HOME
        TheInfoList






Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonic philosophy that emerged in the second century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and religion.[note 1][1][note 2] The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as it encapsulates a chain of thinkers which began with Ammonius Saccas and his student Plotinus (c. 204/5 – 271 AD) and which stretches to the 5th century AD. Even though neoplatonism primarily circumscribes the thinkers who are now labeled Neoplatonists and not their ideas, there are some ideas that are common to neoplatonic systems; for example, the monistic idea that all of reality can be derived from a single principle, "the One".

After Plotinus there were three distinct periods in the history of neoplatonism: the work of his student Porphyry (third to early fourth century); that of Iamblichus (third to fourth century) and that school's later continuation in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished.[2]

Neoplatonism had an enduring influence on the subsequent history of philosophy. In the Middle Ages, neoplatonic ideas were studied and discussed by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish thinkers. In the Islamic cultural sphere, neoplatonic texts were available in Arabic and Persian translations, and notable thinkers such as al-Farabi, Solomon ibn Gabirol (Avicebron), Avicenna, and Moses Maimonides incorporated neoplatonic elements into their own thinking.[3] Thomas Aquinas had direct access to works by Proclus, Simplicius and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and he knew about other Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus and Porphyry, through secondhand sources.[4] The mystic Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1328) was also influenced by neoplatonism, propagating a contemplative way of life which points to the Godhead beyond the nameable God.

Neoplatonism also had a strong influence on the perennial philosophy of the Italian Renaissance thinkers Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and continues through nineteenth-century Universalism and modern-day spirituality and nondualism. Neoplatonism underpins the mystical traditions in all three of the major Abrahamic religions.[5]

Origins of the term

Neoplatonism is a modern term.[note 1] The term neoplatonism has a double function as a historical category. On the one hand, it differentiates the philosophical doctrines of Plotinus and his successors from those of the historical Plato. On the other, the term makes an assumption about the novelty of Plotinus's interpretation of Plato. In the nearly six centuries from Plato's time to Plotinus', there had been an uninterrupted tradition of interpreting Plato which had begun with Aristotle and with the immediate successors of Plato's academy and continued on through a period of Platonism which is now referred to as Middle Platonism. The term neoplatonism implies that Plotinus' interpretation of Plato was so distinct from those of his predecessors that it should be thought to introduce a new period in the history of Platonism. Some contemporary scholars, however, have taken issue with this assumption and have doubted that neoplatonism constitutes a useful label. They claim that merely marginal differences separate Plotinus' teachings from those of his immediate predecessors[citation needed].

Whether neoplatonism is a meaningful or useful historical category is itself a central question concerning the history of the interpretation of Plato. For much of the history of Platonism, it was commonly accepted that the doctrines of the neoplatonists were essentially the same as those of Plato. The Renaissance Platonist Marsilio Ficino, for instance, thought that the neoplatonic interpretation of Plato was an authentic and accurate representation of Plato's philosophy.[8] Although it is unclear precisely when scholars began to disassociate the philosophy of the historical Plato from the philosophy of his neoplatonic interpreters, they had clearly begun to do so at least as early as the first decade of the nineteenth century. Contemporary scholars often identify the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher as an early thinker who took Plato's philosophy to be separate from that of his neoplatonic interpreters. However, others have argued that the differentiation of Plato from neoplatonism was the result of a protracted historical development that preceded Schleiermacher's scholarly work on Plato.[9]

Origins and history of classical neoplatonism

Neoplatonism started with Plotinus in the third century.[1][note 2] Three distinct phases in classical neoplatonism after Plotinus can be distinguished: the work of his student Porphyry; that of Iamblichus and his school in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished.[2]

Hellenism

Neoplatonism synthesized ideas from various philosophical and religious cultural spheres. The most important forerunners from Greek philosophy were the Middle Platonists, such as Plutarch, and the neopythagoreans, especially Numenius of Apamea. Philo, a Hellenized Jew, translated Judaism into terms of Stoic, Platonic and neopythagorean elements, and held that God is "supra rational" and can be reached only through "ecstasy". Philo also held that the oracles of God supply the material of moral and religious knowledge. The earliest Christian philosophers, such as Justin and Athenagoras, who attempted to connect Christianity with Platonism, and the Christian Gnostics of Alexandria, especially Valentinus and the followers of Basilides, also mirrored elements of neoplatonism,[11] albeit without its rigorous self-consistency.

