Plato (429 - 347 bc)  Socrates (470-399bc)



Draw a small map with greece. Athens is the capital.  Sparta is the other big polis.


First of all, There is a matter of geography and timeline. 

Copy the map on page 114. 2500 - 1100bc is the Minoan. Draw the following timeline:

Its real inception from 1100bc to 800 bc”dark ages” then in 800bc Homer.

 Its intellectual explosion happened from 480 to 399 bc.  334bc Alex Starts323bc Alexandar dies


These are the white guys in Togas. 

The Minoan civilization was Goddess Based.  Most early agriculture is female based.  Its later that men take them all over.  This blends with an invasion of barbarians (who decide to stay) to form the Greece we know.  It is often that  This is the blend. that starts the glorious greece.


Our Debt

We get sooooo much from them.  The roots of the modern world are in Greece.

It is scary to think of what the history of the world would be like if they never bloomed.

Above all, we get an idea of perfection from Greece.  what is beautiful, right and good.  To appreciate Greece, you must realize that before them all states were Theocracies. 

Remember the triangle.  There was always a King-God that ruled.  People did what they did because a revealed law.  This is the start of people thinking for themselves.



One thing we get from them is democracy: rule of the people.

The name of the little states that they lived in were call polis.  And our traditions come out of athens.



Another, thing we get from them is theatre.  They actually took the rain dance and broke it open.  Theater is man looking at man in situations.  The amazing thing was that it gave man a chance to look at man from a distance.



This is the  first group in which man steps outside of his local scene and asks  “ what is man”?  And in doing so the greeks invent the individual.


intellectual disciplines

The intellectual disciplines they invented were philosophy , political science and history.



 In sports the greeks invented “the olympics”.



Their science wasn’t the greatest, but it was informed by a look for eternal truths of perfection.

medicine in which doctors still take the hippocratic oath. 

Or math which is indebted to pythagoras.


Language and culture

Pan, echo, narcissus, xena, herculese (roman for heracles), venus, mars

Nymph Echo was a chatterer. 

Hera came looking for Zeus, who was always with the nymphs.  She ran into echo who wouldn’t shut up.

Hera’s punishment was that echo couldn’t form her own words.

Echo trailed Narcissus hoping to get an endearing word.  To repeat.

Narcissus Smiled,  blew kisses, said “I love you” “you’re so handsome”

Narcissus was lead down to Hades.  Where he the narcissus flower sprang.  She stood and looked at it until she faded away .  Only her voice remains.



A life of excellence and reason for a man.

Not crappy lives but thinking about the best statues the best art.


PO = Provocative operation


That is we take a thing and discover what we assume about it. 

For example:  Take a classroom.  What do we assume about it?


            A PO classroom  has no………..




There are 35 dialogues.  I love socrates.

Socrates writes nothing.  Most big mystical thinkers don’t. (soc, muhammed, buddha, jesus)

Next to the bible they are the biggest books in Western Civ.

 “Stephanus numbers” confirm that.

Someone said “All Western philosophy is a footnote on Plato”

I’ve arranged this course thematically.  We just did meaning of life.  But Plato gets his own.  He is that important.

Plato is a school teacher.  But he wants to be the greatest literary person of Greece, to be the political redeemer, to reinvent their myths for them, to give them a new philosophy. To change their world.  In another it would be meglomania.  But he appoaches it well.

He founds the first “university”  the academy.

He stays open for 1000 years.


Real socrates

Poor guy.  Never charged.  Hung around the Agora.  Poor dresser, was usually barefoot.



Socrates never left Athens.

Socrates was a fairly ugly man.  I have seen a bust of him. 


He was the son of a sculptor and early on decided that his life would be about philosophy.    He would

Spend his days hanging out in the market place talking with people.  

Content to be poor he wore one simple shabby robe all year and went barefoot; once, looking about in the marketplace, he exclaimed, “How many things there are that I do not want!”


Socrates and plato meet when plato is on his way to the tragedy competitions.

They talk, and Plato doesn’t enter.  He throws his stuff away and becomes socrates student  for 20 years.


It is hard to tell when Socrates leaves off and plato starts. 

Platos works are divided into three periods. 


The Apology

The Peloponnesian War (431-417bc) v. Sparta was chronicled by Thucydides. 

