Two things. First it seems to me that Augustine could claim to be
as "Neoplatonistic" as anyone today. We can always question whether
another person fully understands and represents Plato, Plotinus, etc.
I suspect that Augustine had access to at least a few of the Enneads
based on the determination of commentators. The lack of evidence
doesn't prove the Enneads were not translated. A discovery tomorrow
in some old monastery or library could change eveything. For
decades "scholars" contended that King David was a mythical character
due to the lack of archaeological evidence. More recently a pottery
shard was discovered that mentioned him. A _lack_ of evidence proves
nothing. But we can assume Neoplatonist influence on Augustine of
some sort. His words alone confirm that. That's good enough for me.
We can always debate what we see in his words. Even if we don't know
for certain that he read Plotinus in translation I think the
Neoplatonist influence is clear.
True, some of the Catholic bishops could read Greek, Ambrose for
example. Augustine, however, was trained in Latin and had little or
no Greek. Most of what he had would either have been translated or
imbibed through other Latin authors.
--- In email@example.com
, "Edward Moore" <patristics@...>
> As a moderator of this list, I usually avoid getting involved in
extended debates -- but this time I simply can't hold my tongue.
Michael Chase is absolutely correct in his assertion that there are
no verifiable translations of Plotinus into Latin before the
Renaissance. Period. Knowledge of Plotinian doctrine does not
necessitate knowledge of the entirety of the Enneads. For example,
certain treatises by Gregory of Nazianzus contain passages that sound
like direct quotations from the Enneads, but are, of course, quite
different contextually. I must take issue with one of MC's
statements, regarding the lack of Greek among the majority of
intellectuals in Augustine's time. The history of the Oecumenical
Councils shows us that both Latin and Greek were exchanged quite
freely, through the time of Augustine, well into the time of Maximus
the Confessor. Linguistic differences abounded, of course, but the
language barrier was not quite as pervasive as Michael suggests, I
think. For example, in the time of Photius (mid-10th century), Plato
was translated into the vernacular Greek of Byzantium, indicating
that a consciousness of the importance of key texts was paramount in
that era. Earlier, we know that Leo the Great knew both Greek and
Latin, and the various theological controversies over which he
presided are evidence of bilingual aptitude among intellectuals of
the era. We have evidence of all that -- but what of Plotinus?
There simply is NO evidence of any translation AT ALL of the the
Enneads into Latin before the Renaissance.
> Edward Moore, S.T.L., Ph.D.
> Dean of Faculty
> Department of Philosophy
> St. Elias School of Orthodox Theology
> Media, PA 19063
> E-mail: emoore@... or patristics@...
> Homepage: www.theandros.com/emoore
> Tel. 610-566-0479
> What would be interesting is something by someone who truly
> understands and is conversant in both Plotinus and Augustine. But
> this whole debate points out the fact that understanding Plotinus
> difficult. The whole problem seems to be that Porhyry
> and misrepresented Plotinus or that Ambrose did. One could even
> that Plotinus misunderstood and misrepresented Plato. Otherwise
> could simply suggest that he had read "Plotinian" or "Platonist"
> or "Neoplatonist" books and one would be considered to represent
> three. This underscores the difficulty in truly understanding and
> representing Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, Ambrose, Augustine, etc.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]