Universal Salvation in Late Antiquity: Porphyry of Tyre and the Pagan-Christian Debate

Hardcover | June 16, 2015

byMichael Bland Simmons

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This study offers an in-depth examination of Porphyrian soteriology, or the concept of the salvation of the soul, in the thought of Porphyry of Tyre, whose significance for late antique thought is immense. Porphyry's concept of salvation is important for an understanding of those cataclysmicforces, not always theological, that helped convert the Roman Empire from paganism to Christianity. Porphyry, a disciple of Plotinus, was the last and greatest anti-Christian writer to vehemently attack the Church before the Constantinian revolution. His contribution to the pagan-Christian debate onuniversalism can thus shed light on the failure of paganism and the triumph of Christianity in late antiquity. In a broader historical and cultural context this study will address some of the issues central to the debate on universalism, in which Porphyry was passionately involved and which was becoming increasingly significant during the unprecedented series of economic, cultural, political, and militarycrises of the third century. As the author will argue, Porphyry may have failed to find one way of salvation for all humanity, he nonetheless arrived a hierarchical soteriology, something natural for a Neoplatonist, which resulted in an integrative religious and philosophical system. His system isexamined in the context of other developing ideologies of universalism, during a period of unprecedented imperial crises, which were used by the emperors as an agent of political and religious unification. Christianity finally triumphed over its competitors owing to its being perceived to be theonly universal salvation cult that was capable of bringing about this unification. In short, it won due to its unique universalist soteriology. By examining a rival to Christianity's concept of universal salvation, this book will be valuable to students and scholars of ancient philosophy, patristics, church history, and late antiquity.

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This study offers an in-depth examination of Porphyrian soteriology, or the concept of the salvation of the soul, in the thought of Porphyry of Tyre, whose significance for late antique thought is immense. Porphyry's concept of salvation is important for an understanding of those cataclysmicforces, not always theological, that helped c...

Michael Bland Simmons is Distinguished Research Professor, Department of History, Auburn University Montgomery and Archbishop, the Anglican Church of the Americas.

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Hardcover|Apr 30 1999

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:488 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:June 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190202394

ISBN - 13:9780190202392

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Table of Contents

Dedication and AcknowledgementsAbbreviatonsPrefacePART I: PORPHYRY AND THE QUEST FOR A PAGAN COUNTERPART TO CHRISTIAN UNIVERSALISM1. Porphyry of Tyre: Life and Historical Contexts2. Contextualizing a Porphyrian Soteriology3. De Philosophia ex oraculis: Soteriological Structure and Contents4. The Contra Christianos in the Context of Universalism5. Eusebius and Porphyry: The TheophanyPART II: THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXT OF UNIVERSALISM6. The Meaning of Salvation in A Greco-Roman Milieu7. Philosophia ex oraculis: A Tripartite Universalism8. Porphyry and Iamblichus9. Eschatological Salvation10. Historical Context: Caracalla to Constantine11. Religious Universalism: Paganism and Christianity12. ConclusionsAppendices I-VIIINotesBibliography: Secondary SourcesBibliography: Primary SourcesIndex