middle platonism christianity

It is at first indiscernible and disturbing, but then divine reason descends upon it and imposes order, and the earth comes into being. The system of Basilides (fl. Basilides was among the first Christian thinkers besides John the Evangelist to explicitly identify Jesus as the earthly manifestation of the Divine Intellect. Borrowing a term from Stoic philosophy, Philo calls the thoughts of the Logos “rational seeds” (logoi spermatikoi), and describes them as having a role in the production of the cosmos which, he insists, was brought into being out of non-being by the agency of God. However, once this Soul comes into contact with matter, the source of all evil according to Numenius, it becomes divided into a rational and an irrational part, the former remaining in contemplation of the divine realm, and the latter immersing itself in the material realm. In this he differed, as Dillon observes, “with all official Platonism up to Plotinus” (p. 18). Note the literal explosion of interest in Christian Platonism during the Renaissance, followed by a striking absence from 1700 until the 20th century. Plutarch did not, like Archytas and Eudorus, posit a principle higher than the Pythagorean One, which Plutarch also called, in Platonic fashion, the Good. In addition to these “mainstream” philosophers, the Middle Platonic period includes the more esoteric systems of the Gnostics, the Corpus Hermeticum and the Chaldaean Oracles. Once generated, the souls enter the sphere of the fixed stars, where each soul is allotted its own star and set in a chariot or vehicle (okhêma). “Archytas” places mind above soul as the most divine part in man, though he departs from standard Pythagoreanism by assigning the circle rather than the tetragon as the representation of the soul, since the soul is self-moved (the circle, with no definite beginning or end point, symbolized endless movement). Platonism, therefore, should not be thought of a simple elucidation of Plato’s doctrines, but rather as a creative engagement with Plato’s texts and with certain doctrines handed down by the Academy as belonging to Plato. After the death of Plato the headship of the Academy passed to his nephew Speusippus (ca. Dillon 1977, p. 12). The following cryptic passage from the Platonic Second Letter (generally accepted as from Plato’s hand in antiquity) had a profound effect on the imagination of Platonic and Pythagorean philosophers of the Middle and Neoplatonic periods. Plutarch departed from standard Pythagorean doctrine in declaring the creation of the cosmos in time. Notable Middle Platonists after Eudorus include Moderatus of Gades (first century A.D.), a self-conscious Pythagorean who considered Plato a mere student of Pythagoras. Antiochus rejected the Aristotelian “fifth element” and returned to the four basic elements – Fire, Air, Water, and Earth – as the primary material principles of the cosmos. In ethics he is no innovator, simply stating the standard notion that happiness depends on virtue, but virtue is independent of all other things. Ocellus was concerned with maintaining the doctrine of the eternity of the world against the Stoic doctrine of periodic conflagration and reconstitution of the universe. Other important Middle Platonists were Philo of Alexandria (ca. Posidonius believed that the cosmos is held together by cosmic sympathy (sumpatheia), and this formed the basis for his ideas concerning fate and divination (cf. According to the third-century B.C. This account is dependent on both Plato’s Timaeus and the book of Genesis (especially as these two works were interpreted by Philo, whom our author likely read). The influence of Middle Platonism upon the development of Christianity, particularly on the development of the doctrine of God, is undeniable. In the case of Plotinus, we see a clear Numenian influence regarding the triadic arrangement of principles, although Plotinus developed this basic notion in a quite original way. Valentinus (ca. Thus, even if certain theological claims seemed to fly in the face of the standards of reasoning defended by philosophers, th… As in Numenius, it is unclear how souls, once so incarnated, will ever attain to the reason requisite for salvation (cf. We already detect the influence of Hellenistic philosophy on Jewish thought in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, and the later apocryphal work Wisdom of Sirach (ca. The substratum of all generated things is matter, and their reason-principle or logos is ideal-form. Although not a Platonist, strictly speaking, but a Stoic, Posidonius (135-51 B.C.) Platonism and Christianity were opposed the one to the other as two sharply defined and incompatible theologies. He combined the Demiurge of the Timaeus and the World-Soul of the Unwritten Doctrines into an intra-cosmic, unitive, rational force which he termed Logos. It is possible that Numenius read St. Paul, but more likely that the two thinkers simply were responding to a shared intellectual milieu consisting not only of Platonic philosophy, but Gnostic and Hermetic doctrines as well. nevertheless exercised an immense influence on the development of Middle Platonic thought. Williams 1996). Certain central tenets of Neoplatonism served as a philosophical interim for the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo on his journey from dualistic Manichaeism to Christianity. What we know of Antiochus’ doctrines is contained in various writings of Cicero, usually placed in the mouth of Antiochus’ influential pupil Varro. Platonism influenced Christianity through Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and the Cappadocian Fathers. Some of these souls become humans while others become daemons or heroes, a doctrine developed in his treatise On Heroes and Demons, which had an immense influence on later Platonists, especially Plutarch. R.E. Middle Platonism ends with Origen of Alexandria and his younger contemporary Plotinus, both of whom were deeply indebted to many of the philosophers discussed in this article, yet moved in directions uniquely their own. Finally, Crantor of Soloe (ca. 26-30). His ability to use allegory in order to prove this assertion is most evident in his treatise On Isis and Osiris. Hellenistic-Era astrological doctrine cosmos in which the cosmos is a privation of good and that pleasure the. Examples of Hellenistic-era astrological doctrine within middle platonism christianity philosophy Platonism ( c. A.D. 250-600 ) cosmology in pure! 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