St. Augustine and Plotinus: the Human Mind as Image of the Divine


Author: Laela Zwollo
In Augustine and Plotinus: the Human Mind as Image of the Divine Laela Zwollo provides an inside view of two of the most influential thinkers of late antiquity: the Christian Augustine and the Neo-Platonist Plotinus. By exploring the finer points and paradoxes of their doctrines of the image of God (the human soul/intellect), the illustrious church father’s complex interaction with his most important non-biblical source comes into focus. In order to fathom Augustine, we should first grasp the beauty in Plotinus’ philosophy and its attractiveness to Christians. This monograph will contribute to a better understanding of the formative years of Christianity as well as later ancient philosophy. It can serve as a handbook for becoming acquainted with the two thinkers, as well as for delving into the profundity of their thought.

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Laela Zwollo, Ph.D. (2016) Tilburg University, School of Catholic Theology, is a researcher of Early Christianity, Platonism and Gnosticism. She is affiliated with i.a. the Centre of Patristic Research in Utrecht.
Preface Abbreviations
1 Augustine and Plotinus on Imaging the Divine  1  Introduction  2  A New Study on Augustine and Plotinus?  3  Key Aspects of This Study  4  The Multiple Accounts of a Status Quaestionis in an Interdisciplinary Research
2 Augustine’s Appraisal of Plotinus’ Philosophy  1  Augustine’s Accounts of Platonism in Confessions  2  Augustine on Plato and the Platonists in De civitate Dei and De Trinitate  3  Augustine as Christian Platonist: Synthesis
3 Plotinus: Imaging, the Soul and the Ascent  1  Introduction  2  Images and Imaging in Plotinus’ Theogony and Cosmology  3  The Human Soul as Image: φύσις, Λόγος and Νοῦς  4  The Ascent: Intellectual Contemplation and the Soul’s Ascent to Beauty
4 Augustine: the Image of God in His Genesis Commentaries  1  Introduction  2  Augustine’s Doctrine of Creation: Ideas and Images  3  The Soul-Intellect in Augustine’s Doctrine of the Imago Dei in De genesi ad litteram  4  The Ascent: the Soul’s Vision and Contemplation of the Ideas
5 Augustine: the Image of the Trinity in De Trinitate  1  Introduction: The Trinity  2  The Trinitarian Godhead and Christology  3  The Imago Trinitatis: Knowledge and Love  4  Augustine’s Account of the Ascent in De Trinitate
Prologue: Introduction to Chapters 6–9 on Augustine and Plotinus
6 Augustine and Plotinus on the Godhead  1  Introduction  2  The Triune Godhead: Similarities  3  Differences  4  Synthesis and Conclusions
7 Augustine and Plotinus on the Image-Intellect and Epistemology  1  Introduction; Definition of the Terms, Image and Intellect  2  Epistemology: Similarities  3  Differences  4  Synthesis and Conclusions
8 Augustine and Plotinus on Love  1  Introduction  2  Summaries of Plotinus and Augustine on Love  3  General Correspondences  4  General Differences  5  Synthesis
9 Augustine and Plotinus on the Ascent  1  Introduction  2  Plotinus: the Epistemological Ascent and the Ascent by Love  3  Augustine on the Ascent  4  General Similarities  5  Gray Areas  6  Major Differences  7  Synthesis
10 Plotinus in Augustine’s Doctrine of the Image of God  1  Introduction  2  The Plotinian Influence on Augustine: Marked Similarities  3  Major Differences  4  Augustine’s Critique of Platonism from Chapter 2: an Evaluation
11 Augustine’s Christian Platonism  1  How Can We Characterize Augustine as a Christian?  2  How as a Platonist?  3  Augustine’s Relationship to Platonism (Confessions and The City of God)  4  Conclusions
12 Epilogue
Primary Sources Bibliography Bible References Index
Researchers of the Greek philosophical influence on early Christianity, in particular Augustine and Plotinus; also readers interested in acquainting themselves with the roots of Christianity and the Platonist tradition.