re-orienting history ancient philosophy Moses Joseph Pythagoras Empedocles

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Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy

Published August 1, 2013 by amaic



Damien F. Mackey

“Mount Zion, true pole of the earth …”.

Psalm 48:2

“I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece”.

Zechariah 9:13

Tertullian: “… free Jerusalem from Athens and the church of Christ from the Academy of Plato.”

(Tertullian, De praescriptione, vii).


This last comment, by Tertullian, will become a kind of mantra for this article, though not properly according to the context of Tertullian, but according to the context of our AMAIC historical revisions.

For, as one will read as the description of our site,

Lost Cultural Foundations of Western Civilisation

“Much of Western culture, mythology and religion has been appropriated from the cultures of the Fertile Crescent region, especially from the Hebrews (Jews)”.

This is a companion to our site,

Lost Cultural Foundations of Eastern Civilisation

whose description is the same, but with reference to Eastern culture, etc.

Now this description, as it applies to the west, basically encapsulates the phenomenon that is the history of ancient philosophy, that has been presented to us as being entirely Greco-Roman (Ionian-Italian), but which I intend to argue was actually Hebrew (Israelite/Jewish) and biblical.

Certainly the Fathers of the Church appreciated at least the seminal impact that the Hebrews had had upon Greco-Roman thinking, though without their having taken the extra step that I intend to take in this article, of actually recognising the most famous early western (supposedly) philosophers as being originally Hebrew.

To give just a few examples from the Fathers and the early eastern and western legends:

“According to Clement [of Alexandria], Plato plagiarized revelation from the Hebrews; this gave the Athenian’s highest ideas a flavor of divine authority in the estimation of Clement”. (

“… Aristoxenus in his book the Life of Pythagoras, as well as Aristarchus and Theopompus say that [Pythagoras] came from Tyre, Neanthes from Syria or Tyre, so the majority agree that Pythagoras was of barbarian origin (Strom. I 62, 2-3).


Clement of Alexandria even believed that Sirach had influenced the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (Strom. 2.5; Bright 1999:1064).


Tertullian: “… free Jerusalem from Athens and the church of Christ from the Academy of Plato.” (De praescriptione, vii).

Eusebius of Caesarea believed that Plato had been enlightened by God and was in agreement with Moses. (

Aristobulus was among many philosophers of his day who argued that the essentials of Greek philosophy and metaphysics were derived from Jewish sources. Philosopher Numenius of Apamea echoes this position in his well known statement “What is Plato but Moses speaking Attic Greek?” (1.150.4) Aristobulus maintained, 150 years earlier than Philo, that not only the oldest Grecian poets, Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, etc., but also the most celebrated Greek thinkers, especially Plato, had acquired most of their wisdom from Jewish sages and ancient Hebrew texts (Gfrorer i. p. 308, also ii. 111-118) (Eusebius citing Aristobulus and Numenius Ev ix. 6, xi. 10).

The Arabic-Christian legends identify [the biblical] Baruch with the eastern sage, Zoroaster, and give much information concerning him.


Saint Ambrose (Ep. 34) “suggested that Plato was educated in Hebraic letters in Egypt by Jeremiah”.

Bahá’u’lláh states that the Greek philosopher Empedocles “was a contemporary” of King David, “while Pythagoras lived in the days of Solomon” (Cole, p. 31; Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 145).


Some of these situations (e.g. Sirach influencing Heraclitus – thought to be centuries before Sirach – and Plato meeting Jeremiah, who presumably lived about a century and a half before Plato) are chronologically impossible, of course, in the present context of ancient history. However, in my revised scheme of historical philosophy, they may not be.

Sirach is still yet, I believe, to be firmly dated.

In this article I am going to take four of the key early, supposedly “Ionian” Greek and Italian, philosophers of antiquity, Thales, Heraclitus and Pythagoras (Ionian), and Empedocles (Sicilian), all prior to Socrates (hence ‘pre-Socratics’), and reveal what I believe to be their biblical prototype – of whom I claim these four were merely ghostly replicas, chronologically, ethnically and geographically misplaced.


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