Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let there be a flood of Justice.

Emma Catherine Morrison
I.D.#: 100499530
RE 103 – Dr. Sharify – Funk
Adrianna Bell
Thursday, January 27th, 2010

Phaedrus’ Discourse on Love: Sacrificial Love and Christianity
Plato’s Symposium is a fascinating literary and philosophical work that provides its readers with a number of interesting and different discourses on the subject of love. The characters in the Symposium that present these discourses touch on many, if not all of the different aspects of the mystery that we call love.
 Each discourse approaches this enigma differently and provides valid points, proof, and explanation for the position that each character advocates. However, one discourse stands out among the rest: the discourse of Phaedrus, which places deep importance on the idea of sacrificial love.
Phaedrus’ discourse is the most effective because is aligns with the teachings of Christianity, and discusses the profound importance of sacrificial love. Phaedrus begins with a statement of how love is the eldest of the gods and is uncreated, which is similar to the Christian view of God. He then goes on to share two stories that illustrate perfect sacrificial love in the eyes of the Greeks, one being the sacrifice of Achilles for his friend Patroclus, which is comparable to the teaching of the Apostles in the New Testament; and the second being the sacrifice of Alcestis for her husband, which aligns with the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity.
Firstly, Phaedrus’ discourse opens with a statement that characterizes love as “a mighty god” (Plato, 6) and “the eldest of the gods” (Plato, 7).  Plato continues on to explain that many wise men are all agreed upon the fact that the god Love has no parentage. Revelation 22:13 in the NIV (New International Version) describes capital-G, God as “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” This is an excellent explanation of the nature of God. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He was present at the beginning of all things, as was the god Love, as Phaedrus explains. He is uncreated, or without parentage, exactly the same as the god Love that Phaedrus describes.
The connection between God, and Phaedrus’ god Love is realized in 1 John 4:8, which says, “God is love” (NIV). The Christian God and Phaedrus’ Love are one and the same.  The passage later states that “whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them,” (1 John 4:15, NIV) which leads one to the conclusion that you cannot have Love without God, and you cannot have God without Love.  Also, Phaedrus describing Love as being a god alludes to the idea that Love is a governing power in the lives of men (and women), exactly the way God has control over everything.
Also, one of the fundamental teaching’s in Christianity is “to love one another” (1 John 4:11, NIV), which further connects Phaedrus’ discourse with Christianity, as Phaedrus uses the examples noted Greek characters loving others   Upon reading Phaedrus’ dialogue, I immediately made the connection between Phaedrus’ discourse and the Christian God, and it’s implications in regards to Christianity.
Secondly, the story that Phaedrus shares of Achilles’ loving sacrifice to avenge the death of his friend Patroclus aligns with the fundamentals of the teachings of Jesus’ within Christianity. Phaedrus explains that even though Achilles had been told by his mother that he could escape death and return to his home, to live a long, but boring life, Achilles still gives “his life to revenge his friend” (Plato, 8). The sacrifice that Achilles makes for the love of his friend costs him his life, but he is rewarded for his heroic and noble actions and is sent to the Islands of the blest, which is one of the highest honours in the Greek world (Plato, 8).
As stated in the previous paragraph, the most important of all of God’s commands is that we should love each other. The kind of love that Achilles showed for Patroclus is illustrated perfectly in John 15:13, in which Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NIV). The fact that Phaedrus informs the reader that Achilles is rewarded with the highest of all honours echoes the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Later in this passage, Jesus says that he has called us his friends (John 15:15, NIV), making the sacrifice of Jesus’ life another parallel to the discourse of Phaedrus, being that Jesus also exhibited the greatest love by willingly laying down his life for his “friends”.
 Achilles showed the greatest love by sacrificing his life for the sake of his friend. Sacrificial love makes itself evident as Phaedrus’ most vital argument through the story of Achilles, which mirrors the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
Finally, the sacrifice of Alcestis for her husband is comparable to the sacrifice of Jesus for the Church, and humanity, and continues to prove that the main theme of Phaedrus’ discourse is sacrificial love. Phaedrus begins his story with a statement about the power of love: “Love will make men dare to die for their beloved; and women as well as men,” (Plato, 7). This statement beautifully encompasses the idea of sacrificial love.
