Friday, November 30, 2007

The Philosopher Socrates

The Philosopher Socrates: A Short Introduction

by Ioanes Rakhmat

The works of the philosopher Plato (born in Athens ca. 428 or 427 BCE; died in 347 BCE) concerning the trial and death of the philosopher Socrates (born in 469 or 470 BCE) had a great impact on the development of the genre teleutē.
[1] Socrates was put to death in 399 BCE, when Laches was king “Archon” (400-399 BCE). The date of Socrates’ execution is based on the official records, as reported by Demetrius Phalereus in the Register of Archons.[2] For Plato, Socrates was representative of the great men in Greek antiquity who had been unjustly put to death. In the Republic, quoting another’s words but most likely, in the mind of Plato, referring to Socrates, Plato notes that “[A] just person will be whipped, stretched on a rack, chained, blinded with fire, and, at the end, when he has suffered every kind of evil, he’ll be impaled” (Republic 361e-362a).[3] As we shall see, in the Platonic tetralogy, the death of Socrates is portrayed, from a philosophical point of view, as the death of a noble and heroic man. These writings can therefore be seen as Greek martyrological accounts, presented in philosophical terms.

Literary Sources: Platonic and Non-Platonic

Even though there are no extant writings by Socrates himself, his ideas have had a great intellectual impact on Western thought through the works of Plato and others.
[4] From Plato, the crucial works are the four “dialogues”, usually referred to as the Platonic “tetralogy”: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.[5] The first three were composed by Plato not long after the events of the last days of Socrates, “while memories of the event were still fresh.”[6] The Phaedo belongs to the middle period of Plato’s writings.[7] It is the Platonic Socrates one meets in this tetralogy in which the report of the historical events of Socrates’ trial and death was mixed with philosophical and theological presentations.

The Euthyphro contains a conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro outside the King’s Stoa (a building in the public market-place); the conversation occured prior to the preliminary hearing on the charges against Socrates. In the conversation, the question about the universal “form” or “substance” of both the religious or pious and the irreligious or impious is explored.
[8] John Burnet regards Euthyphro as a valuable historical document, although not quite in the same sense as Apology.[9] The Apology was written at some point during the decade after Socrates’ trial.[10] It contains Socrates’ remarks defending himself, before the “People’s Court” of Athens (with approximately 500 jurors), against the charges of disbelief in the gods of the city (or “Athenian orthodoxy”, the state religion) and of corrupting the youth through his teachings. In Apology 34a, 38b, Plato asserts that he was present at the trial[11] and implies that the audience was very large (Apology 24e, 33d).[12] Still, it has been debated as to whether Plato’s account is historically accurate or is mostly fiction. After analysing and weighing the evidence, Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith come to the conclusion that the Apology contains reporting which is essentially historically accurate. [13]

The Crito, as maintained by Chris Emlyn-Jones, contains both earlier and later layers of Platonic thought.
[14] This writing presents a dramatic dialogue between Socrates and his friend of the same age, Crito, in the state prison at Athens, very early in the morning, thirty days after the trial and two days before the day set for Socrates’ execution. Crito makes one last effort to persuade Socrates to escape into exile, all the arrangements for which having been made by Socrates’ friends. In the opinion of Grube, whether this conversation took place at that particular moment is not important, for there is every reason to believe that Socrates’ friends would have made such plans and would have tried to have Socrates accept them, though they failed because of his refusal to do so.[15] Roslyn Weiss rightly stresses that, in the Crito, Socrates is “reinstated as a man of radical independence, the man he was in the Apology.”[16]

The Phaedo was written around 375-380 BCE, about the mid-point of Plato’s career. This is the Platonic dialogue in which Phaedo, the “beloved disciple” of Socrates (cf. Phaedo 89b)
[17] who was present at Socrates’ death, describes Socrates’ last hours in the state prison in Athens to Phaedo’s host, Echecrates, a native of the city Phlius in the Peloponnese. The climax of this dialogue is the point at which Socrates is portrayed as calmly and cheerfully drinking the poison (hemlock) while his friends weep, seeing such noble conduct in the face of swiftly approaching death (Phaedo 117-118). Concerning this passage, G.M.A. Grube comments, “It is an unforgetable passage, one which no one can read without being emotionally affected, however often he may have read it previously.”[18]

In the judgment of David Gallop, the Phaedo is a philosophical memoir rather than a biographical record;
[19] and, indeed, Plato himself tells his readers that he did not participate in the dialogue because he was ill (Phaedo 59b). Similarly, Christopher Gill argues that Plato’s presentation of Socrates’ death in Phaedo is not so much an historical account as a literary device to express his philosophical reflections. Gill states, “the vivid and detailed picture of this death that Plato gives is not that of a man reproducing an actual event in every particular, but of an author selecting and embellishing those features which will illuminate, in visual form, the intelligible meaning of his argument.”[20] C.J. Rowe judges that Plato’s Phaedo “is certainly a work of creative fiction, written some twenty years after the events it pretends to relate.”[21] Dating its composition to the middle period of Plato’s philosophical career,[22] Rowe further asserts that Phaedo is “the authentic voice of Plato himself.”[23] Rowe concludes, however, that it is “a written representation of live philosophical conversation” in which “the ‘philosophical’ and ‘non-philosophical’ parts of the dialogue together form a perfectly integrated whole” so that it is not possible to draw “as sharp a distinction between his story-telling and his argumentative (‘philosophical’) mode.”[24] In the words of three other commentators, the genre of Phaedo is rightly to be described as “a perplexing blend of logos and mythos, argument and story” fabricated by Plato.[25] Still, despite its predominantly philosophical content, in the assessment of S. J. Ridderbos, the Phaedo contains “a historical core”, attributable to the historical Socrates himself.[26] In this, Gill concurs, stating that in the Phaedo, “a historical event is transformed into a representation of a philosophical idea.”[27]

