Bible - Pagan Texts in the Bible


In Paul's letters, Greek Pagan texts are frequently referenced.

The table below lists the Greek pagan texts which appear to have been plagarized and copied into the New Testament Bible.

1. Aeschylus | 456 BC
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks
' ... kicks against the pricks'
Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1624
2. Aratus | 240 BC
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring
' ... for we are indeed his offspring'
Aratus, Phenomenae / Phainomena 1-5
Aratus, a Cilician Stoic philosopher ascribes origins of humanity to Zeus
Paul confronts idol-worship. He argues if humans are 'God's Offspring', then god must be alive, not a statue. He uses the quote from Aratus to discredit Zeus and idol-worship in general, before introducing his own version of God.

Gangel, Kenneth O. Acts. Vol. 5. Holman New Testament Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.
Paul quoted "the first half of the fifth line, word for word, of an astronomical poem of Aratus, a Greek countryman of the apostle, and his predecessor by about three centuries. But, as he hints, the same sentiment is to be found in other Greek poets. They meant it doubtless in a pantheistic sense; but the truth which it expresses the apostle turns to his own purpose—to teach a pure, personal, spiritual Theism."

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997
3. Enoch, book of | 100 BC
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
NOTE: A direct quote from the Book of Enoch which is not a pagan text, but an Apocryphal text (extra-Biblical).
4. Epimenides | 600 BC
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring
' ... for in thee we live and move and have our being'
Cretan philosopher writes poem about Zeus

Paul warns Titus about the moral failings of the people he is living amongst on Crete, quoting the poet Epimenides:
One of Crete's own prophets has said it: "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons"
' ... the Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies ...'
Epimenides, Cretica
The people of Crete believed Zeus was mortal. Cretan philosopher, Epimenides wrote a poem scolding the Cretans for making Zeus a Tomb as Zeus was NOT mortal, but eternal.   biblegateway
"Epimenides of Phaestus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise "concerning oracles."

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997
"A prophet of their own; viz. Epimenides, a native either of Phæstus or of Cnossus in Crete, the original author of this line, which is also quoted by Callimachus. Epimenides is here called a prophet, not simply as a poet, but from his peculiar character as priest, bard, and seer; called by Plato θεῖος ἀνήρ and coupled by Cicero with Bacis the Boeotian prophet, and the sibyl (Bishop Ellicott); described by other ancient writers as a prophet (Alford)."7

Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. Titus. The Pulpit Commentary. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909.
5. Euripedes, Aiolos | 406 BC
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
'Bad company ruins good morals'
Euripedes, A line from a play, Aiolos
Dionysus discards his divine nature and walks in the human world in disguise; the god disguised in human form, tells him that his efforts to resist the new movement will be completely worthless; he is not contending against flesh and blood, but against a god.

A. N. Wilson, Paul:The Mind of the Apostle (W. W. Norton & Co., N.Y., 1997), pp. 75-76
6. Euripedes, Bacchae | 406 BC .
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks
'You are mortal, he is a god. If I were you, I would control my rage and sacrifice to him, rather than kick against the pricks'
Euripides, Bacchae
7. Festus | 62 AD.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Paul had his final hearing before Porcius Festus. Festus sought to induce Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial; Paul appealed to the Roman official. Was Paul trying to impress Festus, the pagan Roman official?
8. Menander, Thais | 290 BC
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
'Bad company ruins good morals'
Menander, Greek Poet wrote a play, Thais   biblegateway
Menander probably took this line from Euripides [Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997
"The words "Bad company ruins good morals" are found in a play by Menander (4th-3rd century B. C.) but may well have become a common saying by Paul's time."4

Ellingworth, Paul, Howard Hatton, and Paul Ellingworth. A Handbook on Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1995.
"Evil communications corrupt good manners. An iambic line from the 'Thais' of Menander, and perhaps taken by Menander from a play of Euripides. More accurately it means "evil associations corrupt excellent morals."5

Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. 1 Corinthians. The Pulpit Commentary. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909.
9. Philo | 50 AD.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
'Now the image of God is the Word, by which all the world was made'
Philo, The Special Laws, I

Philo was himself undoubtedly influenced by ancient notions of Hermes Trismegistos ('thrice greatest' Hermes), a Hellenized version of the Egyptian god Thoth – a god of wisdom and a guide to the afterlife.
It is held the New Testament Bible authors had access to and copied texts from the writings of Philo.
10. Seneca | 65 AD
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a prodigious writer. His legacy includes satires, tragedies, several books on natural phenomena, and at least 124 insightful letters (Epistulae morales) and essays on philosophy, life, human destiny, clemency and virtue.

  • In On Clemency, Seneca describes the prince who safeguards the lives of his subjects as "god like".
  • In On Tranquility of Mind, Seneca urges a contentment gained from thrift rather than a ceaseless passion for wealth.
  • In De superstitione, Seneca ridiculed popular conceptions of the gods.
  • In Hercules Furens ("The Madness of Hercules"), one character laments crime masquerading as virtue and the triumph of might over right; another warns bloodied tyrants that they will one day face judgement.
  • In Thyestes, the protagonists mirror the behaviour of Rome's own leaders, scheming for power and destroying each other's children in the process. Kingship is linked to a sacrificial lamb and human flesh is eaten ("Thyestian Feast").
  • It is believed the New Testament Bible may have some content copied from the writings of Seneca.
    11. Publius Terentius Afer | 159 BC
    But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God
    'But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home'
    Andria Act IV pp 34-44   Andria: P. Terenti: For Schools by Freeman and..
    12. Thucydides | 400 BC
    Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
    Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
    It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
    [3] The tribute they received from all the barbarian nations and from the cities of Greece, in the reign of Seuthes (who reigned after Sitalces and made the most of it), was in gold and silver, by estimation, four hundred talents by year. And presents of gold and silver came to as much more, besides vestures, both wrought and plain, and other furniture presented not only to him but also to all the men of authority and Odrysian nobility about him.

    [4] For they had a custom, which also was general to all Thrace contrary to that of the kingdom of Persia, to receive rather than to give; and it was there a greater shame to be asked and deny than to ask and go without. Nevertheless they held this custom long by reason of their power, for without gifts there was nothing to be gotten done amongst them. So that this kingdom arrived thereby to great power.

    [5] For of all the nations of Europe that lie between the Ionian Gulf and the Euxine Sea, it was, for revenue of money and other wealth, the mightiest; though indeed for strength of an army and multitudes of soldiers, the same be far short of the Scythians.

    [6] For there is no nation, not to say of Europe but neither of Asia, that are comparable to this, or that as long as they agree, are able, one nation to one, to stand against the Scythians. And yet in matter of counsel and wisdom in the present occasions of life, they are not like to other men.'
    Thucydides, a famous Greek historian. History of the Peloponnesian War
    Thomas Hobbs, Ed. London: 1843 at II.97
    NOTE: The above Thucydides evidence is unclear and confusing. It has been included for completeness purposes. If you can elaborate on it, kindly contact us with details

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