101 - Father Figures: Introduction to Ancient Christian Philosophy

Peter surveys Christian philosophy in the Roman empire, looking ahead to major figures like Origen and Augustine.

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Further Reading: 

H. Bettenson, The Early Christian Church Fathers (Oxford: 1956).

H. Bettenson, The Later Christian Church Fathers (Oxford: 1970).

• H. Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin, Clement and Origen (Oxford: 1966).

• B.D. Ehrman and A.S. Jacobs, Christianity in Late Antiquity 300-450 CE: a Reader (Oxford: 2004).

• G. Evans, The First Christian Theologians (Oxford: 2004).

• W.H.C. Friend, The Early Church (London: 1965).

• M. Ludlow, The Early Church (London: 2009).

• H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers (1970).

Flora's picture

Another great episode,

Another great episode, Peter!

And what most strikes me is how challenging to the common simplification of the history of philosophy the augustinian placement gets us to.

I shall confess that, even though I have a great appreatiation for your take on ancient philosophy so far, now I can see even more clearly the goal of your project.

And just out of curiosity: are you planning on going back to the political tension between pagan and christian philosophies and beliefs? If so, are you going to devote more space to the sources we have on Hypatia?


Peter Adamson's picture

Pagans vs Christians

Hi, and thanks very much! I am going to look a bit at the pagan/Christian contrast, yes, though with these episodes I am going to look more at disputes within Christianity, e.g. concerning the Trinity and Incarnation, and also the battle with the Gnostics (which one could to some extent see as a dispute within Christianity, or at least, it isn't a straightforward Christians vs. pagans issue).

I don't think I will return to Hypatia except perhaps in passing; I don't have a lot to add to what I said in the "Last Pagans" episode. Frustratingly, we just don't know very much about her as a thinker (and what we know seems to concern more mathematics than philosophy). I am however going to emphasize the role of women in the late antique Christian tradition; for instance Macrina, sister of the Cappadocian fathers Basil and Gregory of Nyssa.

Joshua's picture


Please vote:
Those who think that it was a good idea, that Neoplatonism should be mixed with Christianity, press NC.
Those who do not, press C.

pixi666's picture

There is no year 0, Peter:

There is no year 0, Peter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0_(year)

Peter Adamson's picture

Year 0

Yes, quite a few people have pointed this out. I've fixed it in the version that will be published in a book.



remesh46's picture

Thank you so much for posting

Thank you so much for posting about this here. I had almost given up my search to read The Early Christian Church Fathers written by one of my favorite priests, H. Bettenson. We need more people like him to save the face of our religion.