Early Christian Determinism: A Study of The Ethics of The Tripartite Tractate

Paul Linjamaa, 2018


The aim of this study is to explore the ethics of the Nag Hammadi text, The Tripartite Tractate. This text, the fifth tractate in Nag Hammadi Codex I, has received comparatively little attention, although it is the most detailed Valentinian treaty still extant. By investigating the ethics of The Tripartite Tractate, this study not only illuminates a previously unstudied aspect of this very interesting early Christian text, but also seeks to explore the workings of early Christian determinism. This has previously been presented as “Gnostic”, and then not taken seriously, or been disregarded as an invention of intra-Christian polemics. The present study challenges this conception and presents insights into how early Christian determinism worked, sustaining viable and functioning ethical systems. The ethics of The Tripartite Tractate are approached by connecting practical, lived ethics and the theoretical foundations for ancient ethical discussion. This entails examining the text’s ontology and epistemology, as well as ancient cognitive and behavioral theory. In short, this study aims to answer the question, “how should people behave?”, by first exploring questions regarding how human behavior and actions were thought to have worked in the first place.

Part I of the study investigates The Tripartite Tractate’s views on epistemology, ontology and theory of passions, as well as the nature of the human will and cognitive apparatus. It is noted that The Tripartite Tractate outlines a Christian deterministic system that denies free will in humans. The Tripartite Tractate presents an anthropology with three different classes of humans, each person being defined by the composition of their physical and mental make up, a mixture of the three basic substance viable in the cosmic system: matter, psychê and pneuma. This part of the study explores the The Tripartite Tractate’s dependence on, and relation to, Greco-Roman physics and theories of passions and cognition, and how they relate to and legitimize social structures. As a conclusion to Part I, the context of the text’s determinism is discussed and it is suggested that the views that Origen of Alexandria took action against in his work Peri Archon are reflected in The Tripartite Tractate.

Part II of the study is devoted to the practical and social implications of the text’s determinism and explores how it would have worked to create and sustain group identity. It is argued that the tripartite anthropology promotes a pedagogical schema that points out different roles and responsibilities humans have in relation to each other. The people termed “pneumatics” are described as ethical experts and are called upon to play the role of teachers in the ideal community, while the people termed “psychics” are described as the helpers and students of the “pneumatics”. The “material” people are outsiders destined to be lost. It is argued that the text utilizes ancient pedagogic language in order to construct the ideal social structure, and the usage of the terms “church” and “school” in the text is analyzed. It is suggested that the most likely social structure referenced by TriTrac would have comprised a group consisting of two parts: intellectually advanced pneumatics in an inner study circle within a second, larger part consisting of psychic everyday Christians, two groups that at times came together to study and celebrate communion and baptism. The everyday Christians are described as driven by honor, and encouraged to prosper in the world for the benefit of the larger community. This is discussed in light of the concept of “honor” and its importance in Roman society. Part II of the study demonstrates the effectiveness of a deterministic anthropology for creating and sustaining a group structure where a viable ethical system was implemented.

Part III of the study recapitulates the main arguments, and also explores the context of the text in light of the findings. It is argued that early third-century Alexandria is the most likely original context of the text. The implications of the study are discussed in light of the broader topic of early Christianity. Among other things, it is suggested that the doctrine of free will, which became a cornerstone in later Christianity, developed in the wake of debates with Christians we find represented in The Tripartite Tractate, whose approaches represent a serious alternative to the doctrine of free will.

(Text by the author)

Processo a Socrate

Mauro Bonazzi, 2018

399 a.C.: la città di Atene condanna a morte uno dei suoi figli più autorevoli, Socrate. Cosa è successo davvero nei mesi in cui si è svolta la vicenda giudiziaria? Si ripete spesso che si trattò di un processo politico mascherato, per colpire le simpatie oligarchiche dell’anziano filosofo. Ma forse il vero oggetto del contendere in questa vicenda fu proprio il pensiero di Socrate. Fino a che punto una comunità – ieri come oggi – può tollerare che i principi e i valori su cui si fonda siano messi radicalmente in discussione? E davvero le ragioni della filosofia e quelle della città non sono compatibili? Una lettura originale di uno dei più celebri processi della storia.

