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Author Topic: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite  (Read 3063 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 13, 2010, 04:08:15 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2010, 04:17:13 PM »

Not unless they were found not to be in conformity with Apostolic teaching and the received consensus of the Church, in which case, they would have been expunged even before your aforementioned Saints could have read them.
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 04:26:19 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2010, 04:30:18 PM »

deleted because this is the faith issues forum.
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2010, 04:30:26 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century.

By what criteria was it determined that Dionysius the Areopagite did not write these things himself?
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2010, 04:31:31 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.
On a side note, St. Thomas Aquinas was very impressed with this work and quotes it extensively in the Summa Theologica.

As does most of the Western Mystics. It was the chief mystical text in the Latin for a very long time.
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2010, 04:34:46 PM »

deleted because this is the faith issues forum.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2010, 04:35:12 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.
On a side note, St. Thomas Aquinas was very impressed with this work and quotes it extensively in the Summa Theologica.
Okay.  That's nice.  Why is it good for us Orthodox to see that posted on Faith Issues?
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2010, 04:36:04 PM »


Okay.  That's nice.  Why is it good for us Orthodox to see that posted on Faith Issues?
OOPs. I am sorry. I din't look at where this was posted. I was just throwing in random information. I apologize and I have deleted my post.
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2010, 05:03:47 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century.

By what criteria was it determined that Dionysius the Areopagite did not write these things himself?

His writings were influenced by the writings of Plotinus, and he even uses specific examples from Plotinus' writings. Also, his works were never cited until 519 at which point the non-Chalcedonians were using them to defend their teachings.

*spelling edit


MODERATION:  Post modified to replace forbidden "M" word with something more acceptable  - PtA
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2010, 05:06:59 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century.

By what criteria was it determined that Dionysius the Areopagite did not write these things himself?

His writings were influenced by the writings of Plotonius, and he even uses specific examples from Plotonius' writings. Also, his works were never cited until 519 at which point the monophysites were using them to defend their teachings.

Plotinius was a peer of Origen and Clement. Both he and Origen studied under the same Christian/Platonist Master. Who didn't cite him... ? His works are genius.
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2010, 05:07:33 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.

I've also read the work of numerous philosophers and was impressed. This doesn't necessarily mean that it makes for good theology, however.
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2010, 05:08:28 PM »

Actually, fwiw, there was apparently a debate about their authorship in the Church. For example, St. Photius mentions reading a book about this...

"Read the treatise of Theodore the Presbyter, in which he undertakes to prove the genuineness of the works of St. Dionysius. The following arguments against it are refuted: (1) I. they are genuine, how is it that none of the later Fathers cites them or quotes any passages from them? (2) How is it that Eusebius Pamphili, in his list of the writings of the Holy Fathers, does not mention them? (3) How is it that these treatises describe in detail rites and customs which only became established in the Church gradually and after a long time? The great Dionysius, as is clear from the Acts, was contemporary with the Apostles [whereas most of the institutions described only became established gradually and in later times]; it is therefore improbable (says the objector), or rather a clumsy fiction, to assert that Dionysius could have undertaken to describe institutions which were not fully developed till long after his death. (4) How is it that a letter of the divinely-inspired Ignatius is referred to? for Dionysius flourished in the time of the Apostles, whereas Ignatius suffered martyrdom during the reign of Trajan, and wrote the letter referred to shortly before his death. Theodore endeavours to solve these difficulties and does his best to prove the genuineness of the treatises." - St. Photius, Bibliotheca, 1
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2010, 05:09:47 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century.

By what criteria was it determined that Dionysius the Areopagite did not write these things himself?

His writings were influenced by the writings of Plotonius, and he even uses specific examples from Plotonius' writings. Also, his works were never cited until 519 at which point the monophysites were using them to defend their teachings.

Plotinius was a peer of Origen and Clement. Both he and Origen studied under the same Christian/Platonist Master. Who didn't cite him... ? His works are genius.

