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Augustin contra Academicos Karin Schlapbach. And yet, if that man had deigned to treat systematically all the theological treatises, and had gone 29 through the sum of all theology, by nkminibus expositions, we should not have gone to such a height of folly, or stupidity, as to have attempted alone theological questions, either more lucidly or divinely than he, or to indulge in vain talk by saying superfluously the same things twice over, and in addition to do injustice to one, both teacher and friend, and that we, who have been instructed from his discourses, after Paul the Divine, should filch for our own glorification his most illustrious contemplation and elucidation.

Corpus Dionysiacum – Band 1 Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita. De Divinis Nominibus

The Evil then is not an actual thing. But now, to the best of our ability, we use symbols appropriate to things Divine, and from these again we elevate ourselves, according to our degree, to the simple and unified truth of the spiritual visions; and after our every conception of things godlike, laying aside our mental energies, we cast ourselves, to the best of our ability, towards the superessential ray, in which all the terms of every kind of knowledge pre-existed in a manner beyond expression, which it is neither possible to conceive nor express, nor entirely in any way to contemplate, on account of Its being pre-eminently above all things, and super-unknown, and Its having previously contained within Itself, superessentially, the whole perfections of all kinds of essential knowledge and power, and Its being firmly fixed by Its absolute power, above all, even the supereelestial minds.

Hence, since through love towards man, He has come even to nature, and really became substantial, and the Super-God lived as Man 18 may He be merciful with regard to the things we are celebrating, which are beyond mind and expressionand in these He has the supernatural and super-substantial, not only in so far as He communicated with us without alteration and without confusion, suffering no loss as regards His superfulness, from His unutterable emptying of Himselfbut also, because the newest of all new things, He was in our physical condition super-physicalin things substantial, super-substantial, excelling all the thingsof usfrom usabove us.

We ought to know, according to the correct account, that we use sounds, and syllables, and phrases, and descriptions, and words, on account of the sensible perceptions; since when our soul is moved by the intellectual energies to the things contemplated, the sensible perceptions by aid of sensible objects are superfluous; just as also the intellectual powers, when the soul, having become godlike, throws itself, through a union beyond knowledge, against the rays of the unapproachable light, by sightless efforts.

For, if we must place any confidence in the All Wise and most trustworthy Theology, things Divine are revealed and contemplated in proportion to the capacity of each of the minds, since the supremely Divine Goodness distributes Divinely its immeasurableness as that which cannot be contained with a justice which preserves those whose capacity is limited.

Concerning Perfect and One.

De divinis nominibus – Ghent University Library

Hence, as Providence is conservative of the nature of each, it provides for 71 the free, as free; and for the whole, and individuals, according to the wants of all and each, as far as the nature of those provided for admits the providential benefits of its universal and manifold Providence, distributed ‘proportionably to each.


Sign in to use this feature. Nor yet is the lesser good opposed to the greater, for neither is the less heat or cold opposed to the greater.

But also, if one may be permitted to speak of the irrational souls, or living creatures, such as cleave the air, and such as walk on earth, and such as creep along earth, and those whose life is in waters, 35 or amphibious, and such as live concealed under earth, and burrow within it, and in one word, such as have the sensible soul or life, even all these have their soul and life, by reason of the Good. To a demon, evil is to be contrary to the good-like mindto a soul, to be contrary to reasonto a body, to be contrary to nature.

For there was, as I said, the complete union of all with all, unmingled throughout, and in no part confused, and this actually in a body, the air, the light even itself being dependent on the material fire. Then, neither is this an evil for every one, and in every case; but, not even any existing thing is destroyed, in so far as it is essence and nature, but by the defect of nature’s order, the 62 principle of harmony and proportion lacks the power to remain as it was.

