Christianity has had the most profound influence on the development of Western Civilization. Divinely inspired, its tenets spell out a way of life that is both personally fulfilling as well as beneficial to all society. It is interesting that ancient philosophy produced a school of thought that more than roughly paralleled Christian thought. This philosophy was known as Stoicism.
Stoicism was by no means derived by revelation. It was arrived at by logical deduction by renowned minds beginning with Crissipus, going through Socrates and culminating in Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. That such men could derive from nature a philosophy so similar to Christianity reveals that the laws of God and morality are inherent and innate in human beings and can be deduced from human history.
This book is not a translation of the First Book of the Discourses of Epictetus. Rather it is more in the nature of a paragraph, by paragraph study of the book. The reader should, by no means, try to take in the entire book at a sitting. It might be better to take it a chapter a day, or even a paragraph per day. Although the concepts here are not difficult, they can require a certain amount of contemplation.
I originally wrote this book as a weekly study. It evolved into something more when I pulled in elements of modern philosophy to explain certain concepts. In explaining the concepts practical examples came prominently to mind, and soon this work became a call to action. That is, an action of applying Christianity and Stoicism to our daily lives. Epictetus was always concerned with the practical application of his thoughts. Thus, this work could hardly do otherwise. Try to use it as a kind of manual to aid in guiding your own actions.
I used a new method of translating the sections by Epictetus. The words were first directly translated from Greek to English by computer. The rough spots, word order, and interpretations were then revised to make them readable in modern English. Where interpretation could be questionable, other translations were consulted for clarification.