Does God Know Evil? An Antique Solution to the Problem on the Example of Themistius’ Philosophy

Keywords: Themistius; Aristotelianism; God; evil; divine omniscience


Greek philosophy, especially Aristotelianism, because of the concept of God present in this thought, did not raise the issue of divine omniscience and divine knowledge of evil. The divine omnisciene seemed to be contrary to God’s perfect being. In the time of Themistius, whose thought I present in this paper, Neoplatonism and Christian Neoplatonism showed new possibilities of solving this problem. Themistius being aware of these new topics and including them in his own philosophy, still however represents ancient Aristotelianism with all its limitations. He asked about divine knowlegde of evil, but in his answer he repeated only the Aristotelian doctrine: God knows only Himself, because He Himself is the most perfect object of knowledge and cannot know less perfect beings.


Alexander Aphrodisiensis. 1887. De anima. W: Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. Supplementum. Ed. I. Bruns. Supp. 2.1. Berlin: G. Reimer.

Aleksander z Afrodyzji. 2013. O duszy. Przełożyła Monika Komsta. Lublin: Polskie Towarzystwo Tomasza z Akwinu.

Arystotle. 1924. Metaphysics. Ed. W.D. Ross. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Berti, Enrico. 2016. Profil Arystotelesa. Przełożył Marian Wesoły. Poznań:Wydawnictwo Naukowe Wydziału Nauk Społecznych Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu.

Blumenthal, Henry J. 1979. Themistius, the Last Peripatetic Commentator on Aristotle?. W: Glen Bowersock (red.). Arktouros, 391–400. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Brunschwig, Jacques. 2000. Metaphysics Λ,9: Short – Lived Thought Experiment?. W: Michael Frede i David Charles (eds). Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda, 275–306. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Downey, Glanville. 1957. „Themistius and the Defense of Hellenism in the Fourth Century”. The Harvard Theological Review 50: 259-274.

Guldentops, Guy. 2001. „Themistius on Evil”. Phronesis 46: 189–208.

Komsta, Monika. 2016. Temistiusz. Zmierzch psychologii perypatetyckej. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL.

Kosman, Aryeh. 2000. Metaphysics Λ, 9: Divine Thought. W: Michael Frede i David Charles (eds). Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, s.307-326.

Kupreeva, Inna. 2010. Themistius. W: Lloyd P. Gerson (ed.). The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity. Vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, s. 397-416.

Plotinus. 1951. Opera. Ed. Paul Henry i Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer. Vol. 1. Leiden: J.E. Brill.

Plotinus. 1959. Opera. Ed. Paul Henry i Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer. Vol. 2. Leiden: J.E. Brill.

Plotyn. 1959. Enneady. Przełożył Adam Krokiewicz. T.1–2. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Stertz, Stephen A. 1976. „Themisitus: A Hellenistic Philosopher in the Chrisitian Roman Empire”. The Classical Journal 71: 349–358.

Symplicjus.1882. In Aristotelis Physicorum libros quattuor commentaria. W: Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. Ed. Hermann Diels. Vol. 9. Berlin: G. Reimer.

Themistius. 1899. In libros Aristotelis De anima paraphrasis. W: Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. Vol. V. 1. Ed. R. Heinze. Berlin: G. Reimer.

Themistius. 1900. In Aristotelis Physica paraphrasis. W: Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca, vol. V. 2. Ed. H.Schenkl. Berlin: G. Reimer.

Themisitius. 1903. In Metaphysicam paraphrasis hebraice et latine. W: Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. Vol. V. 5. Ed. S. Landau Berlin: G. Reimer.

Themisitus.1965. Orationes quae supersunt. Ed. H. Schenkl, G. Downey. Leipzig: Teubner.

Themistius. 2001. Politics, Philosophy, and Empire in the Fourth Century. Select Oration of Themistius. Translation and introduction P. Heather, D. Moncur. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Temistiusz. 2016. Parafraza „O duszy” Arystotelesa. Przełożyła Monika Komsta. Lublin: Polskie Towarzystwo Tomasza z Akwinu.

Tomasz z Akwinu. 1999. Traktat o Bogu. Przekład i komentarze Gabriela Kurylewicz, Zbigniew Nerczuk i Mikołaj Olszewski. Kraków: Znak.

Vanderspoel, John. 1995. Themistius and the Imperial Court. Oratory, Civic Duty Paideia from Constantius to Theodosius. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michgan Press.