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Featured Where Christianity and Buddhism Agree?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Buddha Dharma, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    While all this talk about similarities between Buddhism and Christianity is fine, rationalism and free inquiry is also given importance in Buddhism in the Kalama sutta and others, which clearly does not have similar ground in Christianity.

    O monks and wise men, just as a goldsmith would test his gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so must you examine my words and accept them, not merely out of reverence for me. - Buddha ( From the Sutra on Pure Realms )

    I think Buddhists must also focus on this part of rational inquiry which clearly delineates it from Christianity. Similarities are fine but crucial dissimilarities are also there as revealed in the posts here by the faithful. Talk and paranoia about eternal hellfire and Satan in Christianity is another crucial dissimilarity.

    Hence I am not in favor of any mixing up of Christianity and Buddhism by intermingling which may dilute the spirit of free inquiry and rationalism in the latter.

    To each their way.
     
  2. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    So you're afraid of mixing truth with truth?? I'll take truth wherever I can get it, thank you!!
     
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  3. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Oh my Lola...

     
  4. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    It is entirely voluntary to become a monk or a nun, therefore if one wants to marry they can always serve a church or temple in another way. Seems to me all you want to do is to try and tell and micromanage other denominations or religions what they supposedly must do and which rules they must supposedly have. IOW, maybe mind your own business.

    If you truly believe in the Bible, then you should not ignore nor excuse what Paul says about the ideal being not to marry. Seems to me all you want to do is to pick & choose what you want to believe in.
     
  5. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Buddha Dharma,

    You are mistaken about this, I'm afraid. I will explain why and were you err in your understanding here.

    Firstly, as the eminent New Testament scholar Professor Larry Hurtado noted in 2016 book, "Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World", Christianity was very different from the other philosophical schools of the Roman world in a number of ways, one of them being in terms of how they defined "love" and to whom it applied:

    When ancient pagan thinkers spoke of human “love” for a god or gods, they typically referred to an eros, not an erotic love in our sense, but a desire for association with the divine or the sublimely beautiful qualities represented by the deity. When they referred to the attitude of the gods toward humans, they sometimes posited deities of particular cities or peoples as kindly disposed toward them, in these cases using the Greek term philia, depicting a kindness and friendly quality.

    The Greek term early Christians preferred, however, to depict their God’s love, and the love that they were to show as well for God and others, even their enemies, was agapē and its cognate verb agapaō.

    These words appear very infrequently in pagan texts of the time but copiously in early Christian texts. For example, in the New Testament, agapē appears some 143 times, and the verb agapaō 116 times...T
    he emphasis on God’s love and the appeal for an answering “love-ethic” characterizing Christian conduct comprise something distinctive. We simply do not know of any other Roman-era religious group in which love played this important role in discourse or behavioral teaching

    Philia (φιλία philía) the predominant word for 'love' used by pagan Romans meant "affectionate regard, friendship between (social) equals."

    Agape
    (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē) the uncommon word that Christians used distinctively for love and attributed to Jesus in the New Testament, referred rather to on the contrary: "a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance", having nothing to do with affection merely between societal equals and friends but instead extending to all people everywhere in every context. The church father Tertullian remarks in his 2nd century apologia on behalf on behalf of Christianity that this unique Christian love attracted pagan notice:

    "What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our care of the helpless, our loving kindness. 'Only look,' they say, 'look how they love one another' " (Apology 39)
    And so another early church father Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) argued:

    If we all derive our origin from one man, whom God created, we are plainly all of one family. Therefore it must be considered an abomination to hate another human, no matter how guilty he may be. For this reason, God has decreed that we should hate no one, but that we should eliminate hatred. So we can comfort our enemies by reminding them of our mutual relationship. For if we have all been given life from the same God, what else are we but brothers? ... Because we are all brothers, God teaches us to never do evil to one another, but only good—giving aid to those who are oppressed and experiencing hardship, and giving food to the hungry.”​


    Your next point:


    He doesn't talk about the way a society should behave, or any such sort. Epicurus had a comprehensive explanation for societal ethics and what the point of having a government is- to protect everyone from harm.

    This is a remarkably wrong-headed statement, given that no teacher of a major world religion has had a more radical social dimension to his preaching than Jesus. To return to Professor Hurtado's book for a second:


    Early Christianity was unusual in its emphasis on social and behavioral practices as central in the religious commitment required of adherents, in some of the specifics of what was required of adherents, and in the seriousness with which this emphasis was pursued in what must be judged a noteworthy social project...

    But I think that there are some crucial differences between what we see in early Christian texts and
    what we find in these philosophers
    . Commendable though their exhortations are, and in some
    matters advocating behavior similar to that urged in early Christian texts, there is a difference,
    especially in social impact.