(Text by the author)


  1. In tribunale

Un processo celebre, e un altro processo celebre – La «questione socratica» – Il sistema dei tribunali

Intermezzo 1: Atene, una democrazia turbolenta

  1. L’oligarca

L’elefante – Anni difficili – Gli oligarchi intelligenti – Altri processi – Tutti pazzi per Sparta – Un processo senza (troppa) politica?

Intermezzo 2: Che cosa ha detto veramente Socrate: Platone e Senofonte a confronto

  1. L’empio

Introduzione – L’accusa di empietà – Filosofi e teologi – Il teologo empio

  1. Il cattivo maestro

Introduzione – Il discorso sul metodo – Cani, lupi, torpedini: un bestiario filosofico – Socrate e Alcibiade – Il maestro ignorante

Intermezzo 3: Topografia socratica

  1. La difesa e la morte di un uomo giusto

Voleva morire: su quello che Socrate avrebbe detto al processo – Il carcere – La cicuta – Il gallo



Plotinus on Consciousness


By D.M. Hutchinson

Publication planned for: June 2018


Plotinus is the first Greek philosopher to hold a systematic theory of consciousness. The key feature of his theory is that it involves multiple layers of experience: different layers of consciousness occur in different levels of self. This layering of higher modes of consciousness on lower ones provides human beings with a rich experiential world, and enables human beings to draw on their own experience to investigate their true self and the nature of reality. This involves a robust notion of subjectivity. However, it is a notion of subjectivity that is unique to Plotinus, and remarkably different from the Post-Cartesian tradition. Behind the plurality of terms Plotinus uses to express consciousness, and behind the plurality of entities to which Plotinus attributes consciousness (such as the divine souls and the hypostases), lies a theory of human consciousness. It is a Platonist theory shaped by engagement with rival schools of ancient thought.

    • Argues that the concept of consciousness existed in the ancient world and can be disentangled from Descartes and the Post-Cartesian tradition
    • Proposes a new interpretation of Plotinus’ philosophy of mind
  • Examines Plotinus’ theory of consciousness in dialogue with Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics

(Text by the author)



Notes on the Text


Chapter 1 – Self

Chapter 2 – Conciousness Terms

Chapter 3 – First Layer :  the soul-trace

Chapter 4 – Second Layer :  the lower soul

Chapter 5 – Third Layer : the higher soul

Chapter 6 – Self-Determination

Chapter 7 – Conclusion



General Index

Index Locorum

For further information, go to the Cambridge University Press website:

Christianizing Egypt
Syncretism and Local Worlds in Late Antiquity

David Frankfurter, 2017


How does a culture become Christian, especially one that is heir to such ancient traditions and spectacular monuments as Egypt? This book offers a new model for envisioning the process of Christianization by looking at the construction of Christianity in the various social and creative worlds active in Egyptian culture during late antiquity.

As David Frankfurter shows, members of these different social and creative worlds came to create different forms of Christianity according to their specific interests, their traditional idioms, and their sense of what the religion could offer. Reintroducing the term “syncretism” for the inevitable and continuous process by which a religion is acculturated, the book addresses the various formations of Egyptian Christianity that developed in the domestic sphere, the worlds of holy men and saints’ shrines, the work of craftsmen and artisans, the culture of monastic scribes, and the reimagination of the landscape itself, through processions, architecture, and the potent remains of the past.

Drawing on sermons and magical texts, saints’ lives and figurines, letters and amulets, and comparisons with Christianization elsewhere in the Roman empire and beyond, Christianizing Egypt reconceives religious change—from the “conversion” of hearts and minds to the selective incorporation and application of strategies for protection, authority, and efficacy, and for imagining the environment.

