Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity

Jonathan Z. Z. Smith, 1990

 

In this major theoretical and methodological statement on the history of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith shows how convert apologetic agendas can dictate the course of comparative religious studies. As his example, Smith reviews four centuries of scholarship comparing early Christianities with religions of late Antiquity (especially the so-called mystery cults) and shows how this scholarship has been based upon an underlying Protestant-Catholic polemic. The result is a devastating critique of traditional New Testament scholarship, a redescription of early Christianities as religious traditions amenable to comparison, and a milestone in Smith’s controversial approach to comparative religious studies.

(Text by the author)

 

Contents:

On the origin of origins

On comparison

On comparing words

On compating stories

On comparing settings

Index

To Take Place

TOWARD THEORY IN RITUAL

 

JONATHAN Z. SMITH, 1987

 

In this broad-ranging inquiry into ritual and its relation to place, Jonathan Z. Smith prepares the way for a new approach to the comparative study of religion.

Smith stresses the importance of place—in particular, constructed ritual environments—to a proper understanding of the ways in which « empty » actions become rituals. He structures his argument around the territories of the Tjilpa aborigines in Australia and two sites in Jerusalem—the temple envisioned by Ezekiel and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The first of these locales—the focus of one of the more important contemporary theories of religious ritual—allows Smith to raise questions concerning the enterprise of comparison. His close examination of Eliade’s influential interpretation of the Tjilpa tradition leads to a powerful critique of the approach to religion, myth, and ritual that begins with cosmology and the category of « The Sacred. »

In substance and in method, To Take Place represents a significant advance toward a theory of ritual. It is of great value not only to historians of religion and students of ritual, but to all, whether social scientists or humanists, who are concerned with the nature of place.

(Text by the author)

 

Contents:

Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. In Search of Place
2. Father Place
3. To Put in Place
4. To Replace
5. To Take Place
Abbreviations
Notes
Index

Platonism in Late Antiquity

by Stephen Gersh (Editor), Charles Kannengiesser (Editor), 1992

 

This collection of essays brings together the work of leading North American and European classics and patristic scholars. By emphasizing the common Platonic heritage of pagan philosophy and Christian theology, it reveals the range and continuity of the Platonic tradition in late antiquity. Some of the papers treat specific authors, and others the evolution of particular doctrines. The topics covered range chronologically from Plutarch of Chaeronea (first-second century AD) to pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (fifth-sixth century AD), and all the major figures in late ancient Greek thought, including Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus are discussed. Becayse late antique Platonism is increasingly recognized as a subject that lends itself to interdisciplinary study, this volume, although intended primarily for scholars of Neoplatonism, should also be of interest to students of classics, theology (especially patristics) and late ancient history.

(Text by the editors)

 

Contents

 

Édouard des Places

Bilbiography 1980-1989

Contributors

Introduction and Short Bibliography of Secondary Material – Stephen Gersh

The Language of Excellence in Plato’s Timaeus and Later Platonism – David T. Runia

Darkly Beyond the Glass: Middle Platonism and the Vision of the Soul – Frederick E. Brenk, S. J.

Catachresis and Negative Theology: Philo of Alexandria and Basilides – John Whittaker

Iconoclasmo bizantino e filosofia delle immagini divine nel neoplatonismo – Ugo Criscuolo

Il De facie di Plutarco e la teologia medioplatonica – Pierluigi Donini

Plotinus and Christianity – A. Hilary Armstrong

Plotinus and the Chaldean Oracles – John Dillon

Porphyry’s Commentary on the “Harmonics” of Ptolemy and Neoplatonic Musical Theory – Stephen Gersh

Relecture de Jamblique, De mysteriis, VIII, chap. 1-5 – Hervé D. Saffrey

Soul Vehicles in Simplicius – H. J. Blumenthal

Platonism and Church Fathers: Three Notes – Miroslav Marcovich

The Alien God in Arius – Raoul Mortley

“Image d’image”, “Miroir de miroir” (Grégoire de Nysse, De hominis opificio xii, PG 44, 161 C – 164 B) – Jean Pépin

Osservazioni sull’Epistola 140 di Sinesio – Antonio Garzya

“παθὼν τὰ θεῖα” – Ysabel de Andia

Imagining Religion

FROM BABYLON TO JONESTOWN

JONATHAN Z. SMITH, 1982

 

With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological.

Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventional, anthropological, historical, and as an exercise of imagination. In his analyses, religion emerges as the product of historically and geographically situated human ingenuity, cognition, and curiosity—simply put, as the result of human labor, one of the decisive but wholly ordinary ways human beings create the worlds in which they live and make sense of them.

