Part 1



Title: Dionysius the Areopagite, Works (1897)
Creator(s): Dionysius the Areopagite
Parker, John (Translator)
Print Basis: London: James Parker and Co, 1897
Rights: public domain
CCEL Subjects: All; Classic; Mysticism



James Parker and Co,

My thanks are due to Miss M. C. Dawes, M. A., for careful
revision of the translation.









Felix es Gallia! quae, tantos et tales meruisti suscipere



Venice. Antwerp. Migne (Paris).



Sergius of Ras’ain, A.D. 530. B. Mus. Add. 12151-2, 22370.


Johannes Scotus.
Johannes Sarracinus.
Ambrosius Camaldulensis.
Balthasar Corderius.
Fabure Stapulensis.


Cel. and Ecc. Hier., Dean Colet


Frère Jean de St. François.
Monseigneur Darboy.
L’Abbé Dulac.


Dr. Ceslaus Maria Schneider.


Dean Colet by Rev. J. H. Lupton.
Rev. J. Parker.


John of Scythopolis, 490.
Joseph Huzaja.
Phocas, bar. Sergius of Edessa.
John, Bishop of Dara.
Theodore, bar. Zarudi of Edessa.
Hugo of St. Victor.
John of Salisbury.
Robert of Lincoln.
St. Thomas Aquinas.
Albertus Magnus.
Dionysius Carthusianus.


Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, A.D. 250.
Sergius of Ras’ain.


Vindiciae Areopagaticae, 1702.

Hilduinus Areopagatica, 9th Century, Galenus, 1563.

L’Abbé Barras, St. Denis, premier evêque de Paris, 1863. Vives. Paris.

J, Baltenweck, La question de l’authenticité des écrits Rixheim, J. Sutter.

Vidieu, St. Denis l’Areopagite, 1889. Firmin Didot.

Canon Bernard, St. Trophime d’Arles, 1888.

Schneider, “Areopagitica,” Regensburg, 1884.

Manz. Jahn, “Dionysiaca,” 1889.

Altona. Millet, “Responsio ad De duobus Dionysiis,” 1642.

Pearson, “Ignatii vindiciae,” with two letters of “Vossius.” Cambridge.

Erasmus, “Ratio verae, religionis,” and “Institutio.”

Hippolytus, “Refutation of all heresies,” 1859. Göttingen.

Dexter’s Chronicon, Migne, Tom. 31.

Myrothecum sacrorum Elaeochrismaton, 1625-7.

The Conversion of India, George Smith, C.I.E., John Murray, 1893.


Launoy, 1660.

Daillé, 1666.

Montet, 1848.

Hipler, 1861.

Nirschl, 1888, Histpolit Blatter, p. 172-184, and p. 257-270 [1]

In British Museum there are about 30 Editions, and 40 Treatises, and the
Book of Hierotheus (Add. Rich. 7189), translation of which is promised by
Professor A. L. Frothingham. Leyden, E. J. Brill.

In Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, 12 Editions. Avignon, 16 Editions, between
1498 and 1600. Leyden, superb MSS. with marginal scholia, 15th century.

In Rome there are many editions. Unfortunately the Codex produced at the
Greek and Latin Council, in the Lateran, A.D. 660, is not in the Vatican,
the whole Library in the tower of Santa Francisca having been destroyed in
1219. There is, in the Vatican, a letter in Latin from Dionysius to St.
Paul, in which he speaks of the beauty of the blessed Virgin, no doubt as
seen in death. There is another pathetic letter to Timothy describing the
martyrdom of St. Paul, and his own desolation. In the Bibliothèque
Nationale, Paris, there is an autobiography in Syriac, in which it is stated
that when St. Paul described the Crucifixion in his speech at Athens,
Dionysius sent to fetch his notes, made in Egypt, which were publicly read
and found to agree with St. Paul, both as to day and hour. It says, St.
Paul’s visit to Athens was fourteen years after the darkness in Egypt, which
would place the conversion of Dionysius A.D. 44.


Preface to the “Divine Names” ix
Note — Ignatius128
Preface to Mystic Theology 129
Preface to the Letters of Dionysius the Areopagite 139
Preface to Liturgy185

[1] See Science de Dieu, Schneider II. vol. p. 229. Manz, 1886.


THE Treatise on “Divine Names” was written by Dionysius, at the request of
Timothy, and at the instigation of Hierotheus, to express, in a form more
easily understood, the more abstract Treatise of Hierotheus, who was his
chief instructor after St. Paul. Its purpose is to explain the epithets in
Holy Scripture applied alike to the whole Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost. It does not pretend to describe the unrevealed God, Who is beyond
expression and conception, and can only be known through that union with
God, “by which we know, even as we are known.” Holy Scripture is the sole
authority, beyond which we must neither think nor speak of Almighty God. The
Treatise, being written by one of the most learned Greeks, the phraseology
is, naturally, that of Plato and Aristotle ; but Plato and Aristotle are not
authorities here. When Plato treated his Hebrew instructor with such
reverence, and was so versed in the Pentateuch, we need not be sensitive as
to the admission of Plato’s authority. But, as a matter of fact, on the
question of Exemplars [2] and some other points, the opinions of Plato are
expressly refuted. The phrase of Luther, “Platonising, rather than
Christianising,” proves only a very meagre acquaintance with Dionysius. The
Greek language is moulded in a marvellous manner to express the newly
revealed Christian Faith in its most exalted form, in a style which Daillé
confesses to be always of the same “colour;” and Pearson, “always like
itself.” Jahn has followed Dionysius step by step in order to trace the
connection between the language of Plato and Dionysius, for the purpose of
exploding the puerile supposition that such complex writings as these could
have been evolved from the elementary treatises of Proclus and Plotinus.
Most probably, some of the lost writings of Dionysius are in part preserved
in those writers and in Clement of Alexandria; but Dionysius is the Master,
not Pupil! The works are very distinct and precise upon the Divinity of
Christ, and the Hypostatic Union. Like St. Paul, Dionysius affirms that He,
Who made all things, is God; and further that Jesus is God, by some
startling phraseology. He speaks of James, “the Lord’s brother [3] ,” as
“brother of God” David, from whom was born Christ after the flesh, is called
“father of God [4] .” When speaking of the entombment of the Blessed Virgin,
he speaks of her body as the “Life-springing” and “God-receptive body;” thus
testifying that Jesus, born of a pure Virgin, is Life and God. He describes
the miracles of Jesus as being, as it were, the new and God-incarnate energy
of God become Man. The newly-coined words indicate an original thinker
moulding the Greek language to a newly acquired faith. There are two words,
“Agnosia” and “Divine Gloom,” which illustrate a principle running through
these writings,—that the negative of abstraction denotes the superlative
positive. “Divine Gloom” is the darkness from excessive light; “Agnosia” is
neither ignorance nor knowledge intensified: but a supra-knowledge of Him,
Who is above all things known. It is “the most Divine knowledge of Almighty
God, within the union beyond mind, when the mind, having stood apart from
all existing things, and then, having dismissed itself, has been united to
the superluminous rays—thence and there, being illuminated by the
unsearchable wisdom.” In the Mystic Theology, Dionysius exhorts Timothy
thus,—“But, thou, O dear Timothy, leave behind both sensible perception, and
intellectual efforts, and all objects of sense and intelligence; and all
things being and not being, and be raised aloft as far as attainable,
agnōstōs—unknowingly [5] ,—to the union with Him above every essence and
knowledge. For by the resistless and absolute ecstacy from thyself, in all
purity, thou wilt be carried high to the superessential ray of the Divine
darkness, when thou hast cast away all, and become liberated from all.”
Thus, we must pass beyond all things known, and all things being, and lie
passive under the illuminating ray of God, if we would attain the highest
conception of Him, “Who passeth all understanding.” God “unknown” is still
the God of Dionysius, and He is still to be worshipped unknowingly. There is
a tradition that Dionysius erected the altar in Athens “to God unknown,” as
author of the inexplicable darkness, which he observed in Egypt, and found
afterwards from St. Paul to have been contemporaneous with the Crucifixion.
Did St. Paul adapt his discourse at Athens to the conversion of Dionysius?