Socrates hangs out with some people, alcibiades, who try to go against the democracy Athens.

He isn’t a big fan of democracy.  He isn’t a revolutionary.

Give the line of questioning that asks if you needed someone to fix your shoes...

 He questions it.  He questions everything.

He questions the gods.  Is it dangerous to do so?

Why question?  When is it good not to question?  

Are there things too sacred to question?  The rabble of Athens thought so.  Socrates thought knowledge is good.  it is the ultimate good.  He was for a searing inquisition into all knowledge.  He thought this was the way to the light.

Socrates is eventually killed.  He dies for our right to think.


Are some questions dangerous?

Plato’s reaction

Plato is furious at Athens.  The people killing Socrates showed that they weren’t good. 

The reason they weren’t good was because  they were ignorant.

the main reason was homer.

Plato thought these myths corrupting and from an old warrior world that was out of date.


Socrates the myth

Homer’s myths

Just like so much of our culture is, or was, based on the bible, Greece’s world was based on Homer’s two books.

Plato was trying to create a myth to replace Achilles and Odysseus.

Explain the Illiad and Odyssey


The earliest record we have of greece is that of which Homer gives us.

His two poems, the Illiad and the Oddysey, are the basis of their understanding of their gods and of what it is to be right.

Homer may have been real.  He was at any rate a blind man.  Blind bards are a big part of barbarian culture.

The Illiad is the the earliest story in the Western world. 


The story -

In this story (including other accounts), Paris must decide which is the most beautiful female in the world.  He must choose between aphrodite, hera and athena.  Hera offered power over all of Asia, Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world, Athena wisdom.  

He chooses aphrodite who bequeaths him Helen.  Problem is that helen is already married to a the Spartan Menaleaus.

Then paris takes her and drags her back to troy.  This is why there is a war.

Illiad starts here-

Achilles is the main warrior.  Their leader is a guy named agammemnon. 

Agamemnon steals a girl from one of the gods temples.  This pisses off apollo who makes all the greek soldiers get ill.  achilles tells agammemnon you must give back the girl.  Finally he says okay, but in return I will take your girl.  And you are duty bound to do what you’re ordered to do.  Achilles does, but says that if his honor can be taken away so easily, what is the use fighting?  Why fight for honor if it can be lost?


These are days of barbarian fighting.  All you hate was your cleos (your reputation after you were dead/ without writing this was all that could outlive you)  and time (reputation amongst your men). 


He says he’d fight again only if the greek ships are on fire.   He is also told here that if he kills Hectory, the other armies main dude, he’ll die soon thereafter.

So he says why bother.

Finally, feeling pity for the greeks he sends his friend petroclus into battle.  Petroclus does we’ll but goes beyond where he can fight comfortably and dies.

Achilles is so incenced he goes on a killing spree.

Knowing he will die young for it he goes on a major killing spree.  He kills without recourse.  He will die and we all will die so why not kill your fill and let the blood spill.  He also stops eating and sleeping.  All things of this world he hates.

When he finally kills hector, he drags his body around the ground and will not bury it.


He is so angry at the world.

Finally, the gods sneak hector’s dad, Priam into the camp to beg for the return of hectors body for a lot of money.  Here they cry together on how life is short and people die.  And they part readjusted to the world situation.   

And this is a constant theme of greek thought.  You must think of man within his limits.  He is not a god , but not an animal.  He lives within his state, but is an individual.  He lives a  long time, but not too long.


After this (from another book) we learn of how the trojan horse goes into troy and they beat them.

Homer’s second book is the odyssey.  It is the story of odysseus, and his ten year trip home from the battle.  We havent’ time for this story.  But he meets the cyclops here and lotus eaters and sirens that sing things he should’t ought to hear.  And he comes home and tests his wife’s merit.


Socrates is plato’s myth.  He is a new Greek hero.  Not a hero of action. But a hero of thought.

Socrates compares himself to Achilles in the Apology several times.  He is also always wandering, like odysseus.  But his journey is inner.

Questioners and questions

Good dialectics

Socrates teaches by questions.  Asking questions is called the Socratic Method.

Socrates thought that you knew right from wrong and had to be led to t hat conclusion.


The word interlocutor [inter:  between, loquor, to speak {elocution}

Dialectics are the best.  They are a way of hammering out the truth together.  Explain dialectics.