(Text by the author)


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations




CHAPTER 1 – Remodeling the Christianization of Egypt

CHAPTER 2 – Domestic Devotion and Religious Change TRADITIONS OF THE DOMESTIC SPHERE


CHAPTER 4 – A Site of Blessings, Dreams, and Wonders TRADITIONS OF THE SAINT’S SHRINE








The Nag Hammadi Codices and Late Antique Egypt

(Studien Und Texte Zu Antike Und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity) 


by Lance Jenott (Editor),‎ Hugo Lundhaug (Editor), Mohr Siebeck, 2018


This volume showcases the new trend in scholarship to treat the Nag Hammadi Codices as sources for Christianity and monasticism in late antique Egypt rather than for Gnosticism. The essays situate the Nag Hammadi Codices and their texts in the context of late antique Egypt, treating such topics as Coptic readers and readings, the difficulty of dating early Greek and Coptic manuscripts, scribal practices, the importance of heavenly ascent, asceticism, and instruction in Egyptian monastic culture, the relationship of the texts to the Origenist controversy and Manichaeism, the continuity of mythical traditions in later Coptic literature, and issues relating to the codices’ production and burial. Most of the essays were originally presented at the conference “The Nag Hammadi Codices in the Context of Fourth- and Fifth-Century Christianity in Egypt,” organized by the ERC-financed project New Contexts for Old Texts: Unorthodox Texts and Monastic Manuscript Culture in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Egypt (NEWCONT), at the University of Oslo in December 2013.


Survey of contents

Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott – Introduction

Christian Askeland – Dating early Greek and Coptic literary hands

Christian Bull – Hermes Between Pagans and Christians in Fourth Century Egypt: The Literary and Historical Contexts of the Nag Hammadi Hermetica

Dylan Burns – Sethian, Coptic, Christian: Eleleth and the “Four Luminaries” in Roman and postConquest Egypt

Julio Cesar Dias Chaves – From the Apocalypse of Paul (NH V, 2) to Coptic Epic Passions: Welcoming and Greeting Paul and the Martyrs in Heaven

Jon Dechow – The Nag Hammadi Milieu: An Assessment in the Light of the Origenist Controversies (with Appendix 2015)

Stephen Emmel – Toward (Re-)Constructing a Coptic Reading Experience in Late Antique Egypt

René Falkenberg – What has Nag Hammadi to do with Medinet Madi? Literary connections between Eugnostos and Manichaeism

James E. Goehring – The Material Encoding of Early Christian Division: Nag Hammadi Codex VII and the Ascetic Milieu in Upper Egypt

Lillian Larsen – Slippery Sources: The Sentences of Sextus as Sayings and Stories (and Schooltexts)

Hugo Lundhaug – The Relationship Between the Nag Hammadi Codices and the Dishna Papers

Louis Painchaud – The Production and Destination of the Nag Hammadi Codices

Philip Sellew – Reading Jesus in the Desert: The Gospel of Thomas Meets the Apophthegmata Patrum

Blossom Stefaniw – Hegemony and Homecoming in the Ascetic Imagination: Sextus, Silvanus, and Monastic Instruction in Egypt

Ulla Tervahauta – Scriptural allusions and reminiscences in Authentikos Logos (NHC VI,)

Paula Tutty – Books of the Dead or Books with the Dead: Interpreting Book Depositions in Late Antique Egypt

Michael A. Williams and David Coblentz – A Reexamination of the Articulation Marks in Nag Hammadi Codices II and XIII

(Text by the editors)

Julien l’Empereur, Contre les Galiléens


Texte grec traduit et annoté par Angelo Giavatto et Robert Muller, Vrin, 2018

Élevé dans la religion chrétienne avant de devenir l’adversaire du christianisme, tout à la fois homme d’étude et chef de guerre, philosophe et empereur, Julien dit l’Apostat est un personnage singulier. Honni pendant des siècles comme traître à la vraie foi, il devient peu à peu, à partir du XVIe siècle, une figure exemplaire de la liberté et de la tolérance pour une partie des écrivains européens. Il est l’auteur d’une œuvre variée, où alternent écrits politiques, philosophiques et polémiques, ainsi que d’une importante correspondance. Son œuvre subsiste en quasi-totalité et est facilement accessible, à l’exception du Contre les Galiléens. Cet écrit de combat dans lequel Julien avait rassemblé ses griefs contre la religion chrétienne a en effet disparu, mais il a été partiellement conservé par les citations qu’en ont faites ses adversaires chrétiens dans leur tentative de le réfuter. C’est à partir de ces répliques qu’on tente depuis le XVIIIe siècle de restituer l’ouvrage original. La dernière de ces « restaurations » permet aujourd’hui d’accéder au Contre les Galiléens dans de meilleures conditions et, en comblant une lacune de l’édition, de mettre à la disposition du lecteur ce témoignage historique d’un christianisme contesté.

