Champion, M. (2014). Explaining the Cosmos: Creation and Cultural Interaction in Late-Antique Gaza. R. Mathisen. 1-241. United States of America: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337484.001.0001
This book analyses the writings of three thinkers associated with Gaza: Aeneas, Zacharias, and Procopius. They offer a case study for the appropriation, adaptation, and transformation of classical philosophy in late antiquity, as well as for cultural transitions more generally in Gaza. They each contributed to debates about the creation and eternity of the world reignited within Neoplatonism by Proclus, which ran into the sixth-century disputes between Philoponus, Simplicius, and Cosmas Indicopleustes. The study sets the three Gazans within their respective local cultures to map distinctive elements of Gazan society in late antiquity. It explores cultural dynamics in the Gazan schools and monasteries and the wider cultural history of the city. The Gazans seek to adapt and transform aspects of Classical and Neoplatonic culture while rejecting Neoplatonic religious claims. Creative exchange is as important as conflict in characterizing cultural interactions in the schools, and Gaza displays an openness to ideas from other late-antique cities, including Alexandria and Caesarea. Taking ideas seriously in cultural history and situating intellectual history within broader cultural currents is a key aim. So the study focuses on the Gazans' intellectual contribution, setting it in the context of Neoplatonism and early Christianity. For each thinker, versions of a divine plan of salvation reframe Neoplatonic arguments and shape their contribution. Physics moves to ethics and ends in eschatology. The Gaza which emerges from this study is a set of cultures in transition, mutually constituting and transforming each other through a fugal pattern of exchange, adaptation, conflict, and collaboration.
Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
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