Valuable material concerning Socrates is also found in the four works of Xenophon (one of Socrates’ friends): Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, Apology of Socrates to the Jury, and Symposium. Xenophon himself was not in Athens at the time of Socrates’ trial. In Vivienne J. Gray’s judgment, Memorabilia (= Reminiscences or Memoirs) is “a work of plain rhetoric which takes its inspiration from the courtroom origins of its central controversy.”
[28] It was written in defense of Socrates to prove that “he did not commit crimes or acts against the law”[29] and, in Xenophon’s conclusion, therefore Socrates “deserved not death but great honor from the city” (Memorabilia I.2).[30] Although Xenophon’s representation of Socrates on trial utilized information from a third person (i.e., Hermogenes), still the Apology which Xenophon wrote is in harmony with the Platonic description of Socrates.[31] The purpose of Apology of Socrates to the Jury is to justify Socrates’ “big talking” (megalēgoria; cf. Plato’s Apology 21e) in his defense speech, by putting forward a careful examination of both Socrates’ defense and the ending of his life.[32] Finally, in Aristophanes’ comedy, the Clouds, which abounds in a raw satire and was first performed in 423 BCE in the theatre of Dionysos at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, there is to be found an entertaining caricature of Socrates which also provides useful background information for understanding the charges made against Socrates.[33]

Socrates’ Spirituality

Socrates rejects polytheistic mythology (Euthyphro 6a) and refers to the divine in the singular ho theos, the God (e.g., Apology 19a, 21b,e, 22a, 23a-b) rather than in the plural hoi theoi, the gods; the latter being used to refer to the gods of the state (e.g., Apology 23d, 24c, 26b). He often speaks about the “divine sign from the god” or “something divine and spiritual” or the “daimonic voice” (daimonion phōnē) as coming to him on occasion, since his childhood, and intervening to prevent him from doing or saying something, but never positively encouraging him to do anything (Apology 31c-d; 40 a-b [cf. 24c], 41d; Euthyphro 3b; Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.1.1-9; 4.8.1-2 and Apology 12-13).
[34] John Burnet interprets this as the “irrational part” of Socrates’ soul, even more than dreams which sometimes do give positive instructions (Phaedo 60e; cf. Crito 44a); this irrational part of his soul cannot be rationalized, but it is a real experience for Socrates.[35] But, Brickhouse and Smith understand this as the Platonic Socrates intended, namely as a religious belief.[36]

Also, Socrates dissociates himself from Athenian “prophets” (“you prophets”) who claim to be able to foretell the future (Euthyphro 3c-e; cf. Apology 22c). However, when it is certain (although not imminent) that his life will be ended by his enemies, Socrates seems to have taken on a prophet-like role and prophesied the fate of those who had him condemned (Apology 39c-d; also Phaedo 85b).

Socrates understands himself as one who obeys and serves the god through practising philosophy as long as he lives, pointing out the best way to achieve as much wisdom, truth and virtue as possible, and exhorting his fellow citizens to follow that way, with the assurance that this is the way to obtain the greatest possible well-being for the human soul (Apology 23b, 28e, 29 a-e, 30a-31b; cf. Euthyphro 12e). Because of this, Socrates is of the opinion that the highest kind of art lies in reflecting on and sharing philosophy (Phaedo 61a). Socrates is convinced that practising philosophy and exhorting others to achieve well-being through philosophy is the mission which he has accepted from the god (Apology 33c), and he sees himself as a gift which the god has bestowed upon the Athenians (Apology 30e-31b); he therefore does not charge any fee for the teachings he gives (Apology 19d-e, 31b-c, 33a-b; Euthyphro 3d; Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.2.5, 1.5.6., 1.6.3., 1.6.13). This makes it surprising that he should be accused of happily rewarding anyone who is willing to listen to him (Euthyphro 3d), noting that he was poor, at least during the latter part of his life (e.g., Apology 23c, 31c, 37c, 38b).

In carrying out what he regarded as his mission, Socrates realized that his household or his family received little attention from him: “[B]ecause of this occupation, I have had no leisure worth speaking of, either to do any of the things of the city or any of my own things (ta oikeia). Indeed because of my service to the god I live in extreme poverty” (Apology 23b-c). The plural noun ta oikeia literally means “the things of one’s own household and family”or “the things familiar and peculiar to oneself and one’s closest relations.” For him, his true family was the philosophical family consisting of himself and his disciples; and the way of life which Socrates chose led him to treat the pursuit of wisdom and the sharing of it with others as the priority over all that is uniquely one’s own and private.
[38] Although the philosophical activities he carried out aroused suspicion and enmity from his countrymen (Apology 21e, 22e-23a, c-d), he continued doing just that; he would not have felt free to abandon his mission unless he believed that the god had released him from it (Phaedo 62 c; cf. Crito 54e).

The Charges Made Against Socrates

There exist multiple records of the indictment against Socrates. One is from Plato’s Apology 24b-c (par. Euthyphro 2c-3b; cf. Crito 53c); in this is the statement that “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young, and of failing to acknowledge the gods acknowledged by the city, but introducing new spiritual beings instead.” Another report is found in Xenophon’s Memorabilia 1.1.2-5. And a third one comes from Diogenes Laertius (2.40); this is a copy of the record which was kept in the Athenian state archives: “This indictment and affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the son of Meletus of Pithos, against Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates was guilty of refusing to recognize the gods the state recognizes, and of introducing other new divinities. He is also guilty of corrupting the youth. The penalty demanded is death.”

The charge of not recognizing the gods of the state was based on the wide-spread allegation which had long circulated, namely that Socrates gave naturalistic explanations for “the things in the sky and the things beneath the earth,” that is, for meteorological, astronomical and geological phenomena (Apology 18b, 19a-c, 23d; cf. Euthyphro 6a; Phaedrus 229c-e). What was clearly being charged was that Socrates, as a philosopher, was demythologizing or demystifying nature. From the standpoint of Athenian orthodox polytheistic doctrine, this amounted to impiety or even atheism,
[40] and was felt to undermine traditional Greek religion.[41] Thus, one of Socrates’ accusers asserts that Socrates acknowledges no gods at all, for it is said that he claims “the sun is made of rock, and the moon of earth” (Apology 26d-e). Socrates reacted to this by stating that those subjects were not his concern at all, so that any such allegation was baseless (Apology 19d, 26d); and he demonstrated the internal contradiction of this charge, when it is placed beside that of introducing new gods (Apology 27a-e).

