We are very pleased to share the recent additions to our online publications from the Hellenic Studies Series.
Joel Kalvesmaki, The Theology of Arithmetic: Number Symbolism in Platonism and Early Christianity
In the second century, Valentinians and other gnosticizing Christians used numerical structures and symbols to describe God, interpret the Bible, and frame the universe. In this study of the controversy that resulted, Joel Kalvesmaki shows how earlier neo-Pythagorean and Platonist number symbolism provided the impetus for this theology of arithmetic, and describes the ways in which gnosticizing groups attempted to engage both the Platonist and Christian traditions. He explores the rich variety of number symbolism then in use, among both gnosticizing groups and their orthodox critics, demonstrating how those critics developed an alternative approach to number symbolism that would set the pattern for centuries to come. Arguing that the early dispute influenced the very tradition that inspired it, Kalvesmaki explains how, in the late third and early fourth centuries, numbers became increasingly important to Platonists, who engaged in arithmological constructions and disputes that mirrored the earlier Christian ones.
Lesher, James, Debra Nails, and Frisbee Sheffield, editors, Plato’s Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception
In his Symposium, Plato crafted a set of speeches in praise of love that has influenced writers and artists from antiquity to the present. Early Christian writers read the dialogue’s “ascent passage” as a vision of the soul’s journey to heaven. Ficino’s commentary on the Symposiuminspired poets and artists throughout Renaissance Europe and introduced “a Platonic love” into common speech. Themes or images from the dialogue have appeared in paintings or sketches by Rubens, David, Feuerbach, and La Farge, as well as in musical compositions by Satie and Bernstein.
The dialogue’s view of love as “desire for eternal possession of the good” is still of enormous philosophical interest in its own right. Nevertheless, questions remain concerning the meaning of specific features, the significance of the dialogue as a whole, and the character of its influence. This volume brings together an international team of scholars to address such questions.
And See AWOL's List of Open Access Publications of the Center for Hellenic Studies