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Jesus Christ, Eternal GodHeavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter$
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Stephen H. Webb

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827954

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827954.001.0001

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A Brief History of the Metaphysics of Matter

A Brief History of the Metaphysics of Matter

Chapter:
(p.26) { 2 } A Brief History of the Metaphysics of Matter
Source:
Jesus Christ, Eternal God
Author(s):

Stephen H. Webb

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827954.003.0003

The Pre-Socratic philosophers turned to matter to explain the origin of all things, while Socrates turned to the nature of the good, but Plato's description of matter in the Timaeus had a tremendous impact on all subsequent speculation, especially in Christian theology. Matter was elusive to the Greeks, but it was the stuff of creation for the Christians. Nonetheless, theologians, through Augustine's appropriation of Plotinus, remained in debt to Platonic immaterialism. Plato was the first thinker of immateriality, a metaphysical position which became the common sense of Christian theology. The author speculates about what theology would have looked like had Tertullian's sympathy for Stoicism triumphed rather than Augustine's appropriation of Plotinus. The chapter concludes showing how Irenaeus pointed the way forward to a new solution by giving a Christological account of creation.

Keywords:   Pre-Socratics, Plato, Augustine, Stoicism, Tertullian, matter, Timaeus, Irenaeus

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