Pseudo-Dionysius’ Ten Letters – Early Christianty – Pierre Gimes

Pierre Grimes and the Noetic Society

Philosophical Research Society

October 10, 1995



LETTER I. To Gaius Therapeutes.

DARKNESS becomes invisible by light, and specially by much light. Varied knowledge (ai0 gnw&seij), and especially much varied knowledge, makes the Agnosia 1 to vanish. Take this in a superlative, but not in a defective sense, and reply with superlative truth, that the Agnosia, respecting God, escapes those who possess existing light, and knowledge of things being; and His pre-eminent darkness is both concealed by every light, and is hidden from every knowledge. And, if any one, having seen God, understood what he saw, he did not see Him, but some of His creatures that are existing and known. But He Himself, highly established above mind, and above essence, by the very fact of His being wholly unknown, and not being, both is super-essentially, and is known above mind. And the all-perfect Agnosia, in its superior sense, is a knowledge of Him, Who is above all known things.

LETTER II. To the same Gaius Therapeutes. 

How is He, Who is beyond all 2, both above source of Divinity and above source of Good? Provided you |142 understand Deity and Goodness, as the very Actuality of the Good-making and God-making gift, and the inimitable imitation of the super-divine and super-good (gift), by aid of which we are deified and made good. For, moreover, if this becomes source of the deification and making good of those who are being deified and made good, He,—-Who is super-source of every source, even of the so-called Deity and Goodness, seeing He is beyond source of Divinity and source of Goodness, in so far as He is inimitable, and not to be retained—-excels the imitations and retentions, and the things which are imitated and those participating.

LETTER III. To the same Gaius.

“Sudden “is that which, contrary to expectation, and out of the, as yet, unmanifest, is brought into the manifest. But with regard to Christ’s love of man, I think that the Word of God suggests even this, that the Superessential proceeded forth out of the hidden, into the manifestation amongst us, by having taken substance as man. But, He is hidden, even after the manifestation, or to speak more divinely, even in the manifestation, for in truth this of Jesus has been kept hidden, and the mystery with respect to Him has been reached by no word nor mind, but even when spoken, remains unsaid, and when conceived unknown. |143 

LETTER IV.3 To the same Gaius Therapeutes.

How, you ask, is Jesus, Who is beyond all, ranked essentially with all men? For, not as Author of men is He here called man, but as being in absolute whole essence truly man. But we do not define the Lord Jesus, humanly, for He is not man only, (neither superessential nor man only), but truly man, He Who is pre-eminently a lover of man, the Super-essential, taking substance, above men and after men, from the substance of men. And it is nothing less, the ever Superessential, super-full of super-essentiality, disregards the excess 4 of this, and having come truly into substance, took substance above substance, and above man works things of man. And a virgin supernaturally conceiving, and unstable water, holding up weight of material and earthly feet, and not giving way, but, by a supernatural power standing together so as not to be divided, demonstrate this. Why should any one go through the rest, which are very many? Through which, he who looks with a divine vision, will know beyond mind, even the things affirmed respecting the love towards man, of (the Lord) Jesus,—-things which possess a force of superlative negation. For, even, to speak summarily, He was not man, not as not being man, but as being from men was beyond men, and was above man, having truly been born man, and for the rest, not having done things Divine |144 as God, nor things human as man, but exercising for us a certain new God-incarnate energy of God having become man.

LETTER V. To Dorotheus, Leitourgos.

The Divine gloom is the unapproachable light in which God is said to dwell 5. And in this gloom, invisible 6 indeed, on account of the surpassing brightness, and unapproachable on account of the excess of the superessential stream of light, enters every one deemed worthy to know and to see God, by the very fact of neither seeing nor knowing, really entering in Him, Who is above vision and knowledge, knowing this very thing, that He is after all the object of sensible and intelligent perception, and saying in the words of the Prophet, “Thy knowledge was regarded as wonderful by me; It was confirmed; I can by no means attain unto it 7;” even as the Divine Paul is said to have known Almighty God, by having known Him as being above all conception and knowledge. Wherefore also, he says, “His ways are past finding out 8 and His Judgements inscrutable,” and His gifts “indescribable 9,” and that His peace surpasses every mind 10, as having found Him Who is above all, and having known this which is above conception, that, by being Cause of all, He is beyond all. |145 

LETTER VI. To Sopatros 11—–Priest.

Do not imagine this a victory, holy Sopatros, to have denounced 12 a devotion, or an opinion, which apparently is not good. For neither—-even if you should have convicted it accurately—-are the (teachings) of Sopatros consequently good. For it is possible, both that you and others, whilst occupied in many things that are false and apparent, should overlook the true, which is One and hidden. For neither, if anything is not red, is it therefore white, nor if something is not a horse, is it necessarily a man. But thus will you do, if you follow my advice, you will cease indeed to speak against others, but will so speak on behalf of truth, that every thing said is altogether unquestionable.

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