In Athens at that time, introducing new deities was not in itself a crime; many cults centered on foreign gods had been introduced and were subsequently permitted, even encouraged, by official decree of the state. Because of this fact, Socrates could not be accused of practising foreign rites.
[42] As suggested in Euthyphro 3b-c, this charge may have been due to the strategy of the prosecutors which was intended to lead the jury to the conclusion that Socrates was a philosopher of nature who wanted to replace the old gods of the state with new sorts of powers which he claimed were in control of “things in the sky and beneath the earth.”[43] It is also possible that the charge was due to Socrates’ claim to possess a “daimonic voice”, an inner voice ― in effect, his conscience. But, given the religious temperament of Athens, this would have been a flimsy basis for prosecution.[44]

The charge of corrupting the young was also weak, for neither homosexual affairs between a teacher and pupils nor intellectual corruption were considered crimes in Athens of that time.
[45] When Socrates sought some clarification from the prosecutor by asking whether or not he had corrupted the younger people by teaching them not to recognize the gods of the state but accept new spiritual beings, the prosecutor replied unhesitatingly in the affirmative (Apology 26b). This makes clear that the charge of corrupting the youth was intrinsically related to the two other ones. Actually, Socrates had reacted by stating that the charge of corrupting the younger people was false (Apology 26a); in fact, he insists that he is not guilty of any of the charges in the prosecution’s indictment (Apology 28a, cf. 37a-b, 38b).

Considering all this, the unavoidable question is: What did the prosecutors really view as so dangerous an activity on the part of Socrates that he should be put on trial for it?

Socrates Was Regarded as Anti-Democratic

In the trial, Socrates reminded the jurors that their being influenced by the widespread bias against him would surely cause them to condemn him unjustly (Apology 18a-e, 19a-c, 20c-d, 21b, d-e, 22e-a, c-d, d-e, 24a-b, 28a, 35b-c). Most likely, several factors led to the emergence of the bias. Socrates’ appearance as an itinerant sophist living an ascetic way of life was viewed by the Athenian populace as useless and shameful. Also, many of Socrates’ associates had unsavory reputations; some having been involved with the oligarchy known as the Thirty Tyrants (which ruled Athens for almost a year in 404 BCE). Socrates was a close friend and teacher of Critias (Plato’s second cousin and the leader of the Thirty) and of Plato’s uncle, Charmides (another member of the Thirty). Socrates was a member of the Three Thousand full citizens who had been appointed by the Thirty. Though in his defense speech Socrates referred to his critical opposition to the oligarchs when they were still in power by refusing their order to arrest Leon of Salamis at the risk of losing his own life (Apology 32 c-e), still the very fact that they ordered him (being intended to test Socrates) displays his close connection with the Thirty Tyrants. Then, too, among others close to Socrates were a number of foreigners who were known to hold anti-democratic views.

The bias against Socrates can be seen as a natural outcome of the socio-political upheavals which occurred in Athens after its defeat in the just concluded Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). Athens, with its democratic pattern of life now restored, was feeling quite hostile toward intellectuals whose thinking and speaking seemed to threaten and undermine the Athenian established wisdom and tradition, particularly the city’s democratic spirit. In this atmosphere, Socrates was one of those regarded as anti-democratic in outlook and behavior.

In his defense, Socrates referred to a certain statesman or politician of the democratic faction which took over governmental control in 399, and said, “[W]hen I considered him and conversed with him, men of Athens, I was affected something like this: it seemed to me that this man seemed to be wise, both to many other human beings and most of all to himself, but he was not. And then I tried to show him that he supposed he was wise, but was not. So from this I became hateful to him and to many of those present.” (Apology 21b-22a). Such personal animosities would of course play a role in society’s overall evaluation of Socrates.

An even greater role was played by Socrates’ not endorsing the election of officials by lot, a practice judged to be truly democratic by the Athenians. Socrates’ evaluation of this practice was due to his opinion that, in managing human affairs, the crucial matter is expertise. Thus, the expert in the construction of houses should build houses, and the expert in the construction of ships should build ships (Euthyphro 13e); those who possess the required human and civic qualities to teach, must become tutors (Apology 20b; cf. Crito 47b, 48a). By the same token, the state should be governed by experts in statesmanship, not by the masses who have no specialized talents and knowledge. Considered from this perspective, it must be admitted that Socrates’ viewpoint was indeed anti-democratic. It is interesting to note that Plato’s viewpoint was very similar, except that he referred to “philosophers”, not simply those possessing various expertise: “[T]he troubles of mankind will never cease until either true and genuine philosophers attain political power or the rulers of states by some dispensation of providence become genuine philosophers” (Letter VII. 326).

The Sentence of Death and
Socrates’ Response to It

In a judicial procedure carried out in one day rather than the usual several days, the jury returned a verdict of “guilty” on Socrates (Apology 36a-b, 37b). As a substitute for the death penalty, Socrates offered to pay a fine of one mina (even though his disciples had suggested that he offered thirty minas). This offer of so small a fine was taken to be a mockery.
[47] The offer was of course not accepted, and the 501 jurors voted, 361 to 140, for the death penalty (Apology 38b-c).

Socrates admitted that his defense speech sounded “rather boastful” (mega legein) (Apology 21e) and that it was not of the kind to persuade a jury to acquit him, namely a defense consisting of weeping and begging and of much else which he felt would be unworthy of himself. He also would not parade his children, other relatives and loved ones, before the jurors (Apology 34c, 38d). Socrates finally declared that “I must prefer to die having made my defense speech in this way than to live in that way” (Apology 38e), and that “[I]t is clear to me that it was better I should die now and be rid of my troubles” (Apology 41d). Xenophon noted that Socrates’ preference of death to life was due to his feeling that he had lived long enough (Xenophon: Apology 1.5-8, 27, 32; Memorabilia 4.8.1). In Xenophon’s judgment, Socrates’ actions and words before the court were actually “rather foolish” (Apology 1).

