Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism: Oracles of the Gods, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism

Oracles of the Gods, 1st Edition

By Crystal Addey


352 pages

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Why did ancient philosophers consult oracles, write about them, and consider them to be an important part of philosophical thought and practice? This book explores the extensive links between oracles and philosophy in Late Antiquity, particularly focusing on the roles of oracles and other forms of divination in third and fourth century CE Neoplatonism. Examining some of the most significant debates between pagan philosophers and Christian intellectuals on the nature of oracles as a central yet contested element of religious tradition, Addey focuses particularly on Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles and Iamblichus' De Mysteriis - two works which deal extensively with oracles and other forms of divination. This book argues for the significance of divination within Neoplatonism and offers a substantial reassessment of oracles and philosophical works and their relationship to one another. With a broad interdisciplinary approach, encompassing Classics, Ancient Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies and Ancient History, Addey draws on recent anthropological and religious studies research which has challenged and re-evaluated the relationship between rationality and ritual.

Table of Contents

Contents: Oracles and philosophy; Oracles, allegory and mystery cults; Debating oracles: pagan and Christian perspectives; Debating oracles: Porphyry’s Letter to Anebo and Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Divination, rationality and ritual in Neoplatonism; Divine inspiration, possession and contact with the gods in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Divination and theurgy in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Manifesting the gods: oracles as symbola; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Crystal Addey is Teaching Fellow in Classics at the University of St Andrews, UK. She obtained her doctorate in Classics from the University of Bristol (2009). She has published numerous book chapters and articles on oracles, divination and religion in Neoplatonism and Late Antiquity. She is a member of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies and the Centre of Late Antique Religion and Culture, Cardiff University.

About the Series

Studies in Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity

The Studies in Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity series focuses on major theologians, not as representatives of a 'tradition', whether Christian or classical, but as individuals immersed in the intellectual culture of their day. Each book concentrates on the arguments, not merely the opinions, of a single Christian writer or group of writers from the period A.D 100-600 and compares and contrasts these arguments with those of pagan contemporaries who addressed similar questions.

By study of political, social, and cultural milieu, contributors to the series show what external factos led to the convergence or divergence of Christianity and pagan thought in particular localities or periods. Pagan and Christian teachings are set out in a clear and systematic form, making it possible to bring to light the true originality of the author's thought and to estimate the value of his work for modern times.

This high profile research series offers an important contribution to areas of contemporary research in the patristic period, as well as providing new links into later periods, particularly the Medieval and Reformation.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / Christianity / General