Isidoros C. Katsos, The Metaphysics of Light in the Hexaemeral Literature: From Philo of Alexandria to Gregory of Nyssa (Oxford Early Christian Studies). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. 272 pages. Kindle $70.19. Hadback $90.
Abstract: “This volume critically re-evaluates the received interpretation of the nature of light in the ancient sources. Isidoros C. Katsos contests the prevalent view in the history of optics according to which pre-modernity theorized light as subordinate to sight (‘oculocentrism’) by examining in depth the contrary textual evidence found in early Christian texts. It shows that, from Philo of Alexandria and Origen to Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa, the
Jewish-Christian commentary tradition on the hexaemeral literature (the biblical creation narrative) reflected deeply on the nature and physicality of light for the purposes of understanding the structure and purpose of material creation. Contemplation of nature allowed early Christian thinkers to conceptualize light as the explanatory principle of vision rather than subordinated to it. Contrary to the prevalent view, the hexaemeral literature necessitates a ‘luminocentric’ interpretation of the theory of light of Plato’s Timaeus in its reception history in the context of late antique cosmology. Hexaemeral luminocentrism invites the reader of Scripture to grasp not only the sensible properties of light, but also their causal principle as the first manifestation of the divine Logos in creation. The hexaemeral metaphysics thus provides the missing ground of meaning of the early Christian language of light.”
Author: “Isidoros Charalampos Katsos studied law in Athens, Paris, and Berlin, where he acquired a PhD in Human Rights, Environmental Law, and Sustainable Development (Dr. Jur.). He then studied theology in Athens and Cambridge, where he acquired a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Patristics under the supervision of Rowan Williams. He has held academic positions in Cambridge and Jerusalem, and is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford and a Junior Research Fellow at Campion Hall, Oxford. He has worked as a lawyer in Athens and Brussels, and is a Greek-Orthodox priest bearing the title of Archimandrite.” Publisher’s text.