Christian Platonism

A History


Platonism has played a central role in Christianity and is essential to a deep understanding of the Christian theological tradition. At times, Platonism has constituted an essential philosophical and theological resource, furnishing Christianity with an intellectual framework that has played a key role in its early development, and in subsequent periods of renewal. Alternatively, it has been considered a compromising influence, conflicting with the faith’s revelatory foundations and distorting its inherent message. In both cases the fundamental importance of Platonism, as a force which Christianity defined itself by and against, is clear. Written by an international team of scholars, this landmark volume examines the history of Christian Platonism from antiquity to the present day, covers key concepts, and engages issues such as the environment, natural science and materialism.


Christian Platonism

Introduction – Part  pp 1-10

Christianity and Platonism  pp 3-10

I – Concepts  pp 11-140

1.1 – The Perennial Value of Platonism  pp 13-33

1.2 – The Ideas as Thoughts of God  pp 34-52

1.3 – The One and the Trinity  pp 53-78

1.4 – Creation, Begetting, Desire, and Re-Creation pp 79-100

1.5 – The Concept of Theology  pp 101-121

1.6 – Participation: Aquinas and His Neoplatonic Sources  pp 122-140

II – History  pp 141-352

2.1 – The Bible and Early Christian Platonism  pp 143-161

2.2 – Platonism and Christianity in Late Antiquity  pp 162-182

2.3 – Christian Platonism in the Medieval West  pp 183-206

2.4 – Christian Platonism in Byzantium  pp 207-226

2.5 – Renaissance Christian Platonism and Ficino pp 227-245

2.6 Northern Renaissance Platonism from Nicholas of Cusa to Jacob Böhme pp 246-279

2.7 – Christian Platonism in Early Modernity  pp 280-302

2.8 – Christian Platonism in the Age of Romanticism  pp 303-321

2.9 – Christian Platonism and Modernity  pp 322-352

III – Engagements  pp 353-491

3.1 – Christian Platonism and Natural Science  pp 355-380

3.2 – Christian Platonism, Nature and Environmental Crisis  pp 381-407

(Texte de l’éditeur)



‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’ Tertullian famously asked. For every Christian thinker like Tertullian or Adolph Harnack who questioned the relation between Platonism and Christianity, there have been at least dozen others who have welcomed Platonism in its many varieties as an invaluable conversation partner in the effort to express the inner meaning of Christian faith and its commitment to transcendence. Christian Platonism: A History is a bold and comprehensive study of the interaction of the Platonic tradition and Christian thought over the past two millennia. More than twenty essays by noted scholars explore the concepts, the history, and the implications of Christian Platonism in a stunning new contribution to a perennial issue.’

Bernard McGinn – University of Chicago Divinity School

‘It is hard now to remember that just a few decades ago it was generally assumed that a ‘dePlatonising’ of Christianity was desirable. Today, the intimate relationship between Christianity and something broadly ‘Platonic’ from the outset is often seen as ineradicable and essential. Moreover, a deepening comprehension of this relationship is regarded as one key to a creative development of Christian theology and practice in the future. The essays in this splendid volume by a glittering array of distinguished scholars and thinkers explain exactly why.’

John Milbank – University of Nottingham

‘This comprehensive collection of essays elucidates why Jerusalem cannot leave Athens behind. The superb quality of Hampton and Kenney’s book witnesses to the continuing relevance of the participatory ontology of the Christian tradition.’

Hans Boersma Source: Nasthotah House Theological Seminary

‘Far from considering Christian Platonism a mere stepchild, skirting the bounds of theological doctrine with remarkable spiritual fervor, this volume embraces and explores its richness as a font and wellspring of organic wisdom. I warmly recommend it.’

Willemien Otten – University of Chicago Divinity School

‘This book is a most welcome contribution to the burgeoning scholarly literature on Christian Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism is the longest and most enduring tradition in the history of philosophy and yet perhaps the most neglected. The Neoplatonic principle that all things are one in the One, that itself is Goodness beyond being, has inspired philosophers, theologians, and poets, and provided the very framework for the Christian tradition (and also heavily influenced Judaism, Islam and even later Indian thought). This edited volume, by internationally acclaimed scholars addresses this neglect with a comprehensive treatment, explaining in a readable manner the central concepts, themes of Neoplatonism and its engagements with science, religion and the arts.’

Dermot Moran – Boston College

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