(Text by the author)

 

Contents:

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Fences and Neighbors: Some Contours of Early Judaism
2. In Comparison a Magic Dwells
3. Sacred Persistence: Toward a Redescription of Canon
4. The Bare Facts of Ritual
5. The Unknown God: Myth in History
6. A Pearl of Great Price and a Cargo of Yams
7. The Devil in Mr. Jones

Appendixes
Notes
Index

Philosophie Antique. Problèmes, renaissances, usages

La philosophie de Plotin et de ses successeurs exerça un ascendant presque exclusif pendant près de quatre siècles et imprégna durablement la philosophie médiévale. Les études rassemblées dans ce numéro, dues en majorité à de jeunes chercheurs, témoignent à la fois du génie spéculatif des auteurs rassemblés sous l’étiquette de néoplatonisme et de la vitalité de la recherche actuelle dans ce domaine.

09/2009

Riccardo Chiaradonna – Plotin, la mémoire et la connaissance des intelligibles

Valérie Cordonier – De la transmission à la sympathie : Plotin et la désaffection du milieu perceptif (Enn. IV, 5 [29])

Pierre Thillet – À propos du choix d’une variante chez Plotin Ennéades, V, 3 [49], 7, 31

Isabelle Koch – Plotin critique de l’épistémologie stoïcienne

Gregory MacIsaac – The Soul and the Virtues in Proclus’ Commentary on the Republicof Plato

Angela Longo – La réécriture analytico-syllogistique d’un argument platonicien en faveur de l’immortalité de l’âme (Plat. Phaedr. 245c5-246a2). Alcinoos, Alexandre d’Aphrodise, Hermias d’Alexandrie

Varia

Béatrice Bakhouche – La φαντασία et ses diverses expressions dans le monde latin

Alain Galonnier – Cosmogenèse et chronocentrisme chez Calcidius

Comptes rendus

Séline Gülgönen – Anne Gabrièle Wersinger, La Sphère et l’Intervalle : le schème de l’Harmonie dans la pensée des anciens Grecs d’Homère à Platon. Grenoble, Éditions Jérôme Millon, 2008 (Horos), 30 €, ISBN 2-84137-230-0

Gretchen Reydams-Schils – David Sedley, Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity. Berkeley-Los Angeles-Londres, University of California, 2007 (Sather Classical Lectures 66), xvii + 269 p., ISBN 978-0-520-25364-3.

Olivier Renaut – Robert Zaborowski, Sur le sentiment chez les Présocratiques : Contribution psychologique à la philosophie des sentiments. Varsovie, Stakroos, 2008, 256p.

Pablo Sandoval Villaroel – Josep Monserrat Molas, Estranys, setciències i pentatletes. Barcelone, Barcelonesa d’Edicions, 2007, 137 p., ISBN 978-84-86887-70-4.

Luca Pitteloud – Francis A. Grabowski III, Plato, Metaphysics and the Forms. Londres-New York, Continuum Press, 2008 (Continuum Studies in Ancient Philosophy), 163 p. ISBN 978-0-8264-9780-2.

Joëlle Delattre – Voula Tsouna, The Ethics of Philodemus. New York, Oxford U. P., 2007, 350 p. ISBN : 978-0-19-929217-2.

Map is not Territory

STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS

JONATHAN Z. SMITH, 1978

 

In Map Is Not Territory, Jonathan Z. Smith engages previous interpretations of religious texts from late antiquity, critically evaluates the notion of sacred space and time as it is represented in the works of Mircea Eliade, and tackles important problems of methodology.

(Text by the author)

 

Contents:

Preface
Acknowledgements

I
I. The Garments of Shame
II. The Prayer of Joseph
III. Wisdom and Apocalyptic

II
IV. The Wobbling Pivot
V. Earth and Gods
VI. The Influence of Symbols on Social Change: A Place on Which to Stand
VII. Birth Upside Down or Right Side Up?
VIII. The Temple and the Magician
IX. Good News is No News: Aretalogy and Gospel

III
X. When the Bough Breaks
XI. Adde Parvum Parvo Magnus Acervus Erit
XII. I am a Parrot (Red)

IV
XIII. Map Is Not Territory
Index to Ancient Sources
Bible; Jewish and Christian Apocrypha
Other Ancient Sources
General Index

The Derveni Papyrus: Cosmology, Theology and Interpretation

Gábor Betegh, 2007

 

Gábor Betegh presents the first systematic reconstruction and examination of the Derveni papyrus and analyzes its role in the intellectual milieu of its age. Found in 1962 near Thessaloniki among the remains of a funeral pyre, it is one of the earliest surviving Greek papyri and is a document of primary importance for understanding religious and philosophical developments of the time of Socrates. The book will appeal strongly to classicists, philosophers and historians of religion.