Socrates is a lover of wisdom.  A true philosopher.  They demand work.


Socrates said “Let each one of us seek and follow one thing only, to learn and discern between good and evil. 


Plato’s works are literary works. There are all kinds of characters.  There is Thrasymachus.  He’s super nasty and agressive.  There is Meno.  He doesn’t care and isn’t too bright.


 Ultimately most people in the dialogues also represent types of people as symbols. 

Socrates spends his time talking with them trying to educate the polis.


The interlocutors aren’t even.  Socrates is almost always the smartest, but even he loses in Parmenides.


Lazy dialectic

Sometimes people in the dialogue say “I don’t care”.  They don’t care about virtue?


“An unexamined life is not worth living”  People who don’t care about right and wrong are sinning. 

When things aren’t going well he goes into a speech. Dialectic has broken down.

Or sometimes he makes up a story sarcastically.


In the apology, he does a long speech.  This is a bad sign.  He dispenses with Menalaus.  It shows that menaleaus has accused someone of a capital crime, and he hasn’t thought on the topic.


The worst type of interlocutor is the one who is lazy. 


Sophists dialectic

The second worst is the sophist.  We’ll discuss them later.

They just want to win!  But at least they talk.


The pursuit of truth requires hard work.  You must be  a lover of wisdom.



 it allows the soul, as Plato says, to feed in the meadows of truth.  It uses his method of division in order to distinguish ideas, to define each object, to separate the supreme kinds of being.  It alternates between synthesis and analysis until it has gone through the entire domain of the intelligible and has arrived at the principle.  Stoppping there for it is only there that it can stop, no longer busying itself with a multitude of objects since it has arrived at unity, it contemplates. It finds ways of reasoning and tells which exist by necessity and avoid artifice.

Read the Republic

Amazing how old this is



What are friends?  What are the friends most important qualities? What is it about others we value? Emapthy?  Forgiveness?  Fun?  Is it possible to have friends unconditionally? 

Can there be a one sided friendship? Do you have expectations?  Must they be equal? 

If one friend does one huge life impacting favor do 100 smaller ones pay it back?

Are friends always useful to eachother?

Is a perfect one where they see eachother as another self? 

Can two evil people be friends? 

Is this different than 2 good people? 

Are evil folk good friends to eachother if the goal of friendship is to help eachother?

 Is a friend (as Nietschze says) educative?  How do you educate others? 

If you don’t hardly ever talk are you friends? 

Do friendships deepen with time?  Are friendships very different in groups or bunches? 

Can you be your own best friend? 

The dialogue forms are teachers individually and collectively

            about philosophy and dialectic (questioning and thinking)

What questions have you been asking lately?



Plato’s theory of knowledge

3rd - eternal ideas




At the bottom level of knowledge there is perception.  (changes all the time)

This is what your senses pick up. Its what you did today.  Its the story of your life.

This is what you see when you see a specific apple.  It is an apple, but it is not the permanent apple it is a changing thing that never will last. 

This is not an eternal truth.  It is a temporary thing.


WRITE 5 THINGS did today.


Example two a horse.  You see the horse, but you look at the horses but is that the horse?  Or its head.  You cannot look at all of it at once.


What you can see gives you limited knowledge. 


At the second level there is the OPINION about the percieved things.  (changes less)

So I may know all about things happening this week and which I know of.  There was a tv show this week or President Clinton... Or a political issue or Johnnie said that Jane said that....


This  is knowledge but not real stuff.  It cannot give us true knowlege because it is about things that are in a state of change.    It is higher than the bottom level though because it does recognize some stable characteristic and does provide some prediction. 


So johnnie looks like so and will look like so for so long.  Also johnnie is a turd and will behave like one.  There is some truth to that.


But johnnie is a changing thing.




At the third level there is the level of unchanging universal truths known by our intellects. These are call ETERNAL IDEALS

What can we say , not of Johnnie, but of all men everywhere?


A person may see an appleor a star.  But true knowledge says when to plant that kind of apple, what part of the apple propogates, what is the growing season of apples. 


A true intellect can tell you where that star will be based on math for a very long time.


Whereas the object of perception are concrete (one apple one star one person) the objects of intellect are abstract (positions of stars, parts of apples’ functions.)


