The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses Part 1 -- By: Perry Wayland Sinks

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 091:361 (Jan 1934)
Article: The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses Part 1
Author: Perry Wayland Sinks

The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses
Part 1

Perry Wayland Sinks

For nearly twenty centuries the rival codes of Plato and Moses have claimed the attention of the wisest and best men of the world. The personal history of these two great men have claims only for a hasty remark in the theme to the discussion of which we are committed.

Plato was of a noble family and was born at Athens in 429 B.C., the year of the death of Pericles and the second year of the Peloponesian war, so fatal to Athens. Beginning life in the centre of Greecian culture and industry and of an old and noble lineage, he had the advantage of an education befitting his station and age, although no information in regard to this has been transmitted to us, except the names of teachers, and what is disclosed in the character of his works.

Moses, as is well known, was born in Egypt, the country whence Greece derived her civilization. Also of good family, he lived about eleven hundred and fifty years prior to Plato. He also had opportunities for the broadest accomplishments of his age, and of whose life, character and work we must learn almost exclusively from the Old Testament Scriptures.

There are striking resemblances both between the writings of Plato and Moses, and between those of Plato and Christianity, the latter being the subject of special remark by the early Fathers of the Church. And indeed there has long been a disposition to apply to Plato what our Lord said to the Pharisee, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of heaven.” In the examination of this topic, we shall,

(I) Sketch briefly an outline of the character and scope of the Platonic “Laws,” and note also the characteristic features of the Mosaic economy. Then,

(II) Examine the specific analogous features to be found in both these systems; then,

(III) Note the specific contrasted features between the two systems; and lastly,

(IV) Endeavor to account for the results of our investigation.


The plan of The Laws is a rather desultory discussion by three old men, representatives of Athens, Crete and Sparta, of whom the Athenian guest is the chief speaker, the Cretan, who is one of the leaders of a new colony, holding the second place; for at least four-fifths of the answers are put into his mouth. In style it is that of a master discoursing to his pupils. The Laws comprise twelve books, of which the first four are described by Plato as a preface or preamble. At this point I would avail of the exhaustive summary of The Laws of Plato, as given by Prof. Jowett, Master of Balliol, Royal Professor of Greek...

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