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

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




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

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



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



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