Heresiography in Context


The study of the Elenchos (c. 225 CE) involves the whole range of ancient interpretative traditions concerned with Greek Philosophy, from Aristotle to the Late Neoplatonists. The present inquiry places Hippolytus' important reports about the Greek philosophers in the context of these traditions and so is able to illuminate not only what he has to offer but also to increase our knowledge of the traditions he depends on. For him the Pythagoreanizing current in Pre-Neoplatonism is of paramount importance. Accordingly, he constructs a succession ( diadoche) starting with Pythagoras and including Empedocles, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, and argues that the diadoche of the Gnostic heresiarchs is parasitical on its Pythagorean predecessor.
A new assessment of the sources used — the first serious attempt since that of Diels in 1879 — hinges on an analysis of Hippolytus' method of presentation, which is a blend of cento and exegesis geared to his anti-Gnostic purpose.
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Biographical Note

Jaap Mansfeld is Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy in the University of Utrecht. His publications include: Studies in the Historiography of Greek Philosophy, (1990), and Doxography and Dialectic: the Sitz im Leben of the Placita in ANRW II 36.4 (1990).

Review Quotes

' [Jaap Mansfeld's] study...makes important advances in drawing attention to the Middle Platonist orientation of Hippolytus' sources...and in stressing his 'heresiographical purpose'. The book will therefore be necessary reading for any consideration of Hippolytus as a source for early Greek thought.'
Stuart Leggatt, Classical Review, 1994.
' Pour conclure, nous voudrions souligner le travail philologique de Mansfeld. L'index des passages principaux qu'il analyse minutieusement en est l'impressionnant témoin.'
Bernard Colin, l'Antiquité Classique, 1994.
' La lecture du volume est enrichissante et passionnante : ce livre est un instrument indispensable pour toute recherche dans le domaine du gnosticisme.'
Recherches de Science Religieuse, 1995.

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