(Text by the author)

 

Contents:

 

  1. The find
  2. The first columns
  3. The reconstruction of the poem
  4. The interpretation of the poem
  5. The cosmic god
  6. Cosmology
  7. Anaxagoras
  8. Diogenes of Apollonia and Archelaus of Athens
  9. Physics and eschatology: Heraclitus and the gold plates
  10. Understanding Orpheus, understanding the world

 

Appendix: Diagoras and the Derveni author

Bibliography

Index verborum

Index of passages

Index of modern names

Index of subjects

« Plotin contra Zostrien : à la recherche des traces du dialogue avec les Gnostiques dans les Traités 22 et 23 [VI.4 et VI.5] ».

Zeke Mazur

Dès le premier traité que Plotin écrit après l’arrivée de Porphyre (vers l’an 263), on peut discerner de nombreuses empreintes de sa rencontre avec les écrits séthiens qui circulaient dans son école. Le grand traité 22-23 (divisé en deux par Porphyre) vise des interlocuteurs non–identifiés qui proposent plusieurs divisions hiérarchiques dans la réalité métaphysique. Selon Plotin, ces divisions risquent d’endommager l’unité de l’Être, de séparer de manière trop rigide le divin du monde, et–– ce qui est encore pire–– de scinder l’âme particulière de sa source dans le Tout intelligible (un argument qu’il reprendra plus tard dans le Großschrift). On aperçoit que Plotin répond ici à des idées gnostiques que l’on trouve surtout chez Zostrien (NHC VIII,1), et l’on peut même reconnaître quelques échos des passages zostriens. Par exemple, il y a une parallèle frappante entre 23 [VI.5] 12 et Zost. 44–46, qui semble être une exégèse gnostique de la doctrine de la chute de l’âme chez Platon, Phèdre 247–250 (une péricope à laquelle on trouve aussi une réponse étendue dans Porphyre, Sententiae 40). Il est bien connu que Zostrien fut la cible d’un énorme œuvre de réfutation de la part d’Amélius ; il n’est donc pas surprenant que l’on trouve quelques traces d’un tel débat chez le maître lui-même. Mais la réponse de Plotin dans 22-23 paraît curieusement concessive (en contraste, par exemple, avec le ton irascible du Traité 33 [II, 9]) ; et, en outre, Plotin s’y approprie de plusieurs images et concepts gnostiques pour ses propres arguments. Cette étude nous permettra de préciser non seulement l’attitude subtile de Plotin par rapport à la métaphysique gnostique (et la sotériologie sur laquelle elle dépend), mais aussi sa méthode critique face aux textes gnostiques dans la période avant la cristallisation de son anti-gnosticisme.

Texte fourni par l’auteur.

Beyond Gnosticism
Myth, Lifestyle, and Society in the School of Valentinus

Ismo O. Dunderberg, 2008

Valentinus was a popular, influential, and controversial early Christian teacher. His school flourished in the second and third centuries C.E. Yet because his followers ascribed the creation of the visible world not to a supreme God but to an inferior and ignorant Creator-God, they were from early on accused of heresy, and rumors were spread of their immorality and sorcery.

Beyond Gnosticism suggests that scholars approach Valentinians as an early Christian group rather than as a representative of ancient “Gnosticism”-a term notoriously difficult to define. The study shows that Valentinian myths of origin are filled with references to lifestyle (such as the control of emotions), the Christian community, and society, providing students with ethical instruction and new insights into their position in the world. While scholars have mapped the religio-historical and philosophical backgrounds of Valentinian myth, they have yet to address the significance of these mythmaking practices or emphasize the practical consequences of Valentinians’ theological views. In this groundbreaking study, Ismo Dunderberg provides a comprehensive portrait of a group hounded by other Christians after Christianity gained a privileged position in the Roman Empire.

Valentinians displayed a keen interest in mythmaking and the interpretation of myths, spinning complex tales about the origin of humans and the world. As this book argues, however, Valentinian Christians did not teach “myth for myth’s sake.” Rather, myth and practice were closely intertwined. After a brief introduction to the members of the school of Valentinus and the texts they left behind, Dunderberg focuses on Valentinus’s interpretation of the biblical creation myth, in which the theologian affirmed humankind’s original immortality as a present, not lost quality and placed a special emphasis on the “frank speech” afforded to Adam by the supreme God. Much like ancient philosophers, Valentinus believed that the divine Spirit sustained the entire cosmic chain and saw evil as originating from conspicuous “matter.”

