Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Plutarch
The Greek biographer and philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea (c. 45-125 AD) makes a fascinating case-study for reception studies not least because of his uniquely extensive and diverse afterlife. Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Plutarch offers the first comprehensive analysis of Plutarch’s rich reception history from the Roman Imperial period through Late Antiquity and Byzantium to the Renaissance, Enlightenment and the modern era. The thirty-seven chapters that make up this volume, written by a remarkable line-up of experts, explore the appreciation, contestation and creative appropriation of Plutarch himself, his thought and work in the history of literature across various cultures and intellectual traditions in Europe, America, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Academic perspectives on the dynamics between early Christianity and the classical culture have been going through a dramatic change in the last decades. The major development in how scholars conceive of early Christians vis-à-vis vis a vis the ‘Hellenic’, or ‘pagan ’, cultural heritage has been the constantly growing realization that the watershed between the two was at least not as neat as pictured before. In what follows, I will discuss three strands in the complex interaction of early Christian theologians with Plutarch’s writings. Proceeding from the instances of polemical attacks on ‘pagan’ religious thinking in Plutarch on to patterns of positive engagement with his legacy, I will emphasize how much Plutarch was an essential part of the literary and philosophical culture which Christians shared with non-Christians in late antiquity. My focus will be mainly on the third and fourth century AD and on the instances of sustained and demonstrably deliberate use of Plutarch’s writings by Christian theologians rather than on more general parallels and echoes of his works in early Christian discourse