The only heresiarch, whom Dionysius mentions by name, is Elymas, the
Sorcerer, Simon Magus, a man of great intellectual attainments and a
considerable author. Flavius Clemens and Eugenius, Bishop of Toledo, were
disciples of Simon before their conversion to Christ. The tenets of Elymas
are described by Hippolytus. He formed an eclectic system from the Old
Testament and the Christian Faith, and with Cerinthus and Carpocrates
originated many heresies to which the apostolic epistles allude, and which
in later times became prominent in the Church. In refuting these heresies,
by manifestation of the truth, Dionysius anticipated many errors—ancient and

Jerome informs us (Scr. Ecc. 46) that Pantaenus [6] , one of the most
celebrated Christian philosophers of Alexandria, was sent, A.D. 193, by
Demetrius, Bishop of that city, to India, at the request of a delegation
from India for that purpose. Pantaenus discovered, on his arrival, that St.
Bartholomew (one of the twelve) had preached the coming of Jesus Christ, in
that country. Pantaenus found a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew in
India. Now, by the extract, contained in the Scholia of Maximus, from the
Scholia of Dionysius of Alexandria (250) upon the Divine Names, and also by
the extract from a letter of the same Dionysius, recently discovered in the
British Museum [7] (Nos. 12151-2), we know that the writings of Dionysius
the Areopagite were known and treasured in Alexandria a few years after the
death of Pantaenus. Can we reasonably doubt that Pantaenus took the writings
of Dionysius, and the more abstract works of Hierotheus, to India? Have we
not here an explanation of the remarkable similarity between the Hindu
philosophy, as expressed by Sankara [8] in the eighth, and Râmânuja in the
thirteenth century, and the “Divine Names?” Sankara treats of the Supreme as
“absolutely One;” Râmânuja as “non-dual, with qualification.” Both these
truths are combined and expressed in Dionysius.

I cannot but believe that many of the beautiful expressions about Vishnu,
the Redeemer, in the Râmâyana of Tulsidâs are Christian Truths under a Hindu
dress [9] . Many learned Hindus affirm that it is needless for them to
become Christian, because they have a more exalted conception of the Supreme
God than Christians themselves. I submit that the “Divine Names” will be
instrumental in bringing India to the Christian Faith, in the best and only
effectual way—by communities and not by individuals—through the most learned
and devout, and not through the most ignorant.

Dionysius was first converted, and then, through him, those who naturally
and properly followed his lead.


Dexter was a friend of Jerome. Jerome even addresses him as “filius
amicus,” and describes him as “clarus apud saeculum et Christi fidei

Dexter became Prefect of the Pretorian Oriental Guards, and was one of the
most illustrious statesmen of his time. He resided two years in Toledo. From
the archives of the Church of Toledo and other cities he compiled a
chronicle from A.D. 1 to A.D. 430, giving a brief summary of the Church
events in Spain. That chronicle he dedicated to Jerome, who, enrolled both
Chronicle and Author amongst his “illustrious men.” It was at the request of
Dexter that Jerome wrote his book on Ecclesiastical Writers. Among the
earliest Bishops of Toledo, Dexter describes a remarkable
man,—Marcellus,—surnamed Eugenius, on account of his noble birth.

Bivarius says he was of the house and family of Caesar, being uncle to the
Emperor Hadrian. Marcellus was consecrated Bishop by Dionysius the
Areopagite at Aries, and sent to Toledo. Respecting him, Dexter records that
Dionysius dedicated the books of the Divine Names to him, u.c. 851, A.D. 98.
Dexter further records that Dionysius surnamed Marcellus, Timothy, on
account of his excellent disposition. Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, relates
that Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to whom the works of Dionysius were
originally dedicated, was martyred during the reign of Nerva, A.D. 96-97.
Upon the return of Dionysius to Gaul, after his visit to St. John, released
from Patmos, we find him calling his friend Marcellus, Timothy, and
presenting the books of the “Divine Names “to him, A.D. 98; in order that he
might still have a Timothy on earth,— “in vivis”—although his first Timothy,
“migravit ad Christum,” A.D. 97.

This touch of nature, preserved in a chronicle, written more than 1400 years
ago, by an illustrious statesman, who was son of a Bishop celebrated for
learning and sanctity, may fairly be deemed, by an unprejudiced mind,
reasonable proof that the “Divine Names” were written previous to A.D. 98.

N.B. As the result of some research I affirm that our Saviour’s last
commission is the Key to Church history in the first century. As He
commanded the Apostles to preach the Gospel throughout the world, so the
Gospel was preached when St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Colossians, Chap.
I. v. 23 (tou kēruchthentos en pasē ktisei), and with such success amongst
the most learned and noble, that, but for the cruel massacre of Flavius [10]
Clemens and his family for the Christian Faith, there would have been a
Christian Emperor in the first century. As Jesus said, “Ye shall be
witnesses of Me unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts Chap. 1. v. 8),
so the Apostles planted the Church of Christ in Gaul, Spain and Britain,
with its threefold ministry; and by the end of the second century there was
an organised Church throughout each of those territories [11] .