    Musonius and his like essentially directed their efforts at a few dedicated students who were willing to commit themselves to the lengthy and rigorous demands of training to
    live by the principles of their teachers of philosophy. There is no indication that Musonius or other
    philosophers of the time invested in serious efforts to effect changes in the behavior of wider circles
    of people at large
    . It would be an exaggeration to portray Musonius and other Roman moralists,

    therefore, as forerunners who prepared the way for Christians in behavioral teaching. In some modern scholarly portrayals of sexual attitudes and practices of the Roman era, “the gloomy tribe of Stoic brethren have been allotted too much say.”

    Recall also that from the earliest years onward Christian circles included men and women, free
    and slave persons, adults and children
    . Granted, Musonius Rufus contended that daughters and wives
    should learn philosophy, but there is little indication that he actively recruited women as his
    philosophical students. By contrast, early Christian circles typically were socially complex in the gender, age, and social status of participants.

    This group social setting comprising believers of these various social
    categories, each of them addressed directly in the hearing of all the others in the group, is another distinguishing feature of early Christian behavioral exhortation. To emphasize the point, the setting of
    early Christian exhortation is certainly different from a circle of elite male students gathered with a
    teacher/philosopher discussing how best to order their individual lives. The setting of the
    communication of the early Christian household codes is also different from the transmission of

    advice from one dominant/free male to others of the same social category, as in the household management texts of Greco-Roman antiquity.


    If I might quote another eminent New Testament scholar, Professor Bart Ehrman writing in a 1999 academic study:

    This new thing that was coming, then, required a complete commitment to love God and one's neighbor as oneself, even to the point of abandoning all else—including one's own family and home—in order to do so. Jesus appears to have maximized the commandment to love and minimized, in comparison to it, everything else...

    Jesus' insistence on the love for others was particularly manifest in his concern for the destitute of society, those who were impoverished, terminally ill, mentally diseased, and socially outcast. It was people like this who would inherit the Kingdom...

    This is evident throughout the sayings materials of our earliest sources. Jesus pays particular heed to those with little or no standing in his society (e.g., women and children) and to those who were oppressed and suffering (e.g., the poor and the weak). We have already seen Jesus' particular interest in children, as those who have no standing, position, wealth, or claim...

    In the Kingdom there would be no more war. Jesus' disciples were not to engage in acts of violence now. In the Kingdom there would be no more poverty. Jesus' disciples were to give away all they had and give to the poor now. In the Kingdom there would be no more oppression or injustice. Jesus' disciples were to treat all people equally and fairly now—even the lowest classes, the outcasts, the destitute; even women and children. In the Kingdom there would be no more hatred. Jesus' disciples were to be living examples of God's love now, giving of themselves completely in the service of others...

    A world in which no one would suffer from poverty or oppression, where no one engaged in acts of violence or malice, no one hurt another, hit another, or hated another. In a small way—a very small way—they had begun to see what it would be like when God once and for all established his Kingdom on earth. No wonder that Jesus saw this coming Kingdom as good news and invited his hearers to join him in preparing for it, implementing its ideals in the present, seeking to turn others away from the anxieties and pains of this life in expectation of the new life that was coming. For Jesus, the news of the Kingdom was a bright light that couldn't be hid under a basket, a secure city that couldn't be obscured, built high on a hill (cf. Mark 4:21; Matt. 5:14-16; G.Thom. 33).



    That is the kind of "society" Jesus preached about and encouraged his followers to implement in a germinal state in their own relations.
     
    #105 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  6. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Do you have any quantitative data that shows behavior of general Christians were better than the pagans of that time? It's natural that, being an initially persecuted sect , it's group members would emphasize intercommunity bonds as they are ostracized outside of it. A similar community feeling existed for Jews in the medieval anti-Semitic Europe. However, the situation rapidly changed after the legitimization of Christianity, as you should well know.

    The Greek philosophies were prescient in stating that a well lived life requires education as well. Unfortunately in the ancient world most people were living in abject poverty and living hand to mouth. So, yes, Greek philosophies are more relevant for people of today than of ancient folks. It's the reverse for Christianity.

    Of course Buddhism and Hinduism has always catered to all groups, making them superior. :D
     
  7. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    In terms of data, I Invite you to consider sociological estimates of the differential survival rates within the Christian community during the times when plague afflicted the Empire, compared with that of their pagan compatriots. Two devastating epidemics struck the Roman Empire in the years 165–180 and in 251–266, respectively.

    Mortality was very high in many cities and countryside areas. William H. McNeil estimates that from a quarter to a third of the population perished during the former epidemic. In the latter epidemic, at its height, 5,000 people a day were reported to have died in the city of Rome alone according to contemporary accounts.

    We know from modern medical studies that conscientious nursing without any medications can cut the mortality rate by two-thirds or even more. Therefore, we can use this idea to test whether the early Christians demonstrated a higher standard of selfless care for the sick than many of their neighboring pagan communities, since we would expect them to have a far lower mortality rate than pagans.

