Epictetus on Scholarly Braggadocio

I came across the following gem in the Enchiridion of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus:

If someone brags because he understands the books of Chrysippus and can explain them, say to yourself: “If Chrysippus had not written unclearly, this fellow would have nothing to brag about.” (49)

For further comic effect, try replacing ‘Chrysippus’ with the name of almost any celebrated modern theologian.

2 Responses to Epictetus on Scholarly Braggadocio

  1. I can’t help but comment. E is one of my favorites.

    Whereas Epictetus says in the Enchiridion
    “Do not pride yourself on superiority that is not your own. If a horse should say, ‘I am a fine horse,’ that could be tolerated. You however, when you boast, ‘I have a fine horse,’ should realize that you are boasting about the excellence of a horse. What then is your own? Never say about anything that you have ‘lost it,’ but that you have ‘given it back.’”

    God says:
    1 Cor. 4:7 “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
    Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

    Whereas Epictetus says in the Enchiridion
    “Remember that you are an actor in a drama such as the playwright wishes it to be. If he wants it short, it will be short; if long, long. If he wants you to play a beggar, play even that capably; or a lame man, or a ruler, or a private person. For this is yours, to play the assigned role well. Casting is the business of another.”

    God says:
    Pr. 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
    Ps. 139 “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
    Eph. 1 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

    Whereas Epictetus says in the Enchiridion
    “It is dangerous to get into dirty talk. Whenever anything of this sort begins, if you get the opportunity, you might rebuke the person who starts it; or if not, make it clear by begin silent or blushing and scowling that you are displeased by the talk.”

    God says:
    Eph. 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
    Col. 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”