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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: May 2011

42 - Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

from VII - The third encounter of Christianity with ancient Greek philosophy
In the late fifth or early sixth century, a Christian writer, composed a body of works in which the philosophy of Plotinus, Proclus and other thinkers in the Platonic tradition is united with Christian belief. The works appeared under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, and author is now referred to as 'Pseudo-Dionysius'. The surviving works of Dionysius include four treatises and ten letters. In On Divine Names, Dionysius sets out to explain how the unknowable, hidden, 'nameless' God is hymned by many names in the Christian Scriptures and traditions. Dionysius interprets God's making of the world in terms of the distinctively Platonic kind of causation. He uses the term 'symbol' to refer to the sensible expressions of God and of angels found in Scripture and liturgy. Dionysius thus becomes one of the main representatives of Platonic philosophy within Christian thought and one of the principal sources for its continued presence.
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The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity
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