My point here was to show that Pseudo-Dionyysius' writings were not apostolic in origin, not to discount the writings of Plotinus.

*edited for spelling
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 05:12:18 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.

I've also read the work of numerous philosophers and was impressed. This doesn't necessarily mean that it makes for good theology, however.

One of the things that I had to reconcile with the Early Church is the amount of Platonism which runs through their works. To be fair we much recognize that St. John's Gospel has Platonism running through it as well. So we as Christians must come to a recognition of this fact. Our Lord spoke of be the Cornerstone between the Greeks and the Jews. Might this 'Platonism' be the mortar used for these stones?
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2010, 05:13:46 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.

I've also read the work of numerous philosophers and was impressed. This doesn't necessarily mean that it makes for good theology, however.

One of the things that I had to reconcile with the Early Church is the amount of Platonism which runs through their works. To be fair we much recognize that St. John's Gospel has Platonism running through it as well. So we as Christians must come to a recognition of this fact. Our Lord spoke of be the Cornerstone between the Greeks and the Jews. Might this 'Platonism' be the mortar used for these stones?

Good point.  I am beginning to come to this realization as well.  Would it be fair then to consider Plato an "unofficial" prophet of the Church?  Wink
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2010, 05:19:13 PM »

Would it be fair then to consider Plato an "unofficial" prophet of the Church?  Wink

Well, St. Justin Martyr did say that Jesus Christ was "known in part even by Socrates," so it wouldn't be the first time that that kind of thing was said...
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2010, 05:20:47 PM »

Up until the late middle ages, (or possibly into the renaissance) the Church of the east and the west considered the writings attributed to this individual to be authentic (that is, from Dionysius the Aeropagite, a convert from Paul spoken of in Acts 17:34), after which they were found to be attributed to an anonymous author who lived around the 5th to 6th century. Do you think it would have influenced the church fathers (St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory Palamas, etc.) decisions to embrace his teachings had they known/realized that these were non-apostolic writings?

Personally, I don't think so. The works are extremely erudite. I don't know anyone who has read them and not been very impressed.

I've also read the work of numerous philosophers and was impressed. This doesn't necessarily mean that it makes for good theology, however.

One of the things that I had to reconcile with the Early Church is the amount of Platonism which runs through their works. To be fair we much recognize that St. John's Gospel has Platonism running through it as well. So we as Christians must come to a recognition of this fact. Our Lord spoke of be the Cornerstone between the Greeks and the Jews. Might this 'Platonism' be the mortar used for these stones?

Good point.  I am beginning to come to this realization as well.  Would it be fair then to consider Plato an "unofficial" prophet of the Church?  Wink

I think the Greeks call him and Socrates the Greek Divines so I don't think you are far off the mark in this. What we have to understand is that God has written his Law within our hearts and through that interior door of "Knowing thyself" we meet the Interior Master. Origen spoke of this as well. The Early Church recognized the Light of these Pagan Philosophers and honored them for their achievements with the aid of natural Revelation.
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2010, 05:33:20 PM »

Ok, now lets discuss the precendents for his particular work related to apophatic theology: "Concerning Mystical Theology".  What affirmations of apophatic theology do we find in the writings of the Church fathers (or scripture) prior to this work I mentioned?
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2010, 05:38:01 PM »

Ok, now lets discuss the precendents for his particular work related to apophatic theology: "Concerning Mystical Theology".  What affirmations of apophatic theology do we find in the writings of the Church fathers (or scripture) prior to this work I mentioned?

Three theologians who emphasized the importance of negative theology to an orthodox understanding of God, were Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, and Basil the Great. Don't all of these predate the works of Pseudo-Dionysius?
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« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2010, 06:05:37 PM »

What particular aspects of his writings cause him to be labeled as "neo-platonic" in contrast to the Church fathers who taught similar ideas before him? Was it his use of language, or something else?
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« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2010, 06:09:13 PM »

What particular aspects of his writings cause him to be labeled as "neo-platonic" in contrast to the Church fathers who taught similar ideas before him? Was it his use of language, or something else?

