- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Paulist Press International, U.S.; New edition edition (1 Jan. 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0809128381
- ISBN-13: 978-0809128389
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (Classics of Western Spirituality) Paperback – 1 Jan 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
Every theologian/philosopher should own a copy..and read it.
The unknown writer known to modern scholars as Pseudo-Dionysius probably lived during the fifth or sixth century AD. He may have been a "heretical" Christian monk or even a Neo-Platonist, attempting to cast his message in a Christian mould. To achieve the maximum impact, this unknown writer claimed to be Dionysius the Aeropagite, a person mentioned in the New Testament. This pious fraud is no longer taken seriously by scholars or theologians, hence the designation "Pseudo-Dionysius". Despite this, the writings are still held in high esteem by many in the Eastern churches, where Pseudo-Dionysius is regarded as an unknown Church Father.
This collection contains translations of all writings attributed to Dionysius: "The Divine Names", "The Mystical Theology", "The Celestial Hierarchy", "The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy" and ten letters. The book also contains introductory chapters and footnotes. However, it's not really a scholarly treatise on Pseudo-Dionysius. The introductions and notes are quite short. The main point of this volume is to present the works of the man himself. More extensive scholarly analyses can be found elsewhere.
My wild guess concerning Pseudo-Dionysius is that he was a lonely pagan philosopher who attempted to salvage the Neo-Platonist legacy by adding some Christian touches to it. But perhaps I'm being unfair. After all, the writings of "Dionysius the Aeropagite" were held in high esteem by many Christians during the Middle Ages. Clearly, our author must have said *something* that struck a chord. Christianity was already influenced by Platonist philosophy. The experiences of mystics are often remarkably similar across cultural and religious divides.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Argument of book: whatever transcends being must transcend knowledge (593A).
The whole is reflected in the part: “Within its total unity it contains part and whole, and it transcends these too and is antecedent to them” (648C). Every part of the universe reflects God’s oneness. He is replicated and differentiated in the energies (is this the same as saying the Logos is replicated in the logoi?).
The Good shows forth the processions of God (680B). If we say the processions “go out” from God, we are speaking analogically, for the Trinity isn’t in a place, per se. The Good isn’t a being but excess of being. The Good returns (reditus) all things to itself (700A). All things desire it.
The source of every duality is a monad (721D). Every number preexists in the monad (821A). Every number is differentiated as it goes forth from the Monad. Every being derives from the Pre-existent. Being precedes the entities which participate in it. God is not a facet of being, but being is a facet of him (824A). The exemplars of everything pre-exist as a transcendent unity within God.
A negation is not simply the opposite of an affirmation, but that which is prior to affirmation (1000B).
Hierarchy = sacred order, activity or understanding (164D). Because the divine realities are invisible, they must be communicated and mediated through symbols.
As is usually the case with Platonic and Neo-Platonic literature, it is often soaring in terms of beauty. Ps. Dionysius’s discussion of the priest-as-hierarch needs to be seen as hyperbole. Few people are at that level of Being.
In order to comprehend this kind of writing we ourselves must invest something in the reading. I think of examples that I might know. How is The Beautiful revealed to me? Being an amateur musician I would claim many musical examples: The Mozart and Brahms' Requiems, the Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky, the Stabat Mater by Poulenc. Others would see The Beautiful in nature or dance or paintings. "The Good" is seen of course in good works. We all have the experience of being deeply moved by one person's care for another. It is most touching when we receive that remarkable level of care from another or when we have provided some care to another who recognizes our care as a gift from God.
When Evil is discussed, I found his discussion very difficult to grasp. This is not unusual in this sort of reading. Some concepts will come more slowly than others.
This is truly an early work on Christian mysticism. It could be read as a purely philosophical exercise. It is less an instructive manual on how to be a mystic but probably a good supplement.