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8 The Structure of Athenagoras, Supplicatio pro Christianis

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Chapter Summary

In seeking to determine the nature of Athenagoras's Platonism it must be kept in mind that the Platonism with which Athenagoras was familiar was Middle Platonism and that he cannot therefore realistically be measured against Plato himself. Our increasing knowledge of the Platonism of the early Christian centuries has made significant contributions to our understanding of early Christian thought. The purpose of this chapter is to take a first step towards placing Athenagoras's Legatio pro Christianis in this philosophical context. In particular, the structure of the Legatio is examined for any correspondence it might have to the philosophical literature of his day. Alcinous begins his work by discussing the nature of philosophy and the character of the philosopher. Alcinous's use of the φυσικαὶ ἔννοιαι reflects the appropriation of a Stoic concept to a Middle Platonic theory of knowledge.

Keywords: Athenagoras's platonism; Legatio pro Christianis



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