While John Philoponus' (ca. 490-575) life and thought have been studied almost entirely in the context of the history of classical philosophy, this paper attempts to view his work as more closely connected to the social and cultural history of Byzantine Egypt as known from papyrological sources. Philoponus, a committed Egyptian Monophysite, chose particular philosophical texts and problems as objects of his work because they were the material of current Monophysite debate. His intention was to provide the nascent Coptic church with a powerful set of tools for argument, with which Egyptian Monophysites could defeat their Chalcedonian opponents.


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