Dr. Schneider informs me “that in Germany they now admit that the external
proofs are in favour of genuineness of Dionysius, but they confine
themselves to the internal proofs. They pretend that the doctrine is too
clear and precise to have been written in the apostolic age.”

How could the chief Areopagite, the convert and companion of St. Paul, and
the familiar friend of St. John, Theologus, have understood theology!!

[2] C. V. § 2.

[3] Adelphotheos.

[4] Theopator.

[5] As beyond knowledge.

[6] Conversion of India, p. 12. Pressensé, The Earlier Years of
Christianity, Vol. II. p. 271. The History of Mathurâ (Muttra), by F. S.
Growse, on the glorification of the Divine Name.

[7] Vidieu, p. 73.

[8] Sankara’s doctrine, Sir Monier Williams, “Brahmanism,” p. 55.
Râmânuja’s explained, “Brahmanism,” p. 119, &c. J. Murray.

[9] At Council of Nicea in 325, Johannes, the Metropolitan of Persia, signed
also as “of the great India.” Merv was an Episcopal See, A.D. 334. Con. of
India, pp. 15—31.

[10] Burton, Ecc. Hist., Vol. I. p. 367.

[11] Mansi I. 698, Jaffi. Regesta Rom. Pon. 2nd Ed., p. 10, by Ewald.





What is the purpose of the discourse, and what the tradition concerning
Divine Names.


Now then, O Blessed One, after the Theological Outlines [12] , I will pass
to the interpretation of the Divine Names, as best I can.

But, let the rule of the Oracles be here also prescribed for us, viz., that
we shall establish the truth of the things spoken concerning God, not in the
persuasive words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit-moved
power of the Theologians, by aid of which we are brought into contact with
things unutterable and unknown, in a manner unutterable and unknown, in
proportion to the superior union of the reasoning and intuitive faculty and
operation within us. By no means then is it permitted to speak, or even to
think, anything, concerning the superessential and hidden Deity, beyond
those things divinely revealed to us in the sacred Oracles [13] . For
Agnosia, (supra-knowledge) of its superessentiality above reason and mind
and essence—to, it must we attribute the superessential science, so far
aspiring to the Highest, as the ray of the supremely Divine Oracles imparts
itself, whilst we restrain ourselves in our approach to the higher glories
by prudence and piety as regards things Divine. For, if we must place any
confidence in the All Wise and most trustworthy Theology, things Divine are
revealed and contemplated in proportion to the capacity of each of the
minds, since the supremely Divine Goodness distributes Divinely its
immeasurableness (as that which cannot be contained) with a justice which
preserves those whose capacity is limited. For, as things intelligible
cannot be comprehended and contemplated by things of sense, and things
uncompounded and unformed by things compounded and formed; and the
intangible and unshaped formlessness of things without body, by those formed
according to the shapes of bodies; in accordance with the self-same analogy
of the truth, the superessential Illimitability is placed above things
essential, and the Unity above mind above the Minds; and the One above
conception is inconceivable to all conceptions; and the Good above word is
unutterable by word—Unit making one every unit, and superessential essence
and mind inconceivable, and Word unutterable, speechlessness [14] and
inconception [15] , and namelessness—being after the manner of no existing
being, and Cause of being to all, but Itself not being, as beyond every
essence, and as It may manifest Itself properly and scientifically
concerning Itself.


Concerning this then, as has been said, the superessential and hidden Deity,
it is not permitted to speak or even to think beyond the things divinely
revealed to us in the sacred Oracles. For even as Itself has taught (as
becomes Its goodness) in the Oracles, the science and contemplation of
Itself in Its essential Nature is beyond the reach of all created things, as
towering superessentially above all. And you will find many of the
Theologians, who have celebrated It, not only as invisible and
incomprehensible, but also as inscrutable and untraceable, since there is no
trace of those who have penetrated to Its hidden infinitude. The Good indeed
is not entirely uncommunicated to any single created being, but benignly
sheds forth its superessential ray, persistently fixed in Itself, by
illuminations analogous to each several being, and elevates to Its permitted
contemplation and communion and likeness, those holy minds, who, as far as
is lawful and reverent, strive after It, and who are neither impotently
boastful towards that which is higher than the harmoniously imparted Divine
manifestation, nor, in regard to a lower level, lapse downward through their
inclining to the worse, but who elevate themselves determinately and
unwaveringly to the ray shining upon them; and, by their proportioned love
of permitted illuminations, are elevated with a holy reverence, prudently
and piously, as on new wings.


Following then, these, the supremely Divine standards, which also govern the
whole holy ranks of the supercelestial orders,—whilst honouring the
unrevealed of the Godhead which is beyond mind and matter, with inscrutable
and holy reverence of mind, and things unutterable, with a prudent silence,
we elevate ourselves to the glories which illuminate us in the sacred
Oracles, and are led by their light to the supremely Divine Hymns, by which
we are supermundane
ly enlightened and moulded to the sacred Songs of Praise, so as both to see
the supremely Divine illuminations given to us by them, according to our
capacities, and to praise the good-giving Source of every holy manifestation
of light, as Itself has taught concerning Itself in the sacred Oracles. For
instance, that It is cause and origin and essence and life of all things;
and even of those who fall away from It, both recalling and resurrection;
and of those who have lapsed to the perversion of the Divine likeness,
renewal and reformation; of those who are tossed about in a sort of
irreligious unsteadiness, a religious stability; of those who have continued
to stand, steadfastness; of those who are being conducted to It, a
protecting Conductor; of those being illuminated, illumination; of those
being perfected, source of perfection; of those being deified, source of
deification; of those being simplified, simplification; of those being
unified, unity; of every origin superessentially super-original origin; and
of the Hidden, as far as is right, beneficent communication; and, in one
word, the life of the living, and essence of things that be; of all life and
essence, origin and cause; because Its goodness produces and sustains things
that be, in their being.


