God and the Issue of Being

Religious Studies 20 (1):63 - 78 (1984)
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Abstract

There is a long tradition in Western philosophical theology of conceiving God as ‘a being’. It dates back to the Hellenistic period, more particularly to the conjunction of Greek philosophy and the Hebrew religion in Alexandria with Philo, and it became orthodox in the Christian tradition through Augustine. In our time most aspects of this religious tradition have been subjected to a salutary re-examination, but in this the concept of God as ‘a being’ has been relatively neglected. After such a long acceptance of so fundamental a doctrine, it is liable largely to have sunk to the status of a presupposition, entailing a loss of intellectual awareness of what precisely it implies. Even where the Augustinian philosophical argument upon which this concept is based is recognized, as it has been in the long Neoplatonic tradition, it has come to appear as essentially self-evident and thus has not been subjected to fundamental critical examination. Significant of this is that even where the personalistic conception of God has been abandoned, e.g. by the idealist philosophy of the Absolute, the conception nevertheless persists of God as ‘a being’

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De Ente Et Essentia.Thomas Aquinas - 1965 - Lublin: CreateSpace. Edited by O. P. Kenny & Joseph.

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