Saccas

Ammonius Saccas (died c. AD 265; Greek: Ἀμμώνιος Σακκᾶς) was a teacher of Plotinus. Through Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus may have been influenced by Indian thought. The similarities between neoplatonism and the Vedanta philosophies of Hinduism have led several authors to suggest an Indian influence in its founding, particularly on Ammonius Saccas.[12][13][14]

Both Christians (see Eusebius, Jerome, and Origen) and pagans (see Porphyry and Plotinus) claimed him a teacher and founder of the neoplatonic system.[citation needed] Porphyry stated in On the One School of Plato and Aristotle, that Ammonius' view was that the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle were in harmony. Eusebius and Jerome claimed him as a Christian until his death, whereas Porphyry claimed he had renounced Christianity and embraced pagan philosophy.

Plotinus

Plotinus (c. 205 – c. 270; Greek: Πλωτῖνος), born in upper Egypt, was a major Egyptian[15] philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the father of neoplatonism. Much of our biographical information about him comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. While he was himself influenced by the teachings of classical Greek, Persian and Indian philosophy and Egyptian theology,[16] his metaphysical writings later inspired numerous Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics over the centuries.

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity, nor distinction; likewise, it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects and, therefore, is beyond the concepts which we can derive from them. The One "cannot be any existing thing" and cannot be merely the sum of all such things (compare the Stoic doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence) but "is prior to all existents".

Porphyry

Porphyry (Greek: Πορφύριος, c. 233–c. 309) was a Syrian[15] neoplatonist philosopher. He wrote widely on astrology, religion, philosophy, and musical theory. He produced a biography of his teacher, Plotinus. He is important in the history of mathematics because of his Life of Pythagoras and his commentary on Euclid's Elements, which Pappus used when he wrote his own commentary. Porphyry is also known as an opponent of Christianity and as a defender of Paganism; of his Adversus Christianos (Against the Christians) in 15 books, only fragments remain. He famously said, "The gods have proclaimed Christ to have been most pious, but the Christians are a confused and vicious sect."

Iamblichus

Iamblichus, also known as Iamblichus Chalcidensis (c. 245 – c. 325; Greek: Ἰάμβλιχος), was a Syrian[15] neoplatonist philosopher who influenced the direction taken by later neoplatonic philosophy. He is perhaps best known for his compendium on Pythagorean philosophy. In Iamblichus' system, the realm of divinities stretched from the original One down to material nature itself, where soul, in fact, descended into matter and became "embodied" as human beings. The world is thus peopled by a crowd of superhuman beings influencing natural events and possessing and communicating knowledge of the future, and who are all accessible to prayers and offerings. Iamblichus had salvation as his final goal (see henosis). The embodied soul was to return to divinity by performin

After Plotinus there were three distinct periods in the history of neoplatonism: the work of his student Porphyry (third to early fourth century); that of Iamblichus (third to fourth century) and that school's later continuation in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished.[2]

Neoplatonism had an enduring influence on the subsequent history of philosophy. In the Middle Ages, neoplatonic ideas were studied and discussed by Muslim, Christian, and Jewish thinkers. In the Islamic cultural sphere, neoplatonic texts were available in Arabic and Persian translations, and notable thinkers such as al-Farabi, Solomon ibn Gabirol (Avicebron), Avicenna, and Moses Maimonides incorporated neoplatonic elements into their own thinking.[3] Thomas Aquinas had direct access to works by Proclus, Simplicius and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and he knew about other Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus and Porphyry, through secondhand sources.[4] The mystic Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1328) was also influenced by neoplatonism, propagating a contemplative way of life which points to the Godhead beyond the nameable God.

