Miroshnikov - The Gospel of Thomas and Plato

Miroshnikov - The Gospel of Thomas and Plato
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Platonist metaphysics for the development of Christian thought. The reasons why Christians turned their attention to Platonism are not difficult to fathom. As Walter Burkert once noted, “since Plato there has been no theology which has not stood in his shadow. For many centuries Platonism was simply the way in which god was thought of and spoken about, in the West as in the Islamic East.” It is no secret that Christian dogmatic theology adopted a generous number of its concepts from Platonist philosophy; by the time of the Cappadocian fathers, it was customary to talk about divine matters in Platonist terms.
 
It is, however, much more difficult to track the Platonist influence during the formative centuries of Christianity. Although the term “Christian Platonism” is usually applied to the two Alexandrians, Clement and Origen, it is clear that Clement was not the first Christian intellectual who was familiar with and appropriated certain ideas from the Platonist tradition. As Henry Chadwick put it, “the way had been mapped out in advance by the second-century apologists, above all by Justin Martyr, who is certainly the greatest of them besides being the most voluminous.” Justin himself tells us that before his turn to Christianity he “took delight in the teachings of Plato” (2 Apol. 12.1; trans. D. Minns and P. Parvis; cf. Dial. 2.6). Furthermore, as Runar M. Thorsteinsson has convincingly demonstrated, “in essence Justin remained a Platonist after his turn to Christianity,” so that Middle Platonism continued to serve as “his primary philosophical-theological frame of reference.”
 
It is worth noting, however, that apart from those early Christian thinkers for whom Platonism constituted their main “philosophical-theological frame of reference,” there are various early Christian texts that exhibit Platonizing tendencies. These texts would not qualify as “Platonist,” for Platonist ideas are just one of many diverse elements that constitute the fabric of these texts, yet if we appreciate the fact that these texts occasionally draw on Platonist ideas, images, and terms, we might gain better insight thereto.
 
It fact, it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the study of the earliest Christian engagements with philosophy in general and with Platonism in particular is one of the vital tasks of the scholars of the New Testament and early Christianity. Nevertheless, even today, many scholars of ancient Christianity continue to work in isolation from historians of philosophy, operating under the assumption that the first Jesus-believers were, so to speak, philosophically innocent.
 
Fortunately, the situation is gradually changing. As Tuomas Rasimus, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, and Ismo Dunderberg have recently noted in their preface to a collected volume dedicated to the interaction between early Christianity and Stoicism that, over the last few decades, “attempts have been made to take the role of philosophy in early Christianity further back into the first century.” Within this trajectory of scholarship, researchers seem to fall into two major categories: those who argue for a Stoic element in early Christian writings and those who attempt to make a case for the impact of the Platonist tradition.
 

Ivan Miroshnikov - The Gospel of Thomas and Plato. A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the “Fifth Gospel”

(Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, Volume 93)
LEIDEN/ BOSTON : BRILL, - 2018. - 333 pp.
ISSN 0929-2470
ISBN 978-90-04-36728-9 (hardback)
ISBN 978-90-04-36729-6 (e-book)
 

Ivan Miroshnikov - The Gospel of Thomas and Plato. A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the “Fifth Gospel” - Contents

Acknowledgements 
A Note to the Reader 
1 Setting the Scene 
Middle Platonism: A Debated Concept 
Early Christian Appropriation of Platonism: The Prologue of John 
Preliminary Notes on the Gospel of Thomas 
The Gospel of Thomas and Philosophy: A History of Research 
2 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on the World 
The Text of Sayings 56 and 80
The World as a Body and as a Corpse 
Bodies are Corpses 
What is Alive is Hidden in What is Dead 
Conclusions 
3 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on the Body and the Soul 
Interpretative Notes on Sayings 29, 87, and 112
Tripartite Anthropology in the Gospel of Thomas? 
The Body vs. the Soul  
Conclusions 
4 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on Oneness 
The Androgynous Protoplast? 
Becoming Asexual? 
Platonists on Becoming One 
Aramaic Background of the Term μοναχός?
The Meaning of μοναχός in the Gospel of Thomas 
Conclusions 
5 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on Stability 
DeConick, Williams, and Murray on “Standing” in the Gospel of Thomas 
The Varieties of “Standing” in the Gospel of Thomas 
Platonists on Transcendental “Standing” 
Transcendental “Standing” in the Gospel of Thomas 
Conclusions
6 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on Immutability and Indivisibility 
The Setting of the Dialogue 
The Contents of the Dialogue 
The Integrity of the Dialogue 
Conclusions 
7 The Gospel of Thomas and the Platonists on Freedom from Anger
The Text of Gos. Thom. 7
Recent Research on Gos. Thom. 7
The Lion within a Human is Anger 
Tripartite or Bipartite? 
Platonists on Anger 
The Meaning of Gos. Thom. 7
Conclusions 
8 Thomasine Metaphysics of the Image and Its Platonist Background
The Text of Gos. Thom. 83
The Two Types of Images in Middle Platonism 
Είκών θεού as a Paradigmatic Image 
The Meaning of Gos. Thom. 83:1
The Meaning of Gos. Thom. 83:2
The Metaphysics of the Image in Sayings 22,50, and 84
Conclusions 
9 Concluding Remarks 
Appendix 1: The Greek Vorlage of Gos. Thom. 12:2
Appendix 2: The Secondary Nature of Gos. Thom. 5:3
Appendix 3: A Note on Gos. Thom. 77:1
Bibliography 
Index 
 

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