Influence of Neoplatonism on Christianity

looking to be a more historcal paper than philosophical

Stephen Philippou – notes on dissertation and reading


Notes on topic and structure


Topic: Influence of Neoplatonism on Christianity (precise title to be decided)


Scope: to look at three or four central theological/philosophical topics, and explore the similarity and/or conflict between Christian thinkers and Neoplatonist predecessors in relation to them


Chronological/textual limit: within second and third centuries AD, with focus on a few Christian authors (e.g. Justin, Tertullian, Clement, Origen)



– introduction will consider the (different) rationales and approaches of the Christian authors you consider, how they use or react to Platonist thought, philosophical reasoning versus revealed wisdom, etc.

– probably three chapters, each on a specific theme, possible examples:

  1. Platonic immortal soul vs. Christian notion resurrection
  2. eternity of the world / creation account
  3. the expereince or transformation of knowledge (mystical knowledge, ascent to understanding, etc.

– conclusion summarizing what’s been shown


Suggestions for reading



Stead, C. (1994) Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge University Press, esp. part II: ‘The Use of Philosophy in Christian Theology’


Karamanolis, G. (2013) The Philosophy of Early Christianity, Acumen [detail on e.g. Justin, Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, including discussion of their engagement with pre-Christian schools]



Athanassiadi, P (2015) Mutations of Hellenism in Late Antiquity, Ashgate


Athanassiadi, P. and Frede, M. (eds., 1999) Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity, Oxford: Clarendon Press


Edwards, M. J. (2012) Christians, Gnostics and Philosophers in Late Antiquity, Ashgate


Specifically on Stoicism (but some of this might be interesting for you too:)

Sellars, J. (ed.) (2016) The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition

[esp. the chapters by T. Engberg-Pedersen; L. Gerson (Plotinus); S. Byers (Augustine)]


PRIMARY TEXTS: early Christian writing is collected in J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius; Neoplatonist writing in J. M. Dillon and L. Gerson, Neoplatonic Philosophy: Introductory Readings





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