Neoplatonism also had a strong influence on the perennial philosophy of the Italian Renaissance thinkers Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and continues through nineteenth-century Universalism and modern-day spirituality and nondualism. Neoplatonism underpins the mystical traditions in all three of the major Abrahamic religions.[5]

Neoplatonism is a modern term.[note 1] The term neoplatonism has a double function as a historical category. On the one hand, it differentiates the philosophical doctrines of Plotinus and his successors from those of the historical Plato. On the other, the term makes an assumption about the novelty of Plotinus's interpretation of Plato. In the nearly six centuries from Plato's time to Plotinus', there had been an uninterrupted tradition of interpreting Plato which had begun with Aristotle and with the immediate successors of Plato's academy and continued on through a period of Platonism which is now referred to as Middle Platonism. The term neoplatonism implies that Plotinus' interpretation of Plato was so distinct from those of his predecessors that it should be thought to introduce a new period in the history of Platonism. Some contemporary scholars, however, have taken issue with this assumption and have doubted that neoplatonism constitutes a useful label. They claim that merely marginal differences separate Plotinus' teachings from those of his immediate predecessors[citation needed].

Whether neoplatonism is a meaningful or useful historical category is itself a central question concerning the history of the interpretation of Plato. For much of the history of Platonism, it was commonly accepted that the doctrines of the neoplatonists were essentially the same as those of Plato. The Renaissance Platonist Marsilio Ficino, for instance, thought that the neoplatonic interpretation of Plato was an authentic and accurate representation of Plato's philosophy.[8] Although it is unclear precisely when scholars began to disassociate the philosophy of the historical Plato from the philosophy of his neoplatonic interpreters, they had clearly begun to do so at least as early as the first decade of the nineteenth century. Contemporary scholars often identify the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher as an early thinker who took Plato's philosophy to be separate from that of his neoplatonic interpreters. However, others have argued that the differentiation of Plato from neoplatonism was the result of a protracted historical development that preceded Schleiermacher's scholarly work on Plato.[9]

Origins and history of classical neoplatonism

Neoplatonism started with Plotinus in the third century.[1][note 2] Three distinct phases in classical neoplatonism after Plotinus can be distinguished: the work of his student Porphyry; that of Iamblichus and his school in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished.[2]

Hellenism

Neoplatonism synthesized ideas from various philosophical and religious cultural spheres. The most important forerunners from Greek philosophy were the Middle Platonists, such as Plutarch, and the neopythagoreans, especially Numenius of Apamea. Philo, a Hellenized Jew, translated Judaism into terms of Stoic, Platonic and neopythagorean elements, and held that God is "supra rational" and can be reached only through "ecstasy". Philo also held that the oracles of God supply the material of moral and religious knowledge. The earliest Christian philosophers, such as Justin and Athenagoras, who attempted to connect Christianity with Platonism, and the Christian Gnostics of Alexandria, especially Valentinus and the followers of Basilides, also mirrored elements of neoplatonism,[11] albeit without its rigorous self-consistency.

Saccas

Ammonius Saccas (died c. AD 265; Greek: Ἀμμώνιος Σακκᾶς) was a teacher of Plotinus. Through Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus may have been influenced by Indian thought. The similarities between neoplatonism and the Vedanta philosophies of Hinduism have led several authors to suggest an Indian influence in its founding, particularly on Ammonius Saccas.[12]Whether neoplatonism is a meaningful or useful historical category is itself a central question concerning the history of the interpretation of Plato. For much of the history of Platonism, it was commonly accepted that the doctrines of the neoplatonists were essentially the same as those of Plato. The Renaissance Platonist Marsilio Ficino, for instance, thought that the neoplatonic interpretation of Plato was an authentic and accurate representation of Plato's philosophy.[8] Although it is unclear precisely when scholars began to disassociate the philosophy of the historical Plato from the philosophy of his neoplatonic interpreters, they had clearly begun to do so at least as early as the first decade of the nineteenth century. Contemporary scholars often identify the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher as an early thinker who took Plato's philosophy to be separate from that of his neoplatonic interpreters. However, others have argued that the differentiation of Plato from neoplatonism was the result of a protracted historical development that preceded Schleiermacher's scholarly work on Plato.[9]

Neoplatonism started with Plotinus in the third century.[1][note 2] Three distinct phases in classical neoplatonism after Plotinus can be distinguished: the work of his student Porphyry; that of Iamblichus and his school in Syria; and the period in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Academies in Alexandria and Athens flourished.[2]

Hellenism

Neoplatonism synthesized ideas from various philosophical and religious cultural spheres. The most important forerunners from Greek philosophy were the Middle Platonists, such as Plutarch, a

