Other consequences also of great seriousness, was what the Stoics called apatheia, namely, without feelings towards the vital drives of life, not feeling desires, joys, pains, but being beyond all this in the state of wisdom. They knew that only a few people were able to reach this state, but those who as Skeptics went into the desert, showed that they were able to do so to a certain extent. Behind all this, of course, stands the early criticism of the mythological gods and the traditional rites for these gods. The criticism of mythology was made in Greece almost at the, same time in which the Second Isaiah did it in Judea. It was a very similar kind of criticism, and has undercut the belief in the gods of polytheism.

This was the negative side in Greek thought of that time. But there were also positive elements in the same tradition. First, the PLATONIC TRADITION: Here Christian theology had as its preparation the idea of transcendence,..that there is something that trespasses empirical reality. Plato speaks of “essential” reality, the reality of ousia’s, or “ideas”, I. e., the true essences of things. At the same time we find in Plato, and even stronger in Neo-Platonism and in the Platonic school leading to Neo-Platonism, the development of a devaluation of existence. It was called matter, and as a material world it has no ultimate value compared with the essential world. Further, in Plato the inner aim in human existence is described – in the Philebus somewhere, but also practically everywhere in Plato – as becoming similar to God as much as possible. God is the Spiritual sphere. Participation in the Spiritual divine sphere as much as possible is the inner telos of human existence.