    Sociologists have presented arguments to this effect i.e.

    Biosociology and Neurosociology

    The superior ability of Christian social networks, as opposed to pagan social networks, to endure the onslaught of the epidemics without falling into disarray, as well as the recruitment of pagan survivors as converts into Christian networks, increased the size and scope of the Christian presence in the Roman Empire.

    Embedded in a network other Christians, any Christian victimized by the plague could count on receiving assistance from other members of the network, thereby contributing to the overall stability and durability of Christian networks when compared to pagan networks...

    Religious norms requiring Christians to provide care and nursing for the sick often reduced mortality rates among victims of the plagues who were beneficiaries of such caregiving. Using estimates derived from several historical and epidemiological sources, Stark calculates that the survival rate of epidemic victims who were recipients...may have approximated 90%, versus only 70% among those who lacked such assistance...Stark estimates that, in a city of 10,000 in 160 C.E., 40 of the residents are likely to have been Christians. and 9,960 pagans, thus yielding a ratio of one Christian per 197 pagans...

    It isn't a case of one religion or philosophy being innately "superior", rather simply being different with very distinct social reach and outcomes. The New Testament scholar I referenced, Professor Hurtado, was not implying that the people of the Roman period - least of all the great philosophers - were somehow depraved and cruel, nor am I. Rather, I'd argue that Christianity was a more efficacious religion given its uncommon orientation in favour of the welfare of the sick, deformed and lowliest members of society.

    But the philosophical schools in the Empire were typically for aristocratic male gatherings. They didn't intend to teach morality to the plebians or uneducated Romans, and their understanding of "love" was philial - primarily about friendship, especially but not solely between social equals. They recognised, or at least the Stoics did, that the universal reason was present in all human beings, even the least - but that philosophy wasn't taught to the peasants.

    The fact is that Christianity made far more efforts than any other Roman belief system (remember, we aren't talking about Buddhism, Jainism or Hinduism since they didn't have mass followings in the Roman Empire) to reach out to the commonfolk and alleviate their social condition.

    There's is a reason it proved attractive in the first three centuries AD, and trust me - if I'd lived back then, I'd have wanted to be taken in by the Christians given the advanced system of social care in their communities.
     
    #107 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
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  8. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Exactly, and the early Christians made quite a name for themselves because they were willing to risk their own lives to help even lepers. They were so admired that many converted on the basis of their selflessness. We saw much the same in more recent times with Mother Theresa, who undoubtedly converted more people to Christianity not by preaching but by doing-- even with her own doubts and some questionable actions.
     
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  9. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Yet again, I cannot but disagree with what you say above. It just doesn't register with me or how I understand my religion.

    Let us consider the New Testament to begin with. Nowhere, and I repeat nowhere, does Jesus excuse or permit cruelty or lack of kindness to animals. Indeed he extols them as being positive role models for human beings - which is quite extraordinary by any standards - and even compares himself to animals. One should note that the "ideal" and most perfect example of self-sacrificial love outlined by Jesus, is not that of a human mother for her child (as with the Buddha in the Amaravati Sangha: Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish others (Sn 1.8)), but rather a shepherd for his sheep:


    Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” (Luke 15:3-7).​

    “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd." (John 10:12-14)​


    And a mother hen for her chicks, to which Jesus also compares himself:

    “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34)

    In other words, the great Christian role models for compassionate love presented to believers by Jesus are exemplars taken either directly from the animal world (the mother hen) or in the case of the Good Shepherd, from human relationships with the animals under their care.

    Moreover when he dwelt in the desert as a hermit for forty days and forty nights, to prepare himself for the start of his Galilean ministry, we are explicitly told in the earliest gospel account - the Gospel of Mark - how Jesus removed himself from the company of other human beings and made his home with the animals:

    "And the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days...and he was with the wild animals; and the angels waited on him." (Mark 1:12-13)​

    As one scholar, Richard Bauckham, notes in his exegesis:

    With’ is a little word but it suggests quite a lot. A couple of chapters later Mark tells us that Jesus appointed the twelve apostles to be with him. It’s not just a neutral term as though they just happened to be there. If Jesus was with the wild animals it was a peaceable and perhaps, in an appropriate way, friendly relationship.

    In Mark 1:13, Jesus is depicted as the anointed messianic deliverer, who walks out into the middle of the desert, a hostile and inhospitable environment, and spends time with the wild animals. For Jewish readers, this significance of this statement and the allusion to Isaiah 11 is absolutely clear: Jesus is, before his ministry to the human world begins, beginning the story of creation’s healing and reconciliation. Jesus’ amiable relationship with the “wild beasts” is part of the package of the messianic deliverance, creating peace where there was once enmity.

