About

Moses Atticizing

About the Blog

Moses Atticizing is a blog devoted to the topic of “Christian Platonism” and other connected/related topics (especially in philosophy and theology), both historical and contemporary.

The title of the blog is taken from a quote from the second-century A.D. Platonist, Numenius of Apamea, recorded by Clement of Alexandria:1 “For what is Plato, but Moses atticizing?” (τί γάρ ἐστι Πλάτων ἢ Μωσῆς ἀττικίζων;) Clement cites this in his account of the first-century B.C. Greek translation of the Old Testament by the 70 elders, where he states the fittingness of the translation in Greek culture which—he seems to take as a given fact—already had the way prepared for the prophecy of the Old Testament through the words of Plato. Just beforehand Clement also cites an “Aristobulus the Peripatetic” who claims that “Plato followed the laws given to us [i.e. the Jews], and had manifestly studied all that is said in them.”

In one way it is surprising that Clement does not go to lengths to argue how or why Plato mirrors Moses, when one could also not imagine a starker contrast: Moses as helping lead Israel out of Egypt, often represented as liberation from the many, false gods into the salvation of the one, true God; Plato, by contrast, as the vindicator of the pantheon of the gods in their unity of nature (represented by ‘the One’ or ‘the Good’ of the Parmenides or Republic, respectively), while yet affirming their plurality in the guise of the Forms or the divine souls moving the planets, which are to be venerated by the city from the Laws.2 And yet much of the Christian tradition, from Justin Martyr and Clement onward (as well as Philo of Alexandria, in the Jewish tradition) affirm and venerate the harmony and unity of Plato with the revealed truth of the one God.

This blog is thus shaped around this paradox, and it seeks to broaden a conversation, both historical and current, in understanding “Platonism” in its interaction with Christian φρόνησις (wisdom)—and all things related to this object (σκοπός).

The Editors/Authors

Our main authors and editors for this blog are:

Antonio Vargas : A postdoctoral research fellow at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Israel).

Conor Stark : A PhD student/researcher at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (US).

Jonathan Greig : A postdoctoral research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna (Austria).

Contact

Wish to contribute something, have a question, or just wish to contact us? Send an email: [turn on JavaScript to see the email link].

Miscellania

The front page header, via The Public Domain Review , is from an anonymous Ptolemean-inspired 16th-century treatise on comets, known as the Komtenbuch (Comet Book), from northern France and now held at the Universitätsbibliothek Kassel in Germany. Read more about the intriguing history here.

'Rosa'
‘Rosa’ from the Komtenbuch

  1. Stromata I.22, 150,4. 

  2. Among others, see Gerd van Riel’s Plato’s Gods. Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013. (See review here.)