Jesus and the impaled, just man of book 2 of Plato's Republic

It has long been noted that Jesus believed he needed to suffer to fulfill God’s plan, such as demonstrated with the desperate Gethsemane prayer, or Jesus rebuking his followers for not thinking he had to suffer. This has sometimes been thought to be due to an exegetical coloring of the gospels with Isaiah 53, although there is disagreement on this issue.

Here is another avenue that might prove more fruitful as an explanation. In Book 2 of Plato’s Republic, Plato gives the example of the lowly impaled just man as a condition to determine whether one was truly just and whether this is preferable to being a happy unjust ruler. Sachs comments that:

If Socrates were to succeed in proving that justice by itself cannot but be good for the soul of its possessor, and injustice evil, he still would not be meeting Glaucon’s and Adeimantus’ challenge; for they ask him to show that justice is the greatest good of the soul, injustice its greatest evil. Further, showing this will not be sufficient unless Socrates thereby shows that the life of the man whose soul possesses justice is happier than the life of anyone whose soul is unjust. The latter is required of Socrates when Glaucon asks him to compare certain lives in terms of happiness. Glaucon envisages a just man’s life “bare of everything but justice. . . . Though doing no injustice he must have the repute of the greatest injustice . . . let him on to his course unchangeable even unto death . . . the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be [impaled].” On the other hand, the unjust man pictured by Glaucon enjoys a position of “rule in the city, a wife from any family he chooses, and the giving of his children in marriage to whomsoever he pleases, dealings and partnerships with whom he will, and in all these transactions advantage and profit for himself,” and so forth, including a not unreasonable expectation of divine favor. Socrates has to prove that a just man whose condition is that described by Glaucon will still lead a happier life than anyone who is unjust if he is to show that, in terms of happiness, which is the Platonic criterion for the choice among lives, one ought to choose the just life. Again, if Socrates is able to show that an unjust man who enjoys the existence depicted by Glaucon is more wretched than any just man, that will suffice for choosing to reject any unjust life. As Prichard remarked, "Plato certainly did not underrate his task. Indeed, in reading his statement of it, we wonder how he ever came to think that he could execute it.
So Plato proposes a sort of test for how to measure whether one is truly just, and whether such an individual would be “happier” in the technical Platonic sense.

Plato’s Republic was the most famous book in the ancient world, so it is not unreasonable to suppose some of its themes may have influenced Jesus and his followers, even if none of them ever read The Republic. Perhaps Jesus thought it was God’s plan for him to nobly suffer as a criminal in society’s eyes like Plato’s impaled just man, because this would demonstrate him to be truly just and thus worthy of being the Son of Man/judge of people in the new age following the apocalypse.

Hi John,

In just two topics back. America was built on God. I listed my views of the top thirteen common factors of successful civilizations and governments in the past. In Plato’s Republic he covered all thirteen of these common factors.

If you are following Jaspers Axial Age that China, India, Persia, Judea, and Greece all came up with these views independently. I am not agreeing with that line of thinking.

Isaiah’s viewpoints had been around at least three centuries before Plato. And the Axial Age is most likely correct in the flow of data and knowledge by the philosophers.

Plato’s work no doubt became part of the Sadducee religion of Hellenistic viewpoints. And Jesus was a Sadducee. Therefore, there is no way Jesus believed he needed to suffer to fulfill God’s plan.

I believe Jesus was not only a deist because of his Sadducee religion. But a great politician based upon new hypothesis data that is available today.

That said, there is no doubt that Matthew and Mark tied your line of thinking to Jesus. But that is not the Jesus that is written about outside of the bible.

Mike just said “new hypothesis data”. I’m not sure what “hypothesis data” is, but I’m starting a pool for how long it takes Mike to provide a citation.