And if the Evil is without cause, and undefined, it is not according to nature. So far as they are, they are both from the Good, and are good, and aspire to the Beautiful and the Good, by aspiring to the realities, Being, and Life, and Thought; and by the privation and departure and declension from the good things befitting them, they are called evil, and are evil as regards what they are not: But a soul is moved spirally, in so far as it is illuminated, as to the divine kinds of knowledge, in a manner proper to itself, not intuitively and at once, but logically and discursively; and, as it were, by mingled and relative operations; but in a straight line, when, not entering into itself, and being moved by unique intuition for this, as I said, is the circularbut advancing to things around itself, and from things without, it is, as it were, conducted from certain symbols, varied and multiplied, to the simple and unified contemplations.

But of this the seal is not the cause, for it imparts itself all and the same to each; but the difference of the recipients makes the figures dissimilar, since the 20 archetype is one and complete and the same. For it is the light itself, even though it was then without form, which the divine Moses declared to have fixed that first Triad 21 of our days.

Let us then elevate our very selves by our prayers to the higher ascent of the Divine and good rays,as if a luminous chain being suspended from the celestial heights, 28 and reaching down hither, we, by ever clutching this upwards, first with one hand, and then with the other, seem indeed to draw it down, but in reality we do not draw it down, it being both above and below, but ourselves are carried upwards to the higher splendours of the luminous rays.

And the very man, who desires the very worst life, as wholly desirous of life and that which seems best to him, by the very fact of desiring, and desiring life, and looking to a best life, participates in the Good.

By reason of these they are, and have their life, continuous and undiminished, purified from all corruption and death and matter, and generation; and separated from the unstable and fluctuating and vacillating mutability, and are conceived of as incorporeal and immaterial, and as minds they think in a manner supermundane, and are illuminated as to the reasons of things, in a manner peculiar to themselves; and they again convey to their kindred spirits things appropriate to them; and they have their abiding from Goodness; and thence comes to them stability and consistence and protection, and sanctuary of good things; and whilst aspiring to It, they have both being and good being; and being conformed to It, as is attainable, they are both patterns of good, and impart to those after them, as the Divine Law directs, the gifts which have passed through to themselves from the Good.


And He is above all, as superessentially super-being before all. It remains then that the Evil is a weakness and a falling short of the Good. For if the Good were not present according to the capacity of each, the most Divine and honoured would occupy the rank of the lowest.

But, if these are by their participation of being, much more the things participating in them. And, if one must make bold to speak the truth, even the things fighting against It, both are, and are able to fight, by Its power. These things we have learned from the Divine Oracles, and you will find all the sacred Hymnology, so to speak, of the Theologians arranging the Names, of God with a view to make known and praise the beneficent progressions of the Godhead.

And this, as I think, is true, that the things which participate more in the One and boundless-giving God, are more near to Him, and more divine, than those who come behind them in gifts. But that the body is not cause of baseness to the soul is evident, from the fact that baseness continues to coexist even without a body, as in demons. The treatise, then, seeks to celebrate these, the Names of God, which set forth His Providence.

For even with regard to other living creatures, not the possession of these, but the loss, is both destruction to the creature, and an evil.

I nomi divini = De divinis nominibus

The theologians, having knowledge of this, celebrate It, both without Name and from every Name. The Evil, then, is not an actual thing, nor is nominibud Evil in things existing.

But, if the Evil is eternal, and creates, and has power, and is, and does, whence do these come to it? This article has no associated abstract.

And all creatures, endowed with sensible perceptions, aspire to it, as aspiring either to see, or to be moved and enlightened, and heated, and to be wholly held together by the light. Concerning Peace, and what is meant by the self-existent Being; what is the self-existent Life, and what the self-existent Power, and such like expressions. For we also say, that the air around us becomes dark by failure and absence of light, and yet the light itself is always light, that which enlightens even the darkness.

Whence we affirm that the superessential Union is fixed above not only the unions in bodies, but also above those in souls themselves, and in minds themselves, which, in a manner unmingled and supermundane, the Godlike and super-celestial Illuminations, whole through whole, possess, as beseems a participation analagous to those who divinks in the Union elevated above all.

Kommentar Zu Hiob Johannes Chrysostomos.