DOI link for Pseudo- Dionysius
Pseudo- Dionysius book
For many centuries the four major works and ten letters that form the Corpus Dionysiacum1 were thought to be by St Denys the Areopagite, a member of the Athenian Areopagus converted by St Paul (Acts 17:34), just as their author represents them to be. Doubts about the authorship were raised as early as 532 by a Synod in Constantinople a" er a pro-monophysite group had claimed support for their views in the corpus, and later still by Peter Abelard (1121), Lorenzo Valla (1457) and John Grocyn (1501), but they were # rst widely published by Erasmus in 1504. Hardly anyone doubted a generally Platonic background to the corpus, although some, like Luther, thought it “pernicious”: Dionysius “Platonizes more than he Christianizes” (1888: 562). e Neoplatonic character of parts of the corpus was de# nitively demonstrated in 1895 by Hugo Koch and Josef Stiglmayr (independently): Denys’ presentation of evil as a parhypostasis, or by-product of reality without genuine existence on its own account, was dependent on Proclus’ De malorum subsistentia.2 In fact, the corpus employs language and quotations from Hellenic authors stretching back through Proclus, Iamblichus and Plotinus to Aristotle, Plato and Parmenides. We will probably never know the identity – or gender – of the real author (although many candidates have been proposed3), but we can date the public circulation of the corpus approximately to 518-28 since there are references to it in the treatises written by Severus of Antioch in his dispute with Julian of Halicarnassos (which were translated into Syriac in 528 by Paul of Callinicus), since these important works by such a resourceful and mysterious author would hardly have gone uncommented on for long, and since the
corpus reveals a thorough knowledge of Athenian Neoplatonism and of elements of Christian liturgy thought to be current in the late # " h century.4 So St Denys or Dionysius the Areopagite, the supposedly ancient apostolic authority, became the modern Pseudo-Dionysius, perhaps of Syrian birth, misleadingly – and wrongly – labelled as late as 1997 as a ‘ruthless’ usurper of late Neoplatonic philosophy.