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Cynicism is a school of Greek philosophy. It taught that

the purpose of life was to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which was natural for humans, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions. (Wikipedia)

Some scholars have suggested that Jesus shows signs of being influenced by Cynicism, such as Burton L. Mack and John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar. They say that Jesus was more heavily influenced by Greek ideas than Jewish prophetic traditions. What evidence is there that Jesus was influenced by Cynicism and taught in accordance with it?

Some scholars have also stated that Q, the hypothesised shared source of Matthew and Luke, has strong similarities with Cynicism. What in Q has been identified as Cynic teaching?

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Do you mean Cynic defined as "a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons." or a faction of religion in the past? You mention "a Cynic sage from an Hellenistic Jewish tradition" I just want to make sure that I Understand the perspective that this question is being asked from. Also if "a faction" can a link be added to a source for doctrinal comparison? –  Only he is good. May 17 at 23:54
    
I think Jesus was an optimist and Paul was a cynic. :) –  david brainerd May 18 at 4:44
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Please! The question is clear and it is a good question. Possibly it would be even better to ask if Jesus was indirectly influenced by the Cynics if He was not a Cynic Himself. (A fraction of the Pharisees were Cynics or heavily influenced by them.) What's with the down-votes? If you don't know what is going on, stay away. –  gideon marx May 18 at 9:46
    
@davidbrainerd. :) –  gideon marx May 18 at 9:47

4 Answers 4

Your definition of cynicism includes " rejecting all conventional desires for A. wealth, B. power, C. sex, and D. fame."

A. Regarding wealth- His Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills- Proverbs and He miraculously fished a coin out of a fish's mouth. www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+17%3A24-27&version=CEV Any possible possession he could need was available to him. But as far as I can tell, he lived with little money, IMHO i. to relate more closely to the poor. ii. gave most of his money away iii. demonstration of His dependence on Father and Holy Spirit

B. Power- Similar to money he had all power one could possibly want, but chose to be a servant as demonstration of His love to us. The name he most frequently used for himself was "Son of Man". https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NASB&quicksearch=+%22son+of+man%22&startnumber=26&begin=47&end=50 This giving up of power culminated in the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. After the cross, He is now seated on His throne & now has all the power in His own right.

C. Sex Although He, Himself lived an entirely celibate life, he made clear sex is a good thing in marriage "and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh." https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2010&version=NASB The term one flesh has several meanings one of which is making love.

D. Fame There are times when he certainly avoided the spotlight. He was confident & secure enough in His own identity to not seek it. However, considering 2,000 years later, many or most people on the earth since then have heard His name, I would certainly say He is extremely famous.

One other point- Can you clarify your definition of natural? I'm going to take m "living in a way which was natural for humans..." For humans, rebellion, pride & selfishness are natural. The goal is not self sufficiency, but dependency on Father. He had none of these. We don't teach those characteristics to children, but they exhibit them. 1 Corinthians 2:14 on the same site as above.

To summarize, Christ lived not seeking these but was confident His Father would provide them when the appropriate time came.

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Cynicism has traditionally been attributed to Antisthenes, a student of Socrates. I'm not very familiar with Antisthenes, but the main current of Socrates' thought was extreme skepticism about all knowledge; the oracle said that there was no one wiser than Socrates, which Socrates, after some initial confusion, took to mean that he was wiser simply because the others didn't realize that they lacked wisdom, whereas he knew that he lacked it. One of the things he got in trouble for was saying that he didn't know whether or not traditional Greek myths such as the ones in Homer were true. This overwhelmingly negative philosophy doesn't seem very consistent with Jesus' conviction that he knew all the answers and that the ultimate truth he revealed was accessible to ordinary people.

Socrates and Antisthenes also considered virtue to be either its own reward or to be justified because it would automatically lead to happiness (defined as pleasure, the satisfaction of desires, and the fulfilment of one's nature). I assume Jesus would have seen virtue as being either rewarded by God's favor after the end of the world, or as being a side issue that would be neither necessary nor sufficient for God's favor.

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Jesus did not engage in expositions of the Law, as the rabbis would. His simple, direct answers plus scorning the pleasures of this world suggest Cynic influence. But emphasis on the dawning of the reign of God is certainly outside the Cynic sphere.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Why is "emphasis on the dawning of the reign of God is certainly outside the Cynic sphere?" Can you explain that further, please. You can edit that into your original post. –  fredsbend Jul 1 at 21:30

There's no evidence in the scriptures to suggest why Jesus, being a devout student of the law as well as the Creator of the Universe (see below or Collossians 1:13-20 ) would for any reason follow a philosophy created by sinful man. Who, being sinful, at their best are still above all self-centered probably a lot like the pharisees of Christ's day. The 6th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew details several examples of how Jesus called the people who lived seemingly righteous and selfless lives were doing so to be esteemed by society.

"13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Collossians 1:13-20

Now as so far as "Q" is concerned I have nothing for you. I don't put a lot of thought into claims like that as they are mostly human claims to discredit the Word of God. Hope this helped some. God bless.

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Why do you think the idea of Q discredits the Bible? It's a very good theory, and if anything confirms what Luke wrote when he said he did a lot of research to write his gospel. –  curiousdannii May 19 at 21:00
    
I don't specifically thing the idea of Q discredits the bible. But rather man claiming the Writers of the Scriptures were not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Like I said in my answer I don't know anything about the Q idea and I simply don't put a lot of thought into those things. I do however appreciate the comment as my answer might have been misleading to a degree. So thanks! –  Tyler May 19 at 21:12

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