Philosophie und Religion
Jens Halfwassen (Hg.), Markus Gabriel (Hg.), Stephan Zimmermann (Hg.), 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.

(Text by the organizers)





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

The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity : Essays in honour of Peter Brown

Brown, P. R. L., Smith, A., Alt, K., 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 by the editors)


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




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 by the author)



  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, 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)



On the origin of origins

On comparison

On comparing words

On compating stories

On comparing settings


To Take Place





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)



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

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)




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




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)




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


Map is not Territory




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)




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

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

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

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)




  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


Index verborum

Index of passages

Index of modern names

Index of subjects

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)


List of Tables

  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
12. Valentinian Secretiveness Reconsidered

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

Index of Modern Authors
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Subjects