Dunderberg then turns to other instances of Valentinian mythmaking dominated by ethical concerns. For example, the analysis and therapy of emotions occupy a prominent place in different versions of the myth of Wisdom’s fall, proving that Valentinians, like other educated early Christians, saw Christ as the healer of emotions. Dunderberg also discusses the Tripartite Tractate, the most extensive account to date of Valentinian theology, and shows how Valentinians used cosmic myth to symbolize the persecution of the church in the Roman Empire and to create a separate Christian identity in opposition to the Greeks and the Jews.

(Text by the author)

Contents:

List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction

  1. The School of Valentinus After Gnosticism

Part 1. Myth, Lifestyle, and the World in the Fragments of Valentinus 
2. Immortality as a Way of Life
3. Adam’s Frank Speech
4. Cosmic Sympathy and the Origin of Evil

Part 2. Valentinian Cosmogony, Lifestyle, and Other Christians 
5. Myth and Lifestyle for Beginners
6. Myth and the Therapy of Emotions
7. The Creator-God and the Cosmos
8. Walk Like a Valentinian
9. Two Classes of Christians in Practice

Part 3. Myth, Society, and Non-Christians 
10. Myth, Society, and the Oppressed Church
11. Myth and Ethnic Boundaries
Conclusion
12. Valentinian Secretiveness Reconsidered

Appendix: Remarks on the Sources of Irenaeus’s and Hippolytus’s Accounts of Valentinian Theology

Abbreviations
Notes
Bibliography
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Subjects

Aristotle in Late Antiquity

(Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy) 

Lawrence P. Schrenk (Editor), 1994

 

Consisting of nine studies, this volume presents a series of specific insights on Aristotle’s influence from Plotinus through Arabic thought. In the first article, Lloyd P. Gerson shows how Plotinus develops much of his metaphysics in conscious opposition to that offered by Aristotle. Steven K. Strange provides a detailed analysis of the arguments of Ennead 3.7, in which Plotinus surveys classical texts on the nature of time, including Aristotle’s Physics.

The next three essays demonstrate Aristotle’s influence on philosophers of the Late Greek era. R. J. Hankinson examines Galen’s seminal work in the logic of relations and presents a full analysis of Galen’s intricate account of relational logic found in several of his treatises. Arthur Madigan investigates the sixth, seventh, and eighth aporiae of Alexander of Aphrodisias’s Metaphysics B, which concern species and genera. In order to elucidate the relationship between the process of discovering a thesis and its subsequent demonstration, Lawrence P. Schrenk examines the four « dialectical » methods offered by the Greek commentators on Aristotle: division, definition, demonstration, and analysis.

The final group of essays looks at Aristotelian thought within the Byzantine and Islamic cultures. Leo J. Elders presents a comprehensive survey of Aristotle’s influence on Greek Christian authors, tracing his ideas in the work of Christian apologists, theologians, and historians. Ian Mueller follows Aristotelian themes in Hippolytus’s criticisms, concluding that the « Aristotle » of Hippolytus and Basilides was only a corrupted version of the classical Aristotle. While Photius is best known for his role in ecclesiastical history, John P. Anton explores Photius’s philosophical adaptation of the Aristotelian account of substance. Lastly, Therese-Anne Druart makes the transition from Greek to Arabic philosophy in her discussion of Ibn Rushd, or Averroes, providing a valuable overview of Averroes as Aristotelian commentator.

(Text by the editor)

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

 

PART I: ARISTOTLE AND PLOTINUS

1 Plotinus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Metaphysics – LLOYD P. GERSON

2 Plotinus on the Nature of Eternity and Time – STEVEN K. STRANGE

 

PART II: ARISTOTLE AND LATE GREEK THOUGHT

3 Galen and the Logic of Relations – R. J. HANKINSON

4 Alexander on Aristotle’s Species and Genera as Principles – ARTHUR MADIGAN

5 Proof and Discovery in Aristotle and the Later Greek Tradition: A Prolegomenon to a Study of Analysis and Synthesis – LAWRENCE P. SCHRENK

 

PART III: ARISTOTLE IN BYZANTIUM AND ISLAM

6 The Greek Christian Authors and Aristotle – LEO J. ELDERS

7 Hippolytus, Aristotle, Basilides – IAN MUELLER

8 The Aristotelianism of Photius’s Philosophical Theology – JOHN P. ANTON

9 Averroes: The Commentator and the Commentators – THÉRÈSE-ANNE DRUART

 

Contributors

Index