Whereas the objects of perception are particular things (this or that apple) the objects of intellect are eternal.  You always want to plant in this season.


With Platos third level we reject the lives of those that look at the concrete, changing, particular objects of perception, to the rational understanding  of abstract, unchanging, universal concepts know by our intellect.


As one woman gets old and ugly the idea of beauty will stay.  The ideal of love will stay.

These are not, for plato, things that just depend on you or me.  They really exist before and after us.


To be a real idea, they must be unchanging and eternal.


His concern is for ETERNAL IDEALS.


Johnny (Perception),  Johnny is a good dude (opinion), What is the most excellent in people? (eternal truth)


If we come to the eternal truths, and they are good, then the philosopher teacher is really important.


Redo with the example of a movie.



plot was...



I thought the movie was pretty good.


Eternal truths.

Good movies are those that




there is my teacher.  Hey teacher!!!



That is a good teacher. That is a terrible teacher.


Eternal truth-

What makes a good teacher?  motivated?  I havbe seen motivated teachers that suck.  They must be excited by their topic. That doesn’t always work.  They must be able to communicate.  Why? 

The student must learn.  What does it mean to learn?  Learn v. understanding.  How are these different?

So the person must communicate their soul, not information, to another.




Also, you can never get at truths or ultimate ideas from senses.  Show me justice equality, justice, nonexistence, honor and dishonor,  beauty and ugliness.  It doesn’t exist in this room.  What does love look like?  Not through the senses.


2 + 2 = 4.  Just this instance?  Have you ever seen a four?  Or is it an idea that lives everywhere and nowhere?

You see it with your minds eye.  It is more real than This two plus that two.



All forms fold into “the good” or “beauty”

This world is not the realest of worlds.

The movie should ultimately lead to the good.

If you are christian, think of the truth shall set you free.  If you are christian , you agree with this.

Christian heaven is taken, largely , from the forms.


Think of their status like the laws of nature.  They are there and all conforms to them.

We they are not dependent upon oour knowledge.


What is more real, this dollar or the idea of a dollar.

It takes getting used to thinking like this.


Was Hitler right?  Proof for forms.


When I hit the desk that isn’t the real world.

When someone makes a chair you can see it.  That is perception.

When you say that is a good chair, that is opinion.

When you describe what a good chair is that is eternal truth

There is a form of chairs.  This is an being of comfort or chair ideals that proceed the chair.

The actual chair is just an approximation of the ideal.



The prisoners have seen nothing of themselves or of one another (they cannot turn their heads), their words refer only to the shadows on the wall.


When released, it the sun behind the objects that cast the shadows would be hard to see (because the eyes wouldn’t be adjusted).    What if someone told him what he’d previously been looking at was an illusion?  He wouldn’t acknowledge the puppets as being as real as what he formerly saw.   


You must turn.  The roman word for this is conversio.  we get the word converted from this.  You must undergo conversion.


The real math class goes from counting marbles, to adding them to numbers, to triangles to formulas about formulas.  When you get it, you go AHA!!  that’s how you kow.  You’ve seen reality.


And the sun itself would burn his eyes.  He’d, therefore, try to turn back to what he was accustomed to looking at.


But if forced, his eyes would adjust..  Ultimately he would conclude that it was the sun  that produces the seasons and the course of the year and controls everything in the visible world and all that his companions in the cave see.


He would be happy for himself and sad for those still in the cave.  Even though they would be getting prizes for having the keenest eye for the passing shadow.


If he went back in the cave, his eyes would be filled with darkness.  He might be required once more to deliver his opinion on those shadows. 

The others might say his sight was ruined and he was trying to bamboozle them and try to kill him!


The going out of the cave corresponds to the journey of the soul to the realm of the intelligible. The last thing perceived is the Goodness and it is the cause of all right and wrong.


Those who reach this height are reluctant to manage the affairs of men.  Their souls long to spend all their time in that upper world.  Nor is it strange that one who comes from the contemplation of the divine things to the miseries of the human life should appear awkward and ridiculous in the court of law to those who have never beheld Justice itself. 

We must ask if our eyes are getting lighter or darker.

The person who rules must see it as a duty.  They also must be virtuous.  Read the last paragraph of the cave.

The point is that only people who covet something other than power (virtue) can lead well.  Those who love money, who don’t know what is really valuable, covet power.  They cannot be entrusted with power.


