'Socrates Meets Jesus', by Peter Kreeft

'Socrates Meets Jesus', by Peter Kreeft

Arthur N. Ballingall

SOCRATES MEETS JESUS:
History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ

by Peter Kreeft

(InterVarsity Press, 2001, $24.95. Available from AD Books)

Having written over sixty books on apologetics, theology and philosophy, Professor Peter Kreeft has steadily developed a number of these into a distinctive genre of literature, one which provides his readers with a 'painless' introduction to the critical thinking approach of the immortal Socrates.

Whatever else may be said about today's media, attention to critical thinking is seldom to the forefront - least of all Socratic-style thinking. And with media propaganda now approaching the absurd, in both its print and electronic forms, Kreeft delineates the ancient discipline of Socratic thought, which amply underlines the modern media's inability to consistently render truthful, logical opinion.

Dispensing with the obtuse exegesis of the Classical Greeks, Kreeft allows his readers to watch and learn in readily familiar practical situations the process of the Socratic question and answer.

In the case of the present book - Socrates Meets Jesus - the highly imaginative Kreeft, himself a first class student of Socratic thinking, enrols Socrates in the Divinity School at a large, modern university; and I suppose you could say he lets him loose. Think about it - which local campus would you choose for this event?

Socrates, naturally, professes no knowledge of Jesus, but is sufficiently interested to seek out the "experts" who claim to know Jesus. What better place for an old fact-seeking pagan to start, than with the intellectual establishment of the Western World?

The position of Socrates, as always, is that he pursues what he genuinely does not know, by way of question and answer, from those who are supposed to know. What they know, and how much they know, provide the fascination of Socrates Meets Jesus.

Without any knowledge of Jesus, this saintly old pagan prises further information from these mostly professional Christians, who at times become a trifle reluctant, but in the process teach all of us how we can allow truth to pass us by.

Professor Kreeft, in my opinion one of the best Christian apologists to come out of the 20th century, commenced his Socratic dialogues with his book The Unaborted Socrates - the most comprehensive debate on the subject in recent times, and an exceptional model of clarity.

In the same genre, Kreeft has singled out Socrates in debate with such thinkers as Machiavelli, Karl Marx, Sartre, Freud, Descartes, Kant, Marcel, Kierkegaard and "Philosophy 101", all of them in separate books.

Peter Kreeft has been able to take Socrates as a pre-eminence of Classical literature, and show his work as a thoughtful procedure of inquiry that we can all usefully adapt into our own lives in a host of contexts.

Arthur N. Ballingall is a Melbourne-based Catholic writer.

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