In Plato’s corpus, the Greek word ἐξαίφνης appears precisely thirty-six times. Translated generally as “all of a sudden” or “the instant” in his Parmenides, ἐξαίφνης emerges in some of the most significant passages of Plato’s dialogues. Put simply, ἐξαίφνης connotes illumination of the highest realities and philosophical conversion experience. In addition to providing a review of Plato’s conception and use of ἐξαίφνης in Parmenides, Republic, Symposium, and the Seventh Letter, our paper brings an ancillary link to light. Namely, the appearance of ἐξαίφνης as a mark for conversion experiences in the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles and Plotinus’s Enneads. We reveal how the same pattern and employment of ἐξαίφνης established by Plato emerge in both Acts and the Enneads. This pattern suggests a prolonged period of thinking and training, followed by a flash of understanding. Thus ἐξαίφνης, as evidenced by our survey of its strange instantiation in Plato’s dialogues and then subsequently in Acts and the Enneads, becomes a sign for enlightenment, assimilation with the divine, and conversion experience.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Cimakasky, Joe; Romano, Joseph J.; and Sheeley, Kristian, "This Strange Creature: Plato and Conversion Experiences" (2021). Philosophy Graduate Research. 3.