Versus Sophists:

The sophists went from town to town teaching people to speak. 

Socrates never left Athens.

The sophist observed what was right in one city was wrong in another.

The sophists make speeches!  This means they aren’t listening.  They haven’t been crossexamined. They want to win.  Not get at truth. 

Is rape always wrong?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Is abortion wrong?

Sophists are like lawyers, hired guns, they argue what they like.

Almost the sophists agree on this.  If the gods (as sophists say) are going to be weakening, we need stronger gods.  The ideals that even gods must live up to.

The sophists just said that gods were playthings for getting might.

Athens is named after Athena.  Its like a country being named Jesus.  You don’t then lightly trample on devotion to the gods.


SC Is there truth?  Is it sometimes right to lie?



Are violent films right?


What is always good?


People only do evil because they are Ignorant.

All men seek to be good.  But many do evil.  This is because they mistake evil for  good.  Virtue , being good, comes from having knowledge.  We should spend our time showing what is good. Men do evil because they are IGNORANT OF WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL


function of ideals 

---- We can have knowledge.

We can say there is a man,  there is a house.  If there were not a universal ideal of such things, if it were entirely personal, than one person would see a toad when they say man. 


Or a rock when they say house.  But we know what these things are and all agree.


--- These allow us to JUDGE.

Two they give us an ability to evaluate and criticize all these objects.


 Is my action the best action?  Will it increase beauty in the world?


This is easiest to see with a tringle or a circle DRAW A CIRCLE IN YOUR NOTES.  Is it a perfect circle ?  how do you know if it is perfect or not?


three they give us ideals to live for


This affects us in that it gives us guidlines to live.  WE SHOULD STRIVE FOR IDEALS.  We must find high standards and shoot for them.

Once you have these ideals you should live towards them.


The ultimate we should seek is to find what he alternately calls the good, beauty or truth. 

This requires courage, piety, wisdom, moderation and justice.


Can virtue be taught?

Dialogue the MENO

First they ask what is virtue?

Meno says its the getting of “good things”  Like gold.

hat if they are gotten by evil means? 

Meno says he thinks not.  What if the gold corrupts you?

That’s not good.


Virtue comes through knowledge.  Not being saved.

Meno gets angry cause he wants Socrates to tell him what it is.  This is lazy.  The Sophists haven’t trained him well.


Meno gets angry and says that he knew more when he started.

Socrates says you thought you knew more.Now you know more.

Socrates says that if knowledge is remembered.   Here he teaches a slave boy geometry.

The slave boy just answers question and we see that he already knew it.

Then he says that if knowledge could be taught it’s be important. 

Do sucessful men teach their sons virtue?

Then it cannot be taught, it can be remembered.

virute is knowledge


What is justice?

He has his dialogue with thrasymachus here.

Then he says to know justice we must look at a state.

The perfect state has its many refinements, but they need a person to help the leaders keep it healthy.


3 Parts of Politics

At the bottom of the triangle are the


businessmen peasants  (the appetite)

The physical, the particular and mortal is illusion and error.  The conceptual, abstract and eternal is real and true.  Even at your own peril, do what is good. 


Soldiers  (the will) 


At the top

philosopher - kings (the rational)

The leader must be like a doctor. You don’t look at your patients as weak and to be taken advantage of.  They are to be cared for.


Like a hypocratic oath for the doctors they must take a political oath.


To be one is to be raised for this position from the outset.  They are taken away from their families and study literature, music, physical and military instrution, elementary and advanced mathematics, philosphy and metaphysics.  Then they will at 50 become pks. They will live communally.  They wil have nothing private and gain nothing ever.  They are not allowed to touch money.They will think and contemplate the good.  But every few years they must lead for a year.

Women can be philosopher kings!



The story of the ship!

The ship is run by a dumb, deaf, blind master (democracy).  The leader listens to every flatter and stinky little plan for their own benefit (that is the demagogues)  The navigator is not let to run things.



Art is the lowest on the totem pole!  It is mimesis.

Art should also be educative. 

Homer is out.  Entertainment must be watched carefully


The soul

The Phaedrus has the story of the chariot with two horses.

Show the three pyramids.  (politics, soul, level of knowledge)


Read the apology

He claims to have a certain wisdom which has gotten him in trouble.  He is wise in that he knows he knows nothing and upsets people by showing them that they don’t either.

