Ideas of spiritual ascent and theurgy from the ancients to Ficino and Pico

Pattison, Kirsty Laura (2020) Ideas of spiritual ascent and theurgy from the ancients to Ficino and Pico. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The relationship between religion and magic has held a precarious position in the history of Ideas and ecclesiastical history. It is often held that religion petitions while magic coerces. Marsilio Ficino (1433 –1499) translated many Platonic, Neoplatonic and Hermetic texts into Latin reintroducing Platonic theology to the Italian renaissance humanists. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), utilising Ficino’s translations and incorporating Jewish Kabbalist
ideas, gave birth to Christian Cabala through the publication of his nine hundred theses to be delivered in Rome. By exploring the idea of spiritual ascent and its relationship to the Neoplatonic practice of theurgy, it may enable a deeper understanding of the complexities between the Renaissance understanding of religion and magic. At the heart of this discussion for Ficino and Pico is a quest for divine truth, which centres on their understanding of mis dated texts and the development of the prisca theologia. In understanding the way both men
understood the concepts of ancient wisdom and ancient religion through the practice of spiritual ascent I aim to explore the complex history of magic and religion demonstrating that definitions between them are not always appropriate or helpful. Chapter one sets the Renaissance scene in which Ficino and Pico were working. Chapter two explores the ideas of spiritual ascent and theurgy in Late Antiquity. Chapter three focuses on Christianity, in particular the legacy of Augustine’s rhetoric and ideas of spiritual ascent in Pseudo-Dionysius. The final two chapters explore the role of theurgy and spiritual ascent in the writings of Ficino and Pico. This thesis explores the development of ideas of spiritual ascent from Classical antiquity into the early modern period, and considers, how, when applied to the thought of Ficino and Pico, these ideas can shed light on the contested relationship between magic and religion.

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Magic, Christian Cabala, Theurgy, Mysticism, Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Methuen, Prof. Charlotte and Spiro, Dr. Mia
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Ms Kirsty Laura Pattison
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81873
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2020 17:14
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 17:05
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81873

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