Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus

Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus

Paperback Hermeneutics: Studies in the History of Religions

By (author) George Shaw, By (author) Gregory Shaw

Currently unavailable
We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist
OR try AbeBooks who may have this title (opens in new window)

Try AbeBooks
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 284 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 22mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 3 April 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Pennsylvania
  • ISBN 10: 0271023228
  • ISBN 13: 9780271023229
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 530,129

Product description

Theurgy and the Soul is a study of Iamblichus of Syria (ca. 240-325), whose teachings set the final form of pagan spirituality prior to the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Gregory Shaw focuses on the theory and practice of theurgy, the most controversial and significant aspect of Iamblichus's Platonism. Theurgy literally means "divine action." Unlike previous Platonists who stressed the elevated status of the human soul, Iamblichus taught that the soul descended completely into the body and thereby required the performance of theurgic rites--revealed by the gods--to unite the soul with the One. Iamblichus was once considered one of the great philosophers whose views on the soul and the importance of ritual profoundly influenced subsequent Platonists such as Proclus and Damascius. The Emperor Julian followed Iamblichus's teachings to guide the restoration of traditional pagan cults in his campaign against Christianity. Although Julian was unsuccessful, Iamblichus's ideas persisted well into the Middle Ages and beyond. His vision of a hierarchical cosmos united by divine ritual became the dominant world view for the entire medieval world and played an important role in the Renaissance Platonism of Marsilio Ficino. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that he expected a reading of Iamblichus to cause a "revival in the churches." But modern scholars have dismissed him, seeing theurgy as ritual magic or "manipulation of the gods." Shaw, however, shows that theurgy was a subtle and intellectually sophisticated attempt to apply Platonic and Pythagorean teachings to the full expression of human existence in the material world.

Other books in this category

Showing items 1 to 11 of 11