Are you speaking of Pseudo-Dionysius?
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« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2010, 07:20:38 PM »

What particular aspects of his writings cause him to be labeled as "neo-platonic" in contrast to the Church fathers who taught similar ideas before him? Was it his use of language, or something else?

Are you speaking of Pseudo-Dionysius?

Correct.
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2010, 12:24:47 AM »

What particular aspects of his writings cause him to be labeled as "neo-platonic" in contrast to the Church fathers who taught similar ideas before him? Was it his use of language, or something else?

Are you speaking of Pseudo-Dionysius?

Correct.

First, I wouldn't say that the work is simply Neo-Platonic or even Neo-Platonist. What I would say is that it shows very 'strong' Neo-Platonist enfluences. It uses very 'mystical' language when speaking of the Christian content.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-Dionysius_the_Areopagite
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« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2010, 12:50:14 AM »

Here's an interesting viewpoint on Dionysius' "The Divine Names:"

Quote
Dexter was a friend of Jerome. Jerome even addresses him as "filius amicus," and describes him as "clarus apud saeculum et Christi fidei deditus."

Dexter became Prefect of the Pretorian Oriental Guards, and was one of the most illustrious statesmen of his time. He resided two years in Toledo. From the archives of the Church of Toledo and other cities he compiled a chronicle from A.D. 1 to A.D. 430, giving a brief summary of the Church events in Spain. That chronicle he dedicated to Jerome, who, enrolled both Chronicle and Author amongst his "illustrious men."It was at the request of Dexter that Jerome wrote his book on Ecclesiastical Writers. Among the earliest Bishops of Toledo, Dexter describes a remarkable man,----Marcellus,----surnamed Eugenius, on account of his noble birth. |xv

Bivarius says he was of the house and family of Ceesar, being uncle to the Emperor Hadrian. Mar-cellus was consecrated Bishop by Dionysius the Areo-pagite at Aries, and sent to Toledo. Respecting him, Dexter records that Dionysius dedicated the books of the Divine Names to him, u.c. 851, A.D. 98. Dexter further records that Dionysius surnamed Marcellus, Timothy, on account of his excellent disposition. Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, relates that Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to whom the works of Dionysius were originally dedicated, was martyred during the reign of Nerva, A.D. 96-97. Upon the return of Dionysius to Gaul, after his visit to St. John, released from Patmos, we find him calling his friend Marcellus, Timothy, and presenting the books of the "Divine Names "to him, A.D. 98; in order that he might still have a Timothy on earth,---- "in vivis"----although his first Timothy, "migravit ad Christum," A.D. 97.

This touch of nature, preserved in a chronicle, written more than 1400 years ago, by an illustrious statesman, who was son of a Bishop celebrated for learning and sanctity, may fairly be deemed, by an unprejudiced mind, reasonable proof that the "Divine Names" were written previous to A.D. 98.

http://tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_02_preface.htm

And on the issue of St. Ignatius' quote:

Quote
Upon this passage I differ from all the commentators that I know. I believe the passage to have been written and inserted in the text by Dionysius when writing this letter, which must have been before A.D. 98. I do not think it a quotation from the letter of Ignatius written just previous to his martyrdom. I think Dionysius quoted some previous writing of Ignatius, in which he spoke of our Saviour as "My Love, Which is mine." That is the sense in this passage, to shew the exalted use of Love. In the letter of Ignatius to the Romans, he seems to use "love" in the sense of human passion or fire, and says that that is crucified in him. In any case, there is no chronological difficulty. Ignatius was martyred A.D. 107, Dionysius, A.D. 119.

http://tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_04_ignatius.htm
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« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2010, 03:51:36 PM »

