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Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity$
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Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574117.001.0001

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Simplicity and the Problem of Contradiction: Ptolemy and the Legacy of Marcion

Simplicity and the Problem of Contradiction: Ptolemy and the Legacy of Marcion

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 Simplicity and the Problem of Contradiction: Ptolemy and the Legacy of Marcion
Source:
Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity
Author(s):

Andrew Radde‐Gallwitz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574117.003.0002

Chapter 1 focuses on the role divine simplicity played in the debates surrounding Marcion of Sinope, the second‐century theologian who distinguished the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New. After reviewing the responses to Marcion offered by Tertullian and Irenaeus of Lyons, particular attention is given to Ptolemaeus Gnosticus (Ptolemy), who like the others sought to avoid attributing contradictory motives to God. Ptolemy achieved this by distinguishing between a first God, who is simple and uninvolved with creation, and a second God, who is complex and involved with matter and the created order. The chapter engages a commonplace modern objection to divine simplicity, that the idea is incompatible with the biblical portrayal of God as active in the world. It notes that ancient theologians like Ptolemy had resources for responding to this that are no longer available. Ptolemy could distinguish a first God and second, active God. Most importantly, however, Ptolemy and the modern objector agree that simplicity is inconsistent with activity. It is left to subsequent chapters to demonstrate how Basil and Gregory reject this assumption without falling into contradiction.

Keywords:   Marcion of Sinope, Tertullian, Irenaeus of Lyons, Ptolemaeus Gnosticus, contradiction, Numenius of Apamea

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