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Neoplatonism and Abrahamic Traditions. A Comparative Analysis of the Middle East, Byzantium and the Latin West (9th-16th Centuries)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NeoplAT (Neoplatonism and Abrahamic Traditions. A Comparative Analysis of the Middle East, Byzantium and the Latin West (9th-16th Centuries))

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

NeoplAT offers a fresh and thoroughly documented account of the impact of Pagan Neoplatonism on the Abrahamic traditions. It focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on the Elements of Theology of Proclus (fifth century) which occupies a unique place in the history of thought. Together with its ninth-century Arabic adaptation, the Book of Causes, it has been translated, adapted, refuted and commented upon by Muslim, Jewish and Christian thinkers across centuries, up to the dawn of modernity. Despite a renewed interest in Proclus’ legacy in recent years, one still observes a tendency to repeat conventional hypotheses focused on a limited range of well-studied authors. This project radically challenges these conservative narratives both by analysing invaluable, previously ignored resources and by developing an innovative comparative approach that embraces a variety of research methods and disciplines. Specialists in Arabic, Greek and Latin history of ideas, philology, palaeography and lexicography develop an intense interdisciplinary research laboratory investigating the influence of Proclus on the mutual exchanges between the scriptural monotheisms from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries. Based on fundamental archival examinations in underused library collections, NeoplAT aims (1) to identify new Arabic and Latin manuscripts and to continue to explore a corpus of texts recently discovered by the PI, representing a largely unknown intellectual heritage; (2) to retrace the scholarly networks by which Neoplatonism was transmitted between the Middle East, Byzantium and the Latin West, with particular attention to the dynamics of exchange within each cultural milieu; (3) to analyse the impact of Proclus on the history of metaphysics and on the relations between philosophy and theology within the Abrahamic traditions. NeoplAT achieves these goals through a collaborative, adapted methodology; its specific outputs will provide research tools for the broader academic community.

NeoplAT anticipates significant breakthroughs in the scholarly understanding
of this field:
* to identify, analyse and make accessible (through Open Access publications and the project’s an unknown cultural patrimony, especially that which is conserved in unexplored libraries.
* to reconstitute the networks of transmission of Neoplatonism within and between the Middle East, Byzantium and the Latin West.
* t o analyse and compare the impact of Proclus’ on the history of metaphysics, and to establish its role in
the ruptures and continuities between philosophy and theology within the Abrahamic traditions.

This pioneering study comprises philosophical and theological studies on concepts and doctrines; archival and philological research on hitherto unknown works preserved in manuscripts from libraries across Europe and the Middle East; analyses of institutions, teaching methods and scholarly networks in the Middle East, Byzantium and Europe. The chronological limits of its object of study are fully justified by historical facts: the first known reception of the ETh into a monotheistic environment is in ninth century Baghdad, where it was adapted as the BoC, and the last known commentaries on the BoC and translations of the ETh come from Italy and the Netherlands in the sixteenth century.
The following actions have been accomplished according to the timetable for year 1 and 2

• advertising and recruiting for the PhD position, the postdoc position and the project administrator (see above §2.3.).
• acquisition of Latin manuscripts.

Iulia Székely before and after her maternity leave (May 20 - Nov. 21, 2019) ordered the reproduction of the forty-one manuscripts (either PDF or JPG files) from various European libraries (Bruxelles, Gent, Innsbruck, Kopenhagen, Leipzig, Madrid, Mainz, Paris, München, Voleterra, Vatican). She equally began the work on the critical edition of the Book of Causes, and collated twenty manuscripts of the first half of the 13th century for chapter I (theorem and secondary propositions).
• two research travels to libraries.
• organisation of and participation in the international conference “The Retrieval and Renewal of Medieval Metaphysics. Berthold of Moosburg’s Commentary on Proclus’ Elements of Theology”.
• participation in international conferences as part of ST7, ST8, ST9a, ST9b.
• publications (all Golden Open Access) issued from ST5, ST9a (partially) and ST9b (partially).
• Dr Evan King continues to work at the publication of his PhD thesis as monograph (= ST8).
• Mr Matthew Vanderkwaak began his PhD program (= ST4).

In summary:
publications: 1 edited volume by the PI, 1 special issue co-edited by the PI, 5 book-chapters, 2 articles. (for details, see:
conferences: 1 international conference, 2 international workshops organised and co-organised by the PI, 17 papers delivered in various conferences. (for details, see:
social media: 1 website, 1 twitter account
prizes / honors / diploma: 2 international prizes for the PI, 1 diploma for Iulia Székely
• Iulia Székely decided to produce a stemma codicum of all known manuscripts and a new critical edition of the Book of Causes before the end of the project. She equally discovered four new manuscripts with the Latin text of the Book of Causes:
1. München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 14756
2. Seville, Biblioteca Colombina, ms. 408
3. Mantova, Biblioteca comunale Teresiana, Manoscritti 151 (B.I.6)
4. Roma, Biblioteca Vallicelliana, Manoscritti, ms. F 46/1-3
• The new edition and the French translation of Roger Bacon’s Commentary on the Book of Causes prepared by Dr Odile Gilon in collaboration with the PI.
• The PhD thesis on the Western history of the concept of anima nobilis.
• The PI began the training in palaeography of the members of the team (and of collaborators Álvaro Campillo Bo, Louis Janssen, Tommaso Ferro)
• The PI and the team began working on a new critical edition of Giles of Rome’s Commentary on the Book of Causes (its publication is not a compulsory aim of the project, but it can become one).
• The organisation of two workshops.
• The international collaboration, notably with Dr Odile Gilon (Université libre de Bruxelles). (for details, see:
• The new book series co-directed by the PI: History of Metaphysics (Brill, Leiden/New York).
website presenting all the activities of the project