Lead us up beyond unknowing and light,
up to the farthest, highest peak
of mystic scripture,
where the mysteries of God's Word
lie simple, absolute and unchangeable
in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence.
Amid the deepest shadow
they pour overwhelming light
on what is most manifest.
Amid the wholly unsensed and unseen
they completely fill our sightless minds
with treasures beyond all beauty.
(Dionysius the Areopagite)
'Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works'
By Pseudo Dionysius (Author), Paul Rorem (Translator), Karlfried Froehlich (Introduction), Jean Leclercq (Foreword)
Until the publication of this book, Pseudo-Dionysius, a major influence on Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross, among others, was like a tantalizing mirage, frequently referred to but generally not seen in full. Finally, here he is. The book contains "The Divine Names", "The Mystical Theology", "The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy", "The Celestial Hierarchy", and letters. In addition, there are three (!) introductions, to tell us about Pseudo-Dionysius in later antiquity, the middle ages, and the reformation. The translations are modern, well-annotated, and clear inasmuch as this is possible. One of the introductory writers comments that many readers are surprized at how short these works are, because they may seem long due to the dense writing style. As for content, Pseudo-Dionysius attempted to wed the Neoplatonism of Plotinus and Proclus with the Bible and Christian practice. The reader will have to judge how successful this effort actually is, but it probably helps account for the survival of these works through many heresy purges. The result translated here is interesting in a historical sense and useful in a spiritual sense. The discussion of evil in "The Divine Names" is particularly fascinating, if difficult. And for those who wonder about angel theory, well, "The Celestial Hierarchy" has it all. It is very good to finally be able to read these works in their entirety. (Timothy Dougal)