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Author Topic: Parker's Reference: Letter of Pope Dionysius the Great to Pope Sixtus of Rome  (Read 532 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 27, 2013, 05:38:19 PM »

Revisiting the Rev. John Parker's defense of the authenticity of the writings of the alleged Areopagite, I was reading some of his defenses.  One is a very strong one:

Quote
Dionysius gained the title of “Great,” even amongst the teachers of the Didaskaleion, which was a rival of the Serapeum of Alexandria. He was successor of Clement and Origen.

About ten years ago, L’Abbd Martin discovered in the British Museum (Nos. 12151-2) a letter written by Dionysius of Alexandria to Pope Sixtus the 2nd, in which he affirms positively that no one can doubt that Dionysius the Areopagite is the author of the writings which are circulated in his name. In the first Codex we find portions of that Epistle in the conclusion of the work written by John Scholasticus (605), entitled “A New Apology”, written by George, Priest of the great Church of Constantinople, and native of the City of Bozra, with reference to the “Divine Writings,” which are rejected by some ignorant persons, as though they were not the production of that great doctor, but only writings of some heretic, such as Appollinaris or some recent and unknown heretic. Now, that Priest George of Constantinople, after recounting that these Books of the Areopagite had several times been rejected by foolish people, affirms that he is going to produce an argument that will close the mouth of all gainsayers; and that argument is the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria, from which the following is an extract:

“The God Unknown, Jesus, the Word, whom the Greeks worthily honor, although they do not know Him, was crucified by the Jews, when they ought to have adored Him. But they did not know Him (I say that it was the Word that they ought to have adored, the Word of the Father — because I do not wish anyone to believe that I am the advocate of idolators; and I speak only of those Greeks who recognize the God Unknown as the Author of the Universe). Now, having known Him according to the Scriptures, the great Dionysius wished to be baptized by the Apostle, with all his house. He was an eloquent and illustrious man, who became afterwards Bishop of Athens, and made himself celebrated by the Works which he composed on the Divine Theology. He was disciple of St. Paul, by whom the Messiah made known the Gospel to the Gentiles, by speaking Himself through his mouth. Now the Book of that distinguished man shows clearly the brilliancy of his talent, for he is the author of the theological work of which we are now speaking. Further, no one disputes his paternity of it, for, when some people of the contrary opinion have read, with attention and intelligence, that work, at once philosophic and divine, and have been enlightened by the very testimony of the holy Doctor that we have under our eyes, they will easily comprehend that these Divine Writings could only be the work of the great Dionysius, who, with the Divine help and inspiration, piously governed the Church of Athens.

“Now, after Hierotheus, who was his master, what other doctor was there more powerful in word than he who has written, in a manner so sublime, upon Theology and Sciences?

“No one penetrated more profoundly than Dionysius into the mysterious depths of the Holy Scriptures. This is easily proved by reading attentively, and with love of the truth, the works that we have from him. For he is worthy of credit even when he testifies of himself, as he does in his letter to the holy Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp — that valiant defender of the Faith, — that disciple of John the Evangelist, the Beloved Apostle of our Lord.”


That reference is to Section 1 of the Letter to Polycarp,3 which concludes with these beautiful words, “Having then, as I think, well understood this, I have not been over zealous to speak in reply to Greeks, or to others; but it is sufficient for me (and may God grant this) first, to know about truth, then having known, to speak as it is fitting to speak.” Bear in mind that since the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria was disentombed by L’Abbe Martin, Professor Frothingham, an American scholar, has found the “Book of Hierotheus” in the British Museum. The Archbishop of Athens gave me, some time ago, this catalogue of the first five Bishops of Athens: 1st, Hierotheus, A.D. 52; 2nd, Dionysius; 3rd, Narcissus; 4th, Publius, 118—124; 5th, Quadratus, who presented the “Apology” to the Emperor Hadrian. Yet, twenty-five years ago, Hierotheus was thought to be a mythical personage, — just as King Lucius of Britain is now, by some, deemed to be a myth — by those who presumably have never read Archbishop Parker’s magnificent book, “De antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae”, nor Alford’s two volumes of the “Fides Regia Anglicana”. Would some learned foreigner disentomb those two works in the British Museum, for the instruction of our “Historical Society,” which knows more of the See of Rome than of its own ancient Metropolitan See of London.

Glastonbury is the Cradle of the Christian Church in Great Britain — not the modern graft of Canterbury. It is a curious method of historical criticism to prove the continuity of the Church in Britain from A.D. 33 to 1897, by dating its episcopal succession from St. Augustine, A.D. 597, when that succession died out A.D. 669. Some members of our “Historical Society” wish to impose upon us the “being English” as a third Sacrament, which they seem to regard

“as generally necessary to salvation.”

