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The Superlative Jesus, Part 1

Summary:
Frequent commenter Keshav left this interesting remark on a previous post: Dan, what do you think about this quote by Robert Ingersoll? “Why should we place Christ at the top and summit of the human race? Was he kinder, more forgiving, more self-sacrificing than Buddha? Was he wiser, did he meet death with more perfect calmness, than Socrates? Was he more patient, more charitable, than Epictetus? Was he a greater philosopher, a deeper thinker, than Epicurus? In what respect was he the superior of Zoroaster? Was he gentler than Lao-tsze, more universal than Confucius? Were his ideas of human rights and duties superior to those of Zeno? Did he express grander truths than Cicero? Was his mind subtler than Spinoza’s? Was his brain equal to Kepler’s or Newton’s? Was

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Frequent commenter Keshav left this interesting remark on a previous post:

Dan, what do you think about this quote by Robert Ingersoll?

“Why should we place Christ at the top and summit of the human race? Was he kinder, more forgiving, more self-sacrificing than Buddha? Was he wiser, did he meet death with more perfect calmness, than Socrates? Was he more patient, more charitable, than Epictetus? Was he a greater philosopher, a deeper thinker, than Epicurus? In what respect was he the superior of Zoroaster? Was he gentler than Lao-tsze, more universal than Confucius? Were his ideas of human rights and duties superior to those of Zeno? Did he express grander truths than Cicero? Was his mind subtler than Spinoza’s? Was his brain equal to Kepler’s or Newton’s? Was he grander in death – a sublimer martyr than Bruno? Was he in intelligence, in the force and beauty of expression, in breadth and scope of thought, in wealth of illustration, in aptness of comparison, in knowledge of the human brain and heart, of all passions, hopes and fears, the equal of Shakespeare, the greatest of the human race?”

This seems like a fun challenge. I’ll work through these in a series of posts. To help with the comparisons, I encourage you to flesh out Ingersoll’s challenge in the comments, by telling me exactly what he has in mind for each of these traits.

    Comparison #1

: “Was [Jesus] kinder, more forgiving, more self-sacrificing than Buddha?”

Jesus showed kindness to children, women, and lepers. He associated with prostitutes and tax collectors. When a woman was caught in adultery–a capital crime in the Mosaic law–Jesus said that he who was without sin should cast the first stone, then told her He didn’t condemn her (yet instructed her to sin no more). At the Last Supper (shortly before He is arrested). Jesus told His followers, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus let Himself be taken into custody, knowing He would be tortured severely before being nailed to a cross, where He would hang for hours before suffocating. Even though He was sinless, He did this in order to reconcile a sinful man with a perfect God, providing a free gift of our salvation.

After these evil fools had beaten Him and nailed Him to the cross, Jesus hung there as they continued to mock Him. In the midst of that agony, Jesus still prayed, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

I confess I’m not very familiar with Buddha’s life. I skimmed two online accounts of his life and didn’t see anything even in the same ZIP code as the above. (Indeed, I have a hard time even imagining how it would be possible to be more forgiving and self-sacrificing than Jesus.)

On this criterion, I think we easily say Jesus is the winner. It’s not even close.

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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