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Christianity as Philosophy: Problems and Perspectives of an Ancient Intellectual Project

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Winrich Löhr1
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  • 1 Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg, Wissenschaftlich-Theologisches Seminar Kisselgasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, Email: winrich.loehr@wts.uni-heidelberg.de
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Abstract

The article explores the profile, context and consequences of Christianity’s self definition as a philosophy in the ancient world. It proposes a distinction between, on the one hand, the practice of teaching philosophy in small Christian schools, and, on the other hand, an intellectual discourse that proclaimed Christianity as the true and superior philosophy. It is argued that Christianity’s self definition as a philosophy should not be viewed as merely an accommodation to an intellectual fashion. It is shown how Christianity could be understood and practised as a philosophy in the ancient sense of the word. However, as a philosophical practice Christianity underwent a transformation in the 4th century which prevented the emergence of a late antique Christian scholasticism and gave rise to new combinations of Christianity and non-Christian philosophy.

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