Joseph of Arimathea, invited to Britain by a Druid Priest, for greater security from the Jews, says of himself,

“After I had buried Christ, I came to the Britons, I taught, I fell asleep.”

Some of our “English” Divines disdain to believe that testimony, apparently because they were not there to see him buried. Even Latin Councils4 are disregarded, when their testimony is in favor of our own Church and Nation.

We affirm, then, that the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria is proof that the Writings of Dionysius were known and regarded as genuine previous to A.D. 250.

Does anyone know where this letter of St. Dionysius the Great to St. Sixtus of Rome be?  No one after Parker seems to mention it or address it.

reference:
http://preachersinstitute.com/2012/10/12/are-the-writings-of-dionysius-the-areopagite-genuine/
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 05:38:48 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 10:30:43 AM »

bump.
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2013, 10:36:35 AM »

Funny always how controversies of centuries, nay, sometimes even millennia ago, are still being debated here.

And no. St. Dionysius did not write the works attributed to him. It is heavily influenced by neo-Platonism and neo-Platonism came into being in the 3rd century AD.
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 01:02:12 PM »

Funny always how controversies of centuries, nay, sometimes even millennia ago, are still being debated here.

And no. St. Dionysius did not write the works attributed to him. It is heavily influenced by neo-Platonism and neo-Platonism came into being in the 3rd century AD.
My dear Cyrillic, you should know the quality of my OP by now.  You did not answer the question I asked  Wink
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 01:31:21 PM »

Ah, yes  Smiley

I found several letters of Ps-Dionysius but none of them were adressed to St. Sixtus.
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 01:41:41 PM »

Ah, yes  Smiley

I found several letters of Ps-Dionysius but none of them were adressed to St. Sixtus.

The letter is supposed to have been written by this St. Dionysius (Pope of Alexandria) to St. Sixtus, the Pope of Rome.

I don't believe it's authentic, though.

Newly discovered Letters of Dionysius of Alexandria to the Popes Stephen and Xystus.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 01:46:15 PM »

NVM.
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 01:59:57 PM »

Whether the man St. Dionysius the Areopagite actually, literally wrote these texts or not, I think the writings should still be ascribed to him and not "Pseudo-Dionysius." There is a certain point where the insistence on being correct and accurate all the time is annoying and misses the point.
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 02:02:37 PM »

Whether the man St. Dionysius the Areopagite actually, literally wrote these texts or not, I think the writings should still be ascribed to him and not "Pseudo-Dionysius." There is a certain point where the insistence on being correct and accurate all the time is annoying and misses the point.

I agree.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 03:02:05 PM »

Ah, yes  Smiley

I found several letters of Ps-Dionysius but none of them were adressed to St. Sixtus.

The letter is supposed to have been written by this St. Dionysius (Pope of Alexandria) to St. Sixtus, the Pope of Rome.

I don't believe it's authentic, though.

Newly discovered Letters of Dionysius of Alexandria to the Popes Stephen and Xystus.

Yes, St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria is what I meant, not Areopagus.

I find it very frustrating that these relatively contemporary scholars, may God rest their souls, give us these quotes from antiquity that we cannot find anywhere.  The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

The other argument Parker makes is the book of Heirotheus story, where St. Jerome missed picking up a few more "illustrious men" to add to his list.

These quotes/stories are then left unchallenged until posthumously, when people start seeing something funny.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 03:06:17 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 03:12:09 PM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 03:21:06 PM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
Check this out:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,51033.msg914000.html#msg914000
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2013, 03:54:08 PM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
Check this out:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,51033.msg914000.html#msg914000

I had seen it - I imagined it must have been a footnote or some paraphrase (as you discovered), since such blunt modern jargon is nowhere to be found in the Fathers.
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2013, 06:31:18 PM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
TLG?
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2013, 05:43:52 AM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
TLG?

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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2013, 08:13:38 AM »

The other day, I'm looking up an alleged quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria about "ingesting the Godhead" that is nowhere to be found, and most probably was a misquote or an interpretation, very likely originating from the late Fr. Richard Foley.

I've searched for that one in the TLG and there's no trace of it, even though most of St. Cyrill's writings are part of the database.
TLG?

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.

