Philosophy & Philosophies

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The writings of the Greek philosophers to provide essential background material for understanding the early church fathers. The latter expended a great deal of effort refuting what they considered to be the heretical teachings of the philosophers. Without even a cursory understanding of what they we attempting to refute much of what they wrote makes little sense.

From first half of the first millennium BC Greek thought became less satisfied with the mythological explanations for the origins of the universe. Observation and the beginnings of a scientific method led to theories about the origin of life very different to those of the Hebrews. The Greeks had no concept of creation by an Almighty God. This was not because the they rejected such an idea, it simply seems not to have occurred to them.[1] It was not until Christianity spread into the Hellenistic world in the second century AD that the two radically different world views began to interact and influence one another.[2]

It is important to state at the outset that there is a real problem in establishing what the early Greek philosophers taught on any subject, let alone that of cosmology. Those philsophers who lived before Socrates (c. 470-399 BC) are tradionally known as the Presocratics. Their works survive only is scattered fragments as quotations in the works of post-Socratic philosophers and commentators. These fragments represent what the post-Socratic philosophers thought the Presocratics taught, and we read the Presoctatics today in the language and thought of the Postsocratics writers. This is especially true of our major source of Presocratic quotations - Aristotle. Lack of primary evidence is, of course, sauce for the goose of academic debate, but it is generally unwise to be too dogmatic about the details what these men taught.[3]

Rob Bradshaw, Webmaster


{1] Gordon H. Clark, Thales To Dewey. (Jefferson: The Trinity Foundation, 1985), 15.

[2] A. Hilary. Armstrong, An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy. (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1947), 164.

[3] H.F. Cherniss, "The Characteristics and Effects of Presocratic Philosophy," David J. Furley & R.E. Allen, eds., Studies in Presocratic Philosophy, Vol. 1. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 1-2.

