The real identity of the person who chose to write under the pseudonym “Dionysius the Areopagite” is unknown. Even the exact dates of the writings have never been determined. The texts themselves, though relatively short, are at points seemingly impenetrable and have mystified readers for centuries. Yet the influence of this shadowy figure on other mystical writers from the early middle ages on is readily discernible. The author’s formulation of negative theology stresses the impotence of human attempts to penetrate the “cloud of unknowing,” and is a perennial favorite of spiritually minded believers. Brief essays from top scholars exploring the main themes of Pseudo-Dionysius’ work accompany the primary texts, and include contributions by René Roques, Jaroslav Pelikan, Jean Leclercq, and Karlfried Froehlich.
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“But again, the most divine knowledge of God, that which comes through unknowing,211 is achieved in a union far beyond mind, when mind turns away from all things, [872B] even from itself, and when it is made one with the dazzling rays, being then and there enlightened by the inscrutable depth of Wisdom.” (Page 109)
“But my argument now rises from what is below up to the transcendent, and the more it climbs, the more language falters, and when it has passed up and beyond the ascent, it will turn silent completely, since it will finally be at one with him who is indescribable.” (Page 139)
“To put the matter briefly, all being drives from, exists in, and is returned toward the Beautiful and the Good.” (Page 79)
“This divine yearning brings ecstasy so that the lover belongs not to self but to the beloved.” (Page 82)
“It refurbishes and restores the image of God corrupted within them.” (Page 51)
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