Philosophy in Late Antiquity 

Andrew Smith, London: Routledge, 2004


One of the most significant cultural achievements of Late Antiquity lies in the domains of philosophy and religion, more particularly in the establishment and development of Neoplatonism as one of the chief vehicles of thought and subsequent channel for the transmission of ancient philosophy to the medieval and renaissance worlds. Important, too, is the emergence of a distinctive Christian philosophy and theology based on a foundation of Greek pagan thought. This book provides an introduction to the main ideas of Neoplatonism and some of the ways in which they influenced Christian thinkers.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents



Setting the agenda: The philosophy of Plotinus


1 The individual

2 The One

3 Intellect

4 Soul, the universe and matter

5 The return of the soul

PART II The diffusion of Neoplatonism

6 Philosophy and religion

7 The development of Neoplatonism

8 Christianity and Neoplatonism


Suggestions for further reading



Philosophie und Religion

Jens Halfwassen (Hg.), Markus Gabriel (Hg.), Stephan Zimmermann (Hg.), Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2011


Gegenwärtig läßt sich eine Renaissance der Metaphysik diagnostizieren. Dabei wird naturgemäß auch die Frage nach dem Verhältnis von Philosophie und Religion neu aufgeworfen. Seit ihren frühesten Anfängen setzt sich die Philosophie mit der Religion auseinander, in der sie teils konkurrierende Wahrheitsansprüche, teils aber auch komplementäre Einsichten vermutet hat. Der vorliegende Band untersucht das Verhältnis von Philosophie und Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart.




AXEL HUTTER: Die Verwandtschaft von Philosophie und Religion. Erinnerung an ein verdrängtes Sachproblem

JAN ASSMANN: Der allumfassende und der persönlich e Gott in philosophischen’ Hymnen der altägyptischen Theologie

JOSE PEDRO SERRA: Tragedy and Mythology: Aeschylus and the Oresteia

CARLOS JOÃO CORREIA: The Self and the Void


MARKUS ENDERS: Gott und die Übel in dieser Welt. Zum Projekt einer philosophischen Rechtfertigung Gottes (Theodizee) bei Leibniz und Kant

JÜRGEN STOLZENBERG: Religiöses Bewußtsein nach Kant. Fichte und Friedrich von Hardenberg

GÜNTER ZÖLLER: „Die beiden Grundprincipien der Menschheit ». Glaube und Verstand in Fichtes später Staatsphilosophie

KATIA HAY: Die „unerwartete Harmonie ». Differenzen und Analogien zwischen Philosophie und Religion in Schellings Denken

MARKUS GABRIEL: „Die allgemeine Notwendigkeit der Sünde und des Todes ». Leben und Tod in Schellings Freiheitsschrift

JENS HALFWASSEN: Metaphysik im Mythos. Zu Schellings Philosophie der Mythologie

PAULO BORGES: From God, « the only perfect atheist », to the « masquerade ball » of creation in Teixeira de Pascoaes

CRISTINA BECKERT: The Ambiguity of God in Levinas

STEPHAN ZIMMERMANN: Zum gesellschaftstheoretischen Religionsbegriff von Niklas Luhmann

FRIEDRICH HERMANNI: Gottesgedanke und menschliche Freiheit


Giuliano Imperatore filosofo neoplatonico

Maria Carmen de Vita, Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2011


Da sempre considerato una delle figure più affascinanti del paganesimo tardoantico, per il suo sogno impossibile di riportare in auge gli antichi dèi in un mondo già permeato dal cristianesimo, l’imperatore Giuliano l’Apostata per lungo tempo non ha goduto di buona fama presso gli storici della filosofia. Il presente volume è un’esplorazione sistematica alle radici del suo pensiero, ricostruito dai molteplici spunti presenti nei discorsi, nelle lettere e nei frammenti dell’opuscolo Contro i Galilei. Attraverso un confronto dettagliato con le dottrine dei filosofi del III-V secolo, Maria Carmen De Vita intende restituire a Giuliano la sua esatta collocazione nel panorama del neoplatonismo tardoantico e, soprattutto, verificare come l’aspetto più discusso del suo breve periodo di governo, ossia la controversa lotta ai Galilei, non sia che la pars destruens di un progetto più impegnativo, comprendente, nelle intenzioni del princeps, una pars costruens altrettanto ambiziosa: l’istituzione di una nuova teologia-liturgia ellenica in cui gli antichi culti, riproposti in una cornice metafisica largamente ispirata al neoplatonismo, possano offrire una valida alternativa alla dirompente originalità del monoteismo cristiano.

Biografia dell’autore: Maria Carmen De Vita (1975) ha conseguito il titolo di dottore di ricerca in Filologia classica (2005) e in Filosofia d’età tardoantica, medievale ed umanistica (2008) presso l’Università di Salerno. Ha collaborato con l’Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici di Napoli con un progetto di ricerca sul rapporto fra retorica e filosofia nell’ambito della cultura tardoantica. È autrice di studi sulla tradizione platonica (Protagora 314c3- 316a5, 2004; Il mito di Prometeo in Platone e in Temistio, 2004), sulla storia della retorica antica (L’organismo vivo del logos, 2009), e sulla ricezione del platonismo nel dibattito pagano-cristiano del IV secolo (Un ‘agone’ di discorsi: Genesi e Timeo a confronto nel trattato di Giuliano Contro i Galilei, 2008).

