Is the New Testament Just Stoic Philosophy?

The newest fellow of the CHT, Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington of Southern Seminary, joins Dr. Dru Johnson to discuss how Jesus’ views interacted with the intellectual world of his day. This world was populated by both Hellenistic ideas (such as Stoic philosophy) and Jewish ideas, as well as hybrids of the two traditions. In this context, Jesus’ teachings generated sophisticated answers to ancient philosophical questions about the nature of true happiness and the good life.

Thus, the New Testament does not merely adopt this philosophical assumptions of its historical context. Instead, Christianity provides a distinct worldview, apparent in its simultaneous embrace of Stoic self-control and the hope of a future shalom. Dr. Pennington develops and highlights this distinctiveness, particularly in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.


  • 1:04 The Hellenistic Context of the New Testament
  • 4:52 How Christianity interacts with the Greek culture
  • 11:50 Reading Scripture as a sophisticated alternative to Stoic philosophy
  • 18:00 The concept of Stoic rest in contrast with Christian hope
  • 20:45 Jesus as a philosopher in the Gospel of Matthew
  • 26:40 Introduction to Dr. Jonathan Pennington

Dr. Pennington engages this topic in more detail in his forthcoming book Jesus the Great Philosopher: Rediscovering the Wisdom Needed for the Good Life.

Show notes by Micah Long.

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