    Jesus’ companionable presence with the wild animals affirms their independent value for themselves and for God. He does not adopt them into the human world, but lets them be themselves in peace, as creatures who share the world with us in the community of God’s creation.

    [Jesus raises] the possibility of living fraternally with wild creatures, experiencing the grace of their otherness which God gives us in the diversity of the animal creation, and which is missed when animals are reduced to merely usefulness or threat.

    Mark 1:13 offers us a very significant image of how Jesus’ mission of redemption exceeded the bounds of the human world, and embraced all of nature, as St. Paul explains Colossians (1:18-19):

    For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
    Read that again: through Christ, God intended to "make peace" with everything on earth, including the animals. Hence why these words are attributed to Jesus at the end of the Gospel of Mark:

    "...And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)​

    The early desert fathers of the third century AD, those monastics who fled from the urban Roman Empire into the Egyptian desert and attempted to order their lives exactly as Jesus had commanded, understood perfectly what his teaching meant for animals, as is made clear from their logia (sayings). Here are examples from The Apophthegmata Patrum:


    Abba Xanthios said, ‘A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge.” - Sayings of the Desert Fathers

    They say that Abba Theon used to go out of his cell at night and stay in the company of the wild animals, giving them drink from the water he had. Certainly one could see the tracks of antelopes and wild asses and gazelles and other animals near his hermitage. These creatures always gave him pleasure.” Paradise of the Desert Fathers


    While Abba Macarius was praying in his cave in the desert, a hyena suddenly appeared and began to lick his feet and taking him gently by the hem of his tunic, she drew him towards her own cave. He followed her, saying, “I wonder what this animal wants me to do?” When she had led him to her cave, she went in and brought her cubs which had been born blind. He prayed over them and returned them to the hyena with their sight healed. She in turn, by way of thankoffering, brought the man the huge skin of a ram and laid it at his feet. He smiled at her as if at a kind person and taking the skin spread it under him.”
    - The Paradise of the Desert Fathers

    Abba Theodore of Pherme asked Abba Pambo, ‘Give me a word to live by.' And with great reluctance he said to him, 'Go, Theodore, and have compassion on all. Compassion allows us to speak freely to God.’ - Sayings of the Desert Fathers

    And of course the greatest example of all in the entire Christian tradition was the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi. In the biography of his life written by his disciple St. Bonaventure, we find this charming anecdote recorded:

    “When Saint Francis bethought him of the first beginning of all things, he was filled with a yet more overflowing charity, and would call the animals, howsoever small, by the names of brother and sister, forasmuch as he recognised in them the same origin as in himself.

    Brother Francis came to a spot where a large flock of birds of various kinds had come together. When God’s saint saw them, he quickly ran to the spot and greeted them as if they were endowed with reason….

    “He went right up to them and solicitously urged them to listen to the word of God, saying, ‘Oh birds, my brothers and sisters, you have a great obligation to praise your Creator, who clothed you in feathers and gave you wings to fly with, provided you with pure air and cares for you without any worry on your part.’…The birds showed their joy in a remarkable fashion: They began to stretch their necks, extend their wings, open their beaks and gaze at him attentively.

    “He went through their midst with amazing fervor of spirit, brushing against them with his tunic. Yet none of them moved from the spot until the man of God made the sign of the cross and gave them permission to leave; then they all flew away together. His companions waiting on the road saw all these things. When he returned to them, that pure and simple man began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to the birds before
    ...

    That true godliness which, according unto the Apostle, is profitable unto all things, had so filled the heart of Francis and entered into his inmost parts as that it seemed to have established its sway absolutely over the man of God. It was this piety that, through devotion, uplifted him toward God; through compassion, transformed him into the likeness of Christ; through condescension, inclined him unto his neighbour, and, through his all-embracing love for every creature, set forth a new picture of man’s estate before the Fall. And as by this piety he was touched with kindly feeling for all things...”​


    Thomas of Celano, who wrote an earlier biography of Saint Francis, told this same story of Francis’ sermon to the birds, including Francis’ admission of “negligence,” but Celano adds this sentence: “From that day on, [Francis] carefully exhorted all birds, all animals, all reptiles, and also insensible creatures, to praise and love the creator…” (see I Celano XXI)

    So in summation: I don't agree with your interpretation of Christianity. In the legends of the Saints and Desert Fathers, wild animals frequently protect and nourish the saints and the relationship depicted is one of compassion and harmony.
     
    #109 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  10. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Is this a hypothesis or is there actual hard evidence for this. Hard evidence is as follows:-
    1) No. of sick people who fell sick and survived differentiated in terms of religious affiliation as recorded in Roman documents, or direct grave evidence that leads to reconstruction of such data.

    I am skeptical that such evidence exists. What is proposed seem more like a hypothesis as to why Christian population increased over time. But what validates this hypothesis?


