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Christianity and Hellenism, Part 2 of 3: On Being, Loosely Speaking

November 6th, 2010 | 4 min read

By Kevin White

In my last post, I asserted that the early Christians made discriminating use of the ideas and methods of Greek philosophy. The key terms and categories were carefully reshaped and turned towards biblical ends. If old Plato was baptized in early Christian thought, it was only because he was generally catechized and exhorted first.

I mentioned that I have seen simplistic claims about the influence of Greek philosophy from all corners. An example: I was sitting in on a session at a major, mainstream academic conference. One presenter was discussing the concept of the canon, and the importance of heeding the timeless truths of the creeds of the early Ecumenical Councils. During Q&A, one presumably learned gentleman stood up and said, essentially, “I see no timeless truths in the Nicene Creed alongside all the Neo-Platonist imagery.”

Now, our esteemed anonymous questioner was probably exaggerating. But still, on the surface, he seems to have a point.

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Kevin White