Author Topic: Question about a reference  (Read 1477 times)

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Offline Fr. David

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Question about a reference
« on: September 11, 2004, 04:05:30 PM »
Found a quote re: the Theotokos from St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens, who was converted to Christ by St. Paul (mentioned in Acts 17:34):

"It is impossible for the human mind to grasp what I have seen not only with the eyes of my soul, but with my bodily eyes, too. I have seen with my own eyes the most beautiful and holy Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ .... That time was for me a time of supreme happiness, I thank the most high and most gracious God, and the Divine Virgin, the great Apostle John, and thee (St. Paul), for having mercifully granted me such a great blessing," (letter to St. Paul after visiting the Mother of God in Jerusalem)

How do we have this letter?  Was it actually preserved from antiquity first-hand, or did someone else quote it, like Eusibius or Papias?

Gracias,

Pedro
Priest in the Orthodox Church in America - ordained on March 18, 2012

Oh Taste and See (my defunct blog)

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Offline grov

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Re:Question about a reference
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2004, 08:06:14 PM »
Found a quote re: the Theotokos from St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens, who was converted to Christ by St. Paul (mentioned in Acts 17:34):
...
How do we have this letter?  Was it actually preserved from antiquity first-hand, or did someone else quote it, like Eusibius or Papias?

Hi Pedro.

I took interest in the quotation you provided, so did some searching.  Apparently, none of Dionysius' works are quoted until the 6th century, note "... the first clear citation of Dionysius' works is by Severus of Antioch between 518 and 528" (ref. http://www.seop.leeds.ac.uk/entries/pseudo-dionysius-areopagite/).

I haven't found a source yet that doesn't claim that all his works originated somewhere between 300 and 538.

However, (1) I've become increasingly suspicious of modern textual criticism and it's dating of things, and (2) some sources state that even though they think the stuff was written ~500-538, he uses the name Dionysius to emphasize the strong historical tradition backing up what he's saying.

All that said, I still don't know the answer to your question, "How do we have this letter?"

For what it's worth,
George

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Question about a reference
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 10:23:58 PM »
Dionysius the Areopagite was not the same one mentioned in the Bible, but was a (probably) 5th century author. A number of works written under this name are extant. I think he's helpful in understanding the more extreme versions of apophatic theology, though personally I think he is overrated (I don't really see anything particularly important in him that wasn't already covered by Origen, Gregory Nazianzus, etc... not that I'm learned enough to make such a sweeping judgment, I'm just saying based on my own amateur readings). Photius mentioned a book (in his Bibliotheca) which sought to argue in favor of the authenticity of these works, so obviously even in the ancient Church there was some dispute about the issue:

Quote
"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) 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."
« Last Edit: December 18, 2006, 10:27:50 PM by Asteriktos »
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