    I can propose an alternative one. During the time of plagues, the eschatological ideas inherent in Christianity became more attractive than in times of prosperity. This led to greater conversion rates during such times.As a result the % of Christian to non-Christian population jumped after a plague event. The emphasis of a soon coming end of the world tribulation followed by an idealistic heavenly kingdom is THE distinctive feature of Christianity and was even more intensly expected and prophesized in the first few centuries.This makes Christianity appealing especially during large periods of calamities and plagues.

    In contrast, Christian groups open support for miracle healing (depicted in Luke for example) and disdain for actual medical methods certainly reduced medical advances in late antiquity and medieval period. Graeco-Roman medicine was highly advanced and it is known fact that plagues increased in intensity in late Christian Roman and Byzantine empires, probably because the increasingly Christianized populace spurned Graeco-Roman medicine that was usually funded by pagan healing temples and practical Roman wisdom of good sewage dispersal became neglected.

    If I lived in that time and fell sick , I would go to the Greek physicians like Galen and his ilk who worked either in pagan healing temples or were doctors in Roman built hospitals for army-men.


    The Romans did believe that illnesses had a natural cause and that bad health could be caused by bad water and sewage. Hence their desire to improve the public health system in the Roman Empire so that everyone in their empire benefited. – not just the rich. Those who worked for the Romans needed good health as did their soldiers. In this sense, the Romans were the first civilisation to introduce a programme of public health for everyone regardless of wealth.

    "When building a house or farm especial care should be taken to place it at the foot of a wooded hill where it is exposed to health-giving winds. Care should be taken where there are swamps in the neighbourhood, because certain tiny creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes breed there. These float through the air and enter the body by the mouth and nose and cause serious disease.” Marcus Varro.“There should be no marshes near buildings, for marshes give off poisonous vapours during the hot period of the summer. At this time, they give birth to animals with mischief-making stings which fly at us in thick swarms.”
    -Columella.

    More fascinating information here,
    Medicine in Roman Times
     
  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Your historiography here is simply inaccurate in a number of really critical ways and furthermore you do a serious disservice to the Byzantine Christians who founded the first hospitals which were vastly superior than anything in the Graeco-Roman period.

    See:

    [The establishment of the hospital-system in the Byzantine Empire]. - PubMed - NCBI

    [The establishment of the hospital-system in the Byzantine Empire].

    Abstract

    Byzantine hospitals developed out of Christian institutions for the poor and homeless. Philanthropy provided the initial impulse to create hospices (xenons) and to expand these institutions into specialized medical centers (iatreons or nosokomeions). However the Byzantine nosocomeions resemble more closely modern hospitals than they do any of the institutions of Greek-Roman antiquity or any of the houses of charity in the Latin West during the Middle Ages. Since the 4th century the Byzantine hospitals have stressed the central position of the nosocomeion in Byzantine society at the intersection of state, ecclesiastical and professional interest. In the great cities and in the capital, more than hundred hospitals worked in the East-Roman Empire. The Byzantine hospital rules guaranted patients private beds, required physicians to wash their hands after each examination and arranged the physical plant to keep all the sick warm. The Byzantine hospitals had separate sections (in modern terms: surgery-trauma surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, etc.) and at the beginning of the sixth century a separate institution for women. From the sixth century at least, bathing facilities normally adjoined Byzantine nosocomeia. By the twelfth century Byzantine hospitals also set aside a room or perhaps a separate building to treat outpatients. In addition to the main dormitories the surgery, baths and outpatient clinic, the large parts of hospitals also had separate rooms (or adjoining buildings) for library, for lecture hall, for administrative functions and record keeping for storage and for other services.

    And from the UK Science Museum's History of Medicine website:

    Byzantine hospitals

    Byzantine hospitals

    The earliest Byzantine hospitals or xenon (literally ‘house for strangers’) began to develop in the 300s CE. They were founded by emperors, clergymen, monks and lay individuals. Often associated with monasteries, some of them provided medical care, alongside food and shelter. They are said to resemble modern hospitals more closely than any other ancient medical institutions.

    The first known major xenon dates from 370 CE, and was built in Caesarea by St Basil of Caesarea (c. 329-379 CE), Governor and Bishop of Cappadocia. By the 400s, the concept had spread throughout the Byzantine Empire. Up to the mid-800s, there were about 160 charitable institutions in the Byzantine Empire, and 23-25 of these are thought to have had medical staff. The majority were more like hospices than hospitals.

    The most famous was located in Constantinople and was known as the Hospital of the Pantocrator. Built by Emperor John Commenos II (1087-1143), the hospital, according to its foundation charter, had five wards for inpatients, including a surgical ward and a women's ward. It offered between 50 and 60 beds and also maintained an outpatient clinic. Unlike other hospitals of the time, the administration made provision for proper heating, lighting and bed linen, as well as bathing facilities and latrines. The patients were fed a carefully planned vegetarian diet and received an allowance which enabled them to purchase additional food or drink. Medical care was supplied by a large and specialised staff of physicians, medical assistants and orderlies. Its charter also refers to a medical school, though historians are unsure if the institution was actually used for educational purposes.


