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Mystical Theology and The Divine Names, The

Product no.: 0-48643-4591
The treatises and letters of Dionysius the Areopagite, written in Greek, were intended to combine Neoplatonic philosophy with Christian theology and mystical experience.

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Publisher's Synopsis

A new reprint of an excellent and previously hard-to-find translation of a foundational work of Christian mysticism THE DIVINE NAMES and THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY were written by a theologian who professed to be St. Paul's Athenian convert, Dionysius. The translator C. E. Rolt, however, places him in the time of Proclus, in the 5th century AD. These works of Neo-Platonic Christian mysticism had an important influence on the early church and other Western esoteric orders and continue to be essential in the serious study of theology. Within these writings are the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead, its relation to creation, a discussion on the nature of evil and a guide to the path of contemplation.

Rolt provides a clear introduction to the Areopagite's writings, considers his relevance to modern philosophy and the psychology of contemplation, and outlines the scriptural basis of his doctrines. Throughout Rolt provides informative notes on the translation with cross-references to scripture and other important texts.

"A thorough understanding of the enigmatic 5th century Areopagite's hierophantic teachings led to its first valid criticism in 1920 via C. E. Rolt's exemplary commentary. Yet the luminous ideas disseminated in the latter were apparently beyond the comprehension of the apologetic author of the inappropriate Preface."     ~Mandala Books



"The basis of their teaching is the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead. We must, therefore, at the very outset fix the meaning of this term. Now the word 'Essence' or 'Being' means almost invariably an individual existence; more especially a person, since such is the highest type that individual existence can in this world assume. And, in fact, like the English word 'Being', it may without qualification be used to mean an angel. Since, then, the highest connotation of the term 'Essence' or 'Being' is a person, it follows that by 'Super-Essence' is intended 'Supra-Personality'. And hence the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead simply means that God is, in His ultimate Nature, Supra-Personal.

Now an individual person is one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the world. I am a person because I can say: 'I am I and I am not you'. Personality thus consists in the faculty of knowing oneself to be one individual among others. And thus, by its very nature, Personality is (on one side of its being, at least) a finite thing. The very essence of my personal state lies in the fact that I am not the whole universe but a member thereof.

God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us."


Clarence Edwin Rolt, a British scholar who died at the age of thirty-seven, not only diligently translated the perplexing texts of (pseudo-) Dionysius, but also bequeathed an ingenius introduction that corrected some of the philosophical anachronisms of the latter.

Author Dionysius the Areopagite
Coauthor Rolt, C. E.
Translator Rolt, C. E.
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 240 pp.
Publisher Dover Publications 2004
Platinum Medal

Platinum Medal


Platinum Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Mystic and Esoteric Christianity, The Church: Doctors, Saints and Mystics, Neoplatonism and Greek Philosophy, Swedenborg and Western Cosmology, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition, Noteworthy Releases 2004, Platinum Medal Essential Reading

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