These things we have learned from the Divine Oracles, and you will find all
the sacred Hymnology, so to speak, of the Theologians arranging the Names,
of God with a view to make known and praise the beneficent progressions of
the Godhead. Hence, we see in almost every theological treatise the Godhead
religiously celebrated, both as Monad and unity, on account of the
simplicity and oneness of Its supernatural indivisibility from which, as an
unifying power, we are unified, and when our divided diversities have been
folded together, in a manner supermundane, we are collected into a godlike
unit and divinely-imitated union; but, also as Triad, on account of the
tri-personal manifestation of the superessential productiveness, from which
all paternity in heaven and on earth is, and is named; also, as cause of
things existing, since all things were brought into being on account of Its
creative goodness, both wise and good, because all things, whilst preserving
the properties of their own nature unimpaired, are filled with every
inspired harmony and holy comeliness, but pre-eminently, as loving towards
man, because It truly and wholly shared, in one of Its Persons
(subsistencies), in things belonging to us, recalling to Itself and
replacing the human extremity, out of which, in a manner unutterable, the
simplex Jesus was composed, and the Everlasting took a temporal duration,
and He, Who is superessentially exalted above every rank throughout all
nature, became within our nature, whilst retaining the unchangeable and
unconfused steadfastness of His own properties. And whatever other
divinely-wrought illuminations, conformable to the Oracles, the secret
tradition of our inspired leaders bequeathed to us for our enlightenment, in
these also we have been initiated; now indeed, according to our capacity,
through the sacred veils of the loving-kindness towards man, made known in
the Oracles and hierarchical traditions, which envelop things intellectual
in things sensible, and things superessential in things that are; and place
forms and shapes around the formless and shapeless, and multiply and fashion
the supernatural and formless simplicity in the variedness of the divided
symbols; but, then, when we have become incorruptible and immortal, and have
reached the Christlike and most blessed repose, according to the Divine
saying, we shall be “ever with the Lord,” fulfilled, through all-pure
contemplations, with the visible manifestation of God covering us with
glory, in most brilliant splendours, as the disciples in the most Divine
Transfiguration, and participating in His gift of spiritual light, with
unimpassioned and immaterial mind; and, even in the union beyond conception,
through the agnostic and most blessed efforts after rays of surpassing
brilliancy, in a more Divine imitation of the supercelestial minds. For we
shall be equal to the angels, as the truth of the Oracles affirms, and sons
of God, being sons of the resurrection. But now, to the best of our ability,
we use symbols appropriate to things Divine, and from these again we elevate
ourselves, according to our degree, to the simple and unified truth of the
spiritual visions; and after our every conception of things godlike, laying
aside our mental energies, we cast ourselves, to the best of our ability,
towards the superessential ray, in which all the terms of every kind of
knowledge pre-existed in a manner beyond expression, which it is neither
possible to conceive nor express, nor entirely in any way to contemplate, on
account of Its being pre-eminently above all things, and super-unknown, and
Its having previously contained within Itself, superessentially, the whole
perfections of all kinds of essential knowledge and power, and Its being
firmly fixed by Its absolute power, above all, even the supercelestial
minds. For, if all kinds of knowledge are of things existing, and are
limited to things existing, that, beyond all essence, is also elevated above
all knowledge.


And yet, if It is superior to every expression and every knowledge, and is
altogether placed above mind and essence,—being such as embraces and unites
and comprehends and anticipates all things, but Itself is altogether
incomprehensible to all, and of It, there is neither perception nor
imagination, nor surmise, nor name, nor expression, nor contact, nor
science;—in what way can our treatise thoroughly investigate the meaning of
the Divine Names, when the superessential Deity is shewn to be without Name,
and above Name?

But, as we said when we put forth the Theological Outlines, it is not
possible either to express or to conceive what the One, the Unknown, the
Superessential self-existing Good is,—I mean the threefold Unity, the alike
God, and the alike Good. But even the unions, such as befit angels, of the
holy Powers, whether we must call them efforts after, or receptions from,
the super-Unknown and surpassing Goodness, are both unutterable and unknown,
and exist in those angels alone who, above angelic knowledge, are deemed
worthy of them. The godlike minds (men) made one by these unions, through
imitation of angels as far as attainable (since it is during cessation of
every mental energy that such an union as this of the deified minds towards
the super-divine light takes place) celebrate It most appropriately through
the abstraction of all created things—enlightened in this matter, truly and
super-naturally from the most blessed union towards It—that It is Cause
Indeed of all things existing, but Itself none of them, as being
superessentially elevated above all. To none, indeed, who are lovers of the
Truth above all Truth, is it permitted to celebrate the supremely-Divine
Essentiality—that which is the super-subsistence of the
super-goodness,—neither as word or power, neither as mind or life or
essence, but as pre-eminently separated from every condition, movement,
life, imagination, surmise, name, word, thought, conception, essence,
position, stability, union, boundary, infinitude, all things whatever. But
since, as sustaining source of goodness, by the very fact of Its being, It
is cause of all things that be, from all created things must we celebrate
the benevolent Providence of the Godhead; for all things are both around It
and for It, and It is before all things, and all things in It consist, and
by Its being is the production and sustenance of the whole, and all things
aspire to It—the intellectual and rational, by means of knowledge—things
inferior to these, through the senses, and other things by living movement,
or substantial and habitual aptitude.


The theologians, having knowledge of this, celebrate It, both without Name
and from every Name. Without name, as when they say that the Godhead Itself,
in one of those mystical apparitions of the symbolical Divine manifestation,
rebuked him who said, “What is thy name?” and as leading him away from all
knowledge of the Divine Name, said this, “and why dost thou ask my Name?
“and this (Name) “is wonderful,” And is not this in reality the wonderful
Name, that which is above every Name—the Nameless—that fixed above every
name which is named, whether in this age or in that which is to come? Also,
as “many named,” as when they again introduce It as saying, “I am He, Who
is—the Life—the Light—the God—the Truth.” And when the wise of God
themselves celebrate Him, as Author of all things, under many Names, from
all created things—as Good—as Beautiful—as Wise—as Beloved—as God of gods—as
Lord of lords—as Holy of Holies—as Eternal—as Being—as Author of Ages—as
Provider of Life—as Wisdom—as Mind—as Word—as Knowing—as preeminently
possessing all the treasures of all knowledge—as Power—as Powerful—as King
of kings—as Ancient of days—as never growing old—and Unchangeable—as
Preservation—as Righteousness—as Sanctification — as Redemption—as
surpassing all things in greatness—and as in a gentle breeze.—Yea, they also
say that He is in minds, and in souls, and in bodies, and in heaven and in
earth, and at once, the same in the same—in the world—around the world—above
the world—supercelestial, superessential, sun,
star—fire—water—spirit—dew—cloud—self-hewn stone and rock—all things
existing—and not one of things existing.