Might is suggest that you visit a bookstore and browse the religious section. The bibles only make up a very small percentage of the data. Books relating to the bible still make up the biggest percentage of the books. The data outside of the bible keeps increasing. That is where you will find a lot of the new hypothesis. The best book out today in my opinion by far is The Lost Gospel. Other books would include:

The Secret Sayings of Jesus

The First Messiah

The lost Books of the Bible

The lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot

To name a few.


Still missing my point after all these years. To understand past history, you have to understand all phases of history. Just as John is pointing out Plato’s Republic. I pointed out the list of common factors. Number one on the list is protein. Got to keep the people fat and happy. What made Plato’s Republic possible was the Hyksos who brought the hybrid olive to the area and changed the whole makeup of the Mediterranean area. The point was that Jesus was working on forming a ruling form of government built on the Hellenistic foundation. John is working on the views used in the bible. Those views do not include everything that Jesus had to deal with, meaning all the items of the common factors. When you look at the whole picture, then no Jesus was not for killing himself. Christianity took two pathways, the Roman and Jesus. Right now, the big question is. Was Jesus’s religion of Knowledge bigger than the Christian religion going into the third century. I think a lot of the bible was built upon fighting Jesus’s religion using Jesus’s work and popularity in the early Christian Movement before the split. The plague was the deciding factor that got us into Christianity as Rome’s religion.

I know there will be a lot of disagreement here. And that is what makes a good debate. I am not here to teach. My viewpoints on the knowledge I have viewed as to what is logical is very debatable.


Still missing my point after all these years.


Still believing you have a point after all these years.


Have to get a cold beer and think about that!

  • I have friends with very different moral compasses from mine, who live a 'morally consistent' life, happily suffering for their morals (few are happier than a self-righteous, wealthy, first-world, 'religious martyr' [ugh!]).
  • I have different morals than lots of you and willingly suffer because of them.
  • The unjust man has morals that allow him to happily trample on the rights of others, only suffering when he doesn't get his own way.
Does Plato, or any other philosopher you're talking about, claim there is an ideal set of morals, and that any suffering due to morals that differ from the ideal, is not relevant to this discussion?

It just seems odd that any discussion can happen without stating whos morals are ‘right’, because we will all willingly suffer for our morals if our morals prevent us from doing something at any point.

3point14rat, I have not forgotten you. Just got real busy. Really good question and I want to answer it correctly. Mike


It was directed at John, but feel free to wade in.

If anyone is interested, I am fascinated with Plato’s Republic and have recently have been posting on my Blog about how themes in Plato’s Republic may have influenced stories about Jesus.

The two topics I covered in the blog posts are:

(A) Jesus and The Impaled, Just Man in Book 2 Of Plato’s Republic:

(i) The Death Of Socrates, Jesus, and the Impaled, Just Man:

(ii) Plato’s Suffering/executed Noble Man and Who Is Immoral In Mark’s Gospel?:

The great man with a novel message has to suffer. Not only here in the Republic but also in the section dealing with the Allegory of the Cave. The one who sees is going to be lonely, isolated, alienated and it is only because of the goodness of his soul that he reenters the Cave to try to enlighten those who do not yet see, and that will be miserable because he will be laughed at and ridiculed. Likely a great trope around which to build a portrait of Jesus.

(B) Jesus And The Noble Lie of Book 3 of Plato’s Republic:

(i) Fanciful speculation about alternative explanations of the resurrection appearance claims in the Pre Pauline Corinthian Creed and in Paul

  • I have been fascinated with the Greeks for over 20 years, and wrote my MA thesis on Greek Philosophy!

Imaginings built upon imaginings, all the way down.

Perhaps we can move on to other riveting topics,

such as Sherlock Holmes’ cocaine addiction and how much that impacted Sherlock’s breathtaking crime solving insights. ; - )

So you think there are no literary influences on the New Testament writers? Here, read this:

So, John’s link suggests “…a new perspective according to which we must view the gospels and Acts as analogous with the Book of Mormon, an inspiring pastiche of stories derived creatively from previous scriptures by a means of literary extrapolation.”

