Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-ppllx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-04-01T18:19:50.434Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

1.2 - The Ideas as Thoughts of God

from I - Concepts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Alexander J. B. Hampton
University of Toronto
John Peter Kenney
Saint Michael's College, Vermont
Get access


The notion of Platonic Forms as divine thoughts was critical to the theistic interpretation of Plato’s philosophy. This chapter considers the origins and development of the theory of divine ideas. The chapter begins by examining the evidence for this theory in the Old Academy, including Speusippus, Xenocrates and Aristotle. The notion is then traced among subsequent Platonists, including Antiochus of Ascalon, Eudorus of Alexandria, Alcinous, and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. The reception of the theory of divine ideas in Christianity concludes the chapter, with reference to Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor.

Christian Platonism
A History
, pp. 34 - 52
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Augustine, , Concerning the City of God against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson. London: Penguin Books, 2003.Google Scholar
Barnes, J.Antiochus of Ascalon’, in Barnes, J. and Griffin, M. (eds.), Philosophia Togata: Essays on Philosophy and Roman Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, 5196.Google Scholar
Blanc, Cécile. Origène, Commentaire Sur Saint Jean. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1966.Google Scholar
Colson, F. H. and Whitaker, G. H., trans. Philo, vol. 1. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.Google Scholar
Constas, Nicholas. Maximus the Confessor, On Difficulties in the Church Fathers: the Ambigua, vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.Google Scholar
Crouzel, Henri. Origène et Plotin: Comparaisons Doctrinales. Paris: Téqui, 1991.Google Scholar
Crouzel, Henri and Simonetti, Manlio. Origène, Traité Des Principes, vol. 2. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1978.Google Scholar
Des Places, Édouard. Numénius, Fragments. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1973.Google Scholar
Dillon, J. Alcinous, The Handbook of Platonism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Dillon, J The Heirs of Plato. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
Dillon, J The Middle Platonists. London/Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977 (2nd ed. 1996).Google Scholar
Dillon, JTheophrastus’ Critique of the Old Academy in the Metaphysics’, in Fortenbaugh, W. W. and Wöhrle, G. (eds.), On the Opuscula of Theophrastus. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002, 175–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferrari, F. Dio, idee e materia: la struttura del cosmo in Plutarco di Cheronea. Naples: D’Auria, 1995.Google Scholar
Göransson, Tryggve. Albinus, Alcinous, Arius Didymus. Gothenburg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1995.Google Scholar
Kenney, John P. Mystical Monotheism: A Study in Ancient Platonic Theology. Hanover: Brown University Press, 1991. 2nd ed. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2010.Google Scholar
Koch, Hal. Pronoia und Paideusis: Studien über Origenes und sein Verhältnis zum Platonismus. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Michalewski, A. La causalité des Formes intelligibles dans la philosophie de Plotin. Paris: Leuven University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
Mosher, David L., trans. Augustine, Eighty-Three Different Questions. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1982.Google Scholar
Osborn, Eric F. Clement of Alexandria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Radice, R. Platonismo e creazionismo in Filone di Alessandria. Milan: Pubblicazioni del Centro di richerche di metafisica, 1989.Google Scholar
Rich, A.The Platonic Ideas as the Thoughts of God’, Mnemosyne ser. 4, vol. 7 (1954): 123–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Part First and Second. New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.Google Scholar
Theiler, W. Die Vorbereitung des Neuplatonismus. Berlin: Weidmann, 2001.Google Scholar
Tolan, Daniel J.The Impact of the Ὁμοούσιον on the Divine Ideas’, in Pavlos, P. G., Janby, L. F., Emilsson, E. K., and Tollefsen, T. T. (eds.), Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity. London: Routledge, 2019.Google Scholar
Tolan, Daniel J.‘Origen’s Refutation of the Divine Ideas in Περὶ Ἀρχῶν II.2.6 as the Emergence of “Neoplatonism”’, Studia Patristica, forthcoming.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats