Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity  book cover
1st Edition

Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity

ISBN 9781032092003
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
332 Pages

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Book Description

Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity examines the various ways in which Christian intellectuals engaged with Platonism both as a pagan competitor and as a source of philosophical material useful to the Christian faith. The chapters are united in their goal to explore transformations that took place in the reception and interaction process between Platonism and Christianity in this period.

The contributions in this volume explore the reception of Platonic material in Christian thought, showing that the transmission of cultural content is always mediated, and ought to be studied as a transformative process by way of selection and interpretation. Some chapters also deal with various aspects of the wider discussion on how Platonic, and Hellenic, philosophy and early Christian thought related to each other, examining the differences and common ground between these traditions.

Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity offers an insightful and broad ranging study on the subject, which will be of interest to students of both philosophy and theology in the Late Antique period, as well as anyone working on the reception and history of Platonic thought, and the development of Christian thought.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; List of contributors; List of abbreviations; Introduction LARS FREDRIK JANBY, EYJÓLFUR KJALAR EMILSSON, TORSTEIN THEODOR TOLLEFSEN AND PANAGIOTIS G. PAVLOS; PART I: Methodologies; 1 The Agreement of Christianity and Platonic Philosophy from Justin Martyr to Eusebius, SÉBASTIEN MORLET; 2 Augustine and the "Prophecy" of Plato, Tim. 29c3, CHRISTINA HOENIG; 3 Porphyry’s Daemons as a Threat for the Christians, CHRISTINE HECHT; PART II: Cosmology; 4 Patristic Reflections on Formless Matter, ENRICO MORO; 5 Plotinus’ Doctrine of Badness as Matter in Ennead I.8. [51], EYJÓLFUR KJALAR EMILSSON; 6 Proclus, Philoponus, and Maximus: The Paradigm of the World and Temporal Beginning, TORSTEIN THEODOR TOLLEFSEN; PART III: Metaphysics; 7 Christ and Pythagoras: Augustine’s Early Philosophy of Number, LARS FREDRIK JANBY; 8 The Impact of Ὁμοούσιον on the Divine Ideas, DANIEL J. TOLAN; 9 Theurgy in Dionysius the Areopagite, PANAGIOTIS G. PAVLOS; 10 On the Meaning of Hierarchy in Dionysius the Areopagite, DIMITRIOS A. VASILAKIS; 11 The Doctrine of Immanent Realism in Maximus the Confessor, SEBASTIAN MATEIESCU; 12 That and How Perichōrēsis Differs from Participation: The Case of Maximus the Confessor, JORDAN DANIEL WOOD; PART IV: Ethics; 13 Apophaticism in the Search for Knowledge: Love as a Key Difference in Neoplatonic and Christian Epistemology, E. BROWN DEWHURST; 14 The Origin of Passions in Neoplatonic and Early Christian Thought: Porphyry of Tyre and Evagrius Ponticus, ADRIAN PIRTEA; 15 Augustine on Eudaimonia as Life Project and Object of Desire, TOMAS EKENBERG; Indexes

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Panagiotis G. Pavlos is Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo, Norway. His main interests are Late Antique metaphysics, cosmology and the early Christian philosophical tradition, with an emphasis on their interaction. His doctoral dissertation examines the concept of aptitude (epitedeiotes) in Late Antique and Early Christian thought.

Lars Fredrik Janby holds a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas from the University of Oslo, Norway, where he defended a thesis on Augustine’s encyclopedic project. His research focuses on Christian receptions of classical material in Late Antiquity.

Eyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo, Norway. His research interests include topics in metaphysics and ethics in the ancient and late ancient classical philosophical tradition. He is the author of four monographs and numerous articles on ancient philosophy, focusing on Plotinus in particular.

Torstein Theodor Tollefsen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo, Norway. His main interests are metaphysics and cosmology in late antiquity and early Byzantium, and the tensions and interactions between pagan and Christian thought in that period.


"[A] fine and engaging compendium on an exciting subject matter – the mutual relationship of Platonism and Christianity... a highly informative and rich book. The individual chapters... provide a glimpse into the exciting times of philosophical debates that shaped Christianity as we know it. The work as a whole succeeds in shedding, so to say, new light on old questions, but also on some less explored subjects, and thus promises to remain an interesting and informative reading for students and scholars of both Early Christianity and Late Platonism, as well as for historians of ideas in general." - Review of Ecumenical Studies

"[A] highly engaging reading that will surely elicit further research in Patristic Platonism." - Classical Journal

"...successfully challenges the basic assumptions of much discussion surrounding Christianity and Late Antique intellectual discourse. As such the volume is successful in challenging the reader not to view the relationship between Christianity and Platonism in the simplistic terms of enmity and competition, but rather as a complex and multifaceted relationship, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but always profitable. This is a volume that complements recent scholarship on Late Antique philosophy and Christianity, and I would recommend it to all those interested in Late Antique Christianity, the interactions between ‘pagan’ and Christian intellectual discourse, and the general development of Late Antique philosophy." - Diogenes

"L’ouvrage livre un riche et stimulant aperçu de la variété des questions qui animaient les penseurs païens et chrétiens de l’époque... cha>que contribution illustre à sa façon la omplexité des liens entre platonisme et christianisme ainsi que la profondeur des idées tardo-antiques, encore trop souvent jugées inférieures à celles qui les ont précédées." - Laval Théologique et Philosophique

[The book provides a rich and stimulating overview of the variety of questions that animated the pagan and Christian thinkers of the time... each contribution illustrates in its own way the complexity of the links between Platonism and Christianity as well as the depth late-antique ideas, still too often considered inferior to those that preceded them.]


"PCTLA est utile non seulement pour les chercheurs experts, mais aussi pour les jeunes étudiants, qui pourront aisément s’orienter dans les spécialités des études recueillies dans ce volume. En définitive, PCTLA atteint pleinement son but en fournissant un aperçu complet et approfondi de la relation complexe entre platonisme et christianisme dans l’Antiquité tardive." - Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques 

[PCTLA is useful not only for expert researchers, but also for young students, who can easily orient themselves in the specialties of the studies collected in this volume. Ultimately, PCTLA fully achieves its purpose in providing a comprehensive and in-depth insight into the complex relationship between Platonism and Christianity in Late Antiquity.]