Learning from Compendium Theologicae Veritatis 1250 AC and Neoplatonism

Christianity and Neo-Platonism

by Nataša Pantović

Just got hold of an eBook from the Maltese collection of antiques, Theology, from Albertus, Magnus, Saint, 11930-1280, Dominicans, Venice (Italy), Ripelin, Hugh, ca.1205 - ca.1270, Landino, Cristoforo, 1424-1504.

 

Compendium Theologicae Veritatis Manuscript 1 Malta Public Library Albertus Magnus Saint

Compendium Theologicae Veritatis Manuscript 1 Malta Public Library Albertus Magnus Saint

In the Middle Ages, this book was considered to be the most widespread manual of Christian theology.

It was distributed, studied, researched, passed from a convent to the other as a Christian thought. Let me tell you why! The work is divided into seven parts treating different theological aspects of the Catholic faith from the Aristotle perspective! I am not joking! It was the famous Aristotle 380 BC, that Saint Albert paraphrased. So it was a real treat to see how deep Aristotle philosophy is engraved in the Christian thought!

Within the scientific observations of different types of atoms at similar energy levels, the states with the similar behaviour patterns are called: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. The Ancient Greek system of Aristotle, a student of Plato attending the Plato’s Academy found in 387 BC in Athens, better known as the teacher, advisor, consultant of Alexander the Great who was the first one to travel to Egypt.

Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon Kingdom. During Aristotle's time (384–322 BC) in the Macedonian court, he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings: Ptolemy and Cassander. During the reign of the Argead king Philip II (359–336 BC), for a moment in history Macedonia subdued mainland Greece and Thrace. His son Alexander the Great travelled to North Africa and far East and has died in Babylon  in 323 BC in the city he planned to establish as his capital. Alexander's legacy includes the Greco-Buddhism, and the presence of Greek speakers in Persian lands. 

Excellence is never an accident It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice Aristotle

Excellence is never an accident It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice Aristotle

Plato's own most profound philosophical influences are Socrates and Pythagoras.

Plato and Pythagoras shared a mystical approach to the soul probably influenced by Orphism.

Albertus Magnus, Saint Albert the Great

Albertus Magnus, also known as Saint Albert the Great or Albert of Cologne, was a German Catholic Dominican friar that during the 13th Century studied Aristotle and Plato and has written philosophical studies synthesising the work of the philosophers of Ancient Greek into the Christian doctrine.

Life of Albert the Great

Albert studded at the Italian University of Padua and was a lector at Cologne. Was sent to the University of Paris to complete his theological education and that was the time when he completed his major work. One of his students was believe it or not, St. Thomas Aquinas.

He died in 1280 and was buried in Cologne. In 1931 Pope Pius XI declared Albert a saint.

He paraphrased most of the works of Aristotle. He adopted the Aristotelian philosophical scientific program to prepare a unified theory of medieval Christian intellectual culture. Albert had a strong bias in favor of what we call today “Neo-Platonism”.

Together with his student Thomas Aquinas he supported this “natural philosophy” as a Christian philosophical vision.

He wrote commentaries on the Bible, commentaries on all the known works of Aristotle, Albertus undertook as he states “to make intelligible to the Latins” all the branches of natural science, ethics, metaphysics.

Logic of Aristotle's Organon

Albert carefully prepared a paraphrase of Aristotle’s Organon (the logical treatises in the Aristotelian corpus).

I was particularly interested in Albert’s three-fold distinction, 1-2-3 that had influenced the development of languages, maths, our view of God, its reflection, Goddess and the human Being. Truth vs, corruption, and change. How does one 1 becomes 2, transforming into 3, 4 and 5 that is beyond the mind, yet existing in things as individuated.

Philosophy and Metaphysics

Albert’s metaphysics is an adaptation of Aristotelian metaphysics already expressed as Neo-Platonism and Mystical Christianity. He also used the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius to correct some of the Christine doctrine.

The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini at the National Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels, each with different characteristics

The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini at the National Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels, each with different characteristics

The Number 1, Albert calls God, is an absolutely transcendent reality. At the top of this hierarchy of light are spiritual beings, the angelic orders and the intelligences. He adopts the angelic orders as found in Pseudo-Dionysius’ treatise of the celestial hierarchy. The intelligences move the cosmic spheres and illuminate the human soul.

In recent decades, the scientists have debated the huge impact of Dionysian thought in later Christian thought, Dionysius's thought historically represented a Neoplatonic approach to theology, and finally because of my huge  interest in drawing parallels between the development of languages and psychology

Andrew Louth tells us -

Dionysius/Denys' vision is remarkable because, on the one hand, his understanding of hierarchy makes possible a rich symbolic system in terms of which we can understand God and the cosmos and our place within it...

Albert the Great Quotes -

"The souls possess intellects and are joined to bodies."

„The human intellect is susceptible to illumination by higher cosmic intellects called the “intelligences”.”

“Such illumination brings the soul of man into complete harmony with the entire order of creation and constitutes man’s natural happiness.”

Albert calls the intellect in its final stage of development the “assimilated intellect” (intellectus assimilativus).

“because the divine truth lies beyond our reason we are not able by ourselves to discover it, unless it condescends to infuse itself; for as Augustine says, it is an inner teacher, without whom an external teacher labours aimlessly.”

“Divine light is only a means by which the intellect can attain its object.”

"But the inner teacher himself is identified with the divine truth, which is the final object and perfection of the human intellect."

"Natural things, he tells us, are received in a natural light, while the things that the intellect contemplates in the order of belief (ad credenda vero) are received in a light that is gratuitous (gratuitum est), and the beatifying realities are received in the light of glory.”

“Some [intelligibles] with their light overpower our intellect which is temporal and has continuity. These are like the things that are most manifest in nature which are related to our intellect as the light of the sun or a strong scintillating colour is to the eyes of the bat or the owl. Other [intelligibles] are manifest only through the light of another. These would be like the things which are received in faith from what is primary and true.”

But in both natural and supernatural knowing Albert is careful to stress the final object and perfection of the human intellect. This leads naturally to a consideration of Albert’s understanding of ethics.

Albert’s influence on the development of scholastic philosophy in the thirteenth century was enormous. The philosophers of the Renaissance were attracted to the Albert’s expression of Neo-Platonism and his interest in natural science.

The transcendent intelligence is the Logos of Christians. For Plato, however, the Number 1, the realm of perfect forms is indescribable. Within Christian Neoplatonism, or in Ancient Egypt, the transcendent realm of perfect form is personalized, as the Blessed Trinity, God, Son and the Holy Spirit.

What all Christians believe is that goodness, truth, beauty, are rooted in the being of . Platonic forms pre-exist in the Divine .

The angelic choirs circling the abode of God, from Dante's Paradiso, illustrated by Gustave Doré

The angelic choirs circling the abode of God, from Dante's Paradiso, illustrated by Gustave Doré

The angelic choirs circling the abode of God, from Dante's Paradiso, illustrated by Gustave Doré

Lost in Translation

“La guerra del Peloponneso, o seconda guerra del Peloponneso per distinguerla da un conflitto antecedente, fu combattuta nell'antica Grecia tra il 431 e il 404 a.C., fra Sparta e Atene, ciascuna con la propria coalizione. ... Atene, nei primi mesi del 416 a.C., decise di inviare un esercito in Tracia allo ... Tucidide, V, 11-14"

Il 421 a.C. è un anno del V secolo a.C.

In Italian, 421 a.C. is the English 421 BC!!! Imagine that! No wonder it took us, scientists, such a long time to correct mistranslations and arguments based on pure misunderstandings!

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