The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses Part 2 -- By: Perry Wayland Sinks

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 091:362 (Apr 1934)
Article: The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses Part 2
Author: Perry Wayland Sinks

The Laws of Plato Compared with the Laws of Moses
Part 2

Perry Wayland Sinks

(Continued from January number)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 3–10, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–8 respectively.}


Among the contrasted features may be mentioned:

(1) The distinct source and manner of their emanation. The laws of Moses are represented as having been received from the hand of God Himself, while those of Plato have not the sanction nor the claim of a divine origin.

(2) The size of the state, and the number of the citizens of Plato consisting as it did ideally, of five thousand and forty, was a marked contrast of the universal dominion and the innumerable citizenship which was the hope and the boast of the Hebrews.

(3) The domestic economy under Plato, growing out of the limited size of the state, and the difficulty of maintaining its five thousand and forty citizens, is the darkest criticism of Plato’s system and the extreme point of contrast. In contrast to the rigor with which the institution of marriage was guarded by Moses and the interest manifested in their progeny by the Hebrews, Plato unquestionably advocated a community of wives, the exposure of the less favorable children, and the relegation of the training of the surviving children entirely to the state.1

(4) The government under Plato was a democracy, while under Moses it was a theocracy, God being the arch ruler of his people.

(5) As to the religions of each, with Moses there is no hesitancy in ascribing to him, the position of representing monotheism, in a polytheistic age and surroundings. With Plato, however, there is a divided opinion as to his conception of a supreme being. J. F. Clark,2 referring to Ackermann, Cudworth and Taylor Lewis, makes no hesitancy in claiming for Plato, a pure and exalted theism (pp. 294, 295). Others as Schwegler incline to a less positive conception of Plato’s religious convictions, arguing more from the general nature of his writings, than from any specific declaration, and concludes, by saying “The logical result of his (Plato’s) system would exclude the personality of God” (p. 111), whose conclusion I am inclined to favor, and thus make another contrast between Plato and Moses.


How shall we account for this remarkable identity? Three views present themselves:

(1) That a revelation was made to Plato, which if made, it would be natural to presuppose would be i...

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