Thus, then, the “Nameless “befits the cause of all, which is also above all,
as do all the names of things existing, in order that there may be strictly
a kingly rule over the whole; and that all things may be around It and
dependent upon It, as cause, as beginning, as end. And Itself, according to
the Divine saying, may be the “all in all,” and truly sung as of all,
producing, directing and perfecting and sustaining guard, and shrine, and
turning towards Itself, and that uniformly, irresistibly and pre-eminently.
For It is not only cause of sustenance, or life, or perfection,—so that from
this or that forethought alone the Goodness above Name should be named, but
It previously embraced in Itself all things existing, absolutely and without
limit, by the complete benefactions of His one and all-creating forethought,
and by all created things in joint accord It is celebrated and named.


Further also, the Theologians do not honour alone the Names of God which are
given from universal or particular Providences, or objects of His
forethought; but also from certain occasional Divine Visions, in the sacred
temples or elsewhere, which enlightened the initiated or the Prophets, they
name the surpassing bright Goodness which is above Name, after one or other
causes and powers, and clothe It in forms and shapes of man, or fire, or
electron, and celebrate Its eyes and ears, and locks of hair, and
countenance, and hands, and back, and wings, and arms, and hinder parts and
feet. Also they assign to It crowns [16] and seats, and drinking vessels and
bowls, and certain other things mystical, concerning which, in our Symbolic
Theology, we will speak as best we can. But now, collecting from the Oracles
so much as serves the purpose of our present treatise, and using the things
aforesaid, as a kind of Canon, and keeping our eyes upon them, let us
advance to the unfolding of the Names of God, which fall within the range of
our understanding, and, what the hierarchical rule always teaches us
throughout every phase of theology, let us become initiated (to speak
authoritatively) in the godlike contemplations with a god-enlightened
conception. And let us bring religious ears to the unfoldings of the Holy
Names of God, implanting the Holy in the Holy, according to the Divine
tradition, and removing it from the laughter and jeers of the uninitiated;
yea, rather, if certain men really are such, purifying them from their
fighting against God in this matter. Be it thine, then, to guard these
things, O excellent Timothy, according to the most holy leading, and to make
the things Divine neither spoken nor known to the uninitiated. For myself,
may Almighty God give me to celebrate, in a manner worthy of God, the
numerous beneficent Names of the uncalled and unnamed Deity; and may He not
take away a word of truth from my mouth.

[12] Cap. 3. Mystic Theology.

[13] Ib. c. I. s. 3.

[14] alogia.

[15] anoēsia.

[16] Letter to Titus.


Concerning common and distinctive theology, and what is the Divine Union and


LET then the self-existent Goodness be sung from the Oracles as defining and
manifesting the whole supremely-Divine-Subsistence in its essential nature.
For, what else is there to learn from the sacred theology, when it affirms
that the Godhead Itself, leading the way, says, “Why dost thou ask me
concerning the Good?—None is Good except God alone.” Now, this, we have
thoroughly demonstrated elsewhere, that always, all the God-becoming Names
of God, are celebrated by the Oracles, not partitively, but as applied to
the whole and entire and complete and full Godhead, and that all of them are
referred impartitively, absolutely, unreservedly, entirely, to all the
Entirety of the entirely complete and every Deity. And verily as we have
mentioned in the Theological Outlines, if any one should say that this is
not spoken concerning the whole Deity, he blasphemes, and dares, without
right, to cleave asunder the super-unified Unity.

We must affirm, then, that this is to be received respecting the whole
Deity. For even the essentially Good Word Himself said, “I am Good [17] .”
And a certain one of the God-rapt Prophets celebrates the Spirit as “the
Good [18] .” And again this, “I am He, Who is [19] .” If they shall say that
this is said, not of the whole Deity, but should violently limit it to one
part, how will they understand this? “These things, saith He, Who is, Who
was, Who is to come, the Almighty [20] ,” and “Thou art the same [21] ,” and
this, “Spirit of truth, which is, which proceedeth from the Father [22] .”
And if they say that the supremely Divine Life is not coextensive with the
whole, how is the sacred Word true which said, “As the Father raiseth the
dead and maketh alive, so also the Son maketh alive whom He will [23] ,” and
that “the Spirit is He, Who maketh alive [24] ?” But, that the whole Deity
holds the Lordship over the whole, one can scarcely say, as I think how many
times, in reference to the Paternal Deity, or the Filial, the word “Lord “is
repeated in the Word of God, as applied to Father and Son [25] . But the
Spirit also is Lord [26] . And “the beautiful and the wise” are also sung
respecting the whole Deity. And the light, and the deifying, and the cause,
and whatever pertains to the whole Godhead, the Oracles introduce into all
the supremely Divine hymnody—collectively, when they say “all things are
from Almighty God; “but, specifically, as when they say, “all things were
made through Him and to Him,” and “all things in Him consist,” and “Thou
shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be made.” And, that one may
speak summarily, the supremely Divine Word Himself said, “I and the Father
are One,” and “all that the Father hath are Mine,” and, “All Mine are Thine,
and Thine, Mine.” And again, whatever pertains to the Father and Himself, He
attributes. to the supremely Divine Spirit, collectively and in common—the
works of God—the homage, the fontal and ceaseless cause and the distribution
of the goodly gifts. And I think, none of those, who have been nourished in
the Divine Oracles with unprejudiced conceptions, will oppose this, that all
things befitting God belong to the whole Godhead, according to the divinely
perfect Word. Since, then, we have demonstrated and defined these things
from the Oracles,—here indeed partially, but elsewhere sufficiently—we will
undertake to unfold every Divine Name whatsoever, which is to be received as
referring to the whole Deity.


But if any one should say that we introduce in so doing a confusion, in
disparagement of the distinction which befits God, we do not think that such
a statement as this is itself sufficient to convince that it is true. For,
if there is any one who has placed himself entirely in opposition to the
Oracles, he will be also entirely apart from our. philosophy; and, if he has
no care for the divine Wisdom of the Oracles, how shall we care for his
guidance to the theological science? But, if he regards the truth of the
Oracles, we also, using this canon and illumination, will advance
unwaveringly to the answer, as best we can, by affirming that theology
transmits some things as common, but others as distinctive; and neither is
it meet to divide the common, nor to confuse the distinctive; but that
following It according to our ability, we ought to rise to the Divine
splendours; for, by taking thence the Divine revelations, as a most
excellent canon of truth, we strive to guard the things lying there, in
their native simplicity and integrity and identity—being ourselves guarded
in our guard of the Oracles, and from these receiving strength to guard
those who guard them.