Nevertheless, it should not be concluded that Socrates’ defense speech and the way in which he presented it were in effect “a premeditated suicide.”
[48] Rather, as the Platonic Socrates claimed at the beginning of the trial, his actions and speech were the acting out of his willingness to please the god and to obey the law (Apology 19a; cf. 32c). And he warns the jury to do the same, that is, to try his case solely according to the law (Apology 35c). His decision to prefer death to life was grounded in his inner being; as Socrates expressed it: his daimonion did not interfere and force him to refuse the condemnation of death (Apology 40a-c; 41d).

Socrates’ Oracles

After the verdict of “guilty” had been returned and the death sentence determined, Socrates was given time to make some further remarks, before being taken away to prison to await execution. At that point, he delivered this oracle against those who had voted to condemn him: “I have now reached a point at which people are most given to prophesying― that is, when they are on the point of death. I warn you, my executioners, that as soon as I am dead retribution will come upon you, far more severe, I swear, than the sentence you have passed upon me. You have tried to kill me for now, in the belief that you will be relieved from giving an account of your lives. But in fact, I can tell you, you will face just the opposite outcome” (Apology 39c).

To those who had voted for his acquittal, Socrates delivered an oracle consisting of the assurance that what has befallen him is “a blessing” and that death is “a good thing”, “a marvellous gain”, “a greater blessing”, an “unspeakable good fortune”; “nothing can harm a good man, either in life or in death”; death is “a wonderful sojourn” in Hades to meet both those who are “truly judges sitting on the judgment seat” and those who had also died because of an unjust verdict (Apology 41-42).

Socrates’ Death and His Last Words

As noted above, the report in the Phaedo ends with an account of Socrates’ drinking the hemlock poison in accordance with the sentence of death imposed by the jury. According to this report, Socrates understood his approaching death as anagkē, the “divine necessity”, not to be avoided but to be accepted voluntarily (Phaedo 62c; cf. “I accept my penalty” in Apology 39b). The man in the state prison whose duty was to bring the poison recognized Socrates’ nobility and said: “[D]uring this time, I have come to recognize you as the noblest and gentlest and best man among those who have ever arrived here...”; then, turning away, the man burst into tears (Phaedo 116a-d). So also, in her love for her husband, Socrates’ wife, Xanthippe, expressed both grief and respect (Phaedo 60a-b).

For Socrates himself, however, in the seconds before his death, his one and only concern was not for his family, his wife and three children, but rather it was for the philosophical community of his disciples who momentarily will become “orphans robbed of their father” (Phaedo 116a). This concern was expressed in such a simple thought as that conveyed in Socrates’ last words to Crito: “Crito, we owe (opheilomen) a cock to Asclepius. So pay the debt (apodote) and don’t be careless (mē amelēsēte)” (Phaedo 118). And Crito answered him: “Very well, it shall be done. But see if you have anything else to say.” To this last request of Crito, Socrates made no answer; and, realizing that Socrates had died, Crito closed Socrates’ mouth and eyes, and acknowledges that Socrates is “the most thoughtful and the most just” (Phaedo 118).

While it is likely that Plato accurately reported these last words of Socrates, we cannot know what those utterances precisely meant to Socrates himself. But, we can know the meaning of these words for Plato. Glenn W. Most has persuasively argued that Socrates’ last message was concerned both with Plato himself
[49] (who was ill at the time, according to Phaedo 59b) and with the entire group of disciples.[50] In the moments before his death, Socrates, through his prophetic or clairvoyant vision (cf. Apology 39c-d; Phaedo 85b), could envision Plato as restored to health and Socrates consequently ordered Crito to express, on behalf of the whole group of Sophists, gratitude to Asclepius, the mythical hero famous in Greek antiquity as the healer and restorer of the dead. Socrates must die; but his community of philosophical disciples must continue to live. And, in that community, Plato was to be the successor of Socrates, keeping and developing the Socratic philosophical legacy. The death of the philosopher whose vehicle of expression was oral speech had become the foundation of Plato’s written philosophy, for, in the moment of his death, Socrates had legitimized Plato as his heir, the custodian of the Socratic arguments.


[1] Collins, “The Genre”, 7; Arthur J. Droge and James D. Tabor, A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1992) 17-51 (Chapter 2: “The Death of Socrates and Its Legacy”); David E. Aune, “Greco-Roman Biography” in Greco-Roman Literature, 123 [107-126]. The word “teleutē” is from the Greek verb teleutaō , meaning "to end one's life"; this genre contains sketches of the lives of a number of Greeks, including reports or narratives of their deaths, and it shows how narrating history and composing biography can be closely linked.

[2] See John Burnet, “Socrates” in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. xi, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920) 665 [665-672]. The King Archon, as one of the nine officials (archons) chosen annually as Athens’ chief magistrates, held a special responsibility for religious ceremonial and ritual purification, and for cases involving offences against the state religion. His Porch was in the Agora or market-place. See David Gallop, Plato, Defense of Socrates, Euthyphro, Crito (World’s Classics paperback; Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) 81; idem, Plato, Phaedo (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975) 74; Gerard Koolschijn, Plato, Sokrates’ Leven en Dood. Feest Symposium, Euthyfron, Sokrates’ Verdediging, Kriton, Faidon (Amsterdam: Athenaeum - Polak en Van Gennep, 20007 [19951]) 224; Chris Emlyn-Jones, Plato Crito (with introduction, commentary and vocabulary) (London: Bristol Classical Press, 1999) 1.

[3] Grube (trans.; revised by C.D.C. Reeve), Plato, Republic (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 19998 [19921]) 37.

[4] As early as Cicero (De Finibus 2.1), Socrates was seen as marking a turning point in Greek philosophical thought, and in some sense even as the “father of philosophy.” The reason for this evaluation in Western thought is that Socrates has been seen to have introduced a general view that man has the capability to acquire knowledge by employing the language of logic, developing methodological steps of inductive reasoning and establishing a definition for each matter under investigation.

[5] The page and letter (and line numbers) of the texts of the Platonic tetralogy referred to in this study are taken from Stephanus’ editions in the Oxford Classical Texts which are used today as the standard pagination in most editions and translations.

[6] Gallop, Plato, Defense of Socrates, vii; John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982 [19241]) 84.