(Text by the authors)


Table des Matières


List des Œuvres de Julien


Note sur le texte et la Traduction

Plan du Recueil



Contre les Galiléens


Texte et traduction



Annexe I

Annexe II



Index des Noms

Index des Lieux

Table des Matières


La Prière dans la tradition platonicienne, de Platon à Proclus

A. Timotin, 2018,

Le présent ouvrage étudie la prière comme catégorie de la pensée religieuse platonicienne, de Platon à la fin de l’Antiquité.

The present book studies prayer as a category of Platonic religious thought, from Plato to Late Antiquity. Following a chronological framework (Plato, the pseudo-Platonic Second Alcibiades, Maximus of Tyre, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus), the book examines the relationship between philosophical reflection on prayer and a series of themes and related topics: the criticism and the interpretation of traditional cults, the conceptualization of religious emotions, the philosophical explanation of how astrology and magic work, the theories of the soul, and the theological description of reality in Late Neoplatonism.

The book aims to contribute to shed new light on the relationship between religion and philosophy in Antiquity and, in particular, on the forms of “scientific” religion that appear and develop in the philosophical schools in Late Antiquity. Special attention is paid to the relationship between philosophy, religion, and rhetoric. The rhetorical dimension of prayer is explored in relation to the role of persuasion and emotion in prayer and to the idea that exegetical commentary represents a hymn in prose addressed to the gods.

Le présent ouvrage a pour objet la prière comme catégorie de la pensée religieuse platonicienne, de Platon à la fin de l’Antiquité. En suivant un plan chronologique (Platon, le Second Alcibiade pseudo-platonicien, Maxime de Tyr, Plotin, Porphyre, Jamblique, Proclus), il étudie la relation entre la réflexion philosophique sur la prière et une série de thèmes et de questions connexes : la critique et l’interprétation des cultes traditionnels, la conceptualisation des émotions religieuses, l’explication philosophique du fonctionnement de l’astrologie et de la magie, les théories de l’âme et la description théologique du réel dans le néoplatonisme tardif.

Cette recherche souhaite contribuer à jeter un éclairage nouveau sur les rapports entre religion et philosophie dans l’Antiquité et, en particulier, sur les formes « scientifiques » de religion qui apparaissent et se développent dans les écoles philosophiques à la fin de l’Antiquité. Une attention particulière est prêtée à la relation entre philosophie, religion et rhétorique. La dimension rhétorique de la prière est explorée en relation avec le rôle de la persuasion et de l’affectivité dans la prière et avec la conception selon laquelle le commentaire exégétique représente un hymne en prose adressé aux dieux.

(Text by the author)


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Platon. Prières des impies, prières des sages

  1. Prier selon la loi
  2. Les prières platoniciennes et la tradition religieuse

III. Le Second Alcibiade. À la recherche de la prière idéale

  1. Le Second Alcibiade et la pensée religieuse à l’époque hellénistique
  2. La prière de l’ἄφρων : demander un mal au lieu d’un bien
  3. La prière pour les ἐσθλά du poète anonyme
  4. La prière des Athéniens et la prière des Spartiates

IV. Maxime de Tyr. Prière traditionnelle et prière du philosophe

  1. La critique de la prière traditionnelle
  2. La définition d’une « prière du philosophe »

V. Plotin. Prière « magique » et prière du νοῦς

  1. Prière, providence et responsabilité individuelle
  2. Les prières peuvent-elles contraindre les astres?
  3. Prier et attendre Dieu