That seems to me to be a credible possibility.

John, my task is to gather any data relating to the Laws of God. Place the data into a timeline. Then compare the timelines. My interest in your work would be your views of the flow of knowledge. If the flow was going from India to the Mediterranean from 600 BC to 500 BC, then was required to flow back to India 400 to 300 BC. What was the reason? As the Mediterranean used coin money, the East preferred the cowry shell. Where and how was the central banking done. As all this has to do with the laws of god. If civilization started in the East and flowed to Europe. Then plagues wiped out the civilizations of the East. They would have needed the knowledge to flow back from the Mediterranean to the East.

Joseph of Arimathea who was a member of the Sanhedrin and Mary’s uncle is also on my radar right now.

Where I am having trouble agreeing with your pathway is that everything you are relying on is from the Pharisees viewpoint. Jesus was a politician and needed the people of all parties to accept him as the new leader when the time came. The leadership of both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were against Jesus. They most likely could not understand how Jesus thought he could get the leadership seat.

In the political arena Rome was tired of waiting for a Messiah to be declared and got proactive. So, the question becomes, was the position of a Roman-sponsored messiahship offered to Jesus? You had Herod Agrippa and Herod Antipas fighting for the seat that had to be given by Emperor Tiberius.

The number two guy in Rome was Sejanus. And Sejanus had been secretly killing off Tiberius heirs and setting himself up for Emperor. Therefore, everything Jesus did had to be in secret as far as his connections to Sejanus. The fact that Jesus was running for office made it very risky for Jesus to move around and there were parts of Israel Jesus could not travel to. Emperor Tiberius learned of Sejanus plans to assassinate him and had Sejanus put to death. It didn’t take long for the news to get to Israel and people like Pontius Pilate did not know what their fate was going to be and most likely took actions that would be seen as favorable to Emperor Tiberius.

When all the pieces of the puzzle are on the table. Which seems to be the most logical? I guess if you look at Jesus as a Pharisee then the religious pathway. If you look at it from a Sadducee viewpoint and then add the Gnostic writing. The political pathway looks the best to me and if Jesus was put to death, then he very well could have gotten some religious mileage out of it. But as a goal for Jesus, no I don’t think that was in his planning.

Your website work is very impressive and professional.


Well educated native Greek speakers like the New Testament writers certainly would have been familiar with Plato as part of their education.

Yes, I agree. It seems that on the religious side there became two pathways. The Pharisees, the northern thinking. And then the Hellenistic thinking which was in Rome and Alexandria (Egypt, including the Israel area). I don’t feel that Mark and Paul understood the Hellenistic thinking the way Jesus did. And Jesus didn’t need them to. He needed them to get the Pharisee backing. I agree that Paul and the rest worked from a Greek foundation. But the Pharisee message was stronger to them than the Hellenistic views.

Why twenty years to get the NT movement started? Is it possible that the problems were between the Gnostic Christianity and the Pharisee Christianity as to which one worked best with the Roman Empire? The Gnostic Christianity was the larger movement until the plague then the Pharisee Christianity took off. I can’t help but feel that some Roman Emperors wanted to setup a system like Egypt had used where the temples (religion) controlled the people and the pharaoh controlled the religions. And then other Roman Emperors would come along and say, this is not going to work for us and start tearing down the system.

I have no problem with Plato being the driving force and no doubt he was understood by both pathways. My views differ only on the reason Jesus was doing what he was doing. Was it religious or political? The data to me is saying political. The whole Hellenistic method was atheists (Deism) ruling the religious Jewish church and population. How political is that? The Hellenistic Empire was only taken over by Roman Empire by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the Hellenistic (Ptolemaic kingdom) of Egypt the next year.

What ever Jesus’s reasons were, as the NT was put together the reason for the impaling very well could have been because of Plato’s republic, it’s logical.