By Dylan M. Burns
In the second one century, Platonist and Judeo-Christian suggestion have been sufficiently pleasant Greek thinker may possibly claim, "What is Plato yet Moses conversing Greek?" 400 years later, a Christian emperor had ended the general public instructing of subversive Platonic idea. whilst and the way did this philosophical rupture take place? Dylan M. Burns argues that the elemental holiday happened in Rome, ca. 263, within the circle of the good mystic Plotinus, writer of the Enneads. teams of arguable Christian metaphysicians referred to as Gnostics ("knowers") frequented his seminars, disputed his perspectives, after which disappeared from the heritage of philosophy—until the 1945 discovery, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, of codices containing Gnostic literature, together with types of the books circulated by way of Plotinus’s Christian competitors. mixing cutting-edge Greek metaphysics and ecstatic Jewish mysticism, those texts describe ideas for getting into celestial geographical regions, partaking within the angelic liturgy, confronting the transcendent God, or even changing into a divine being oneself. in addition they describe the revelation of an alien God to his go with, a race of "foreigners" below the security of the patriarch Seth, whose interventions will finally culminate in any case of the world.
Apocalypse of the Alien God proposes an intensive interpretation of those long-lost apocalypses, putting them firmly within the context of Judeo-Christian authorship instead of ascribing them to a pagan offshoot of Gnosticism. in keeping with Burns, this Sethian literature emerged alongside the fault strains among Judaism and Christianity, drew on traditions identified to students from the useless Sea Scrolls and Enochic texts, and finally catalyzed the competition of Platonism with Christianity. Plunging the reader into the tradition wars and school rooms of the excessive Empire, Apocalypse of the Alien God deals the main concrete social and ancient description on hand of any workforce of Gnostic Christians because it explores the intersections of historical Judaism, Christianity, Hellenism, fable, and philosophy.
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Extra resources for Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism
Athanasius·s presentation of the incarnation as consistent with divine immanence implicitly pervades the whole treatise and determines its entire structure. f is by showing how all of creation is radically and absolutely dependent on God·s sustaining involvement in the world, and how humanity has willfully withdrawn from this salutary dependence. This theme bewmes fully explicit in the conclusion of the first part of che trearise, which effeCts the cransition ro the theme of the incarnation of the \\'ord : claim that the Word was manifested in the body?
In particular, sections 35- 9 of the COJltra Grow are inundated with Stoic influence. Beginning with CG 40, however, Athanasius seems to consciously embark on a ctiticism of and a corrective to Stoic doctrine. This shift is significant for our general theme of the relation between God and creation. The StOics are useful for Athanasius, as they wae for other early Christian writers, insofar as they provided a vocabulary and cerrain conceptual tools for articulating notions of divine providence, omnipresence, and imimate invoh-ement in the world - in a word, immanence.
6). It would be a mistake to conclude, therefore, that ail which is to be transcended - the body, the senses, and, ulti mately, the world - is bad. Rather, ail is good and used well so long as it is within that dynamic of self-transcendence. The body, then, seems to represem for Athanasius what most immediately belongs to humanity, as its own, and thus what is primarily to be transcended. The soul is not conceived in the same way - as that wh ich is to be transcended - not because it is namrally superior to the bod" or more ··divine,'· but simply because the soul is supposed to be the organ which actually effects this self-transcendence.
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