Was Jesus the Original Author of the Golden Rule?

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As a conservative Christian, one of the pieces of evidence I was taught which supports Christianity’s claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God himself, was the “fact” that Jesus taught concepts which prior to his birth had never been heard of before, such as “loving your enemy”.  I was told that Jesus authored the “Golden Rule”.  Turns out, that isn’t true.

While some might argue that the Golden Rule itself is a Christian teaching, the ancient Egyptians wrote it down more than five hundred years before Jesus was born, as did Confucius in China and Thales in Greece and Siddhartha in Inda.  Later, but still before Jesus, Rabbi Hillel taught the same precept to his followers in the Holy Land, and versions of it appear in virtually all of the rest of the world’s great religions.  Ironically, none of these faith traditions supposes that any kind of supernatural revelation is required for human beings to know how to treat one another.  When it comes to morality, it seems, virtually everyone knows all we really need is everyday human empathy.

Bart Campolo, former evangelical Christian evangelist, currently an (atheist) humanist chaplain, Why I Left, Why I Stayed, p. 105

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5 thoughts on “Was Jesus the Original Author of the Golden Rule?

  1. Again, this isn’t news.

    Jesus did turn it around and make it proactively – DO as you would have it done, rather than Buddha’s “do not do, if you don’t want it done”

    But how can you only be learning this now?

    I think the problem is that a lot of people like you do little to reading about the faith while in the faith.

    None of this invalidates Jesus historical resurrection. So it’s not evidence against the merits of Christianity.


    1. I would bet that Jesus knew nothing about Confucius or Buddha. He may have known about Thales, as Judaism was heavily influenced by Greek culture and philosophy during the Greek occupation of Palestine in the second and third centuries BCE. I will bet that Jesus’ source for this saying was the great Jewish teacher, Hillel, who lived about 100 years before Jesus (who probably copied it from Thales, who probably copied from the ancient Egyptians before him).

      No, this historical fact does nothing to disprove the alleged Resurrection. But it is another nail in the coffin for the Christian claim that Jesus possessed supernatural powers. All evidence points to the fact that Jesus was simply a good MAN, not an all-knowing god; a good man teaching principles of coexistence and peace that humans before him had learned over the hundreds of thousands of years of human existence.


    2. It is also possible that Jesus knew this saying from the ancient Egyptians. Notice that the Egyptian Golden Rule is also “proactive” and it had been in existence for over a thousand years before Jesus was even born.

      It is commendable that Jesus endorsed such a wonderful humanistic principle but the evidence clearly demonstrates that Jesus’ Golden Rule was not original, therefore, it is not evidence of his perfection, omniscience, or divinity.


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