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph A. Hilary Armstrong, ed. The Cambridge History of Later Greek And Early Medieval Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970. Hbk. ISBN: 052104054X. pp.726.
Book or monograph A. Hilary Armstrong, The Architecture of the Intelligible Universe in the Philosophy of Plotinus: an Analytical and Historical Study. Cambridge Classical Studies. Amsterdam : A. M. Hakkert, 1967.pp. xii+ 128.
Book or monograph A. Hilary Armstrong, Augustine and Christian Philosophy. Villanova: Villanova University Press, 1967.
Book or monograph A. Hilary Armstrong, Plotinian and Christian Studies. London: Variorum Reprints, 1979. Hbk. ISBN: 0860780473. pp.362.
Book or monograph A. Hilary Armstrong & R.A. Markus, Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1960.
Article in Journal or Book D.L. Balás, "The Encounter Between Christianity and Contemporary Philosophy in the Second Century," Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 50 (1968): 3-15.
Book or monograph Brown: Philosophy & the Christian FaithColin Brown, Philosophy & the Christian Faith. A Historical Sketch from the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Intervarsity Press, 1969. Pbk. ISBN: 0877847126. pp.320.
Book or monograph Marcia L. Colish, The Stoic Tradition From Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages: II Stoicism in Christian Latin Thought Through the Sixth Century. Leiden: Brill, 1990. Hbk. ISBN: 9004093303. pp.459.
Book or monograph Copleston: A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1Frederick C.J. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1: Greece and Rome, Revised edn. Image Books, 1993. Pbk. ISBN: 0385468431. pp.544.
Book or monograph J. Daniélou, Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1973.
Article in Journal or Book David R. Dilling, "Christian Philosopher," Grace Journal 6.1 (1965): 29-39.
Book or monograph J. Dillon, The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0715616048.
Book or monograph Andrew Erskine, The Hellenistic Stoa: Political Thought and Action. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1990. Hbk. ISBN: 0801424631. pp. xi + 233.
Book or monograph Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian PerspectiveNorman Geisler & Paul Feinberg, Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Baker / Revell, 1987. Pbk. ISBN: 0801038189. pp.447.
Book or monograph Stephen Gersh, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism: The Latin Tradition, 2 Vols. Publications in Medieval Studies, No 23. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986. Hbk. ISBN: 0268013632. pp.939.
Book or monograph Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine. New York: Random House, 1960. Hbk. ISBN: 0575009683. pp.461.
Book or monograph Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma, Vol. 2. London: Constable, 1900. pp.169-229
Article in Journal or Book A. Henrichs, "Philosophy, the Handmaiden of Theology," Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 9 (1968):437-450.
Book or monograph Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory ReadingsBrad Inwood & Loyd P. Gerson, Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings. Indianapolis / Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 1998. Pbk. ISBN: 0872203786. pp. xii + 266.
Book or monograph Jaeger: Early Christianity and Greek PaideiaWerner Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia, new edn. Cambridge: Cambridge Harvard University Press, 1985. Pbk. ISBN: 0674220528. pp.160.
On-line Resource Roy Kearsley, "Faith and Philosophy in the Early Church," Themelios 15.3 (1990): 81-86.
Book or monograph Long: Hellenistic PhilosophyAnthony A. Long, Hellenistic Philosophy: Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics, 2nd edn. Berkeley / London: University of California Press, 1986. Pbk. ISBN: 0520058089. pp. x + 262.
Book or monograph E.P. Meijering, Orthodoxy and Platonism in Athanasius: Synthesis or Antithesis?, 2nd edn. Leiden: Brill, 1974.
Article in Journal or Book P. Merlan, "Religion and Philosophy from Plato's Phaedo to the Chaldean Oracles with an Appendix on Plotinus and the Jews," Journal for the History of Philosophy 1-2 (1963-64): 163-76.
Book or monograph A. Momigliano, ed. The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century. Oxford: Clarendon, 1963.
Book or monograph Dominic J. O'Meara, ed. Neoplatonism and Christian Thought. State Univ. New York Press, 1981. Hbk. ISBN: 0873954920.
Book or monograph Eric Osborn, The Beginning of Christian Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. ISBN: 0521231795. pp. xiv + 321.
Article in Journal or Book Wolfhart Pannenberg, "The Appropriation of the Philosophical Concept of God as a Dogmatic Problem of Early Christian Theology," Basic Questions in Theology, Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Pbk. pp.119-183.
Article in Journal or Book J.M. Rist, "Basil's 'Neoplatonism': Its Background and Nature," Basil of Caesarea: Christian Humanist, Ascetic: A Sixteem-Hundred Anniversary Symposium: Part One. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1982. pp.137-220.
Book or monograph The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman PhilosophyDavid Sedley, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pbk. ISBN: 0521775035. pp.412.
On-line Resource Alan P.E. Sell, "Theology and the Philosophical Climate: Case-Studies From the Second Century AD (Part 1)," Vox Evangelica 13 (1983): 41-66.View in PDF format pdf
On-line Resource Alan. P.F. Sell, "Theology and the Philosophical Climate: Case-Studies From the Second Century AD (Part 2),Vox Evangelica 14 (1984): 53-64.View in PDF format pdf
Book or monograph Stead: Philosophy in Christian AntiquityChristopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity. Cambridge University Press, 1994. Pbk. ISBN: 0521469554. pp.273.
Book or monograph James W. Thompson, Beginnings of Christian Philosophy: The Epistle to the Hebrews. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Monograph Series, 13. Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0915170124. pp.184.
Book or monograph C. Tresmontant, The Origins of Christian Philosophy. New York: Hawthorn, 1963.
Book or monograph C.J. de Vogel, Greek Philosophy, Vol. 3: The Hellenistic-Roman Period. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1959.
Book or monograph Lionel R. Wickham, Caroline P. Bammel & Erica C.D. Hunter, eds. Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy in Late Antiquity. Vigiliae Christianae , No 19. Leiden: Brill, 1993. Hbk. ISBN: 9004096051. pp.266.
Book or monograph H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, Vol. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956.
Book or monograph E. Zeller, A History of Eclecticism in Greek Philosophy. London, 1883.

Related Subjects



Aristotle | Cynicism | Epicurianism | Plato | Stoicism

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