    Galen was an erudite and competent physician, well-versed in what was available to him in terms of knowledge.

    But you omit a key detail. Galen lived through the first epidemic during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. And what did he do? He fled Rome quickly, retiring to a country estate in Asia Minor until the danger receded. In fact, modern medical historians have noted that Galen's description of the disease "is uncharacteristically incomplete" and suggest this may have been due to his hasty departure (D. Hopkins).

    Their Christian counterparts didn't flee, indeed many sacrificed their own well-being to nurse the sick.

    Here is a quotation illustrating this from during the second great epidemic, around 260, in a letter written by a Christian Bishop known as Dionysius:

    Most of our brother-Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sick ness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead The best of our brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning high commendation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.
    You couldn't receive treatment from "Greek physicians" like Galen if there were in fact none left around in the "pagan healing temples" to tend to your illness because they'd already gathered their belongings and fled to a faraway villa in Asia Minor to save their own skins.


    But I'm afraid the primary evidence from the period in question does not support the argument you present in the above.

    We have evidence, for instance, from the pagan Emperor Julian in a letter to the high priest of Galatia in 362 that it was widely thought the pagans needed to equal the virtues of Christians, because Christian growth was caused by their "moral character, even if pretended' and by their "benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead." In a letter to another priest, Julian wrote, "I think that when the poor happened to be neglected and overlooked by the [pagan] priests, the impious Galileans [Christians] observed this and devoted themselves to benevolence." And he also wrote, ".. . the impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us" (Johnson, 1976:75; Ayerst and Fisher:179-181).

    And that was the Emperor saying it himself, that "everyone can see that our people lack aid from us [pagan authorities]!"
    Not a biased Christian source but from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

    Again, I'm not slighting the pagans in any way but the early Christians did stand out at the time and changed many peoples' opinions about them during crises like the plagues, when many of them acted with heroic virtue. And no, it wasn't because people found their eschatology appealing during crises.

    (continued.......)
     
    #111 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
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  12. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    A remarkable statement that betrays a significant misunderstanding of the nature of classical "science" and an unfortunate disdain for the genuine advances made during the middle ages, leading to the great scientific flourishing of the early modern age in Europe.

    No doubt about it, a rich array of theory lay behind Graeco-Roman medical practice.

    But there's something important to note...

    The works of Galen and other Greek physicians were of major importance to Byzantine and later medieval European medics but they, crucially, did not simply passively transmit their knowledge (as the earlier Romans did, without improvement).

    Oribasius - perhaps the greatest Byzantine compiler of medical knowledge - frequently made revisions to the ancient Greek and Roman medical works: noting where older methods had been incorrect. Several of his works, along with many other Byzantine physicians, were translated into Latin, and eventually, during the Enlightenment and Age of Reason, into English and French.

    So again, as with the vastly improved hospitals, the Orthodox Christian world was essential in leading to the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.

    And this is where something utterly essential needs to be flagged up: ancient Greek science was not chiefly experimental.

    I reiterate: the Greeks and Romans did not perform scientific experiments.

    Galen, for instance, relied upon the untested classical Greek idea of "four humours" as the cause of disease, which is obviously wrong and can be falsified by experiment. And yet, he did not even dissect human bodies, partly because ancient, superstitious Greek/Roman taboos prohibited this:

    Galen - Wikipedia

    Some of Galen's ideas were incorrect: he did not dissect a human body.[20] Greek and Roman taboos had meant that dissection was usually banned in ancient times, but in Middle Ages it changed: medical teachers and students at Bologna began to open human bodies, and Mondino de Luzzi (ca. 1275–1326) produced the first known anatomy textbook based on human dissection.[21][22]


    This all started with Christians in the Orthodox Byzantine and Catholic European eras. As is noted above, Mondino de Luzzi, a medieval Italian Catholic anatomist and professor of surgery at Bologna University (1270 – 1326), was the first physician in history to actually perform dissection of human cadavers and write the first modern anatomical text.

    Why had no one done this before? Because beginning with a sixth century Byzantine scientist named John Philoponus, the Christian world broke with the Graeco-Roman by performing actual experiments to test whether theories were right or wrong, something that had never occurred to earlier civilizations like the pagan Greeks.