[7] C. J. Rowe, Plato, Phaedo (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics; Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 11; Gallop, Plato, Phaedo, 74. Hugh Tredennick & Harold Tarrant, Plato. The Last Days of Socrates: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo (London, etc.: Penguin Books, 1969 [19541]) xv.

[8] The term “form” (eidos or idea) means “substance” (ousia), that is, the nature of something that makes it what it is. On these terms, see John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982 [19241]) 111; Thomas G. West & Grace Starry West (translators), Four Texts on Socrates: Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, and Aristophanes’ Clouds (introduction by Thomas G. West; Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1984) 46 n.20. On the meaning of “the religious” (to hosion) and “the pious” (to eusebēs) as reverence and respect, even fear, which one feels or ought to feel toward the gods, see Thomas G. West & Grace Starry West, Four Texts on Socrates, 46 n.18.

[9] John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, 84.

[10] On the date of the composition of the Apology, see Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, Socrates on Trial (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989) 2; G.M.A. Grube, trans., Plato, Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo (Indianapolis, Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 19833 [1981]), 23.

[11] There is a statement concerning the intervention of Plato at the trial of his master in Diogenes Laertius’ Vitae Philosophorum II, 41 (of the third century?): “Justus Tiberius in his book entitled ‘The Wreath’ says that in the course of the trial Plato mounted the platform and began, ‘Though I am the youngest, men of Athens, of all who ever rose to address you’ — whereupon the judges shouted: ‘Get down! Get down!’” See Menahem Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism. Edited with introductions, translations and commentary, volume 2: From Tacitus to Simplicus (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanity, 1980) 332-333.

[12] John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, 143.

[13] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 2-13. See also other works cited there.

[14] Chris Emlyn-Jones, Plato Crito, 22-24.

[15] Grube, Plato, Five Dialogues, 45.

[16] Roslyn Weiss, Socrates Dissatisfied. An Analysis of Plato’s Crito (New York/ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) 5-6.

[17]A passage in Phaedo (89b) gives the impression that Phaedo was the beloved disciple of Socrates. Phaedo tells the readers: “I will tell you. I happened to be sitting to his right on a sort of low stool next to the couch, and he was on a seat a lot more elevated than mine. And he caressed my head and gathered up the hair on my neck — for he was in the habit, on occasion, of teasing me about my hair — and said: ‘Tomorrow, Phaedo, perhaps you’ll cut off these beautiful locks of yours.’” The text is taken from Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, Eric Salem, Plato’s Phaedo (Focus Philosophical Library; Newburyport, MA: Focus/R. Pullins, 1998) 66. (p. 66 n.11 : “The Greeks cut off their hair when in mourning”; p. 11: “... when Socrates is no more, Phaedo will cut off those beautiful locks of his,...”); see also: David Gallop, trans., Plato Phaedo (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975) 39; Koolschijn, Plato, Sokrates’ Leven en Dood, 224; C. J. Rowe, ed., Plato Phaedo, 212; Benjamin Jowett, Plato, Phaedo (Etext # 1658); idem, Plato: The Trial and Death of Socrates (New York: Heritage Press, 1963) 137.

[18] Grube, Plato, Five Dialogues, 91.

[19] Gallop, Plato, Phaedo, 74.

[20] Christopher Gill, “The Death of Socrates,” in Classical Quarterly 23 (1973) 28 [225-28].

[21] Rowe, Plato, Phaedo, 1.

[22] Rowe, Plato, Phaedo, 11; Gallop, Plato, Phaedo, 74; Jowett, Plato, Phaedo.

[23] Rowe, Plato, Phaedo, 1.

[24] Rowe, Plato, Phaedo, 2, 3, 11.

[25] Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, Eric Salem, Plato’s Phaedo, 2, 6.

[26] S. J. Ridderbos, Zon op de Bergen...: Gedachten over Leven en Dood op Socrates’ Laatste Dag volgens de Phaedo van Plato (Kampen: Kok Agora, 1994), comments that “De schrijver van de Phaedo heeft alles dus ook maar van horen zeggen en dit geeft hem de vrijheid naar eigen wens en inzicht een schets van het gebeurde en gesprokene te ontwerpen, al zal een historische kern zeker aanwezig zijn” (p. 10).

[27] Gill, “The Death of Socrates”, 28.

[28] Vivienne J. Gray, The Framing of Socrates: The Literary Interpretation of Xenophon’s Memorabilia (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1998) 193. On Xenophon, see also H. Tredennick and R. Waterfield, eds., Xenophon: Conversations of Socrates (Harmonds-worth, 1990); Leo Strauss, Xenophon’s Socrates: Memorabilia, Apology of Socrates to the Jury, Symposium (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1972); E. C. Marchant and O. J. Todd, trans., Xenophon, Memorabilia, Oeconomicus, Symposium, and Apology, LCL (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1923).

[29]Leo Strauss, Xenophon’s Socratic Discourse. An Interpretation of the Oeconomicus (with a new, literal translation of the Oeconomicus) (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1970) 85.

[30] Strauss, Xenophon’s Socrates, 17.

[31] Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, 145; cf. Jowett, Plato: The Trial, 137.

[32] Strauss, Xenophon’s Socrates, 129-140.

[33] See Kenneth McLeish (trans.), Aristophanes: Clouds, Women in Power, Knights (Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 1979) 3-67; J. Henderson, trans., Aristophanes, Clouds (Newburyport, Mass., 1992); Thomas G. West & Grace Starry West, Four Texts on Socrates, 29-37, 115-176; John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro, 94f.

[34]Theion ti kai daimonion [phōnē ]; hē mantikē tou daimoniou (see Apology 31 c-d; 40a-b); to daimonion (Euthyphro 3b); cf. daimonia kaina (e.g., Apology 24c). Other Platonic allusions to Socrates’ daimonion can be found in Euthydemus 272e; Republic II. 496c; Theaetetus 151a; Phaedrus 242b-c; also at the pseudo-Platonic Theages 128d-131a. See Gallop, Plato, Defense of Socrates, 81, 97; Weiss, Socrates Dissatisfied, 15-23.

[35] John Burnet, Plato’s Euthyphro , 96-97.

