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How one of history’s most influential philosophies shaped one of its most important religions


This is the first volume to offer a systematic consideration and comprehensive overview of Christianity’s long engagement with the Platonic philosophical tradition. The book offers a detailed consideration of the most fertile sources and concepts in Christian Platonism, a historical contextualization of its development, and a series of constructive engagements with central questions. Bringing together a range of leading scholars, the volume will guide readers through each of these dimensions, uniquely investigating and explicating one of the most important, controversial, and often misunderstood elements of occidental intellectual history. 

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“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?,” Tertullian famously asked. For every Christian thinker like Tertullian or Adolph Harnack who questioned the relation between Platonism and Christianity, there have been at least dozen others who have welcomed Platonism in its many varieties as an invaluable conversation partner in the effort to express the inner meaning of Christian faith and its commitment to transcendence. Christian Platonism: A History is a bold and comprehensive study of the interaction of the Platonic tradition and Christian thought over the past two millennia. More than twenty essays by noted scholars explore the concepts, the history, and the implications of Christian Platonism in a stunning new contribution to a perennial issue.

—Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago Divinity School 


It is hard now to remember that just a few decades ago it was generally assumed that a 'dePlatonising' of Christianity was desirable. Today, the intimate relationship between Christianity and something broadly 'Platonic' from the outset is often seen as ineradicable and essential. Moreover, a deepening comprehension of this relationship is regarded as one key to a creative development of Christian theology and practice in the future. The essays in this splendid volume by a glittering array of distinguished scholars and thinkers explain exactly why.

—John Milbank, University of Nottingham 

This comprehensive collection of essays elucidates why Jerusalem cannot leave Athens behind. The superb quality of Hampton and Kenney’s book witnesses to the continuing relevance of the participatory ontology of the Christian tradition. 

—Hans Boersma, Nasthotah House Theological Seminary 


Far from considering Christian Platonism a mere stepchild, skirting the bounds of theological doctrine with remarkable spiritual fervor, this volume embraces and explores its richness as a font and wellspring of organic wisdom. I warmly recommend it.

—Willemien Otten, University of Chicago Divinity School


This book is a most welcome contribution to the burgeoning scholarly literature on Christian Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism is the longest and most enduring tradition in the history of philosophy and yet perhaps the most neglected. The Neoplatonic principle that all things are one in the One, that itself is Goodness beyond being, has inspired philosophers, theologians, and poets, and provided the very framework for the Christian tradition (and also heavily influenced Judaism, Islam and even later Indian thought). This edited volume, by internationally acclaimed scholars addresses this neglect with a comprehensive treatment, explaining in a readable manner the central concepts, themes of Neoplatonism and its engagements with science, religion and the arts. 

—Dermot Moran, Boston College 


I. Concepts

1. The Perennial Value of Platonism, Lloyd Gerson

2. The Ideas as Thoughts of God, John Dillon, Daniel J. Tolan

3. The One and the Trinity, Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

4. Creation, Begetting, Desire, and Re-creation in Christian Platonism, Kevin Corrigan

5. The Concept of Theology, Olivier Boulnois

6. Participation: Aquinas and his Neoplatonic Sources, Rudi A. te Velde

II. History

1. The Bible and Early Christian Platonism, Mark Edwards

2. Platonism and Christianity in Late Antiquity, John Peter Kenney

3. The Development of Christian Platonism in the Medieval West, Lydia Schumacher

4. Christian Platonism in Byzantium, Torstein Tollefsen

5. Renaissance Christian Platonism and Ficino, Stephen Gersh

6. Northern Renaissance Platonism from Cusa to Böhme, Cecilia Muratori, Mario Meliadò

7. Christian Platonism in Early Modernity, Derek A. Michaud

8. The Counter-Enlightenment and Romantic Platonism, Douglas Hedley 

9. Christian Platonism and Modernity, Joshua Levi Ian Gentzke


III. Engagements    

1. Natural Science, Andrew Davison, Jacob Holsinger Sherman

2. Nature and Environmental Crisis, Alexander J. B. Hampton

3. Art and Meaning, Richard Viladesau

4. Value, Dualism and Materialism, Charles Taliaferro

5. Christian Love and Platonic Friendship, Catherine Pickstock

6. Multiplicity in Earth and Heaven, Stephen Clark

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