VI. Porphyre. Hiérarchie des êtres divins, hiérarchie des prières

  1. La défense de la prière dans le Commentaire sur le Timée
  2. La Lettre à Anébon : prier n’est ni contraindre, ni pâtir
  3. La place de la prière dans la théorie du sacrifice
  4. Prière du sage, prière des théurges

VII. Jamblique. La prière théurgique

  1. Les réponses de Jamblique aux objections de Porphyre
  2. La théorie de la prière de Jamblique
  3. La prière finale de la Réponse à Porphyre (De mysteriis)

VIII. Proclus. La prière cosmique

  1. L’οὐσία de la prière
  2. La τελειότης de la prière
  3. Les causes et les modes de la prière
  4. La pratique de la prière

IX. Conclusions

1. Sources
2. Littérature secondaire
Index locorum
Index rerum
Index verborum


Maarten J. Vermaseren


Prefazione di Giancarlo Mantovani, traduzione dal francese di Barbara de Munari, Edizioni Ester, Bussoleno (Torino) 2017


Le Edizioni Ester hanno pubblicato la traduzione italiana di un classico della letteratura storico-religiosa, il Mithra di Maarten Jozef Vermaseren, una grande opera di sintesi dedicata al più famoso dio indo-iranico, la cui fama misterica spopolò nel tardo ellenismo. Nell’esodo persiano seguito alla dissoluzione dell’impero achemenide a causa dell’impresa di Alessandro Magno, il culto dell’iranico Mithra, trapiantato in Asia Minore, assunse i lineamenti di una religione misterica, una religione di salvezza che prometteva un destino migliore nell’altra vita, dando all’uomo la speranza di poter ascendere, dopo la morte, attraverso le sfere celesti. Una devozione misterica, che tra il I ed il III sec. d.C. si diffuse capillarmente nell’impero romano. Quale propaggine occidentale di un arcaico culto indo-iranico, il mithraismo subì una trasformazione formale, smarrendo l’originaria fisionomia per assumere i modi e gli stili tipici dell’ellenismo.

Il libro è arricchito da un lungo e prezioso saggio introduttivo del prof. Giancarlo Mantovani – che dello stesso Vermaseren fu discepolo – nel quale l’opera del maestro è aggiornata con approfondimenti riguardanti le origini e gli sviluppi del culto di Mithra. La fisionomia misterica del dio è infatti definita in relazione ai culti e dottrine che contribuirono alla sua diffusione (orfismo, ermetismo, gnosticismo, teurgia) da Oriente a Occidente.
Le origini del culto mithraico si ritrovano nei Veda induisti (Mitra) e nei testi dell’antica religione iranica, lo zoroastrismo (Mithra), in particolare nel decimo Yaštdell’Avesta cosiddetto recenziore (seconda metà del V sec. a.C.). Nella religiosità iranica Mithra è il dio dei contratti, e in quanto tale, si accerta che i contratti vengano rispettati, mappando il territorio e punendo chi non li rispetta. Tali caratteri sono affini a quelli del dio Varuṇa, col quale in India Mithra fa coppia (Mitravaruna).

Questi tratti di Mithra appartengono alla tradizione vedica più antica. Di conseguenza Mithra, aggirandosi attorno alla terra per sorvegliare gli impegni contrattuali, si trasforma in un dio celeste e quindi in un dio solare. Inoltre, la missione di punire gli inadempienti lo muta in un dio giustiziere e guerriero; mentre la funzione condivisa con Varuṇa di apportatore di pioggia, lo trasforma in un dio creatore di vita, e quindi in un demiurgo. I tratti fondamentali che lo renderanno famoso come dio misterico.

In Iran, nei rilievi sasanidi di Tāq-i Bustān (IV d.C.) Mithra è nimbato da un’aureola di raggi solari, col berretto frigio ricoperto di stelle, e i suoi piedi poggiano su di un fiore di loto, simbolo del Sole e della vita. E benché questo motivo iconografico sia caratteristico più dell’arte egizia e di quella indiana che di quella iranica, il suo significato legato al rinnovamento e alla cosmogonia sembra abbastanza chiaro.

