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Subject Religion » Christianity

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631232032.2001.x


There can be few more regrettable past generalizations than that, perhaps still current in some quarters, according to which ‘traditional’ Western Christian thought has been predominantly Aristotelian since the recovery of the corpus of Aristotelian texts in the medieval West, and, by implication and sometimes statement, more ‘this-worldly’ and ‘efficient’ for this, while Eastern Christian thought has remained Platonist, and by implication more ‘other-worldly’ and ‘mystical’. Developing Christian thought was influenced by post-Platonic Greek philosophy from its beginnings in the second century. From the third century the influence was predominantly that of Later Platonism. From the time that the writings of Plotinus, the greatest of the Greek Platonists, became known, their influence was considerable. They were made generally available by his disciple and editor, Porphyry, in 301, and seem to have been fairly widely read by the last quarter of the fourth century. It is strongly probable that Gregory of Nyssa owes something to the thought of Plotinus. From early in the fourth century the predominant influence in the Later Platonism of the East was that of Iamblichus of Apamaea, a philosopher who adopted and adapted the Platonism of Plotinus. Consequently the main acceptance and determined rejections of ideas from Platonism in this latest stage, which modern scholars call Neoplatonism, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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