chapter  10
18 Pages

The Christianity of Christian Platonism

Proclus was a younger contemporary of Augustine of Hippo and probably an older contemporary of the author whom we know as Denys or Dionysius the Areopagite. Both had more than a second-hand acquaintance with Platonic thought, and Dionysius has often been regarded as a disciple of Proclus, at least in his vocabulary. For all that, he and Augustine wrote as Christians who, because they knew the Platonists at first hand, were all the more conscious that their own faith rested on evidence that was not perceived to be evidence in the Greek schools. For both, the highest principle was God, the seeker of souls, who was not to be known but by his own speaking. This speaking took two forms, the word of scripture and the enfleshment of the Word in Jesus of Nazareth. These two are one, as the first is our testimony to the second, and the second the clue to our reading of the first. Reverence for the Word precludes the use of painted idols or even, for Dionysius, the espousal of verbal images as substitutes for that blindness which is knowledge. If we allow, with Augustine, that some direct commerce of God with the soul is possible, it will take the form of hearing rather than vision, even if the latter term is taken in its most elevated sense..