The (Names) then, common to the whole Deity, as we have demonstrated from
the Oracles, by many instances in the Theological Outlines, are the
Super-Good, the Super-God, the Super-essential, the Super-Living, the
Super-Wise, and whatever else belongs to the superlative abstraction; with
which also, all those denoting Cause, the Good, the Beautiful, the Being,
the Life-producing, the Wise, and whatever Names are given to the Cause of
all Good, from His goodly gifts. But the distinctive Names are the
superessential name and property of Father, and Son and Spirit, since no
interchange or community in these is in any way introduced. But there is a
further distinction, viz., the complete and unaltered existence of Jesus
amongst us, and all the mysteries of love towards man actually existing
within it.


But it is rather necessary, I suppose, to resume and to set forth the
complete fashion of the Divine union and distinction, in order that the
whole discourse may be seen at a glance to reject everything ambiguous and
indistinct, and to define critically and distinctly the proper Names, as far
as possible. For, as I said elsewhere, the sacred instructors of our
theological tradition call the “Divine Unions” the hidden and unrevealed
sublimities of the super-unutterable and super-unknown Isolation; but the
“distinctions,” the goodly progressions and manifestations of the Godhead;
and, following the sacred Oracles, they mention also properties of the
aforesaid “Union; “and again of the distinction, that there are certain
specific unions and distinctions. For example, with regard to the Divine
Union, that is, the Superessentiality, there is kindred and common to the
One-springing Triad, the superessential sustaining Source, the super-Divine
Deity, the super-good Goodness, the supreme identity of the whole supreme
Idiosyncrasy, the Oneness above source of one; the Unspeakable; the
Much-speaking, the Agnosia, the Comprehended by all, the Placing of all, the
Abstraction of all, that which is above all affirmation and abstraction, the
abiding and steadfastness in each other, if I may so speak, wholly
super-united and in no part commingled of the One-springing Persons, just as
lights of lamps (to use sensible illustrations familiar to our capacity),
when in one house, are both wholly distinct in each other throughout, and
keep the distinction from each other specifically and perfectly maintained,
being one in distinction and distinct in union; and then, indeed, we may see
in a house, in which are many lamps, the lights of all united to form one
certain light and lighting up one combined radiance; and, as I suppose, no
one would be able to distinguish in the air containing all the lights the
light of one or other lamp from the rest, and to see one without the other,
since whole in whole are mixed together without being mingled. But, if any
one were to take out from the chamber one particular burner, the whole light
belonging to it will depart with it; no particle of the other lights being
drawn along with it, nor any of its own light left with the other. For there
was, as I said, the complete union of all with all, unmingled throughout,
and in no part confused, and this actually in a body, the air, the light
even itself being dependent on the material fire. Whence we affirm that the
superessential Union is fixed above not only the unions in bodies, but also
above those in souls themselves, and in minds themselves, which, in a manner
unmingled and supermundane, the Godlike and supercelestial Illuminations,
whole through whole, possess, as beseems a participation analogous to those
who participate in the Union elevated above all.


But there is a distinction in the superessential nomenclature of God, not
only that which I have mentioned, namely, that each of the One-springing
Persons is fixed in the union itself, unmingled and unconfused; but also
that the properties of the superessential Divine Production are not
convertible in regard to one another. The Father is sole Fountain of the
superessential Deity, since the Father is not Son, nor the Son, Father;
since the hymns reverently guard their own characteristics for each of the
supremely Divine Persons. These then are the unions and distinctions within
the unutterable Union and sustaining Source. But, if the goodly progression
of the Divine Union, multiplying itself super-uniquely through Goodness, and
taking to itself many forms, is also a Divine distinction, yet, common
within the Divine distinction, are the resistless distributions, the
substance-giving, the life-giving, the wise-making, and the other gifts of
the Goodness, Cause of all, after which from the participations and those
participating are celebrated the things imparticipatively participated. And
this is kindred and common, and one, to the whole Divinity, that it is all
entire, participated by each of the Participants, and by none partially.
Just as a point in a circle’s centre participates in all the circumjacent
[27] straight lines in the circle, and as many impressions of a seal
participate in the archetypal seal, and in each of the impressions the seal
is whole and the same, and in none partial in any respect. But superior to
these is the impartibility of the Deity—Cause of all—from the fact that
there is no contact with it. Nor has it any commingled communion with the
things participating.


And yet some one might say the seal is not whole and the same in the images
throughout. But of this the seal is not the cause, for it imparts itself all
and the same to each; but the difference of the recipients makes the figures
dissimilar, since the archetype is one and complete and the same. For
instance, if the wax were soft and impressionable, and smooth and unstamped,
and neither unimpressionable and hard, nor running and dissolving, it will
have the figure clear and sharp and fixed. But if it should lack any of the
aforesaid aptitudes, this will be the cause of the non-participative and
un-figured and indistinct, and whatever else arises from inaptitude for
reception. Further, there is a distinction from the goodly work of God
towards us, in that the superessential Word was invested with being amongst
us—from us—wholly and truly, and did and suffered whatever things are choice
and pre-eminent in His human work of God. For in these, the Father and the
Spirit in no respect communicated, except perhaps, one might say, as regards
the benign and philanthropic purpose, and as regards all the pre-eminent and
unutterable work of God which the unchangeable, qua God and Word of God, did
when He had been born amongst us. Thus we, too, strive to unite and
distinguish in the Word the things Divine, as the things Divine themselves,
are united and distinguished.


Now we have set forth in the Theological Outlines whatever Divine Causes we
have found in the Oracles, of these unions, and distinctions, by treating
each separately, according to our ability; by explaining some things, by the
infallible Word, and unfolding them; and by conducting the religious and
unpolluted mind to the bright visions of the Oracles; but others, as being
full of mystery, by approaching them according to the Divine tradition,
which is superior to mental energy. For all the Divine properties, even
those revealed to us, are known by the participations alone; and themselves,
such as they are in their own source and abode, are above mind and all
essence and knowledge. For instance, if we have named the superessential
Hiddenness, God, or Life, or Essence, or Light, or Word (logos), we have no
other thought than that the powers brought to us from It are deifying, or
essentiating, or life-bearing, or wisdom-imparting; but to Itself we
approach during the cessation of all the intellectual energies, seeing no
deification, or life, or essence whatever, such as is strictly like the
Cause pre-eminently elevated above all. Again, that the Father is fontal
Deity, but the Lord Jesus and the Spirit are, if one may so speak,
God-planted shoots, and as it were Flowers and superessential Lights of the
God-bearing Deity, we have received from the holy Oracles; but how these
things are, it is neither possible to say, nor to conceive.


