Which Plato? Whose Platonism? Summarizing the Christian Platonism Symposium

"Given these various definitions, some of which explicitly contradict any semblance of a unified definition, Christian Platonism is nearly impossible to define since its commitments have shifted over time. Yet there appears to be a core conceptual agreement of transcendence." - London Lyceum

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josh p's picture

I'm reading and really benefiting from his book, The Gospel and the Greeks. I still have a ton to learn about all of this though. I'm still not sure what it's being argued for. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

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The LLyceum series has been a journey to "knowing better how much I don't know" land. But I was gratified to see that Steffaniak's summation confirmed some of my impressions. "Christian Platonism" is a really slippery term right now, and much of the debate is over "just what exactly are we debating?"

Some of the terminology has, as Steffaniak noted, not been helpful in clarifying the real points of disagreement.

What I gather, to put the cookies on the bottom (my own) shelf, is that there's a good bit of Plato and Aristotle and others in Paul. That doesn't alarm me. It just means Plato and Aristotle were right about some things... and that's to be expected. We can all agree they were smart guys. Smile

Josh: maybe you'd like to write a review when you finish that book?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

The LLyceum series has been a journey to "knowing better how much I don't know" land. But I was gratified to see that Steffaniak's summation confirmed some of my impressions. "Christian Platonism" is a really slippery term right now, and much of the debate is over "just what exactly are we debating?"

Some of the terminology has, as Steffaniak noted, not been helpful in clarifying the real points of disagreement.

What I gather, to put the cookies on the bottom (my own) shelf, is that there's a good bit of Plato and Aristotle and others in Paul. That doesn't alarm me. It just means Plato and Aristotle were right about some things... and that's to be expected. We can all agree they were smart guys.

Josh: maybe you'd like to write a review when you finish that book?

This is exactly what Nash is demonstrating is not true. Perhaps there has been a resurgence of this belief but, Nash takes the position that it is an established fact that that belief has been run out of biblical/historical scholarship. He says it reappears in strange places where they didn't get the memo of its defeat however. Even guys like Schweitzer argued that there was no real correlation between Paul and platonic thought. Some time ago I read Machen's, The Origen of Paul's Religion which covers some of the same things. It was a helpful book and I notice that Nash cites it regularly. 
 

On the review: I would like to do so but it's a pretty slow read for me. Its my-while on the ferry and not asleep and I've already done Greek- book so I'm reading it slow :). I will be happy to do a review however. I originally read the book since James White recommended it (back when I listened to him) as the final refutation of Hislop's Two Babylons. Hislop is the support for more and more craziness (Jehovah's Witness, Black Hebrew Israelites, extreme IFB positions haha) so I decided to tackle this book. So far it's excellent. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

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I look forward to the review.

I'm skeptical of the idea that there is no Plato or Aristotle in Paul's thinking. He was clearly a well educated man and didn't hesitate to quote respected poets when he thought they had a point. But I would certainly expect that many have overstated the connections between Paul and the philosophers.

In 1 Cor 1:18ff, he's clearly not impressed with them as a whole.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.