Christians, Gnostics and Philosophers in Late Antiquity

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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

Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Christians and Pagans in Dispute
II Some early Christian immoralities
III Justin’s logos and the Word of God
IV Satire and verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian’s Peregrinus
V Xenophanes Christianus?
VI Pagan and Christian monotheism in the age of Constantine
VII Notes on the date and venue of the Oration to the Saints (CPG 3497)
VIII Dracontius the African and the fate of Rome
Gnostic Thought and its Milieu
X Neglected texts in the study of Gnosticism
XI Pauline Platonism: the myth of Valentinus
XII The tale of Cupid and Psyche
XIII Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphs and the Gnostic controversy
Christianity and the Platonic Tradition
XV Origen’s Platonism. Questions and caveats
XVI Ammonius, teacher of Origen
XVII Birth, death, and divinity in Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus
XVIII Porphyry and the intelligible triad
XIX The figure of love in Augustine and in Proclus the Neoplatonist

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