Neoplatonism synthesized ideas from various philosophical and religious cultural spheres. The most important forerunners from Greek philosophy were the Middle Platonists, such as Plutarch, and the neopythagoreans, especially Numenius of Apamea. Philo, a Hellenized Jew, translated Judaism into terms of Stoic, Platonic and neopythagorean elements, and held that God is "supra rational" and can be reached only through "ecstasy". Philo also held that the oracles of God supply the material of moral and religious knowledge. The earliest Christian philosophers, such as Justin and Athenagoras, who attempted to connect Christianity with Platonism, and the Christian Gnostics of Alexandria, especially Valentinus and the followers of Basilides, also mirrored elements of neoplatonism,[11] albeit without its rigorous self-consistency.

Saccas

Ammonius Saccas (died c. AD 265; Greek: Ἀμμώνιος Σακκᾶς) was a teacher of Plotinus. Through Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus may have been influenced by Indian thought. The similarities between neoplatonism and the Vedanta philosophies of Hinduism have led several authors to suggest an Indian influence in its founding, particularly on Ammonius Saccas.[12][13][14]

Both Christians (see Eusebius, Jerome, and Origen) and pagans (see Porphyry and Eusebius, Jerome, and Origen) and pagans (see Porphyry and Plotinus) claimed him a teacher and founder of the neoplatonic system.[citation needed] Porphyry stated in On the One School of Plato and Aristotle, that Ammonius' view was that the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle were in harmony. Eusebius and Jerome claimed him as a Christian until his death, whereas Porphyry claimed he had renounced Christianity and embraced pagan philosophy.

Plotinus (c. 205 – c. 270; Greek: Πλωτῖνος), born in upper Egypt, was a major Egyptian[15] philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the father of neoplatonism. Much of our biographical information about him comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. While he was himself influenced by the teachings of classical Greek, Persian and Indian philosophy and Egyptian theology,[16] his metaphysical writings later inspired numerous Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics over the centuries.

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity, nor distinction; likewise, it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience and is an attribute of such objects,

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity, nor distinction; likewise, it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of "being" is derived by us from the objects of human experience and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects and, therefore, is beyond the concepts which we can derive from them. The One "cannot be any existing thing" and cannot be merely the sum of all such things (compare the Stoic doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence) but "is prior to all existents".

Porphyry (Greek: Πορφύριος, c. 233–c. 309) was a Syrian[15] neoplatonist philosopher. He wrote widely on astrology, religion, philosophy, and musical theory. He produced a biography of his teacher, Plotinus. He is important in the history of mathematics because of his Life of Pythagoras and his commentary on Euclid's Elements, which Pappus used when he wrote his own commentary. Porphyry is also known as an opponent of Christianity and as a defender of Paganism; of his Adversus Christianos (Against the Christians) in 15 books, only fragments remain. He famously said, "The gods have proclaimed Christ to have been most pious, but the Christians are a confused and vicious sect."

Iamblichus

Iamblichus, also known as Iamblichus Chalcidensis (c. 245 – c. 325; Greek: Ἰάμβλιχος), was a Syrian[15] neoplatonist philosopher who influenced the direction taken by later neoplatonic philosophy. He is perhaps best known for his compendium on Pythagorean philosophy. In Iamblichus' system, the realm of divinities stretched from the original One down to material nature itself, where soul, in fact, descended into matter and became "embodied" as human beings. The world is thus peopled by a crowd of superhuman beings influencing natural events and possessing and communicating knowledge of the future, and who are all accessible to prayers and offerings. Iamblichus had salvation as his final goal (see henosis). The embodied soul was to return to divinity by performing certain rites, or theurgy, literally, 'divine-working'.

Academies

After Plotinus' (around 205–270) and his student Porphyry (around 232–309) Aristotle's (non-biological) works entered the curriculum of Platonic thought. Porphyry's introduction (Isagoge) to Aristotle's Categoria was important as an introduction to logic, and the study of Aristotle became an introduction to the study of Plato in the late Platonism of Athens and Alexandria. The commentaries of this group seek to harmonise Plato, Aristotle, and, often, the Stoa.[17] Some works of neoplatonism were attributed to Plato or Aristotle. De Mundo, for instance, is thought not to be the work of a 'pseudo-Aristotle' though this remains debatable.[18]

Hypatia (c. 360 – 415) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician who served as head of the Platonist school in Alexandria, Egypt, where she taught philosophy, mathematics and ast

Hypatia (c. 360 – 415) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician who served as head of the Platonist school in Alexandria, Egypt, where she taught philosophy, mathematics and astronomy prior to her murder by a fanatical mob of Coptic Parabalani monks because she had been advising the Christian prefect of Egypt Orestes during his feud with Cyril, Alexandria's dynastic archbishop.[19] The extent of Cyril's personal involvement in her murder remains a matter of scholarly debate.

