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Dionysius the Areopagite

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Four theological works are attributed to Dionysius: ''The Divine Names'', ''The Mystical Theology'', ''The Celestial Hierarchy'', and ''The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy'', as well as eleven letters. While there were occasional questions raised regarding the true authorship of the Dionysian writings in the Middle Ages, it is Hugo Koch and Josef Stiglmayer's works (1895)<ref>"Proklus als Quelle des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre von Bösen," by Hugo Koch, ''Philologus'' 54 (1895) 438-54; ''Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in seinen Beziehungen zum Neuplatonismu und Mysterienweses'' by Hugo Koch (Mainz: 1900); and "Der Neuplatoniker Proklos als Vorlage des sog. Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre vom Übel," by Josef Stiglmayr, ''Historisches Jahrbuch'' 16 (1895) 253-73 and 721-48. See also Stiglmayr's "Das Aufkommen der Ps.-Dionysischen Schriften und ihr Eindrungen in die christliche Literatur bis zum Lateranconcil 649. Ein zweiter Beitrag zur Dionysius Frage," ''IV Jahresbericht des offentlichen Privatgymnasiums an der Stelle matutina zu Feldkirch'' (Feldkirch: 1895)</ref> that definitively laid to rest the idea of tracing the texts back to the apostolic age. The scholarly consensus now identifies the corpus as the work of a fifth-century Syrian student of the pagan Neoplatonist Proclus.<ref>For more, see, for instance, [[Andrew Louth]], ''Denys the Areopagite'' (ISBN 082645772X), as well as [[Jaroslav Pelikan]], "The Odyssey of Dionysian Spirituality" in ''Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works'' (ISBN 0809128381)</ref> In his introduction to ''Mystagogy: A Monastic Reading of Dionysius Areopagita'', Orthodox Bishop [[Alexander Golitzin|Alexander (Golitzin)]] of Toledo writes that it is "now recognized as indefensible" that the author of the Dionysian writings could be the first century disciple of St Paul.<ref>(Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2013) xxv.</ref> "The first clearly datable reference to the Dionysian corpus comes to us from …532…."<ref>Ibid., xix.</ref> Bishop Alexander's own suggestion is that the real author of the works was the fifth-century theologian Peter the Iberian.
Pseudo-Dionysius is recognized to be "employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas."<ref>[ Wikipedia: Dionysius the Areopagite]; cf. also [ Wikipedia: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite]</ref> Some recent Orthodox scholars (such as Frs. Georges Florovsky and John Meyendorff) have been mildly critical of the influence of the Dionysian corpus,<ref>Golitzin, xxvii.</ref> but recent defenders include Bp. (then-Igumen) [[Alexander Golitzin|Alexander]], mentioned above, who sees it as a fully Christian liturgical theology,<ref>Ibid., ''passim''. ''Mystagogy'' is a reworking and revision of Bp Alexander's earlier book ''Et introibo ad altare dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita.'' (Thessalonika: George Dedousis Publishing Co., 1994.)</ref> and [[Vladimir Lossky]], who sees the Dionysian interpretation of the unknowability of God as fundamental to any Christian thought and as setting the stage for the work of St. [[Gregory Palamas]].<ref>''The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church''. (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1997) ''passim''.</ref> However controversial the texts in recent years<ref>The Reformers were quite antagonistic, and their successors have continued to be. (Golitzin, xxii.)</ref>, their theology was incorporated into the mainstream of Orthodox theology through its adoption by St. [[Maximus the Confessor]] and St. [[John of Damascus]], who quotes Dionysius' ''Letter to Titus'' in his work ''On the Divine Images'', a defense of [[icon]]s during the [[iconoclast|iconoclastic controversies]].

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