While I was going about one morning in the walks of the Xystus, a certain man, with others in his company, having met me, and said, “Hail, O philosopher!” And immediately after saying this, he turned round and walked along with me; his friends likewise followed him. And I in turn having addressed him, said, “What is there important?”
And he replied, “I was instructed,” says he “by Corinthus the Socratic in Argos, that I ought not to despise or treat with indifference those who array themselves in this dress but to show them all kindness, and to associate with them, as perhaps some advantage would spring from the intercourse either to some such man or to myself. It is good, moreover, for both, if either the one or the other be benefited. On this account, therefore, whenever I see any one in such costume, I gladly approach him, and now, for the same reason, have I willingly accosted you; and these accompany me, in the expectation of hearing for themselves something profitable from you.”
“But who are you, most excellent man?” So I replied to him in jest.
Then he told me frankly both his name and his family. “Trypho,” says he, “I am called; and I am a Hebrew of the circumcision, and having escaped from the war lately carried on there I am spending my days in Greece, and chiefly at Corinth.”
“And in what,” said I, “would you be profited by philosophy so much as by your own lawgiver and the prophets?”
“Why not?” he replied. “Do not the philosophers turn every discourse on God? and do not questions continually arise to them about His unity and providence? Is not this truly the duty of philosophy, to investigate the Deity?”
“Assuredly,” said I, “so we too have believed. But the most have not taken thought of this whether there be one or more gods, and whether they have a regard for each one of us or no, as if this knowledge contributed nothing to our happiness; nay, they moreover attempt to persuade us that God takes care of the universe with its genera and species, but not of me and you, and each individually, since otherwise we would surely not need to pray to Him night and day. But it is not difficult to understand the upshot of this; for fearlessness and license in speaking result to such as maintain these opinions, doing and saying whatever they choose, neither dreading punishment nor hoping for any benefit from God. For how could they? They affirm that the same things shall always happen; and, further, that I and you shall again live in like manner, having become neither better men nor worse. But there are some others, who, having supposed the soul to be immortal and immaterial, believe that though they have committed evil they will not suffer punishment (for that which is immaterial is insensible), and that the soul, in consequence of its immortality, needs nothing from God.”
And he, smiling gently, said, “Tell us your opinion of these matters, and what idea you entertain respecting God, and what your philosophy is.”