Beliefs RNS Press Release Service

New book claims the Old Testament drew extensively on Plato’s writings

NEW YORK–LONDON — Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, from academic publisher Routledge Press, proposes a provocative new theory regarding when, where and why the Old Testament was written. According to the author, Russell Gmirkin, the idea for the earliest Bible came out of Plato’s Laws, which proposed a new form of government with divinely inspired laws and a carefully approved ethical national literature. Plato said that if the ruling class of priests and educators could persuade the populace that their new laws and literature were both ancient and inspired, the new nation could last forever. Gmirkin’s book proposes that the Jewish nation and its Bible were the first and only implementation of Plato’s Laws in antiquity.

Russell Gmirkin, a biblical scholar and lecturer living in Portland, OR, has written extensively on the biblical use of Greek sources from the Great Library of Alexandria. Gmirkin’s 2006 book called Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus is listed by Logos Bible Software as one of the ten most important recent books on the Pentateuch. In that study, Gmirkin presented evidence that the Books of Moses were written by Jewish scholars around 270 BC at the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt using various Greek sources found there. His new book identifies Plato’s writings as the most important of those Greek sources and the inspiration for Jewish monotheism, theocracy, and divine laws. Gmirkin systematically compares biblical, Greek and Ancient Near Eastern laws for the first time, showing that the Mosaic laws and constitution often most closely resemble those of Athens and those found in Plato’s Laws in particular.

As Gmirkin notes, “Jewish, Christian and pagan authors since ancient times commented on the close relationship between the Bible and Plato’s writings. Both contained similar ideas about a single supreme creator God, divine laws, universal education using inspired texts, national rule under priestly guidance, and even the division of the nation into twelve tribes. It is now becoming clear that the Bible’s authors borrowed these ideas from Plato.”


Additional information about Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible is available at To schedule an interview with the author: