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Re: [neoplatonism] Cornford's "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition"

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  • Goya
    ... M.C. Depends on which tradition. Orthodox Christianity makes room for the concept of divinization (*theosis*, as opposed to heretical *apotheosis*).
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 17, 2010
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      <snip>
      >
      > I can't help also thinking how in a rather neat nutshell here he shows how
      > different this approach to bringing oneself into relation with the divine
      > is so different from the Christian approach, primarily in the notion of
      > "becoming like god". That if I am not mistaken would be viewed essentially
      > as blasphemous in the orthodox tradition of the Church, correct?


      M.C. Depends on which tradition. Orthodox Christianity makes room for the
      concept of divinization (*theosis*, as opposed to heretical *apotheosis*).

      Best, Mike


      >


      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76
      Paris-Villejuif
      France
    • Clark, Stephen
      In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that God became man, so
      Message 2 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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        In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that "God became man, so that man could become God". We can't do it by our own efforts - but how clear is it that pagan neo-Platonists thought otherwise?

        See (a quick google reveals) http://seraphimsociety.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/god-became-man-that-man-become-god/ for relevant quotes from Clement to Luther

        Stephen Clark

        ________________________________
        From: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com [neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of vaeringjar [vaeringjar@...]
        Sent: 17 March 2010 23:13
        To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [neoplatonism] Cornford's "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition"


        I can't help also thinking how in a rather neat nutshell here he shows how different this approach to bringing oneself into relation with the divine is so different from the Christian approach, primarily in the notion of "becoming like god". That if I am not mistaken would be viewed essentially as blasphemous in the orthodox tradition of the Church, correct?

        Dennis Clark



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Thomas Mether
        Dennis, The Pseudo-Dionysius says that humans and creation are theandric. Maximos the Confessor takes this concept to develop Anthansios idea that God became
        Message 3 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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          Dennis,
          The Pseudo-Dionysius says that humans and creation are theandric. Maximos the Confessor takes this concept to develop Anthansios' idea that God became man, so that man could become God to develop the full Orthodox concept of theosis or theopoesis
          within the context of trinitarian and ecclesial theology. The divine communion of divine persons by nature (Trinity) became incarnate as the salvation economia so that a divine communion of deified persons by grace (Church, communion of saints) is created.
           
          Mystical union (henosis) in the Orthodox Church is directly bodily (being part of the mystical-sacramental body of Christ still incarnate), directly a person to person relation between the human hypostasis-prosopon and the hypostasis-prosopon of Jesus (the I Thou relation), and indirectly, through the Holy Spirit and the Son, with the uncreate energies of the Father.
           
           
          --- On Thu, 3/18/10, Clark, Stephen <srlclark@...> wrote:


          From: Clark, Stephen <srlclark@...>
          Subject: RE: [neoplatonism] Cornford's "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition"
          To: "neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com" <neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com>
          Date: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 2:38 AM


           



          In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that "God became man, so that man could become God". We can't do it by our own efforts - but how clear is it that pagan neo-Platonists thought otherwise?

          See (a quick google reveals) http://seraphimsoci ety.wordpress. com/2008/ 01/15/god- became-man- that-man- become-god/ for relevant quotes from Clement to Luther

          Stephen Clark

          ____________ _________ _________ __
          From: neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com [neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of vaeringjar [vaeringjar@yahoo. com]
          Sent: 17 March 2010 23:13
          To: neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com
          Subject: [neoplatonism] Cornford's "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition"

          I can't help also thinking how in a rather neat nutshell here he shows how different this approach to bringing oneself into relation with the divine is so different from the Christian approach, primarily in the notion of "becoming like god". That if I am not mistaken would be viewed essentially as blasphemous in the orthodox tradition of the Church, correct?

          Dennis Clark

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]











          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • vaeringjar
          ... Thanks, all, for your responses to my question - I probably shouldn t have used the term orthodox as I did not mean it in the sense of Greek Orthodox
          Message 4 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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            --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Clark, Stephen" <srlclark@...> wrote:
            >
            > In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that "God became man, so that man could become God". We can't do it by our own efforts - but how clear is it that pagan neo-Platonists thought otherwise?
            >
            > See (a quick google reveals) http://seraphimsociety.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/god-became-man-that-man-become-god/ for relevant quotes from Clement to Luther
            >
            > Stephen Clark
            >
            > ________________________________

            Thanks, all, for your responses to my question - I probably shouldn't have used the term "orthodox" as I did not mean it in the sense of "Greek Orthodox" but more as reflecting the mainstream of Christianity in general, east and west, but I understand from your answers that there is evidence both east and west for theosis, though it does seem from your answers more prevalent in the east, nonetheless, and I was a bit surprised at the quote Stephen found from Luther, but there is also the one from St Hilary that couldn't be much clearer in this respect either. But this is not an accepted view in modern Catholocism, is it? Perhaps I am persisting in a misunderstanding by trying to make even that distinction.

            And are we saying this position in Christianity can be linked to the similar one in Platonism or was rather an independent development? Or do we not really know its origin?

            Dennis Clark
          • Thomas Mether
            Well, in terms of origins, Gregory of Nyssa, read the middle platonists (where you find the motif) and knew of the mystery cults (where you find the motif). I
            Message 5 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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              Well, in terms of origins, Gregory of Nyssa, read the middle platonists (where you find the motif) and knew of the mystery cults (where you find the motif). I have not looked at Clement or Origen so I don't know if it is there or whether Greogry would have also gotten it from them. But Gregory predates the pagan Proclus and the Pseudo-Dionysius. Gregory also ties deification with what looks at first sight as a concept from Proclus but Gregory predates him. While God is being itself (to on, heautou phusei to einai echei), humans have being by participation (kata methexin) that has as its intended telos a deifying participation in the divine (metousia theou. Deification is also a theme found in Boehme.
               
              As far as modern Catholicism, I've heard from those involved in east-west ecumenical discussions to re-unite the two churches that theosis is found in Catholic teaching (don't ask me where). But, I can recommend a book comparing the concept of theosis in Aquinas and Palamas (the claim is that deification is part of Aquinas's concept of mystical union and comparing that with Palamas -- interesting since the Palamites were the great intellectual "enemies" of the Greek Thomists). A.N. Williams, The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas. OUP, 1999.
               
              http://www.amazon.com/Ground-Union-Deification-Aquinas-Palamas/dp/0195124367/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268936981&sr=1-1

              --- On Thu, 3/18/10, vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> wrote:


              From: vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...>
              Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Cornford's "Mysticism and Science in the Pythagorean Tradition"
              To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 12:59 PM


               





              --- In neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com, "Clark, Stephen" <srlclark@.. .> wrote:
              >
              > In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that "God became man, so that man could become God". We can't do it by our own efforts - but how clear is it that pagan neo-Platonists thought otherwise?
              >
              > See (a quick google reveals) http://seraphimsoci ety.wordpress. com/2008/ 01/15/god- became-man- that-man- become-god/ for relevant quotes from Clement to Luther
              >
              > Stephen Clark
              >
              > ____________ _________ _________ __

              Thanks, all, for your responses to my question - I probably shouldn't have used the term "orthodox" as I did not mean it in the sense of "Greek Orthodox" but more as reflecting the mainstream of Christianity in general, east and west, but I understand from your answers that there is evidence both east and west for theosis, though it does seem from your answers more prevalent in the east, nonetheless, and I was a bit surprised at the quote Stephen found from Luther, but there is also the one from St Hilary that couldn't be much clearer in this respect either. But this is not an accepted view in modern Catholocism, is it? Perhaps I am persisting in a misunderstanding by trying to make even that distinction.

              And are we saying this position in Christianity can be linked to the similar one in Platonism or was rather an independent development? Or do we not really know its origin?

              Dennis Clark











              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Goya
              ... M.C. Really? ... M.C. Where ? Curiously, Mike Michael Chase CNRS UPR 76 Paris-Villejuif France
              Message 6 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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                > Well, in terms of origins, Gregory of Nyssa, read the middle platonists

                M.C. Really?

                > (where you find the motif)

                M.C. Where ?

                Curiously, Mike



                Michael Chase
                CNRS UPR 76
                Paris-Villejuif
                France
              • Goya
                ... M.C. I would think it s a pretty safe bet that the ultimate origin is Plato s notion of *homoiôsis theôi* (Rep. 352a, 383c, 501b, 613a, 621b; Phd. 78c;
                Message 7 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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                  Denis wrote:
                  >
                  > And are we saying this position in Christianity can be linked to the
                  > similar one in Platonism or was rather an independent development? Or do
                  > we not really know its origin?


                  M.C. I would think it's a pretty safe bet that the ultimate origin is
                  Plato's notion of *homoiôsis theôi* (Rep. 352a, 383c, 501b, 613a, 621b;
                  Phd. 78c; Phdr. 249c; Tht. 176b. etc.). See H. Merki, Homoiosis Theo
                  (Freiburg: Paulus Verlag, 1952). See also D. Roloff, Gottähnlichkeit,
                  Vergöttlichung und Erhöhung zum seligen Leben (1970).

                  Best, Mike


                  Michael Chase
                  CNRS UPR 76
                  Paris-Villejuif
                  France
                • John Uebersax
                  Wouldn t whether or not theosis is a heretical notion depend on how one understands the term theosis . Is it: (a) becoming *like* God, (b) becoming God, (c)
                  Message 8 of 15 , Mar 18, 2010
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                    Wouldn't whether or not theosis is a heretical notion depend on how one understands the term 'theosis'. Is it: (a) becoming *like* God, (b) becoming God, (c) becoming a god, or (d) becoming divine? Becoming "like God insofar as possible" (Plato; cf. Aristotle NE 10.7) could be understood as (a), (c), or (d), none of which seem overtly heretical.

                    As far as I know, the most oft-cited biblical passages taken as suggesting theosis are 2 Cor 3:18 and 1 John 3:2.

                    2 Cor 3:18
                    But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [katoptrizomenoi] the glory [doxan] of the Lord, are changed into the same image [eikona] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

                    1 John 3:2
                    Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

                    Going from "glory to glory" could be taken to suggest infinite improvement, becoming more and more like God, but without actually becoming God.

                    1 John seems relatively specific: to be like God, but what exactly that implies "doth not yet appear' -- i.e., it's not known at present.

                    The Catholic philosopher Nicholas of Cusa wrote about theosis. From the description of Becoming God: the Doctrine of Theosis in Nicholas of Cusa:

                    "The Doctrine of Theosis means a salvation that is the deification of the saved. The saved actually become God. This unusual doctrine lies at the heart of Nicholas of Cusa's (1401-1464) mystical metaphysics. It is here examined for the first time as a theme in its own right, along with its implications for Cusanus's doctrine of God, his theological anthropology, and his epistemology....

                    "At issue is his orthodoxy and whether he replaces Christian doctrine with Greek thought, while maintaining only the language of Christian theology. The thorough analysis of theosis in this book reveals that Nicholas of Cusa does indeed follow tradition, though it is the tradition of the Eastern church."

                    Nancy J. Hudson
                    Becoming God: the doctrine of theosis in Nicholas of Cusa
                    CUA Press, 2007
                    http://books.google.com/books?id=_6dLdAuS3GYC

                    John Uebersax
                  • gregshaw58
                    Hi Dennis, I agree here with Stephen, certainly in theory, although in practice it seems that theosis has been a dimension of Christianity that most
                    Message 9 of 15 , Mar 19, 2010
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                      Hi Dennis,

                      I agree here with Stephen, certainly in theory, although in practice it seems that theosis has been a dimension of Christianity that most Christians, fixed in a "redemptive" model of salvation, ordinarily do not embrace.

                      As for theosis in Greek philosophy, I would recommend the brief survey of this tradition in Dominic O'Meara's "Platonopolis" (31-39). A very clear chapter. O'Meara begins by saying "...we must put aside an exclusivist, monotheistic notion of 'God' and remember the generous Greek sphere of the divine, which includes many different types and ranks of gods" (31).

                      gshaw
                      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "vaeringjar" <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Clark, Stephen" <srlclark@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > In response to Dennis: no, this is not - essentially - blasphemous. On the contrary, it is a central theme of orthodox Christianity that "God became man, so that man could become God". We can't do it by our own efforts - but how clear is it that pagan neo-Platonists thought otherwise?
                      > >
                      > > See (a quick google reveals) http://seraphimsociety.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/god-became-man-that-man-become-god/ for relevant quotes from Clement to Luther
                      > >
                      > > Stephen Clark
                      > >
                      > > ________________________________
                      >
                      > Thanks, all, for your responses to my question - I probably shouldn't have used the term "orthodox" as I did not mean it in the sense of "Greek Orthodox" but more as reflecting the mainstream of Christianity in general, east and west, but I understand from your answers that there is evidence both east and west for theosis, though it does seem from your answers more prevalent in the east, nonetheless, and I was a bit surprised at the quote Stephen found from Luther, but there is also the one from St Hilary that couldn't be much clearer in this respect either. But this is not an accepted view in modern Catholocism, is it? Perhaps I am persisting in a misunderstanding by trying to make even that distinction.
                      >
                      > And are we saying this position in Christianity can be linked to the similar one in Platonism or was rather an independent development? Or do we not really know its origin?
                      >
                      > Dennis Clark
                      >
                    • Thomas Mether
                      List,   Aghora opened in New York last week. It was reviewed in the NYT. So, it has made it to the US.   Thomas [Non-text portions of this message have been
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jun 3, 2010
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                        List,
                         
                        Aghora opened in New York last week. It was reviewed in the NYT. So, it has made it to the US.
                         
