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.
"[T]he book offers a good interpretation of Iamblichus’ De mysteriis and a wealth of important observations on various details of the material. The new approach it proposes to the study of Neoplatonic rituals promises insights in the field of Neoplatonic religiosity well beyond Porphyry and Iamblichus. This is an important contribution to research on theurgy." Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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.
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.