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566 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 21:4 OCT 198 3 D. J. O'Meara, ed. Neoplatonism and Christian Thought. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 1982. Pp. xviii + 277 The series Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern is increasing in number rapidly and improving in quality significantly, if we judge by the two volumes which appeared recently, III and IV, titled respectively Neoplatonism and Christian Thought and The Structure of Being: A Neoplatonic Approach. In what follows we will consider only the former. Neoplatonism and Christian Thought is a collection of nineteen papers by internationally known scholars. Most of these papers were presented at a conference in 1978, organized by the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies and co-sponsored by the Catholic University of America. The selection of the papers included, as well as the introduction to this volume, are by the editor Dominic J. O'Meara. The selected papers are divided intu five parts roughly corresponding to the historical periods of Christian thought, that is Patristic, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern periods. Although every period is covered, it would be incorrect to infer from this that the present volume treats the very complex problem of Neoplatonism and its relation to Christian thought in every aspect and exhaustively. On the contrary, given the conditions of the genesis of this volume, such treatment would seem very unlikely. The careful reader will take note when he reads in the introduction that "not every area could be covered by the participating scholars, nor could final solutions be presented for the relevant problems" (p. xi). Yet, the same reader will be surprised and perhaps disappointed to find out that in a three-hundred -page book with the inviting title Neoplatonism and Christian Thought there is not even one single paper which treats these two systems of thought as they really were for many centuries, that is, opposing philosophies and incompatible intellectual outlooks . I emphasize this point because I consider it to be a serious defect of an otherwise very interesting book. Another thing which may puzzle the philosophically minded reader of this volume is not so much the fact that the selected papers differ widely in their philosophical import (this is to be expected in books like this), but rather the question whether some of the articles (e.g., no. 16, 17) have been written by philosophers for philosophers or by literary critics for men of letters. This is rather unusual for the volumes of this particular series; but it may be welcomed as an idea, since Neoplatonism interests not only philosophers after all. Be that as it may, in this review I will concentrate more on the articles which I consider to be of interest to the philosophers. The story of Odysseus, his wanderings and his nostos for Ithaca, lends itself to many allegorical interpretations which flourished, especially in the post classical world. Jean Pepin, whose article opens the collection, explores and contrasts two of these exegeses, the Neoplatonic and the Christian. If Pepin had extended his investigation so that it would include contemporary writers who treated the Odysseus theme, such as James Joyce and Nikos Kazantzakis, his article together with the articles of E. Bieman (no. 16) and M. C. Rose (no. 17) would form a triad indicating the relevance and influence of Platonism (pagan as well as Christian) on the contem- BOOK REVIEWS 567 porary literary world. As it is, this paper illustrates what the allegorical method considered as a method of hermeneutics, achieved in the late pagan and early Christian periods. The paper of O'Meara presents certain aspects of the Neoplatonism of Saint Augustine, while John Dillon and Mary Clark discuss the doctrine of Trinity in Origin and Marius Victorinus respectively. Dillon suggests that Origin's heretical Christian doctrine concerning the relation between the persons of the Holy Triad probably had Neoplatonic roots, since it has striking similarities with a doctrine found in Proclus' Elements. Regarding the other two papers, it is important to note here that both O'Meara (pp. 38-4 o) and Clark (pp. ~9-3 o) stress the influence of Porphyry's views (which they correctly distinguish from those of Plotinus) on the Christian...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 566-568
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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