Phaedrus goes on to tell the story of Alcestis and the ultimate sacrifice she made for her beloved, the sacrifice of her own life. Phaedrus continues on to explain that because Alcestis was so courageous in her act of sacrificial love that the gods resurrected her, and she was returned to the land of the living. She was given the gift of new life, because she was willing to sacrifice herself. This brought to mind “whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV). Christianity teaches that Jesus is the lover of our soul, and that we are the beloved, and in turn Jesus must be our beloved. “Finding life” in this context is the eternal life promised to those who love Christ, and are willing to “lose their life for his sake”. Eternal life is the reward for sacrificing one’s self for the beloved Christ, as new life was Alcestis’ reward for her sacrifice.
In my research, I discovered numerous passages in the Bible that described Jesus as the “Bridegroom” and the Church as the “Bride of Christ”(Matt. 25:6, Mark 2:20, John 3:29, Isa. 62:5, Eph. 5:25, NIV). This further illustrates the idea of the Lover and the Beloved. As we are the Beloved of Christ, and his “Bride”, his sacrifice to erase the sins of the world so that he could “present her [the Church/humanity] to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27, NIV) is the greatest act of sacrificial love in all of history. Jesus endured unspeakable torture and shame, for the sake of his Beloved, and in the end made the ultimate sacrifice. Just as Alcestis was willing to give her own life because she loved her husband, Christ willingly died for the sins of every human because we are his Beloved. Just as Alcestis’ act of love was rewarded with new life, Jesus’ act of love is rewarded by his saving of humanity, and making available to them the gift of eternal life, through grace. By using the story of Alcestis, and comparing it to the Passion story of Christ, readers can grasp the main idea of Phaedrus’ discourse as the theme of sacrificial love.
Phaedrus discourse on love in Plato’s Symposium is the most important because of its theme of sacrificial love and it’s parallels with the teachings and beliefs of Christianity. Phaedrus claims Love to be the eldest and mightiest of all the gods, and to be uncreated, just like God is all-powerful and uncreated, and is himself, Love. The story Phaedrus tells of the famous Greek hero Achilles’ sacrifice for the love of his friend is mirrored in the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The Passion story of the ultimate act of sacrificial love (Jesus’ sacrifice of his life for his Beloved) is comparable to the story of Alcestis, who sacrifices her life for her Beloved.  Because of all of these parallels and based on his view of love, one has to wonder if Phaedrus, had he been a real person, would have been a Christian if he had been alive during the time of Christ.

Works Cited
Plato, Translated by: Benjamin Jowett. Symposium and Phaedrus. New York: Dover Publications, 1993. 6-8. Print.
Teen Study Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998. Print. A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <>.

Support for Thesis/Points – RE 103

Argument one:
à Revelation 22:13 – “13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
à 1 John 4:7-21 -  7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
   God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. “

Argument two:
à John 15:9-17 – “9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

Argument three:
à Matthew 16:21-28 – “21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
   28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
à Matthew 25:1-13 – “1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
   6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
   7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
   9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
   10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
   11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
   12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
   13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
à Mark 2:19-20 – “19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
à John 3:27-29 – “27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[h]”
à Isaiah 62:4-5 – “4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
   or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,[a]
   and your land Beulah[
for the LORD will take delight in you,
   and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
   so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
   so will your God rejoice over you.”
à Ephesians 5:25-33 – “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


Love Always,
Emma Cate


  1. Wish I could of done more creative papers. All the ones I had to do for school were analyzing markets and history of companies or CEOs, blah. What is your major if you don't mind me asking?