If I may bring in some mixture of personal anecdotes and evidence from my religion (Buddhism), I think that you may be interested.Secret Alias wrote: ↑Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:34 am I've been wondering about this. The standard understanding is 'no' because philosophers weren't believers in Christ. But when you start going through the list of names there is something of a philosophical foundation to Christianity.
Justin Martyr = philosopher
Clement of Alexandria = philosopher
Origen = philosopher
most of the Alexandrian fathers or heads of the catechetical school = philosophers
Tatian = probably a philosopher
Marcion is repeatedly accused by Justin of stealing from Plato
Celsus accuses the evangelist(s) of stealing from Plato
the various 'heresies' were conceived as 'philosophical schools'
I know we tend to limit philosophy to a certain concept i.e. one of the many philosophical schools. But I wonder whether Clement gets it right when he envisions Christianity as 'the true philosophy' and that all the 'sects' (whether Greek or Hebrew or Christian) are corruptions of that philosophy.
I wonder whether 'primitive Christianity' was just a myth.
Based upon my personal experiences and readings about fellow converts to Buddhism, many converts to Buddhism tend to be attracted to the more philosophical/abstract ideas within Buddhism rather than the devotional aspects - although this is not universal. I, for example, treasure Buddhism for its excellence in refuting claims that souls exist, that uncreated creator gods exist, and for its value in defining right conduct, yet struggle to remember to bow before all Buddha images and seldom participate in pujas. Most other converts to Buddhism are attracted to it because of its meditational techniques and promises of calmness during this life. There is often tension (which I have at times struggled with) between converts' understandings about what Buddhism is and born members' understandings, which converts often dismiss as superstition. A similar process might have been common among Christians - cf., Origen's stressing the allegorical/deeper meaning of the Christians' scriptures rather than the surface/literal.
Furthermore, scholars of Buddhism who are not familiar with the multiplicity of forms that Buddhist faith can take may find themselves surprised by the co-existence of philosophy and religion in the same person or text. Thus, the Buddhist convert and translator Edward Conze regarded the sections in the Buddhist "Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines" Sutra describing the salvific powers that Akṣobhya Buddha has as being a later interpolation of religion into a philosophical text, and the Buddhist traveller Xuanzang, in addition to studying and accepting as true Yogacara Buddhist philosophy at Nalanda's university, was greatly devoted to the Future Buddha Meitraya - to the extent that when he was in danger he meditated about the Future Buddha Meitraya rather than about Yogacara Buddhist philosophy. It is entirely possible that the Christian leaders in the list that I quote from similarly mixed philosophical and religious aspects of their Christian faith.