Main CategoriesWatchers, Powers and DominionsAngelology: Watchers and Celestial Intelligences Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works

Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works

Product no.: 0-8091-2838-1
There are few figures in the history of Western Spirituality who are more enigmatic than the fifth or sixth-century writer known as the Pseudo-Dionysius.

Product is in stock

Additional product information

Publisher's Synopsis
The real identity of the person who chose to write under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite is unknown. Even the exact dates of his writings have never been determined. Moreover the texts themselves, though relatively short, are at points seemingly impenetrable and have mystified readers over the centuries. Yet the influence of this shadowy figure on a broad range of mystical writers from the early middle ages is readily discernible. His formulation of a method of negative theology that stresses the impotence of humans' attempt to penetrate the "cloud of unknowing" is famous as is his meditation on the divine names.

Despite his influence, relatively few attempts have been made to translate the entire corpus of his writing into English. Here in one volume are collected all of the Pseudo-Dionysius' works. Each has been translated from the Migne edition, with reference to the forthcoming Gottingen critical edition of A.M. Ritter, G. Heril, and B. Suchla.
  • The Divine Names 
  • The Mystical Theology 
  • The Celestial Hierarchy 
  • The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 
  • The Letters
To present these works to the English-speaking public, an outstanding team of six research scholars has been assembled. The lucid translation of Colm Luibheid has been augmented by Paul Rorem's notes and textual collaboration. The reader is presented a rich and varied examination of the main themes of Dionysian spirituality by Rene Roques, an incisive discussion of the original questions of the authenticity and alleged heresies in the Dionysian corpus by Jaroslav Pelikan, a comprehensive tracing of Dionysius' influence on medieval authors by Jean Leclercq, and survey by Karlfried Froehlich of the reception given the corpus by Humanists and the sixteenth-century Reformers.

"Dionysius has historically been regarded as an 'apostolic Father' of the Christian tradition, and was extremely important for such authors as John Scotus Erigena, John Tauler, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Thomas Aquinas, Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino. Indeed, one might with some justification see Dionysius as central to the Italian Renaissance, for Pico translated his work just as had Erigena before him. What makes Dionysius so influential? In my view, there are two central aspects of Dionysius's work that we must consider.

On the one hand, in Divine Names and Celestial Hierarchy, he emphasizes the power of symbolism to convey spiritual understanding, and in this his work can be seen as a cornerstone for what has come to be known as Western esotericism, for Dionysius's work speaks to the power of the imagination in perceiving transcendent reality through symbolism. On the other hand, in Mystical Theology, Dionysius emphasized the absolute transcendence that cannot be conveyed by any symbolism, but only through negation like that of the Prajnaparamita Sutra in Buddhism.

Thus in Dionysius's work we can clearly see both of the central currents that run throughout the history of Western esotericism, on the one hand the attraction to the power of imaginal symbolism that manifests in magic, on the other hand a path toward sheer transcendence that is to be found in the mysticism of Tauler, The Cloud of Unknowing, and such contemporary figures as Bernadette Roberts."         ~Arthur Versluis, Esoterica Volume II (2000)

"Indeed the inscrutable One is out of the reach of every rational process. Nor can any words come up to the inexpressible Good, this One, this Source of all unity, this supra-existent Being. Mind beyond mind, word beyond speech, it is gathered up by no discourse, by no intuition, by no name. It is and it is as no other being is. Cause of all existence, and therefore itself transcending existence, it alone could give an authoritative account of what it really is."       ~The Divine Names

Author Dionysius the Areopagite
Contributor Rorem, Paul
Translator Luibheid, Colm
Cotranslator Rorem, Paul
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 318 pp.
Publisher Paulist Press 1987
Series Classics of Western Spirituality
Gold Medal

Gold Medal


  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Angelology: Watchers and Celestial Intelligences, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition, Swedenborg and Western Cosmology, Neoplatonism and Greek Philosophy, Mystic and Esoteric Christianity, Christian Classics: Ancient and Modern, The Church: Doctors, Saints and Mystics, The Early Church and Gnosticism, Gold Medal Essential Reading

We also recommend