I'm a student of philosophy carefully reading through the Britannica Great Books series. In our homeschool discussions, occurring each Wednesday afternoon, I'm finding most of the questions challenging but too difficult. My teacher says not to be put off by my youth, but to persist through to an answer. Also, not much is found on the Web concerning many of the authors in the Great Books series. A good example is Nicomachus of Gerasa. These writers are so obscure (most of the time) that all I can say (some of the time) is, "What the..." But, I'm not supposed to say that.

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    In all likelihood, no. For one thing, much of the scripture hadn't been written yet. For another, the Greek Jewish cultures don't appear to have encountered each other until sometime in the late 4th century BC, with Plato long dead and Aristotle at best an old man but probably dead too.
    – David H
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 21:31
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    This question appears to be off-topic. Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 1:32
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    I'd like to see some evidence in your question as to Plato's and Aristotle's use of Indian writings.
    – Drux
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 19:15
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    Swami Vivekananda in the 19th century said that the Greek philosophers were influenced by the Indian philosopher Kapila. But I have never run across any real evidence and any evidence appears anecdotal. Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 10:28
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    I think it is extremely important to note that there zero evidence of ancient greek philosophers making use of writings of India. The arguments make e.g. by N. Kazanas discuss common indo-european origins of particular mythemes (to use Levi-Strauss's term), not some direct contact between these cultures. The travel of thought and ideas is very distinct from written traces. That latter is much more easily verifiable and we do not have traces of that sort of thing. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


A scholar no less than the William Smith, L.L.D. (Smith's Bible Dictionary, London: J. Murray, 1863; Revised Edition: ...Compiled from Dr. William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, n.d., ISBN 0-87981-033-5, s.v.: "Epicureans," p. 95) stated: "The teaching of the Hebrew patriarchs and prophets was independent of any system of philosophy, and it is curious that Greek philosophy arose just after the Hebrew prophets closed their oracles, Malachi being contemporary with Socrates." After Malachi, there was a 500-year hiatus to the New Testament. This was known as the period of the Talmudists (to 70 A.D.). So, there was plenty of time for influence of Classical Greek philosophy. I strongly suspect this is exactly the case. Unfortunately no modern thesis materials or dissertations exist on this significant subject. No university will allow investigation. Perhaps something written during the Victorian period might exist. But, so far, my research has produced very little other than the Smith quote which may go back to an edited version of his original text (1863). The lack of information regarding the obvious Hebrew literary influence of Classical Greek philosophy and perhaps also early Greek poetry (theogonies) and the vernacular narratives (popular Greek myth) preceding Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is by-itself much more than curious. It is my estimation that the flow of history goes something like this: (minimally) Indian, Chaldean, Canaanite, Egyptian Hebrew (revelationally), Greek, Roman, European (maximally). And, we are told in public school we can't be Juedeo-Christian or "Eurocentric" because such is "offensive"?

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    Perhaps you need a 'broader' education. I'd say you are a little too comfortable with yourself. Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 18:31
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    I don't and can't claim to know everything. But I do do philosophy for a living, and I've never heard of William Smith. And the quote isn't really saying much... Why should we take him to be an authority?
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 22:45
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    Nice try, @Joseph. But it's just "William Smith" not the orientalist, W. Robertson Smith. However, both were Victorians. I love that period in Western history. The complete reference (I apologize to for not listing the citation at first post) is: William Smith, L.L.D. (Smith's Bible Dictionary, London: J. Murray, 1863; Revised Edition: ...Compiled from Dr. William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, n.d., ISBN 0-87981-033-5, s.v.: "Epicureans," p. 95). Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 21:02
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    Consider what grounds you have for this comment of yours: "No university will allow investigation." I work at a university, and some of my colleagues work on topics very close to this, and if I wanted to spend the next 10 years researching nothing but this topic, I could do that. Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 5:09
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    An absence of sources describing some possible causal connection in no way at all suggests that universities do not allow investigation of it. That's a wild, absurd leap. Indeed, there aren't sources on most causal connections in the universe. And, what about Jews? Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 17:37

There is no textual evidence which shows any early Greek Philosopher-(from Thales to Epicurus) quoting or commenting on The Old Testament.

Both Pythagoras and Plato were reported to have traveled to Israel and the greater Middle East, though there is no reliable textual evidence which proves this. It is certainly in the realm of possibility that Pythagoras and Plato, if having traveled to the Middle East, may have learned about the Jewish Scriptures and in doing so, may have written about it. However, there is no available historical evidence to prove this.

The early Greek Philosophers did refer to and write about the histories and cultures of the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Egyptians and especially, the Persians.

Keep in mind that the Persian Empire, was a nearly ubiquitous political and even cultural presence in Ancient Greek life, due to their conquest and occupation of Greco-Anatolia-(present-day Turkish coast) and attempt to conquer mainland Greece. Of all the foreign cultures the (Pre-Hellenistic) Greeks encountered and interacted with, the Persian culture appears to have had the greatest impact and influence on Early Greek Philosophy and intellectual life. The Early Greek Thinkers of Antiquity were much more interested in the theological teachings of Zoroastrianism....from a philosophical perspective and NOT from a religious or conversionary perspective.

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