant society from the grass roots upward. Since commensality is

{p. 119} not just a technique for support but a demonstration of message, they could not and should not dress to declare itinerant self-sufficiency but rather communal dependency. Itinerancy and dependency: heal, stay, move on.

Poverty and Royalty

I conclude this section with a series of quotations from the philosopher Epictetus, not to argue about who influenced whom but simply to show how poverty and royalty could be combined not just by Jesus within Judaism but by Epictetus within Greco-Roman paganism. Epictetus was born the slave son of a slave mother and lived between 55 and 135 C.E. He was allowed by his master to study philosophy, was eventually freed, and was banished from Rome along with other philosophers by the emperor Domitian in 89 C.E. Here is a justly famous passage from "On the Calling of a Cynic" in his posthumously transcribed Discourses 3.22.

{quote} And how is it possible that a man who has nothing, who is naked, houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a city, can pass a life that flows easily? See, God has sent you a man to show you that it is possible. Look at me, who am without a city, without a house, without possessions, without a slave; I sleep on the ground; I have no wife, no children, no praetorium [official power], but only the earth and heavens, and one poor cloak. And what do I want? Am I not without sorrow? Am I not without fear? Am I not free? When did any of you see me failing in the object of my desire? or ever falling into that which I would avoid? did I ever blame God or man? did I ever accuse any man? did any of you ever see me with sorrowful countenance? And how do I meet with those whom you are afraid of and admire? Do not I treat them like slaves? Who, when he sees me, does not think that he sees his king and master? {endquote}

Notice, in the flow of that passage, the sequence from nothing to free to king, the logic of poverty leading to freedom leading to royalty. Notice, also, the intense political undertones of the passage. If Epictetus represented royalty, what was the Roman

{p. 120} emperor? And those three terms are best explained by other quotations from Discourses 3.22.

Poverty, first of all. Epictetus is very concerned that the externals of Cynicism may be mistaken for its internals. Since a Cynic philosopher looks much like a beggar, is not every beggar a Cynic philosopher? Do staff, knapsack, and one cloak automatically make one a Cynic? But, even while warning against that danger, he never suggests abandoning those externals. He simply insists that internal poverty must beget external and that external must not replace internal.

{quote} So do you [would-be Cynics] also think about the matter carefully; it is not what you think it is. "I wear a roughcloak even as it is, and I shall have one then; I have a hard bed even now, and so I shall then; I shall take to myself a wallet and a staff, and I shall begin to walk around and beg from those I meet, and revile them. ..." If you fancy the affair to be something like this, give it a wide berth; don't come near it, it is nothing for you. ... Lo, these are words [the long quotation from 3.22 that I cited earlier] that befit a Cynic, this is his character, and his plan of life. But no, you say, what makes a Cynic is a contemptible wallet, a staff, and big jaws; to devour everything you give him, or to stow it away, or to revile tactlessly the people he meets, or to show off his fine shoulder. {endquote}

It is obvious that Epictetus is speaking to an audience of the poorer classes whose normal poverty is not that different, in externals, from Cynic poverty. But, he insists, it is voluntary not necessary poverty that counts.

Freedom comes next. The one who has nothing and wants nothing is totally free. This comes not only from a physical poverty that renders one impervious to both desire and loss, but especially from a spiritual poverty that renders one oblivious to both attack and assault.

{quote} For this too is a very pleasant strand woven into the Cynic's pattern of life; he must needs be flogged like an ass, and while he is being flogged he must love the men who flog him, as though he were the father or brother of the mall. But that is not your way. If someone flogs you, go stand in the midst and shout, "O Caesar, what do I have to suf-

{p. 121} -fer under your peaceful rule? Let us go before the Proconsul." But what to a Cynic is Caesar, or a Proconsul, or anyone other than He who has sent him into the world, and whom he serves, that is, Zeus? ...