Proclus Lycaeus (February 8, 412 – April 17, 485), surnamed "The Successor" or "diadochos" (Greek Πρόκλος ὁ Διάδοχος Próklos ho Diádokhos), was a Greek neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Greek philosophers (see Damascius). He set forth one of the most elaborate, complex, and fully developed neoplatonic systems, providing also an allegorical way of reading the dialogues of Plato. The particular characteristic of Proclus' system is his insertion of a level of individual ones, called henads between the One itself and the divine Intellect, which is the second principle. The henads are beyond being, like the One itself, but they stand at the head of chains of causation (seirai or taxeis) and in some manner give to these chains their particular character. They are also identified with the traditional Greek gods, so one henad might be Apollo and be the cause of all things apollonian, while another might be Helios and be the cause of all sunny things. The henads serve both to protect the One itself from any hint of multiplicity and to draw up the rest of the universe towards the One, by being a connecting, intermediate stage between absolute unity and determinate multiplicity.

The Enneads of Plotinus are the primary and classical document of neoplatonism. As a form of mysticism, it contains theoretical and practical parts. The theoretical parts deal with the high origin of the human soul, showing how it has departed from its first estate. The practical parts show the way by which the soul may again return to the Eternal and Supreme.[11] The system can be divided between the invisible world and the phenomenal world, the former containing the transcendent, absolute One from which emanates an eternal, perfect, essence (nous, or intellect), which, in turn, produces the world-soul.

The OneFor Plotinus, the first principle of reality is "the One", an utterly simple, ineffable, unknowable subsistence which is both the creative source of the Universe[20] and the teleological end of all existing things. Although, properly speaking, there is no name appropriate for the first principle, the most adequate names are "the One" or "the Good". The One is so simple that it cannot even be said to exist or to be a being. Rather, the creative principle of all things is beyond being, a notion which is derived from Book VI of the Republic,[21] when, in the course of his famous analogy of the sun, Plato says that the Good is beyond being (ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας) in power and dignity.[22] In Plotinus' model of reality, the One is the cause of the rest of reality, which takes the form of two subsequent "hypostases" or substances: Nous and Soul. Although neoplatonists after Plotinus adhered to his cosmological scheme in its most general outline, later developments in the tradition also departed substantively from Plotinus' teachings in regards to significant philosophical issues, such as the nature of evil.

EmanationsFrom the One emanated the rest of the universe as a sequence of lesser beings.

Demiurge or Nous

The original Being initially emanates, or throws out, the emanates, or throws out, the nous, which is a perfect image of the One and the archetype of all existing things. It is simultaneously both being and thought, idea and ideal world. As image, the nous corresponds perfectly to the One, but as derivative, it is entirely different. What Plotinus understands by the nous is the highest sphere accessible to the human mind,[11] while also being pure intellect itself. Nous is the most critical component of idealism, Neoplatonism being a pure form of idealism.[note 3] The demiurge (the nous) is the energy, or ergon (does the work), which manifests or organises the material world into perceivability.

The world-soul

The

The image and product of the motionless nous is the world-soul, which, according to Plotinus, is immaterial like the nous. Its relation to the nous is the same as that of the nous to the One. It stands between the nous and the phenomenal world, and it is permeated and illuminated by the former, but it is also in contact with the latter. The nous/spirit is indivisible; the world-soul may preserve its unity and remain in the nous, but, at the same time, it has the power of uniting with the corporeal world and thus being disintegrated. It therefore occupies an intermediate position. As a single world-soul, it belongs in essence and destination to the intelligible world; but it also embraces innumerable individual souls; and these can either allow themselves to be informed by the nous, or turn aside from the nous and choose the phenomenal world and lose themselves in the realm of the senses and the finite.[11]

The phenomenal world

Later neoplatonic philosophers, especially Iamblichus, added hundreds of intermediate beings such as gods, angels, demons, and other beings as mediators between the One and humanity. The neoplatonist gods are omni-perfect beings and do not display the usual amoral behaviour associated with their representations in the myths.