This proves the oracle of the gods right.  He is the wisest.  And he has come to poverty trying to vindicate the Gods!

People should be angry at themselves for their own ignorance and pretense, not Soc. 

He interviews meletus.  You concern yourself with the corruption of youth then what improves them? “As citizens all improve youth except for Soc. But with all else the majority do harm and only one benefits (horse breaker for example).  It takes knowledge to benefit and lack of harms.  Wouldn’t socrates be the only one without knowledge though?  Wouldn’t he be in a special position to harm?


He gets Mel to say he accuses soc of believeing in strange gods and no gods. 

Finally Mel calls him an athiest.  Soc says he believes in divine things and so must believe in divinities.  And if divinites exist, so do their fathers (major gods).


But he believes (pg 23) that evidence being against Mels accusation he may be prosecuted anyhow. Due to the  prejudice and superstition of the multitude which has destroyed good men before him.


People might ask, aren’t you ashamed to live a life that’ll lead to your own destruction?  What would a man of any worth reckon the chances of life and death when he acts.  As achilles and Soc in battle, death shouldn’t be a consideration.  When he greets people he calls them citizens and asks whether they are ashamed to pursue money and fame when they don’t care about wisdom and truth or the improvement of your soul?  Then he questions them to see if they’ve thought about virtues.  Virtue doesn’t come from wealth, wealth comes from virtue ((and) every other good thing, public and private)).


He’s sure that a good man cannot be harmed by a worse one.  They would be worse without the gadfly (who works for virtue and not money and is, therefore ashamed).  He won’t bring forward his children or beg, in his defense) because he thinks it unbecoming to an athenian.  For reason is the benchmark of a good judge.

Socrates is condemned! 

What should be his punishment for not living a life of ease and wealth and family?  He thought he was too honest to live in politics, therefore, he (not retiring) taught individually.  He has sought to make them happy, while an athlete only seems to make them happy.  His reward should be a pension.  He doesn’t think himself guilty and wouldn’t harm himself intentionally and so can suggest no other punishment.  No better thing can happen to a man than to discuss virute everyday, and an unexamined life is not worth living (pg 30)    He was convicted because he would not pander.  It is harder to escape from wickedness that death.  Because death is slow and wickedness fast.

You have done this thing thinking you will be relieved from having to give an account of your life.  Socrates represents self-scrutiny and relaization to man. And this tendency cannot be totally squashed.  This neither possible or honorable.  He has constant dialogue with his conscience.  It stops him midsentence.  And he’s sure death isn’t bad or it would have told him not to go to court.  Either death is nothing (like a great nights sleep) or is what most think.  This would give him a chance to meet and question many great dead folk.  Either would be great.  Besides, no evil can come to a good man.  But harass your children in his honor.


CRITO (in prison)

We should put the highest value on living well and not living.  To live honorably and justly is to live well.  I


If he disobeys, the laws then he does injurty to athens.  For if people only obey laws they agree with, there is no state.  And, by not having left athens before, he tacitly agrees to the state he’s in. If he didn’t convince the state they’re wrong, he should obey.  Otherwise, his example really would corrupt the youth!




The soul is immortal.  Our souls mingle with forms.  Our bodies change.  Ideals don’t change.  Our souls are more like ideals than bodies.  There is duality.

The philosophers whole life is dragging away from the bodily things.

The soul is confused when it’s dragged down into the body and the changable, much alike a drunk. 

But in reflection, the soul sees purity, unchangableness, immortality and eternity.  This state is called wisdom. 

The soul rules the body.  It is, therefore , more like the divine (because it’s in control).  

Essences, like beauty, equality cannot be divided and therefore don’t change.

The body is dividable and therefore, decomposable.  Individual beautiful things that can be seen with senses change. 

All of them representing beauty and equality, doesn’t. There are 2 kinds of things. The seen and the unseen.  The seen changes, the unseen doesn’t.  And the body is seen and the mortal and the soul is unseen and , therefore, immortal.


 He has many opportunities to have sex with young beauties. 

He always declines.  He wants to see the beauty of their souls.

If you’re celibate, you are saving for the best. 

We seek beauty cause we love it.  We love it more than body.  Love of wisdom.


This is an obvious precursor to christianity.