Numenius - Encyclopedia




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NUMENIUS, a Greek philosopher, of Apamea in Syria, NeoPythagorean and forerunner of the Neo-Platonists, flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century A.D. He seems to have taken Pythagoras as his highest authority, while at the same time he chiefly follows Plato. He calls the latter an "Atticizing Moses." His chief divergence from Plato is the distinction between the "first god" and the "demiurge." This is probably due to the influence of the Valentinian Gnostics and the JewishAlexandrian philosophers (especially Philo and his theory of the Logos). According to Proclus (Comment. in Timaeum, 93) Numenius held that there was a kind of trinity of gods, the members of which he designated as 7rari p, 7roonriis, iroiliya (" father," "maker," "that which is made," i.e. the world), or 7 6..7r7ros, Ekyovos, iuroyovos (which Proclus calls "exaggerated language"). The first is the supreme deity or pure intelligence the second the creator of the world the third the world (?Kayos). His works were highly esteemed by the Neoplatonists, and Amelius is said to have composed nearly ioo books of commentaries upon them.

Fragments of his treatises on the points of divergence between the Academicians and Plato, on the Good (in which according to Origen, Contra Celsum, iv. 51, he makes allusion to Jesus Christ), and on the mystical sayings in Plato, are preserved in the Praeparatio Evangelica of Eusebius. The fragments are collected in F. G. Mullach, Frag. phi'. Graec. iii.; see also F. Thedinga, De Numenio philosopho Platonico (Bonn. 1875); Ritter and Preller, Hist. Phil. Graecae (ed. E. Wellmann, 1898), § 624-7; T. Whittaker, The NeoPlatonists (1901).

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