Socrates and Plato in the fathers

Authored by: Joseph S. O’Leary

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Philosophy

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138685048
eBook ISBN: 9781315543512
Adobe ISBN:


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Socrates, the teacher of Plato, is often commended by Christians as a martyr to paganism, but it was through the Middle Platonic tradition, which favoured the systematic rather than the obstetric approach to philosophy, that the teachings of Plato were first assimilated by the church. Where some of the early apologists are either hostile (like Tatian) or arguably superficial in their befriending of Plato, Clement of Alexandria is the most enthusiastic exponent of Platonism in a Christian dress. The alleged dependence of Plato on Moses is a widespread motif in attempts to explain convergences between Platonic and Christian thought. Origen and Gregory of Nyssa are examples of a serious struggle to reconcile fundamental Platonic thought forms with the exigencies of revelation and dogma.

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