    See:

    The Experimental Revolution

    Though the ideas of the Greeks, as expressed by Aristotle (384 BCE–322 BCE), persisted until the time of Galileo
    , there were many who seriously questioned much of it, and even did experiments to show that Aristotle was wrong. John Philoponus (490–570) (John the Grammarian) experimentally disproved Aristotle's assertion that heavy bodies fall faster than lighter ones. This experiment (dropping heavy and light balls from a height) was repeated by others, including Simon Stevin (1548/49–1620). Their work constituted a gradual revolution in how physics was done, one that showed the importance of deliberate experiments designed to study natural processes. Previous physics had mostly relied on passive observation of phenomena.

    The purpose of Ancient Greek "science" was above all to explain the natural world in ways that correlated with their ethical theories. It was not experimental, as all competent scholars of antiquity recognize: that is, motivated to understand the natural order on its own terms, as modern science is. It was predominantly "passive" - experimentalism and empiricism began with the Christian John Philoponus, who was the most notable natural philosopher and scientist of the early Byzantine Empire.

    There's a reason why the Scientific Revolution took place in Early Modern Europe. It didn't pop out of a vacuum like a miraculous virgin birth: a long-standing intellectual climate and framework, characterised by a set of concrete assumptions derived from a cultural milieu shaped by Western Christianity, underpinned it. Earlier cultures like the classical Greeks made important contributions but the "revolution" did not occur in these civilizations in its fully developed form.

    In his Mechanics, for instance, Hero of Alexandria (10 AD – c. 70 AD) who was an important Roman era mathematician and engineer, states unambiguously and uncritically on the authority of Aristotle that heavy objects fall faster than light ones. Now, this is a fundamental error that could have easily been proven wrong were Hero to have engaged in the simplest of experiments. Yet Hero did not do this and nor did it occur to any of his pagan, pre-Christian contemporaries to do it either. He and they simply accepted the authority of Aristotle on this question, rather than subjecting this theory to an empirical test.

    It was not until the Christian worldview started to loosen stringent attachment to the ideas of Aristotle, that a Christian philosopher named John Philoponus (490–570) was in a position to actually perform one of the earliest recorded experiments to support his theories (which were critical of Aristotle courtesy of a set of Christian presuppositions), by dropping a heavy and light ball in the sixth century AD.

    Philoponus discovered that both balls fell at almost the same speed: the objects (regardless of their mass) experienced the same acceleration when in a state of free fall. He had uncovered the equivalence principle, one of the fundamental principles of modern physics: drop two different weights, and (ignoring wind resistance) they will hit the ground at the same time.

    This experiment demonstrated that the Aristotelians were wrong and showed that, to truly understand the laws of nature, empirical investigation was essential.

    See:


    John Philoponus (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    John Philoponus - Wikipedia

    John Philoponus, a Christian philosopher, scientist, and theologian who lived approximately from 490 to 570, is also known as John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria. Although the Aristotelian-Neoplatonic tradition was the source of his intellectual roots and concerns, he was an original thinker who eventually broke with that tradition in many important respects, both substantive and methodological, and cleared part of the way which led to more critical and empirical approaches in the natural sciences...he used the same didactic methods of reasoning that modern science uses and thus performed genuine experiments...Philoponus' theological work is recognized in the history of science as the first attempt at a unified theory of dynamics.
     
    #112 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
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  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    @sayak83 again on the hospital topic, you should also read this referenced article:

    Hospital - Wikipedia

    The declaration of Christianity as an accepted religion in the Roman Empire drove an expansion of the provision of care. Following the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 construction of a hospital in every cathedral town was begun. Among the earliest were those built by the physician Saint Sampson in Constantinople and by Basil, bishop of Caesarea in modern-day Turkey. Called the "Basilias", the latter resembled a city and included housing for doctors and nurses and separate buildings for various classes of patients.[19] There was a separate section for lepers.[20] Some hospitals maintained libraries and training programmes, and doctors compiled their medical and pharmacological studies in manuscripts. Thus in-patient medical care in the sense of what we today consider a hospital, was an invention driven by Christian mercy and Byzantine innovation.[21] Byzantine hospital staff included the Chief Physician (archiatroi), professional nurses (hypourgoi) and the orderlies (hyperetai). By the twelfth century, Constantinople had two well-organised hospitals, staffed by doctors who were both male and female. Facilities included systematic treatment procedures and specialised wards for various diseases.[22]

    A hospital and medical training centre also existed at Gundeshapur, a major city in southwest of the Sassanid Persian Empire founded in A.D. 271 by Shapur I. A large percentage of the population were Syriacs, most of whom were Christians. Under the rule of Khusraw I, refuge was granted to Greek Nestorian Christian philosophers including the scholars of the Persian School of Edessa (Urfa) (also called the Academy of Athens), a Christian theological and medical university. These scholars made their way to Gundeshapur in A.D. 529 following the closing of the academy by Emperor Justinian. They were engaged in medical sciences and initiated the first translation projects of medical texts.[23] It included a medical school and hospital (wēmārestān), a pharmacology laboratory, a translation house, a library and an observatory.[25]...

