Pseudo-Dionysius : A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence

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Dionysius the Areopagite is the peudonymous author of an influential body of early (about 500 AD) Christian theological texts. The Pseudo-Dionysian writings offer a synthesis of Christian dogma and Neo-platonic thought. Their leading idea which has made them the charter of Christian mysticism, is the intimate union between God and the soul and the progressive deification of man. In this book, Paul Rorem examines and elucidates these difficult texts and explores their profound influence on medieval theology both in the East and west. As Rorem shows, the Pseudo-Dionysian writings were regarded almost as a "Summa Theologica" in the Eastern Church. In the West, they were commented on by virtually all of the great medieval theologians. Thomas Aquinas alone cites Dionysius is some 1,700 places. Rorem is co-translator of the 1984 edition (Paulist Press) of the complete Pseudo-Dionysius (the first English-language edition in modern times) and provided the notes, indices, and bibliography. The present book will make these texts more accessible to both scholars and students. A comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources will be included.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 27.9mm | 612.36g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195076648
  • 9780195076646
  • 1,139,996

Review quote

the edition of a commentary on all these works, chapter by chapter, is a most welcome event, especially for the cross references it gives to the whole Dionysian corpus and to medieval mystics. * Bijdragen, tijdschrift voor filosofie en theologie 56 (1995) * he sets the Dionysian texts in their sixth-century historical context, He elucidates them clearly and accessibly without minimizing any of the considerable difficulties of interpretation that they present...This book is another major step in the very important process of describing and evaluating for English readers the long march which the Pseudo-Dionysian texts have taken through history, and of clarifying the principles on which a contemporary reading of them
might be based. * The Way April 1995 * `There are few scholars alive better qualified to undertake such a commentary than Paul Rorem.' David Evans, Department of Theology, St John's University `Anyone interested in the Areopagite's influence will find a reliable orientation (and invaluable bibliography) in these pages ... Rorem wears his learning lightly ... fine book.'
Expository Times `This magisterial work by Rorem will serve excellently anyone who is interested in knowing better a major molder of Christian thought.'
Religious Studies Review, Vol 19, No 4/ Ocotober 1993
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Back cover copy

Pseudo-Dionysius is the name given to the author of an influential body of theological texts, dating from around 500 C.E. For centuries, the works were falsely attributed to "Dionysius the Areopagite", the biblical name chosen by the pseudonymous author - that of the Athenian who was converted to Christianity by St. Paul in Acts 17. Written some five hundred years later than the biblical account, The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names, and the Mystical Theology offer a synthesis of biblical interpretation, liturgical spirituality and Neoplatonic philosophy. Their central motif, which has made them the charter of Christian mysticism, is the upward progress of the soul toward God through the spiritual interpretation of the Bible and the liturgy. Dionysius continually reminds his readers, however, that all human concepts fall short of the transcendence of God. In this book, Rorem provides a commentary on all of the Dionysian writings, chapter by chapter, paying special attention to their complex inner coherence. The Dionysian influence on medieval theology is introduced in essays on specific topics: hierarchy, biblical symbolism, angels, Gothic architecture, liturgical allegory, the scholastic doctrine of God, and the mystical theology of the western Middle Ages. Rorem's book makes these important texts more accessible to both scholars and students and includes a comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources.
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