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By John Peter Kenney

After resolving to develop into a Catholic Christian, Augustine spent a decade attempting to make clear his figuring out of "contemplation," the internal presence of God to the soul. That lengthy fight yielded his vintage account within the Confessions. This examine explores Augustine's constructing figuring out of contemplation, starting along with his earliest money owed written earlier than his baptism and finishing with the Confessions. bankruptcy One examines the pagan monotheism of the Roman Platonists and the position of contemplation of their theology. Augustine's pre-baptismal writings are then thought of in bankruptcy , monitoring his primary holiday from pagan Platonism. bankruptcy 3 then turns to Augustine's constructing figuring out of contemplation in those pre-baptismal texts. bankruptcy 4 concentrates on Augustine's suggestion through the decade after his baptism in 387, a interval that encompasses his monastic lifestyles in Thagaste, and his years first as a presbyter after which as a bishop in Hippo Regius. This bankruptcy follows the arc of Augustine's suggestion via those years of transition and leads into the Confessions, giving a vantage element to survey its theology of contemplation. bankruptcy 5 concentrates at the Confessions and units its most famed account of contemplation, the imaginative and prescient at Ostia from publication IX, right into a greater polemical context. Augustine's protection of his transcendental examining of scripture in Confessions XII is analyzed after which used to light up the Ostian ascent narrative. The booklet concludes with observations at the value of Augustine's theology of contemplation to the emergence of Christian monotheism in overdue antiquity.

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Negative theology thus became central to the theological grammar of pagan monotheism and it remained so in the Platonic schools of late antiquity, becoming even more extreme and attenuated in figures like Iamblichus and Proclus. What Plotinus achieved, therefore, was the codification of pagan monotheism. 10 10 Kenney 1991, chapter 2. Contemplation and Pagan Monotheism 17 The theological character of Middle Platonism had several aspects that warrant attention. First is its exaltation of a supreme and transcendent nous, whose primordial status was achieved by emphasizing its remoteness and indifference to the cosmos.

Indeed it was in Plotinus that pagan monotheism achieved its clearest philosophical articulation, largely through his relentless use of negative theology. Negative theology was systematically deployed to prevent the One’s assimilation to all other sorts of reality. Negative theology thus became central to the theological grammar of pagan monotheism and it remained so in the Platonic schools of late antiquity, becoming even more extreme and attenuated in figures like Iamblichus and Proclus. What Plotinus achieved, therefore, was the codification of pagan monotheism.

14 But one thing that is not in evidence in the Enneads is prayer to the One. 16 Yet it is easy to see why the soul cannot really pray to the One. It is not so much the apparent 11 12 VI. 8. 7–16. 1. 14 Armstrong 1990, XI. See esp. Gerson 1990, 216–19. 15 Prayer is regarded by Plotinus as a magical activity, and not something to be directed to the One. Cf. 6. 16 Porphyry, Vita Plotini 10. 13 Contemplation and Pagan Monotheism 21 impersonality of the One; after all, what we think of as personality had its source there in the One.

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