  • The One: God, The Good. Transcendent and ineffable.
  • The Hypercosmic Gods: those that make Essence, Life, and Soul
  • The Demiurge: the Creator
  • The Cosmic Gods: those who make Being, Nature, and Matter—including the gods known to us from classical religion.

    Neoplatonists did not believe in an independent existence of evil. They compared it to darkness, which does not exist in itself but only as the absence of light. So, too, evil is simply the absence of good. Things are good insofar as they exist; they are evil only insofar as they are imperfect, lacking some good which they should have.

    Return to the One

    Neoplatonists believed human perfection and happiness were attainable in this world, without awaiting an afterlife. Perfection and happiness—seen as synonymous—could be achieved through philosophical c

    Neoplatonists believed human perfection and happiness were attainable in this world, without awaiting an afterlife. Perfection and happiness—seen as synonymous—could be achieved through philosophical contemplation.

    All people return to the One, from which they emanated.[26][27][28]

    The neo

    All people return to the One, from which they emanated.[26][27][28]

    The neoplatonists believed in the pre-existence, and immortality of the soul.[29][30] The human soul consists of a lower irrational soul and a higher rational soul (mind), both of which can be regarded as different powers of the one soul. It was widely held that the soul possesses a "vehicle",[31] accounting for the human soul's immortality and allowing for its return to the One after death.[32] After bodily death, the soul takes up a level in the afterlife corresponding with the level at which it lived during its earthly life.[33][34] The neoplatonists believed in the principle of reincarnation. Although the most pure and holy souls would dwell in the highest regions, the impure soul would undergo a purification,[30] before descending again,[35] to be reincarnated into a new body, perhaps into animal form.[36] Plotinus believed that a soul may be reincarnated into another human or even a different sort of animal. However, Porphyry maintained, instead, that human souls were only reincarnated into other humans.[37] A soul which has returned to the One achieves union with the cosmic universal soul[38] and does not descend again; at least, not in this world period.[35]

    Certain central tenets of neoplatonism served as a philosophical interim for the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo on his journey from dualistic Manichaeism to Christianity.[39] As a Manichee hearer, Augustine had held that evil has substantial being and that God is made of matter; when he became a neoplatonist, he changed his views on these things. As a neoplatonist, and later a Christian, Augustine believed that evil is a privation of good[40] and that God is not material.[41] When writing his treatise 'On True Religion' several years after his 387 baptism, Augustine's Christianity was still tempered by neoplatonism.

    The term "Logos" was interpreted variously in neoplatonism. Plotinus refers to Thales[42] in interpreting Logos as the principle of meditation, the interrelationship between the Hypostases[43] (Soul, Spirit (nous) and the 'One'). St. John introduces a relation between 'Logos' and the Son, Christ,[44] whereas St. Paul calls it 'Son', 'Image', and 'Form'.The term "Logos" was interpreted variously in neoplatonism. Plotinus refers to Thales[42] in interpreting Logos as the principle of meditation, the interrelationship between the Hypostases[43] (Soul, Spirit (nous) and the 'One'). St. John introduces a relation between 'Logos' and the Son, Christ,[44] whereas St. Paul calls it 'Son', 'Image', and 'Form'.[44][45][46] Victorinus subsequently differentiated the Logos interior to God from the Logos related to the world by creation and salvation.[44]

    For Augustine, the Logos "took on flesh" in Christ, in whom the Logos was present as in no other man.[47][48][49] He strongly influenced Early Medieval Christian Philosophy.[50] Perhaps the key subject in this was Logos.

    Some early Christians, influenced by neoplatonism, identified the Neoplatonic One, or God, with Yahweh. The most influential of these would be Origen, the pupil of Ammonius Saccas; and the sixth-century author known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, whose works were translated by John Scotus in the ninth century for the West. Both authors had a lasting influence on Eastern Orthodox and Western Christianity, and the development of contemplative and mystical practices and theology.

    Gnosticism