[36] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 35 n.124. Roslyn Weiss (Socrates Dissatisfied, 19), employing the insight of the depth psychology, however, interprets it as “not... a voice independent of Socrates’ own thinking and intuition that instructs him to contravene their guidance but rather a voice inspired by Socrates’ thinking and intuition, by beliefs that are for the moment ‘subconscious’...a voice that gives him the strength to implement these ‘subconscious’ beliefs even when he is tempted to do otherwise.”

[37] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 16.

[38] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 57 n.53.

[39] Cited by Brickhouse and Smith (Socrates on Trial, 30).

[40] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 30-34, 65-67.

[41] Robert J. Littman, The Greek Experiment: Imperialism and Social Conflict 800-400 B.C. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974) 155.

[42] Littman, Greek Experiment, 158.

[43] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 35; Tredennick & Tarrant, Plato, The Last Days of Socrates, xxv.

[44] Littman, Greek Experiment, 158.

[45] Littman, Greek Experiment, 158.

[46] On the situation of the conflict between oligarchy and democracy, see Littman, Greek Experiment, 137-161; Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 18-24. See also Austin and Vidal-Naquet, Economic and Social History, 131-155.

[47] Brickhouse and Smith, Socrates on Trial, 40.

[48] This interpretation has been rejected by Brickhouse and Smith (Socrates on Trial, esp. pp. 37-39, 60-61). Their thesis is that Socrates’ principles required him to do everything in his power, and in harmony with those principles, to gain his acquittal (p. 9; see also pp. 38, 43).

[49] Cf. Ronna Burger, The Phaedo: A Platonic Labyrinth (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984) 216.

[50] Glenn W. Most, “A Cock for Asclepius” in Classical Quarterly 43 (i) (1993) 96-111. For the grounds to argue for its historicity, see pp. 97-98.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jewish "Wisdom Tale"

Jewish “Wisdom Tale”:
and Vindication of the Suffering Righteous Man

by Ioanes Rakhmat

In Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism[1] Nickelsburg has analysed form-critically various Jewish stories about persecution and exaltation/vindication of the righteous man, detailing their structure, components and function. All of these stories are classified into the “wisdom tale” genre. Early stages in the development of this genre can be seen in the Story of Ahikar (dated as early as the fifth century BCE),[2] the Story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-42), the Book of Esther, Daniel chapters 3 and 6, and the Story of Susanna. Further development of the genre is found in Wisdom of Solomon 2, 4-5; 2 Maccabees 7 and 9; 3 Maccabees, as well as in other texts (such as Enoch 46, 62-63, 104, 108; Daniel 12; the Assumption of Moses 9,10; 2 Baruch 49-51; 4 Ezra 7; and various canonical psalms of individual lament and thanksgiving). In the process of the development, the Isaianic exaltation materials (Isaiah 13; 14; 52-53:2) contributed to the expansion of the earlier tradition, especially as that seen in Wisdom 2, 4-5, Enoch 62-63, 2 Maccabees 9 and 1 Maccabees 6.

The Story of Ahikar

The Story of Ahikar is the earliest example of either biblical or apocryphal literature, “one of the best known and most widely disseminated tales in the ancient Mediterranean world.”[3] With it, we are as near to the first form of an ancient Near Eastern book as we are ever likely to be. As a folktale from the ancient Near Eastern world, the Ahikar story influenced a number of biblical psalms and several sapiential books, such as Proverbs, Sirach, Daniel, Tobit, Jubilees and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

Ahikar was an historical figure, a scholar and a councillor at the royal court of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon in the early seventh century BCE. The so-called Story of Ahikar purports to tell how Ahikar, growing elderly, persuaded king Esarhaddon to accept Ahikar’s nephew and adopted son, Nadin, as his replacement at the court. Later, however, Nadin maneuvered matters in such a way that he could accuse his uncle of plotting against the king, and the result was Ahikar’s being condemned to death. Ahikar escapes execution because the executioner owes him a favor. In place of Ahikar, the executioner kills a slave and then takes Ahikar into hiding to await a more favorable time. That time comes when Ahikar is able to prevent the overthrow of the king. With his vindication, Ahikar is restored to his position of influence and power, while Nadin is severely punished. His horrible death is graphically described: “Nadin ... swelled up immediately and became like a blown-out bladder. And his limbs swelled and his legs and his feet and his side, and he was torn and his belly burst asunder and his entrails were scattered, and he perished, and he died.”[4]

After pointing out that in the Book of Tobit (especially 1:18-22; 14:10) the figure Ahikar as found in the Story of Ahikar was adopted into Judaism, Crossan asserts that “the Story of Ahikar, with its sequential elements of Situation, Accusation, Condemnation, Deliverance, and Restoration, is the generic model for a whole set of stories about pious Jews wrongly accused but eventually vindicated, especially in a Diaspora setting and a court location.”[5] Crossan even posits the story of Nadin’s death as a literary constituent in the Lukan version of the death of Judas (Acts 1:18-20). Noting that the Story of Ahikar consists of two parts, that is, “a story of vindicated innocence and a collection of wise sayings integrated into it in various ways in different manuscripts”, he further contends that it “shows how a collection of wise sayings and a story of vindicated innocence belong to the same tradition.” And Crossan then concludes: “it is not surprising that, just as some in the early Christian wisdom tradition were interested in collecting Jesus’ wise sayings, others were interested in Jesus’ passion-resurrection modeled on those court tales of vindicated innocence.”[6]

Nickelsburg, however, is of the opinion that it is the account in Wisdom, chapter 2 and chapters 4-5, that is the generic model of the wisdom tale; and, through form-critical analysis of the content of these chapters, Nickelsburg has detailed the structure and components of this genre.

Wisdom of Solomon
2, 4-5

Historical Context

While Jewish tradition attributes the work known as the Wisdom of Solomon to “wise” king Solomon, it seems to have been written by a representative of the persecuted Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt, sometime between 30 BCE and 41 CE. In a recent study, David Winston points out that Roman control of Egypt which began in 30 BCE under Augustus serves as the terminus post quem (30 BCE) for the composition of the Wisdom of Solomon, with its terminus ante quem lying somewhere between 37 and 41 CE, that is, during the reign of Gaius Caligula.[7]
Hans Hübner in Die Weisheit Salomons agrees with Winston’s dating of the book.[8] Winston suggests that the address to the rulers of the four corners (or: the four ends) of the earth (6:1) and the reference in 14:17 to the remoteness of their dwelling (“they lived at a distance”) indicate the Augustan rule over Egypt.[9] He proceeds to note that the intensity of the hatred toward some Egyptians found in the Wisdom of Solomon can only reflect the persecution of the Jewish community in Alexandria at the hands of Greeks who were aided and abetted by native Egyptians in the Augustan age. [10] The persecuted righteous man in Wisdom 2:12-20 can therefore be identified with Israel (see 2:18 and 18:13),[11] that is, Israelites who lived in Alexandria and were being persecuted in the fourth quarter of the first century BCE.

Literary Structure

Nickelsburg divides the story in Wisdom chapters 2, 4-5 into two main scenes. Scene one depicts the persecution of the righteous man (2:12-20) who, as noted above, can be identified with Israel (see 2:18 and 18:13). His persecutors are the unnamed wealthy (5:8). The exhortation that kings and judges should not behave as do the ungodly (chapter 6) implies that the persecutors or foes of the righteous man (5:17-23) are kings or other rulers. As noted above, these are most likely Greeks and native Egyptians in Alexandria, in the period after Roman rule began there. After the death of the unrighteous persecutors is pointed to as a future event (“they will become dishonored corpses”, and “the memory of them will perish”; see 4:18c-19), scene two consists of the confrontation between the righteous man, now “numbered among the children of God” (5:5), that is, after his death, and his persecutors (4:20-5:14).

Scene one begins with a conspiracy by the ungodly (the antagonists) against the righteous man (the protagonist):

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man (2:12a).

The protagonist’s actions that provoke the antagonists both to accuse and to take action against the former are stated as:

because he is inconvenient to us
and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself child (or servant) of the Lord, ...
he avoids our ways as unclean; ...
and boasts that God is his father. (2:12-16)

The righteous then begins to suffer the ordeal which leads to his shameful death; this ordeal appears to be the testing of the validity of the claims and accusations made by the righteous man:

Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death ... (2:17-20)

The word “condemn” (katadikazein) in the last line has a legal connotation; it suggests that the enemies of the innocent man have in mind a formal legal condemnation through a formal trial leading to the death sentence.

Although he experiences physical death (2:20-3:6), apparently as proof of the truth of his foes’ opinion that he is a fraud, the righteous man nevertheless is rescued and exalted by God in the supramundane sphere (5:1, 2b).

In scene two, it is the theme of the divine rescue and vindication of the righteous man which becomes the focus. Also, the enemies of the righteous man are portrayed as “shaken with dreadful fear” (5:2), “speaking to one another in repentance” and in “groaning” (5:3) when they encounter the righteous man now exalted in the heavenly court and “standing with great confidence in the presence of those who have oppressed” him (5:1a,b). In a reversal of the persecutors’ expectation, the righteous man is now “saved” (5:2b) and even acclaimed by his persecutors as “numbered among the children of God” and “among the saints” (5:5). Those who acted as persecutors in the mundane sphere now, in the heavenly court and in the presence of the vindicated righteous man, must admit their wrongdoing and face judgment and punishment: “They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up, and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face” (4:20; 5:9-14). Clearly, scene two is the reversal of scene one.

The “Wisdom Tale” Genre and Mark’s Passion Narrative

Nickelsburg’s subsequent study of the theme of the wisdom tale genre has demonstrated that the structure and formal components of the passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark systematically parallel those of the wisdom tale, as outlined above. The following components common to this genre are found in the Markan passion narrative:[13]

Provocation (Mark 11:15-17; 14:3-9);
Conspiracy (11:18; 12:12, 13; 14:1-2, 10-11);
Trial and Accusation (14:53-64; 15:1-15);
Reaction (14:63; 15:5; cf. 2 Maccabees 7:12);
Assistance (15:9-14; cf. Daniel 6:14; Genesis 37:22, 26);
Condemnation (14:64; 15:15);
Investiture, Acclamation (15:16-20, 26, 39; cf. Wisdom 5:5);
Ordeal (15:29-30 [14:57-59]; 15:31-32; 15:36);
Prayer: Jesus’ “cry of dereliction” (15:34; cf. Psalm 22:1 and Susanna’s “cry with a loud voice” in Susanna 42-43);
Death (15:37);
Vindication: the curtain of the temple torn in two, from top to bottom, vindicating Jesus’ words against the Temple (15:38; also 14:28; 16:7);
Exaltation: Jesus will be seen as both the risen Lord and the exalted Son of Man at the Parousia or in Galilee (Mark 14:62; and 14:28 par. 16:7. By contrast, in Wisdom 5:1-2 the vindication of the righteous one takes place only in the heavenly court).

These parallels in structure, components and sequence between Mark’s passion narrative and the genre of the wisdom tale have caused Nickelsburg to conclude that Mark is indebted to the wisdom tale, and that Mark’s deviations from the genre and the peculiarities of his use of it may indicate, on the one hand, his own distinctive purpose in the passion narrative, and, on the other hand, new insights into the question of Mark’s redaction of a pre-Markan passion narrative.[14]

For Crossan, however, the genre of the wisdom tale makes better sense if it is compared with the Cross Gospel rather than to the Markan gospel.[15] Crossan notes that, as with the suffering innocent in the wisdom tale, Jesus in the Cross Gospel is vindicated in the sight of his enemies, with the result that they are forced to concede the truth before a neutral authority. Crossan also notes that Pilate confesses in Gospel of Peter 11:46, as, for example, Darius does in Daniel 6:26-27. Against Crossan, however, it can be pointed out that the vindication of the suffering righteous in the wisdom tale takes place in the supramundane court (as, for example, in Wisdom 5:1-5), whereas the vindication of Jesus in the gospels occurs by divine intervention in earthly life.

Adela Yarbro Collins has rightly remarked both that Nickelsburg’s analysis tends to be abstract so that major differences between the stories are neglected and that, because of his concentration on the plot of the wisdom tale, he pays little attention to other significant features of this genre.[16] For instance, Collins notes that Nickelsburg applies the narrative component “Rescue” both to stories in which the righteous person is rescued from death here and now and to stories in which the vindication takes place after death.[17] Collins puts forth two other objections to Nickelsburg’s analysis. Firstly, the gospel passion narrative is not the same kind of text as passages such as Wisdom 2 and 5; the latter must be classed as a protreptic or exhortatory discourse, or as diatribe, a type of popular moral speech.[18] Secondly, although the wisdom tale has a narrative form as does the passion narrative, nevertheless, the most important element in the latter, namely a full account of the death of the righteous sufferer, is not a feature of the wisdom tale. (There are only four verses in Wisdom, viz. Wisdom 2:17-20, which have a relationship with the death of the innocent sufferer.) Collins should be judged correct in stating that the wisdom tale genre lacks a “death narrative” because of the predominantly protreptic quality. Therefore, it is inadequate to classify the gospel passion narratives in the genre of the wisdom tale; in determining the correct classification, alternative literary models are needed. Relying heavily on Dormeyer’s Die Passion Jesu als Verhaltensmodell,[19] Collins suggests that Greek and Roman stories of the noble deaths of famous men and Hellenistic martyrs provide the more precise generic matrix for the gospel passion narratives.


[1] Nickelsburg, Jr., Resurrection. Nickelsburg employs the term “intertestamental” to refer to the period between 200 BCE and 100 CE in which a large number of non-Christian, Jewish writings were produced (p. 9 n.1).

[2] The complete Ahikar Story survives in four versions: Syriac A, Syriac B, Arabic and Armenian. The first and only authority for the original text of the story of Ahikar is the fragmentary Aramaic papyrus, discovered at Elephantine by Dr. Rubensohn in the excavation of 1906-1908. The MS is unfortunately imperfect, was written somewhere between 420- 400 BCE or between 550-450 BCE. For an English translation of the four versions, see J. Rendel Harris, Agnes Smith Lewis, and F. C. Conybeare, “The Story of Ahikar” in R. H. Charles (ed.), The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English (with introduction and critical and explanatory notes) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 19131, 1978) 2.715-784.

[3] James H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983-1985) 2.479.

[4] See Harris et al., “The Story of Ahikar”, 776.

[5] Who Killed Jesus?, 74f., 192-95; Historical Jesus, 383-85.

[6] Who Killed Jesus?, 74f., 192-95; cf. Historical Jesus, 384.

[7] David Winston, The Wisdom of Solomon. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 43; Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 19812 [19791]) 20-25. See especially Winston’s commentary on Wisdom 6:1,3; 14:16,17,20; 17:16; 19:13-17; and on Wisdom 3:18; 5:16-23. Winston faults Nickelsburg who dates the Wisdom of Solomon to the first century BCE, and the latter also notes that the tradition preserved in it antedated the book, therefore a date in the second century BCE can be assigned to it (Nickelsburg, Resurrection, 70, 78). Samuel Holmes set its terminus a quo between 70-50 BCE, and terminus ad quem between 5 BCE–5 CE (see R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, 520f.).

[8] Hans Hübner, Die Weisheit Salomons. Liber Sapientiae Salomonis (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999) 17-19.

[9] Winston, Wisdom, 21.

[10] Winston, Wisdom, 23.

[11] Winston, Wisdom, 24 n.35.

[12] Nickelsburg, Resurrection , 59 n.34.

[13] Nickelsburg, “The Genre and Function of the Markan Passion Narrative,” 153-84; cf. Table One (Generic Components: Stories of Persecution and Vindication) in this article (pp. 158f), and Table II (The Wisdom Tale) in Resurrection, 56f.

[14] For a summary of studies (until 1976) on a pre-Markan passion narrative, see John R. Donahue’s introduction of The Passion in Mark: Studies on Mark 14-16 (ed. Werner H. Kelber; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976) 8-16 [1-20]. However, Raymond E. Brown recently cautions that attempts at determining the contents of a pre-Markan passion narrative are “self-defeating” because of the sharp differences they have produced to the effect that “no theory will ever get wide or enduring acceptance.” (Brown, Death of Messiah, 1.23; see also 2.1492-1524 in which we find (as the Appendix IX) the article of Prof. Marion L. Soards (first published in Biblebhashyam 11 [1985] 144-69), “The Question of a PreMarcan Passion Narrative.” Soards’ article has been reviewed by F. Neirynck in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 70 (1994) 407ff. Brown’s point “is not so consoling” for Crossan who is proposing a pre-Petrine source, the Cross Gospel, in the Gospel of Peter. Crossan complains and simultaneously utters his hope, “What chance does an extracanonical source have if an intracanonical one has never achieved a glimmer of consensus? Maybe, however, the Cross Gospel is the very pre-Markan source.” (Crossan, Birth of Christianity, 505).

[15] Birth of Christianity, 505.

[16] Adela Yarbro Collins, “The Genre”, 4-5 [3-28].

[17]Against Lothar Ruppert who states, “Wie die endzeitliche Verherrlichung des bzw. bedrängten Gerechten gedacht wurde [vgl. Weish 5,1-7], ob als Auferstehung oder Entrückung, ist für das Motive nicht konstitutiv, und daher belanglos.” (Der leidende Gerechte, 191).

[18] Collins, “The Genre”, 23 n.14. On diatribe, see further Stanley K. Stowers, The Diatribe and Paul’s Letter to the Romans (SBL Dissertation Series 57; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981) esp. 48, 75-78. See also David E. Aune, The New Testament and Its Literary Environment (ed. Wayne A. Meeks; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1987) 200-202, 208, 219-220; idem, “The Diatribe” in David E. Aune (ed.), Greco-Roman Literature, 71-83.

[19] Detlev Dormeyer, Die Passion Jesu als Verhaltensmodell: Literarische und theologische Analyse der Traditions-und Redaktionsgeschichte der Markuspassion (Neutestamenliche Abhandlungen Neue Folge 11; Münster: Aschendorff, 1974).