CATAPHATIC AND APOPHATIC THEOLOGY

When discussing the names of God, we inevitably conclude that not one of them can give us a complete idea of who He is. To speak of the attributes of God is to discover that their sum total is not God. God transcends any name. If we call Him being, He transcends being, He is supra-being. If we ascribe to Him righteousness and justice, in His love He transcends all justice. If we call Him love, He is much more than human love: He is supra-love. God transcends all attributes that we are capable of ascribing to Him, be it omniscience, omnipresence or immutability. Ultimately we arrive at the conclusion that we can say nothing about God affirmatively: all discussion about Him remains incomplete, partial and limited. Finally we come to realize that we cannot say what God is, but rather what He is not. This manner of speaking about God has received the name of apophatic (negative) theology, as opposed to cataphatic (affirmative) theology.

The traditional image of Moses ascending Mount Sinai to God, surrounded in darkness, inspired both St Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius the Areopagite to speak about the divine darkness as a symbol of God’s incomprehensibility. To enter the divine darkness is to go beyond the confines of being as understood by the intellect. Moses encountered God but the Israelites remained at the foot of the mountain, that is, within the confines of a cataphatic knowledge of God. Only Moses could enter the darkness; having separated himself from all things, he could encounter God, Who is outside of everything, Who is there where there is nothing. Cataphatically we can say that God is Light, but in doing so we liken God to sensible light. And if it is said about Christ transfigured on Mount Tabor that ‘his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light’ (Matt.17:2), then the cataphatic notion of ‘light’ is used here symbolically, since this is the uncreated light of the Divinity that transcends all human concepts of light. Apophatically we can call the Divine light, the supra-light or darkness. Thus the darkness of Sinai and the light of Tabor are one and the same.

In our understanding of God we often rely upon cataphatic notions since these are easier and more accessible to the mind. But cataphatic knowledge has its limits. The way of negation corresponds to the spiritual ascent into the Divine abyss where words fall silent, where reason fades, where all human knowledge and comprehension cease, where God is. It is not by speculative knowledge but in the depths of prayerful silence that the soul can encounter God, Who is ‘beyond everything’ and Who reveals Himself to her as in-comprehensible, in-accessible, in-visible, yet at the same time as living and close to her — as God the Person.

http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/5_1#CATAPHATIC%20AND%20APOPHATIC
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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2010, 04:46:05 PM »

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« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2010, 01:05:06 AM »

Are there any icons of this man?
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« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2010, 01:23:48 AM »

Are there any icons of this man?

I think this is him:

http://www.thehtm.org/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_50_80&products_id=225&osCsid=e13f87b58f24b00bd3487c6bae010ce6

http://www.comeandseeicons.com/d/cap10.htm
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« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2010, 01:36:50 AM »

For the lazy:



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« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2010, 01:47:30 AM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite
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« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2010, 10:27:33 AM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

On the second icon, he is unrolling a scroll... would that scroll elude to these great 'anonymous' writings which have been attributed to him?
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« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2010, 11:46:39 AM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Not necessarily anonymous, just debatable.
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« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2010, 12:01:06 PM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Not necessarily anonymous, just debatable.
If the theology in the document is correct, does it really matter who wrote it?
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« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2010, 02:54:27 PM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Not necessarily anonymous, just debatable.
If the theology in the document is correct, does it really matter who wrote it?

Probably not in the sense that it's good doctrine, but in the sense of historicity and possible understanding of almost directly the Apostles' minds, absolutely.
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Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2010, 06:45:15 PM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Not necessarily anonymous, just debatable.
If the theology in the document is correct, does it really matter who wrote it?

Probably not in the sense that it's good doctrine, but in the sense of historicity and possible understanding of almost directly the Apostles' minds, absolutely.

"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)[1] 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"

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Dionysius_the_Areopagite
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« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2010, 06:46:01 PM »

Just so no confusion is caused: these icons are of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 2nd bishop of Athens. The areopagitic writings in question, while attributed to him name, are of anonymous authorship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Not necessarily anonymous, just debatable.
If the theology in the document is correct, does it really matter who wrote it?

So long as his teachings can be traced back to the apostles, not really.
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