Il Mithra che conosciamo dai Misteri è un dio che sgozza un toro, la cosiddetta tauroctonia, un atto molto violento spiegabile secondo il mito vedico del sacrificio della vacca primordiale. Mitra lega la vacca per i piedi, poi, anche se riluttante, la uccide insieme agli altri dèi. La stessa riluttanza fa sì che nell’iconografia dei Misteri il dio distolga lo sguardo mentre il suo pugnale fende la gola del toro. Qualcosa di simile si poteva vedere nella rappresentazione del sacrificio di Ifigenia attribuita a Timante, dove Agamennone, per non assistere all’uccisione della figlia, di cui era cosciente, si copriva il capo.

Il soma in India – l’haoma in Iran – è, insieme, il latte della vacca primordiale e il liquido seminale del toro primordiale, in quanto entrambi lo hanno assimilato mangiando la pianta. Così il sacrificio si conferma come un atto cosmogonico, tanto più che il toro è assimilabile alla Luna, astro fecondante.

Nella parte finale del Bundahišn iranico (cap. 34 [Anklesaria, p. 226, 3-6]) assistiamo a un episodio simile, il sacrificio del toro Hatāyōš da parte del Sōšyans, il Nama Sebesio dei Misteri. L’haoma (> medio-persiano hōm) – il cui corrispondente indico è il soma, materia del sacrificio vedico – non è solo una pianta misteriosa dalle virtù palingenetiche, ma anche una divinità, uno yazata celeste al quale è dedicato l’omonimo Yašt. Nel tempo molti studiosi o semplici appassionati hanno identificato la mitica pianta con svariati tipi di piante psicoattive e non, tra cui l’Amanita muscaria e il Peganum harmala, oggetto di due famosi e discussi libri. L’haoma nel quadro cosmologico zoroastriano è il cibo escatologico preparato dall’ultimo «Redentore futuro», l’ultimo Saošyant- (> medio-persiano Sōšyans), la libagione perenne che fa risorgere i morti e rende immortali i viventi.

Sempre da un’area di influenza iranica, l’Armenia, deriva un racconto epico su di un personaggio, anche linguisticamente, affine a Mithra, cioè Mher, un eroe gigantesco che, dopo aver combattuto tutti i nemici si trova a combattere anche contro il proprio padre. Maledetto dai genitori, si reca sulla loro tomba per implorare perdono e consiglio. Essi lo invitano a dirigersi verso una roccia nella pianura di Van. Lì giunto a cavallo, colpisce con la freccia un corvo, costringendolo a rivelargli l’entrata. La roccia si apre, e all’interno vi trova due fiaccole eternamente accese (i dadofori dei Misteri). Il racconto prosegue dicendo che l’eroe esce dalla grotta solo una volta l’anno, la notte dell’Ascensione, per cibarsi della manna che cade dal cielo, che nutrirà lui e il suo cavallo per l’intero anno. La missione di Mehr è quella di sorvegliare ininterrottamente la sfera del destino, roteante all’interno della grotta. Quando essa cesserà di girare, Mher uscirà dalla roccia per distruggere il mondo. Parecchi elementi – difficile da confutare – appartengono alla mitologia del Mithra dei Misteri.

È credo diffuso che Mithra giunse a Roma assieme ai pirati cilici fatti prigionieri. Alcuni di essi, a quanto pare, diventarono coloni, integrandosi perfettamente col resto della popolazione romana e ciò dovette contribuire notevolmente alla diffusione del nuovo culto. D’altra parte la nuova religione non poteva essere accettata a Roma prima di subire nuove trasformazioni e integrazioni. Dal momento che Plutarco (Pompeo, 24) parla esplicitamente di teletai = «misteri» a proposito delle cerimonie mithriache dei pirati cilici, si può dedurre che il mithraismo arrivò a Roma già sotto questa forma. Ma non si può escludere che Plutarco reinterpreti e retrodati il mithraismo dei pirati.