                        Thomas






                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Thomas Mether
                        http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453107/Agora/overview   Sorry for the rush... ... From: Thomas Mether Subject: [neoplatonism] Aghora:
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jun 3, 2010
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                          http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453107/Agora/overview
                           
                          Sorry for the rush...

                          --- On Thu, 6/3/10, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:


                          From: Thomas Mether <t_mether@...>
                          Subject: [neoplatonism] Aghora: Hypathia Movie is stateside
                          To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                          Date: Thursday, June 3, 2010, 1:47 PM


                           



                          List,
                           
                          Aghora opened in New York last week. It was reviewed in the NYT. So, it has made it to the US.
                           
                          Thomas

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]











                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • vaeringjar
                          ... Great news, thanks for posting this. The review is quite a good one, and is well written itself. I cannot wait to see this. It does give the answer to one
                          Message 12 of 15 , Jun 4, 2010
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                            --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453107/Agora/overview
                            >  
                            > Sorry for the rush...
                            >
                            > --- On Thu, 6/3/10, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
                            >
                            >

                            Great news, thanks for posting this. The review is quite a good one, and is well written itself. I cannot wait to see this. It does give the answer to one question I had been too shy to bring up here, whether the film included that business about the "handkerchief". Glad they kept it in, though who knows for sure it actually occurred.

                            It turns out that, mirabile visu, the film is showing tonight and Sunday here in Seattle at the yearly film festival. Unfortunately I can't go this weekend. Schade. Well, perhaps it will get some sort of general release in the US or there's always Netflix.

                            Dennis Clark
                          • Thomas Mether
                            I plan to buy a copy. Maybe two. I ll use one to torture my philosophy students. The Matrix , btw, works good for both Berkeley (the philosopher -- maybe
                            Message 13 of 15 , Jun 4, 2010
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                              I plan to buy a copy. Maybe two. I'll use one to "torture" my philosophy students. The "Matrix", btw, works good for both Berkeley (the philosopher -- maybe the town too, tee hee) and gnosticism (always thought the archons in some gnostic systems were some type of artificial life form which is why they needed to keep souls trapped in order to live).


                              --- On Fri, 6/4/10, vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> wrote:


                              From: vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...>
                              Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Agora: Hypatia Movie is stateside
                              To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                              Date: Friday, June 4, 2010, 1:53 PM


                               





                              --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453107/Agora/overview
                              >  
                              > Sorry for the rush...
                              >
                              > --- On Thu, 6/3/10, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
                              >
                              >

                              Great news, thanks for posting this. The review is quite a good one, and is well written itself. I cannot wait to see this. It does give the answer to one question I had been too shy to bring up here, whether the film included that business about the "handkerchief". Glad they kept it in, though who knows for sure it actually occurred.

                              It turns out that, mirabile visu, the film is showing tonight and Sunday here in Seattle at the yearly film festival. Unfortunately I can't go this weekend. Schade. Well, perhaps it will get some sort of general release in the US or there's always Netflix.

                              Dennis Clark











                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • vaeringjar
                              ... More research online reveals quite a bit more available now I imagine because of the limited US release. As of now, according to Wikipedia entry for the
                              Message 14 of 15 , Jun 4, 2010
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                                --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/453107/Agora/overview
                                >  
                                > Sorry for the rush...
                                >
                                > --- On Thu, 6/3/10, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:

                                More research online reveals quite a bit more available now I imagine because of the limited US release. As of now, according to Wikipedia entry for the film, it will be shown only in New York and Los Angeles, but it did extremely well over the Memorial Day weekend in NY, coming in in fact second among all films! This from this link:

                                http://www.indiewire.com/article/holiday_box_office_agora_micmacs_post_decent_debuts_restored_breathless_sco/

                                So that is good news I would hope for it getting wider distribution here in the USA. It's all about bucks, as most things here are now.

                                Here is another NT Times article, including an interview with Rachel Weisz.

                                http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/movies/23agora.html

                                The wikipedia entry has links to several recent reviews apparently occasioned by the US release:

                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agora_(film)

                                There's a link there also to an article on the Destruction of the Serapeum. A nice bit from Ammianus quoted there, I trust accurately:

                                Serapeum, quod licet minuatur exilitate verborum, atriis tamen columnariis amplissimis et spirantibus signorum figmentis et reliqua operum multitudine ita est exornatum, ut post Capitolium, quo se venerabilis Roma in aeternum attollit, nihil orbis terrarum ambitiosius cernat.

                                Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, XXII, 16

                                The Serapeum, splendid to a point that words would only diminish its beauty, has such spacious rooms flanked by columns, filled with such life-like statues and a multitude of other works of such art, that nothing, except the Capitolium, which attests to Rome's venerable eternity, can be considered as ambitious in the whole world.

                                Dennis Clark
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