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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: May 2011

Introduction to Part VII

from VII - The third encounter of Christianity with ancient Greek philosophy

In the sixth century ce, Christian theology matured both in the eastern and western parts of the Empire. In the East, the works of the unknown and pseudonymously named Dionysius the Areopagite aimed to transpose into a Christian theological context the systematic version of Platonism found in Proclus. In the West, the three hypostases of Platonism are transformed into the persons of the Trinity, gods become angels, and salvation becomes resurrection rather than permanent separation from a body. Boethius undertook a re-evaluation of the ancient Greek philosophical tradition from a refined Christian theological perspective. Boethius seems to have a clearly articulated vision of what can and cannot be accepted from Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic and Academic sources. His most influential work, The Consolation of Philosophy, acknowledges the feasibility and even perhaps the inevitability of a Christian philosophy. Writing in Latin, Boethius provided a bridge for the renaissance of Christian thought in the West in the ninth century. Maximus the Confessor refined further the Christianized Platonism of Pseudo-Dionysius. He wrote not only on narrowly theological problems, but on the full panoply of ecclesiastical and spiritual issues. The idea of Christian philosophy as a way of life explicitly in opposition to the ways of life recommended within the ancient Greek philosophical tradition comes to the fore in Maximus. The last philosopher treated in this section, John Scotus Eriugena, brings us to the Carolingian Renaissance.

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The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity
  • Online ISBN: 9781139095464
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