Mystical Monotheism

A Study in Ancient Platonic Theology

John Peter Kenney, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010


In this engaging and provocative study, John Peter Kenney examines the emergence of monotheism within Greco-Roman philosophical theology by tracing the changing character of ancient realism from Plato through Plotinus. Besides acknowledging the philosophical and theological significance of such ancient thinkers as Plutarch, Numenius, Alcinous, and Atticus, he demonstrates the central importance of Plotinus in clarifying the relation of the intelligible world to divinity. Kenney focuses especially on Plotinus’s novel concept of deity, arguing that it constitutes a type of mystical monotheism based upon an ultimate and inclusive divine One beyond description or discursive knowledge. Presenting difficult material with grace and clarity, Kenney takes a wide-ranging view of the development of ancient Platonic theology from a philosophical perspective and synthesizes familiar elements in a new way. His is a revisionist thesis with significant implications for the study of Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian thought in this period and for the history of Western religious thought in general.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents



I The Foundations of Hellenic Monotheism

1 Degrees of Reality

2 Divine Ideas

3 The Emergence of Hellenic Monotheism

4 The Demiurgic Theology of Plutarch

5 Early Platonic Theism

II The Demotion of the Demiurge

1 Numenius and the Degrees of Divinity

2 The Didaskalikos of Alcinous

3 The Exemplarism of the Athenian School

4 Middle Platonic Theology

III The Mystical Monotheism of Plotinus

1 Divine Simplicity

2 Intellect and Ideas

3 Hid Divinity

Conclusion: Mystical Monotheism





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