(Testo della casa editrice)


The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity

Essays in honour of Peter Brown

Brown, P. R. L., Smith, A., Alt, K., London: Bloomsbury, 2005


The philosophers of Late Antiquity have sometimes appeared to be estranged from society. ‘We must flee everything physical’ is one of the most prominent ideas taken by Augustine from Platonic literature. This collection of new studies by leading writers on Late Antiquity treats both the principles of metaphysics and the practical engagement of philosophers. It points to a more substantive and complex involvement in worldly affairs than conventional handbooks admit.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

Introduction – Andrew Smith

  1. Philosophy as a profession in late antiquity – John Dillon
  2. Movers and shakers – Robin Lane Fox
  3. The social concern of the Plotinian sage – Alexandrine Schniewind
  4. Action and contemplation in Plotinus – Andrew Smith
  5. Man and daimones : do the daimones influence man’s life? – Karin Alt
  6. A Neoplatonist ethics for high-level officials : Sopatros’ letter to Himerios – Dominic J. O’Meara
  7. Live unnoticed! : the invisible Neoplatonic politician – Robert van den Berg
  8. Apamea and the Chaldaean Oracles : a holy city and a holy book – Polymnia Athanassiadi
  9. Sages, cities and temples : aspects of late antique pythagorism? – Garth Fowden
  10. Asceticism and administration in the life of St. John Chrysostom – Aideen Hartney
  11. Where Greeks and Christians meet : two incidents in Panopolis and Gaza – Mark Edwards
  12. Divine names and sordid deals in Ammonius’ Alexandria – Richard Sorabji
  13. An Alexandrian Christian response to fifth-century Neoplatonic influence – Edward Watts
  14. Appendix : Harran, the Sabians and the late Platonist ‘movers’ – Robin Lane Fox.



Relating Religion

Essays in the study of religion

JONATHAN Z. SMITH, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004


One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy and refinement of comparison as the basis for the history of religions. Relating Religion gathers seventeen essays—four of them never before published—that together provide the first broad overview of Smith’s thinking since his seminal 1982 book, Imagining Religion. Smith first explains how he was drawn to the study of religion, outlines his own theoretical commitments, and draws the connections between his thinking and his concerns for general education. He then engages several figures and traditions that serve to define his interests within the larger setting of the discipline. The essays that follow consider the role of taxonomy and classification in the study of religion, the construction of difference, and the procedures of generalization and redescription that Smith takes to be key to the comparative enterprise. The final essays deploy features of Smith’s most recent work, especially the notion of translation. Heady, original, and provocative, Relating Religion is certain to be hailed as a landmark in the academic study and critical theory of religion.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

  1. When the chips are down
    2. Acknowledgments : morphology and history in Mircea : Eliade’s Patterns in comparative religion (1949-1999), part 1 : the work and its contexts
    3. Acknowledgments : morphology and history in Mircea : Eliade’s Patterns in comparative religion (1949-1999), part 2 : the texture of the work
    4. The topography of the sacred
    5. Manna, mana everywhere and [actual symbol not reproducible]
    6. The domestication of sacrifice
    7. A matter of class : taxonomies of religion
    8. Religion, religions, religious
    9. Bible and religion
    10. Trading places
    11. Differential equations : on constructing the other
    12. What a difference a difference makes
    13. Close encounters of diverse kinds
    14. Here, there, and anywhere
    15. Re : Corinthians
    16. A twice-told tale : the history of the history of religions’ history
    17. God save this honourable court : religion and civic discourse
    App. Jonathan Z. Smith : publications, 1966-2003


Drudgery Divine

On the Comparison of Early Christianities

and the Religions of Late Antiquity

Jonathan Z. Z. Smith, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 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 from the publisher)

Table of contents

On the origin of origins

On comparison

On comparing words

On compating stories

On comparing settings



Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism

Algis Uždavinys, London: Matheson Trust, 2011


A book on the religious, mystic origins and substance of philosophy. This is a critical survey of ancient and modern sources and of scholarly works dealing with Orpheus and everything related to this major figure of ancient Greek myth, religion and philosophy. Here poetic madness meets religious initiation and Platonic philosophy. This book contains fascinating insights into the usually downplaid relations between Egyptian initiation, Greek mysteries and Plato’s philosophy and followers, right into Hellenistic Neoplatonic and Hermetic developments.

(Text from the publisher) 

Table of contents

Preface   ix

  1. A Model of Unitive Madness 1
  2. Socratic Madness 5

III. Socrates as Seer and Saviour   9

  1. Philosophy, Prophecy, Priesthood 17
  2. Scribal Prophethood 19
  3. Eastern and Greek Prophethood 21

VII. Inside the Cultic Madness of the Prophets   25

VIII. Egyptian Priesthood   32

  1. Orpheus as Prophet 37
  2. Orpheus and the Pythagorean Tradition 41
  3. Orpheus and Apollo 44

XII. Orphic Revolution   47

XIII. Knowledge into Death  52

XIV. Telestic Restoration   58

  1. Lyre of Orpheus 61

XVI. Cosmic Unfolding of the One   64

Orpheus and the Roots of Platonism  viii

XVII. Recollection and Cyclic Regression    68

XVIII. Orphic and Platonic Forms   72

XIX. Method of Philosophical Catharsis   76

  1. Deification of the Egyptian Initiate-Philosopher. . . 79

XXI. From Homer to Hermetic Secrecy   84

XXII. Into the Mysteries   89

XXIII. Beyond the Tomb   93

XXIV. Conclusion   97


To take place

Toward theory in ritual

JONATHAN Z. SMITH, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 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 from the publisher)

Table of contents

1. In Search of Place
2. Father Place
3. To Put in Place
4. To Replace
5. To Take Place


Platonism in Late Antiquity

Stephen Gersh (Editor), Charles Kannengiesser (Editor), Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Presses, 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 from the publisher)

Table of contents

Édouard des Places

Bilbiography 1980-1989


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


JONATHAN Z. SMITH, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 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 from the publisher)

Table of contents


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