But. up to this point, our utmost power of mental energy carries us, namely,
that all divine paternity and sonship have been bequeathed from the Source
of paternity and Source of sonship—pre-eminent above all—both to us and to
the supercelestial powers, from which the godlike become both gods, and sons
of gods, and fathers of gods, and are named Minds, such a paternity and
sonship being of course accomplished spiritually, i.e. incorporeally,
immaterially, intellectually,— since the supremely Divine Spirit is seated
above all intellectual immateriality, and deification, and the Father and
the Son are pre-eminently elevated above all divine paternity and sonship.
For there is no strict likeness, between the caused and the causes. The
caused indeed possess the accepted likenesses of the causes, but the causes
themselves are elevated and established above the caused, according to the
ratio of their proper origin. And, to use illustrations suitable to
ourselves, pleasures and pains are said to be productive of pleasure and
pain, but these themselves feel neither pleasure nor pain. And fire, whilst
heating and burning, is not said to be burnt and heated. And, if any one
should say that the self-existent Life lives, or that the self-existent
Light is enlightened, in my view he will not speak correctly, unless,
perhaps, he should say this after another fashion, that the properties of
the caused are abundantly and essentially pre-existent in the causes.


Further also, the most conspicuous fact of all theology—the God-formation of
Jesus amongst us—is both unutterable by every expression and unknown to
every mind, even to the very foremost of the most reverend angels. The fact
indeed that. He took substance as man, we have received as a mystery, but we
do not know in what manner, from virginal bloods, by a different law, beyond
nature, He was formed, and how, with dry feet, having a bodily bulk and
weight of matter, He marched upon the liquid and unstable substance [28] ;
and so, with regard to all the other features of the super-physical
physiology of Jesus. Now, we have elsewhere sufficiently spoken of these
things, and they have been celebrated by our illustrious leader, in his
Theological Elements, in a manner far beyond natural ability—things which
that illustrious man acquired, either from the sacred theologians, or
comprehended from the scientific, search of the Oracles, from manifold
struggles and investigations respecting the same, or was instructed from a
sort of more Divine Inspiration, not only having learnt, but having felt the
pangs of things Divine, and from his sympathy with them, if I may so speak,
having been perfected to their untaught and mystic union and acceptance. And
that we may display, in fewest words, the many and blessed visions of his
most excellent intelligence, the following are the things he says,
concerning the Lord Jesus, in the Theological Elements compiled by him.


From the Theological Elements of the most holy Hierotheus.

Deity of the Lord Jesus,— the Cause and Completing of all, which preserves
the parts concordant with the whole, and is neither part nor whole, and
whole and part, as embracing in Itself everything both part and whole, and
being above and before—is perfect indeed in the imperfect, as source of
perfection, but imperfect in the perfect, as super-perfect, and
pre-perfect—Form producing form, in things without form, as Source of
form—formless in the forms, as above form,—Essence, penetrating without
stain the essences throughout, and superessential, exalted above every
essence—setting bounds to the whole principalities and orders, and
established above every principality and order. It is measure also of things
existing, and age, and above age, and before age—full, in things that need,
super-full in things full, unutterable, unspeakable, above mind, above life,
above essence. It has the supernatural, supernaturally,—the superessential,
superessentially. Hence, since through love towards man, He has come even to
nature, and really became substantial, and the Super-God lived as Man [29]
(may He be merciful with regard to the things we are celebrating, which are
beyond mind and expression), and in these He has the supernatural and
super-substantial, not only in so far as He communicated with us without
alteration and without confusion, suffering no loss as regards His
super-fulness, from His unutterable emptying of Himself—but also, because
the newest of all new things, He was in our physical condition
super-physical—in things substantial, super-substantial, excelling all the
things—of us—from us—above us.


This then is sufficient on these matters, let us now advance to the purpose
of the discourse by unfolding, to the best of our ability, the kindred and
common Names of the Divine distinction. And, in order that we may first
distinctly define everything, in order, we call Divine distinction, as we
have said, the goodly progressions of the Godhead. For, by being given to
all things existing, and pouring forth the whole imparted goods in
abundance, It is distinguished uniformly, and multiplied uniquely, and is
moulded into many from the One, whilst being self-centred. For example,
since Almighty God is superessentially Being, but the Being is bequeathed to
things being, and produces the whole Essences; that One Being is said to be
fashioned in many forms, by the production from Itself of the many beings,
whilst It remains undiminished, and One in the multiplicity, and Unified
during the progression, and complete in the distinction, both by being
superessentially exalted above all beings, and by the unique production of
the whole; and by the un-lessened stream of His undiminished distributions.
Further, being One, and having distributed the One, both to every part and
whole, both to one and to multitude, He is One, as it were,
superessentially, being neither a part of the multitude, nor whole from
parts; and thus is neither one, nor partakes of one, nor has the one. But,
beyond these, He is One, above the one, to things existing—One, and
multitude indivisible, unfilled super-fulness, producing and perfecting and
sustaining every one thing and multitude. Again, by the Deification from
Itself, by the Divine likeness of many who become gods, according to their
several capacity, there seems, and is said to be, a distinction and
multiplication of the One God, but. He is none the less the Supreme God, and
super-God, superessentially One God,—undivided in things divided, unified in
Himself, both unmingled and unmultiplied in the many. And when the common
conductor of ourselves, and of our leader to the Divine gift of light,—he,
who is great in Divine mysteries—the light of the world—had thought out this
in a manner above natural ability,—he speaks as follows, from the
inspiration of God, in his sacred writings—“For, even if there are who are
called gods, whether in heaven or upon earth, as there are gods many and
lords many; but to us there is One God, the Father, from Whom are all
things, and we unto Him,—and One Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all
things, and we, through Him [30] .” For, with regard to things Divine, the
unions overrule the distinctions, and precede them, and are none the less
unified, even after the self-centred and unified distinction. These, the
mutual and common distinctions, or rather the goodly progressions of the
whole Deity, we will endeavour to the best of our ability to celebrate from
the Names of God, which make them known in the Oracles;—first, having laid
down, as we have said, that every beneficent Name of God, to whichever of
the supremely Divine Persons it may be applied, is to be understood with
reference to the whole Supremely Divine wholeness unreservedly.

[17] Matt. xx. 15.

[18] Neh. ix. 20.

[19] Ex. iii. 14.

[20] Rev. i. 8.

[21] Heb. i. 12.

[22] John xv. 26.

[23] John v. 21.

[24] Ib. vi. 63.

[25] 1 Cor. i. 30.