If only I could afford it...
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2014, 09:59:48 PM »

I'm going to bump this to add some evidence to the whole issue, as I was revisiting this and wanted to dig deeply.  Parker referenced that this letter of Pope St. Dionysius of Alexandria to Pope St. Sixtus came from, what was then at the turn of the century, "newly discovered manuscripts" at the British Museum labeled Nos. 12151-2:

Quote
Jerome informs us (Scr. Ecc. 46) that Pantaenus6, one of the most celebrated Christian philosophers of Alexandria, was sent, A.D. 193, by Demetrius, Bishop of that city, to India, at the request of a delegation from India for that purpose. Pantaenus discovered, on his arrival, that St. Bartholomew (one of the twelve) had preached the coming of Jesus Christ, in that country. Pantaenus found a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew in India. Now, by the extract, contained in the Scholia of Maximus, from the Scholia of Dionysius of Alexandria (250) upon the Divine Names, and also by the extract from a letter of the same Dionysius, recently discovered in the British Museum7 (Nos. 12151-2), we know that the writings of Dionysius the Areopagite were known and treasured in Alexandria a few years after the death of Pantaenus. Can we reasonably doubt that Pantaenus took the writings of Dionysius, and the more abstract works of Hierotheus, to India? Have we not here an explanation of the remarkable similarity between the Hindu philosophy, as expressed by Sankara8 in the eighth, and Râmânuja in the thirteenth century, and the "Divine Names?" Sankara treats of the Supreme as "absolutely One;" Râmânuja as "non-dual, with qualification." Both these truths are combined and expressed in Dionysius.

...

Footnotes:

...

6 Conversion of India, p. 12. Pressensé, The Earlier Years of Christianity, Vol. II. p. 271. The History of Mathurâ (Muttra), by F. S. Growse, on the glorification of the Divine Name.

7 Vidieu, p. 73.

8 Sankara’s doctrine, Sir Monier Williams, "Brahmanism," p. 55. Râmânuja’s explained, "Brahmanism," p. 119, &c. J. Murray.


from http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/dio/dio03.htm

I highlighted the reference "Vidieu" and after doing some searching, found the French work, and will provide the link here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=TGhHAAAAYAAJ&ots=kUF0fzuaPF&dq=Vidieu%20dionysius&lr&pg=PA73#v=onepage&q=Il%20nous%20reste%20d%20ailleurs%20de%20saint%20Denys%20d%20Alexandrie%20une%20lettre%20au%20pape%20&f=false

This should directly take you to p. 72 of the work.  Until someone provides a better French translation, I'm going to provide the Google Translate function as best as I could utilize it:

Quote
It remains also of St. Dionysius of Alexandria a letter to Pope St. Sixtus II, which, if genuine,1 is an argument in favor of our thesis. It was found quite recently by Father Martin in two codices of the British Museum.2 In the first, we read fragments of this letter at the end of the apology of John Scholasticus(605) under the title:

"New apology made ​​by George, priest of the great church of Constantinople and from the town of Baïchan(Bosra), about the divine writings that are repudiated by ignorant, as if they were not the work of this great doctor (Dionysius), but only the production of some heretic, Apollinaire, for example, or any new and unknown heretic. "

But this writer, George, priest of Constantinople, after recounting how the books of the Areopagite had been repeatedly rejected by foolish men, says he brings an argument such that it will shut the mouths of any opponent, and this argument is the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria, which reads in part:

(please refer to the OP for the quoted text)

...

Footnotes:

1 There is no evidence that it is not, we have the right to be regarded as authentic until proven otherwise.
2 Nos 12151, 12152

If anyone who reads French has more to add in the context of the next few pages before and after the quoted area, I would greatly appreciate a summary or translation if you feel it is necessary and helpful for this discussion.  At the time, it seems that they considered the said letter to be authentic, even though there seemed to be a debate that it was not, some thinking that it was an Apollinarian forgery (where did we hear that before  Wink )

The "John Scholasticas" is most probably John of Scythopolis, who seemed to be heavily invested at the time in trying to prove the authenticity of the Dionysian corpus.  When I did a google search, of him along with the words "dionysius alexandria sixtus", I was lead to the scholarly book by Rorem on page 105:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Pr3H5CefVh4C&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=john+of+scythopolis+dionysius+to+sixtus&source=bl&ots=PrZNmfE43l&sig=Mj7Py8XWs9tcWyTlTbZWYka9Utk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=szgyU4X5A8bo0QH79YCYDQ&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=john%20of%20scythopolis%20dionysius%20to%20sixtus&f=false
Rorem here puts a footnote explaining the alleged letter by the Alexandrian pope is "clearly a forgery".

All in all, this has been interesting, and while I'm not sure if Rorem refutes good 'ol Parker's defense back in the late 1890s, it does lead somewhere in this nice little case study.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 10:01:15 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2014, 10:11:44 PM »

I just realized that it looks like Parker plagiarized from Vidieu...lol
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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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