Rethinking the Gods

Rethinking the Gods : Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period

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Ancient philosophers had always been fascinated by religion. From the first century BC onwards the traditionally hostile attitude of Greek and Roman philosophy was abandoned in favour of the view that religion was a source of philosophical knowledge. This book studies that change, not from the usual perspective of the history of religion, but as part of the wider tendency of Post-Hellenistic philosophy to open up to external, non-philosophical sources of knowledge and authority. It situates two key themes, ancient wisdom and cosmic hierarchy, in the context of Post-Hellenistic philosophy and traces their reconfigurations in contemporary literature and in the polemic between Jews, Christians and pagans. Overall, Post-Hellenistic philosophy displayed a relatively high degree of unity in its ideas on religion, which should not be reduced to a preparation for more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 304 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139181203
  • 9781139181204

About Peter Van Nuffelen

Peter van Nuffelen is Professor of History at Universiteit Gent, Belgium. His interests cover Hellenistic history, ancient historiography, ancient religion and philosophy and late antique history and literature, including in oriental languages. He has published widely in these fields, including the monograph Un heritage de paix et de piete. Etude sur les Histoires ecclesiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomene (2004) and the edited volumes Faces of Hellenism (2009), Monotheism in Late Antiquity Between Christians and Pagans (2010, with S. Mitchell) and One God. Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire (First-Fourth Centuries AD) (2010, with S. Mitchell). He is currently working on projects on late antique historiography and on ritual communication in Late more

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'... [Nuffelen] has provided us here with a most stimulating, well-researched and well-argued monograph on a complex of topics central to the intellectual concerns of a wide range of thinkers in the first two centuries of the Common Era.' Literaturkritikshow more

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. Ancient Wisdom: 1. Tracing the origins: ancients, philosophers, and mystery cults; 2. Plutarch of Chaeronea: 'History as a basis for a philosophy that has theology as its end'; 3. Numenius: philosophy as a hidden mystery; 4. Dio Chrysostom, Apuleius and the rhetoric of ancient wisdom; Part II. Cosmic Hierarchy: 5. Towards the pantheon as the paradigm of order; 6. The Great King of Persia and his satraps: ideal and ideology; 7. Dio Chrysostom: virtue and structure in the Kingship Orations; 8. Plutarch: a benevolent hierarchy of gods and men; Part III. Polemic and Prejudice: Challenging the Discourse: 9. Lucian, Epicureanism and strategies of satire; 10. Philo of Alexandria: challenging Greco-Roman culture; 11. Celsus and Christian superstition; more

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