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Jesus Taught Virtue Not Religion


Love Supersedes Law

Jesus taught the spirit of the Law of Moses rather than a rigid prescriptive interpretation. His message of repentance and virtuous behaviour combined with his own behaviour irritated the Pharisees and Temple Priests so much that they wanted him silenced. In this regard Jesus can be compared with Socrates the Athenian philosopher who saw himself as a 'gadfly' sent by the gods to irritate people and make them think about their lives.

Both Socrates and Jesus the Nazarene appear to have been physically harmless, but in both cases the philosophical message they conveyed irritated the community leaders at that time and was the cause of their demise. Both men were executed. Jesus was brutally scourged and crucified by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem and Socrates was executed by hemplock poison in Athens.

Jesus Parables

At times when Jesus was indignant about the commercialization of religion he presented his message forcefully and directly to the Jews he wanted to rebuke, but when he was teaching people in public he showed compassion and often used short-story parables as a way of communicating his beliefs to people.

Using parables as a way of communicating philosophical ideas to unlearned listeners was similar to the method used by Aesop the Greek slave. Aesop's Fables were short allegorical stories that used animals as the main characters and although some fables were amusing and could easily be remembered because of the humour they almost all contained a deeper meaning.

Although fables and parables held the listener's interest at the story level the encapsulated philosophical message sometimes required clarification from the teacher to be fully understood. The Sower Parable told by Jesus the Nazarene is an example.

Note: The Sower Parable cited above has 3 columns. The Greek and Latin are source texts. The English translation is the middle column.