Now the spirit of patient endurance the Cynic must have to such a degree that common people will think him insensate and a stone; nobody reviles him, nobody beats him, nobody insults him; but his body he has himself given for anyone to use as he sees fit. {endquote}

It is fascinating to watch the Christian nervousness of some earlier translators in handling that passage. Does Epictetus sound too much like Jesus? In the 1910 edition of The Moral Discourses of Epictetus, for example, Elizabeth Carter compares that passage with Matthew 5:39-44, which speaks of turning the other cheek, giving up your garments, and going the second mile under constraint. She notes that "Christ specifies higher injuries and provocations than Epictetus doth; and requires of all his followers, what Epictetus describes only as the duty of one or two extraordinary persons, as such." Not really.

Royalty, true royalty, is the final theme, still from Epictetus. It is interesting, in this regard, that the same Greek word could be used for royal scepter and for Cynic staff:

{quote} Where will you find me a Cynic's friend? ... He must share with him his sceptre and kingdom. ... See to what straits we are reducing our Cynic [if he marries], how we are taking away his kingdom from him. ... And yet shall the Cynic's kingship [or: kingdom] not be thought a reasonable compensation [for celibacy]? {endquote}

Poverty, freedom, and royalty, then, because the Cynic "has been sent by Zeus to men, partly as a messenger ... and partly ... as a scout" so that he walks the earth as "one who shares in the government of Zeus." It is not my point that Jesus and Epictetus are saying or doing exactly the same thing. Difference must be respected just as much as similarity. But what Jesus called the Kingdom of God and what Epictetus might have called the Kingdom of Zeus must be compared as radical messages that taught and acted, theorized and performed against social oppression, cultural materialism, and imperial domination in the first and second centuries.

{end of quotes from Crossan}

More on the Cynics, and other Hellenistic philosophies:

To study the debate about Q among New Testament scholars, refer to http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Burton+Mack+Jesus+Q

Here are some samples:

(a) Bruce Griffin, WAS JESUS A PHILOSOPHICAL CYNIC? http://www-oxford.op.org/allen/html/acts.htm

"Burton Mack, a professor of Claremont School of Theology ... In 1988, Mack published Mark: A Myth of Innocence; here Mack argues that Mark is a thoroughly unreliable source, an example of early Christian mythmaking, and that to the extent that the historical Jesus can be recovered, he looks like a Cynic wisdom teacher ...  This argument was continued in Mack's The Lost Gospel: the Book of Q and Christian Origins in 1993. Mack defended Q as the most reliable source for the reconstruction of the historical Jesus. Q in turn was believed to have gone through three different revisions or redactions before it was used as a source for Matthew and Luke. Mack here was relying on the brilliantly argued work of John Kloppenborg who believed that Q originally consisted of a collection of wisdom sayings ..."

(b) The Search for a No-Frills Jesus, by CHARLOTTE ALLEN, Atlantic Monthly, December  1996   http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/96dec/jesus/jesus.htm

(c) David Seeley, JESUS' DEATH IN Q {This article first appeared in New Testament Studies 38 (1992) 222-34 ...] http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l/jdeath.htm

(d) Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem http://www.ntgateway.com/Q/

A former student in a Rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem, contests my claim that Jesus' thinking was not Jewish but like that of the Cynic philosophers: letters.html (see Letter 7). Conversation with Israel Shamir: see Letter 11.

More from F. Gerald Downing: Paul and the Cynics.

Whereas F. Gerald Downing stresses the non-Jewish culture of the early Christians, specifically the Cynic parallels, S. G. F. Brandon emphasises the Jewishness, which was checked by Rome's suppression of the Jewish revolt of 66-70 A.D.: jewish-revolt.html.

Adolf von Harnack on the development of early Christian theology, plus a study of Philo's impact: philo.html.

Christ and the Cynics is out of print. To order a second-hand copy from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1850751501/qid%3D1000279949/t/103-2084202-5507810.

To order a second-hand copy of any of F. Gerald Downing's books via ABEbooks (if one is available): http://dogbert.abebooks.com/abe/BookSearch?an=F+Gerald+Downing.

Alain Danielou on similarities between the Cynics of Greece and the Shaivite ascetics of India: danielou2.html (p. 17).

Write to me at contact.html.