Populere filosofie en die Nuwe Testament

Thom, Johan (2014-03)

CITATION: Thom, J. 2014. Populere filosofie en die Nuwe Testament. LitNet Akademies, 11(1):401-428.

The original publication is available at http://www.litnet.co.za

Article

Onlangse navorsing het bevestig dat Paulus en ander Nuwe-Testamentiese skrywers van idees en praktyke gebruik gemaak het soortgelyk aan dié wat in tydgenootlike filosofiese tradisies aanwesig was. Dit is egter problematies om hierdie idees en praktyke na spesifieke tradisies soos die platonisme of stoïsisme terug te voer. Die bron van hierdie filosofiese invloede moet liewer in populêre filosofie gesoek word. Populêre filosofie word egter dikwels te eng opgevat, naamlik dat dit hoofsaaklik van die sinisme of stoïsisme afkomstig is en deur openbare toesprake of pseudepigrafiese briewe verbrei is. Verskeie ander soort tekste kan uitgewys word wat in verskillende filosofiese tradisies ontstaan het, wat die stoïsisme, platonisme, pitagorisme en die peripatetiese tradisie insluit. Hierdie tekste is óf bewustelik met die oog op ’n algemene, niegespesialiseerde groep lesers geskryf, óf hulle was minstens vir ’n breër leserspubliek toeganklik eerder as slegs vir lesers wat tot ’n spesifieke filosofiese groepering behoort. Die filosofiese idees en topoi wat deur sodanige tekste oorgedra word, kan as populêre filosofie beskryf word omdat hulle nie die leerstellinge van ’n enkele filosofiese skool verteenwoordig nie. As ons sulke populêr-filosofiese tekste met Pauliniese en ander Nuwe-Testamentiese tekste vergelyk, vind ons dat hulle filosofiese topoi gemeen het wat oor verskillende filosofiese tradisies verbrei is. Die gevolgtrekking is dat die oorsprong van hierdie filosofiese elemente in die Nuwe Testament waarskynlik eerder populêre filosofie as ’n spesifieke filosofiese skool is.

Recent scholarship has established that Paul made use of ideas and practices similar to those found in contemporary philosophical traditions. The question is where such ideas and practices in the New Testament came from. It is problematic to trace these ideas and practices back to specific traditions like Platonism or Stoicism. I suggest that we should rather look at popular philosophy as source for such philosophical influences. Popular philosophy is, however, often viewed too narrowly. Scholars like M.-O. Goulet-Cazé, A.J. Malherbe and others have argued that popular philosophy derived mainly from Cynicism and Stoicism and that it was propagated by means of public orations or pseudepigraphical letters. Several other kinds of texts can, however, be identified that originated in different philosophical traditions, including Stoicism, Platonism, Pythagoreanism, and the Peripatetic tradition, all of which were either consciously written with a general, non-specialised audience in mind, or at least accessible to a wider audience than just readers belonging to a specific philosophical grouping. These texts include the Pythagorean Golden verses, the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes’s Hymn to Zeus and Pseudo-Aristotle’s On the cosmos (De mundo). The philosophical ideas and topoi conveyed by such texts can be described as popular philosophy because they do not represent the tenets of one single philosophical school; they were accessible to a wide range of readers and there is evidence that at least some of them were well known outside their primary philosophical allegiance. Such ideas and topoi therefore formed part of the cultural repertoire of educated persons in the Hellenistic-Roman world.

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