Esiste infine l’enigma dei legami tra il mithraismo e gli Oracoli caldaici, sorta di Bibbia magica dei neoplatonici di cui ha parlato il Muscolino nel citato libro sulla teurgia. Secondo Giorgio Gemisto Pletone, cui si deve l’unica testimonianza in questo senso, gli autori degli Oracoli avrebbero adottato Mithra collocandolo al posto del secondo intelletto. Giorgio Gemisto (1355 ca.-1452) cultore di Platone al punto di voler assumere il nome di Pletone, che ricorda quello dell’antico filosofo, è una figura ancora oggi persa nelle nebbie del mito; egli ascriveva agli Oracoli una grande autorità, attribuendone la composizione al profeta della più antica religione iranica, Zoroastro (Zarathuštra), e interpretandoli come fondamento di una filosofia e di una religione future, universali, che sostituiranno ogni altra fede nell’ecumene.

(Text by Ezio Albrile – https://www.atopon.it/mithra-il-dio-dei-misteri/)

Spiritual Taxonomies and Ritual Authority
Platonists, Priests, and Gnostics in the Third Century C.E.

Heidi Marx-Wolf

The people of the late ancient Mediterranean world thought about and encountered gods, angels, demons, heroes, and other spirits on a regular basis. These figures were diverse, ambiguous, and unclassified and were not ascribed any clear or stable moral valence. Whether or not they were helpful or harmful under specific circumstances determined if and what virtues were attributed to them. That all changed in the third century C.E., when a handful of Platonist philosophers—Plotinus, Origen, Porphyry, and Iamblichus—began to produce competing systematic discourses that ordered the realm of spirits in moral and ontological terms.

In Spiritual Taxonomies and Ritual Authority, Heidi Marx-Wolf recounts how these Platonist philosophers organized the spirit world into hierarchies, or « spiritual taxonomies, » positioning themselves as the high priests of the highest gods in the process. By establishing themselves as experts on sacred, ritual, and doctrinal matters, they were able to fortify their authority, prestige, and reputation. The Platonists were not alone in this enterprise, and it brought them into competition with rivals to their new authority: priests of traditional polytheistic religions and gnostics. Members of these rival groups were also involved in identifying and ordering the realm of spirits and in providing the ritual means for dealing with that realm. Using her lens of spiritual taxonomy to look at these various groups in tandem, Marx-Wolf demonstrates that Platonist philosophers, Christian and non-Christian priests, and gnostics were more interconnected socially, educationally, and intellectually than previously recognized.

(Text by the author)


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. How to Feed a Daemon: Third-Century Philosophers on Blood Sacrifice
Chapter 2. Everything in Its Right Place: Spiritual Taxonomy in Third-Century Platonism
Chapter 3. The Missing Link: Third-Century Platonists and « Gnostics » on Daemons and Other Spirits
Chapter 4. High Priests of the Highest God: Third-Century Platonists as Ritual Experts


Penser la tolérance durant l’Antiquité tardive


Peter Van Nuffelen, 2018


La tolérance est une vertu cardinale dans les sociétés occidentales, et son histoire est souvent écrite comme un progrès linéaire jusqu’à son éclosion complète à l’époque moderne. Dans une telle perspective, des périodes antérieures comme l’Antiquité tardive apparaissent fortement comme des temps d’intolérance et de violence religieuse. Mais fait-on droit à des sociétés du passé en les étudiant à partir d’une conception moderne de la tolérance ? Ce livre montre comment, à partir de la pensée classique, l’Antiquité tardive développa des conceptions originales de la tolérance et de ses limites, qui étaient enracinées dans les idées antiques sur l’homme, la raison et la société. Il cherche ainsi à interroger notre propre conception de la tolérance qui, au lieu d’être l’aboutissement parfait d’une longue histoire, est aussi une conception spécifique et historique – avec ses propres limites.

(Text by the author)


Table des matières


Introduction : Modernité, tolérance et Antiquité

Chapitre 1 : La conception tardo-antique de la tolérance

Chapitre 2 : La persuasion à l’épreuve

Chapitre 3 : La contrainte ou la transformation des habitudes

Chapitre 4 : Violence religieuse