    Late antiquity ushered in a revolution in medical science, and historical records often mention civilian hospitals ...Constantinople stood out as a center of medicine during the Middle Ages, which was aided by its crossroads location, wealth, and accumulated knowledge. copied content from Byzantine medicine; see that page's history for attribution


    Allow me to restate the point made above: "Thus in-patient medical care in the sense of what we today consider a hospital, was an invention driven by Christian mercy and Byzantine innovation." Source: James Edward McClellan and Harold Dorn, Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), p.99,101.

    And:


    Byzantium invented modern hospitals | ELLOPOSnet


    According to most historians, the modern hospital as we know it today traces its origins to...the Byzantine Empire.

    There is substantial agreement that no institutions resembling hospitals existed in the ancient world, even though the Romans had some facilities serving soldiers, servants, slaves, injured gladiators, and the very poor – so-called proto-hospitals, more often places to die rather than to be cured.

    Only with the advent of Christianity did it become the duty of every believer to practice charity. Already by AD 250 the church in Rome had made arrangements to distribute food to the poor.

    But that's grand if you'd rather have been treated by Galen than in a Byzantine hospital or in the medieval Bologna medical school (better you than me, I'll say! You must be brave!) :p
     
    #113 Vouthon, Feb 3, 2018
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  14. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    I know of No priests, No nuns, No monks, No Cardinals, No Bishops, No popes that are free to marry if they would decide to.
    As far as I know once they choose that occupation they are No longer free to choose to marry.
    - 1 Timothy 4:3 - to me 'No longer free to' means: forbidden.
    That makes we wonder then how the men of 1 Timothy 3:1-2 can have a wife.
    That makes we wonder then how the men of 1 Timothy 3:10-12 can have a wife.
     
  15. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    I do Not ignore 1 Timothy 3:1-2. I do Not ignore 1 Timothy 3:10-12.
    And I agree with what God's servant Paul wrote in Titus chapter 2.

    Sure a person is free to choose to remain single, but I can't find anything in Scripture that says if a person changes his mind about being single that he can't then marry.

    I find it is also God's servant Paul who wrote 1 Corinthians 7:9 that if a person develops a problem with self control, then it is better to marry that to burn with such passion.
     
  16. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I would be critical of this statement, depending upon the exact context. Because I know many secular Buddhists love to go running to the Kalama Sutta to justify rejecting about 70% of the traditional teaching. If the Buddha meant in the Kalama Sutta though that we could just treat the teachings like a buffet line- Buddhism would have looked markedly different in history. More like a free thought club, which believe it or not- it isn't. Buddhism makes objective claims about the cosmos we live in, and the place of humans and our actions in the cosmic order. The Buddha does the same of divine beings and every aspect of phenomena. The Buddha tried to be comprehensive and total, unlike some other systems of thought. His teachings are robbed of much of their power when secularists decide what they can chuck out. It amounts to saying the Blessed One was lying, mistaken, or knowingly misleading- and I personally want no part in it.
     
    #116 Buddha Dharma, Feb 3, 2018
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  17. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    @Vouthon I'm not outright denying or rejecting what you say here. You do like to do your homework, and your answers will be a lot to tackle, so this part first.

    I am not outright denying or rejecting what you bring forth about agape versus Eros- I would just wonder where this professor got the idea that the Greeks were more about Eros toward the gods, which by the by says little about societal ethics. I'm sure you'll respond though, and I look forward to reading it. I appreciate your well expounded answers. Also- don't Christians also believe in an Eros love toward God when they speak of natural impulses to know him?

    I will tackle your other statements presently.
     
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  18. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    Again, I'm not outright denying what you say, just bringing forth an idea for consideration. I'm presently going through your responses.

    It seems like Epicurus's idea of love was Philia, but it is arguable how different agape is from his particular definition, because his Principle Doctrines show he believed in things that all humans have in common like justice and desire for happiness- which is markedly different than those thinkers still running around then saying Greeks versus Barbarians. He also says in the last principle doctrine that we should try in as far as we are able to make into one family all creatures, but if we cannot bear someone's company- at least don't hate them. He also is known to have been vegetarian.
     
  19. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I think the last paragraph is a arbitrary statement, given that some philosophers thought one had to change themselves to change the world- though I admit I'm not favorable to such an approach myself. That's why Mahayanists are not Theravadans. One reason...

    Continuing on, it is somewhat arbitrary to strongly emphasize their goal wasn't large scale societal change. What you say in the following paragraphs about women and slaves is also not unheard of, among again- Epicurus.

    Look I'd generally agree with you that not all pagan philosophers were fantastic in social equality and other things, but there are a few names we can point to- and they're the ones I tend to take as having anything valuable worth saying.
     
  20. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I can't really disagree with this when it comes to most of how Roman society was.
     
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