Christians, Gnostics and Philosophers in Late Antiquity: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Christians, Gnostics and Philosophers in Late Antiquity

1st Edition

By Mark Edwards


330 pages

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Gnosticism, Christianity and late antique philosophy are often studied separately; when studied together they are too often conflated. These articles set out to show that we misunderstand all three phenomena if we take either approach. We cannot interpret, or even identify, Christian Gnosticism without Platonic evidence; we may even discover that Gnosticism throws unexpected light on the Platonic imagination. At the same time, if we read writers like Origen simply as Christian Platonists, or bring Christians and philosophers together under the porous umbrella of "monotheism", we ignore fundamental features of both traditions. To grasp what made Christianity distinctive, we must look at the questions asked in the studies here, not merely what Christians appropriated but how it was appropriated. What did the pagan gods mean to a Christian poet of the fifth century? What did Paul quote when he thought he was quoting Greek poetry? What did Socrates mean to the Christians, and can we trust their memories when they appeal to lost fragments of the Presocratics? When pagans accuse the Christians of moral turpitude, do they know more or less about them than we do? What divides Augustine, the disenchanted Platonist, from his Neoplatonic contemporaries? And what God or gods await the Neoplatonist when he dies?

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Christians and Pagans in Dispute: Quoting Aratus: Acts 17.28; Some early Christian immoralities; Justin's logos and the word of God; Satire and verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian's Peregrinus; Xenophanes Christianus?; Pagan and Christian monotheism in the age of Constantine; Notes on the date and venue of the Oration to the Saints; Dracontius the African and the fate of Rome. Part II Gnostic Thought and its Milieu: Gnostics and Valentians in the church fathers; Neglected texts in the study of Gnosticism; Pauline Platonism: the myth of Valentinus; The tale of Cupid and Psyche; Porphyry's Cave of the Nymphs and the Gnostic controversy. Part III Christianity and the Platonic Tradition: Socrates and the early Church' Origen's Platonism: questions and caveats; Ammonius, teacher of Origen; Birth, death and divinity in Porphyry's Life of Plotinus; Porphyry and the intelligible triad; The figure of love in Augustine and in Proclus the neoplatonist; Index.

About the Author

Dr Mark Edwards is University Lecturer in Patristics, and Tutor in Theology, Christ Church, University of Oxford, UK

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General