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English Bible Dictionary

Stoics

 

The Stoics and Epicureans, who are mentioned together in (Acts 17:18) represent the two opposite schools of practical philosophy which survived the fall of higher speculation in Greece. The Stoic school was founded by Zeno of Citium (cir. B.C. 280) and derived its name from the painted "portico" (stoa) at Athens in which he taught. Zeno was followed by Cleanthes (cir. B.C. 260); Cleanthes by Chrysippus (cir. B.C. 240) who was regarded as the founder of the Stoic system. "They regarded God and the world as power and its manifestation matter being a passive ground in which dwells the divine energy. Their ethics were a protest against moral indifference, and to live in harmony with nature, conformably with reason and the demands of universal good, and in the utmost indifference to pleasure, pain and all external good or evil, was their fundamental maxim."--American Cyclopaedia, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The ethical system of the Stoics has been commonly supposed to have a close connection with Christian morality; but the morality of stoicism is essentially based on pride, that of Christianity on humility; the one upholds individual independence, the other absolute faith in another; the one looks for consolation in the issue of fate, the other in Providence; the one is limited by Periods of cosmical ruin, the other is consummated in a personal resurrection. (Acts 17:18) But in spite of the fundamental error of stoicism, which lies in a supreme egotism, the teaching of this school gave a wide currency to the noble doctrines of the fatherhood of God, the common bonds of mankind, the sovereignty of the soul. Among their most prominent representatives were Zeno and Antipater of Tarsus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

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