[26] 2 Cor. iii. 17.

[27] The radii.

[28] Letter IV.

[29] Letter IV.

[30] 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.


What is the power of prayer, and concerning the blessed Hierotheus, and
concerning reverence and covenant in the Word of God.


FIRST, with your permission, let us examine the all-perfect Name of
Goodness, which is indicative of the whole progressions of Almighty God,
having invoked the supremely good, and super-good Triad—the Name which
indicates Its whole best Providences. For, we must first be raised up to It,
as Source of good, by our prayers; and by a nearer approach to It, be
initiated as to the all good gifts which are established around It. For It
is indeed present to all, but all are not present to It. But then, when we
have invoked It, by all pure prayers and unpolluted mind, and by our
aptitude towards Divine Union, we also are present to It. For, It is not in
a place, so that It should be absent from a particular place, or should pass
from one to another. But even the statement that It is in all existing
beings, falls short of Its infinitude (which is) above all, and embracing
all. Let us then elevate our very selves by our prayers to the higher ascent
of the Divine and good rays,—as if a luminous chain being suspended from the
celestial heights, and reaching down hither, we, by ever clutching this
upwards, first with one hand, and then with the other, seem indeed to draw
it down, but in reality we do not draw it down, it being both above and
below, but ourselves are carried upwards to the higher splendours of the
luminous rays. Or, as if, after we have embarked on a ship, and are holding
on to the cables reaching from some rock, such as are given out, as it were,
for us to seize, we do not draw the rock to us, but ourselves, in fact, and
the ship, to the rock. Or to take another example, if any one standing on
the ship pushes away the rock by the sea shore, he will do nothing to the
stationary and unmoved rock, but he separates himself from it, and in
proportion as he pushes that away, he is so far hurled from it. Wherefore,
before everything, and especially theology, we must begin with prayer, not
as though we ourselves were drawing the power, which is everywhere and
nowhere present, but as, by our godly reminiscences and invocations,
conducting ourselves to, and making ourselves one with, it.


Perhaps also, this is worthy of apology, that whilst our illustrious leader,
Hierotheus, is compiling his Theological Elements, in a manner above natural
capacity, we, as if those were not sufficient, have composed others, and
this present theological treatise. And yet, if that man had deigned to treat
systematically all the theological treatises, and had gone through the sum
of all theology, by detailed expositions, we should not have gone to such a
height of folly, or stupidity, as to have attempted alone theological
questions, either more lucidly or divinely than he, or to indulge in vain
talk by saying superfluously the same things twice over, and in addition to
do injustice to one, both teacher and friend, and that we, who have been
instructed from his discourses, after Paul the Divine, should filch for our
own glorification his most illustrious contemplation and elucidation. But,
since in fact, he, whilst teaching things divine, in a manner suitable to
presbyters, set forth comprehensive definitions, and such as embraced many
things in one, as were suitable to us, and to as many as with us were
teachers of the newly-initiated souls, commanding us to unfold and
disentangle, by language commensurate with our ability, the comprehensive
and uniform compositions of the most intellectual capacity of that
illustrious man; and you, yourself, have oftentimes urged us to this, and
sent back the very book, as being of transcendent value; for this reason,
then, we too distinguish him as a teacher of perfect and presbyterial
conceptions for those who are above the common people, even as certain
second Oracles, and next to the Anointed of God. But for people, such as we
are, we will transmit things Divine, according to our capacity. For, if
strong meat belongs to the perfect, how great perfection is required that
the same should feed others. Correctly, then, we have affirmed this, that
the self-perceptive vision of the intelligible Oracles, and their
comprehensive teaching, needs presbyterial power; but the science and the
thorough teaching of the reasons which lead to this, fittingly belong to
those purified and hallowed persons placed in a subordinate position. And
yet, we have insisted upon this with the utmost care, that, as regards the
things that have been thoroughly investigated by him, our divine leader,
with an accurate elucidation, we should not, in any way, handle the same
tautologically, for the same elucidation of the Divine text expounded by
him. For, amongst our inspired hierarchs (when both we, as you know, and
yourself, and many of our holy brethren, were gathered together to the
depositing of the Life-springing and God-receptive body, and when there were
present also James, the brother of God, and Peter, the foremost and most
honoured pinnacle of the Theologians, when it was determined after the
depositing, that every one of the hierarchs should celebrate, as each was
capable, the Omnipotent Goodness of the supremely Divine Weakness), he,
after the Theologians, surpassed, as you know, all the other divine
instructors, being wholly entranced, wholly raised from himself, and
experiencing the pain of his fellowship with the things celebrated, and was
regarded as an inspired and divine Psalmist by all, by whom he was heard and
seen and known, and not known. And why should I say anything to thee
concerning the things there divinely spoken? For, if I do not forget myself,
many a time do I remember to have heard from thee certain portions of those
inspired songs of praise; such was thy zeal, not cursorily, to pursue things


But to pass over the mystical things there, both as forbidden to the
multitude and as known to thee, when it was necessary to communicate to the
multitude, and to bring as many as possible to the sacred knowledge amongst
ourselves, he so excelled the majority of sacred teachers, both by use of
time and purity of mind, and accuracy of demonstrations, and by his other
sacred discourses, that we should scarcely have dared to look so great a sun
straight in the face. For we are thus far conscious in ourselves, and know,
that we may neither advance to understand sufficiently the intelligible of
Divine things, nor to express and declare the things spoken of the divine
knowledge. For, being far removed from the skill of those divine men, as
regards theological truth, we are so inferior that we should have, through
excessive reverence, entirely come to this—neither to hear nor to speak
anything respecting divine philosophy, unless we had grasped in our mind,
that we must not neglect the knowledge of things divine received by us. And
to this we were persuaded, not only by the innate aspirations of the minds
which always lovingly cling to the permitted contemplation of the
supernatural, but also by the most excellent order itself of the Divine
institutions, which prohibits us, on the one hand, from much inquisition
into things above us, as above our degree, and as unattainable; yet, on the
other hand, persistently urges us to graciously impart to others also
whatever is permitted and given to us to learn. Yielding then to these
considerations, and neither shirking nor flinching from the attainable
discovery of things Divine, but also not bearing to leave unassisted those
who are unable to contemplate things too high for us, we have brought
ourselves to composition, not daring indeed to introduce anything new, but
by more easy and more detailed expositions to disentangle and elucidate the
things spoken by the Hierotheus indeed.


Concerning Good, Light, Beauty, Love, Ecstasy, Jealousy, and that the Evil
is neither existent, nor from existent, nor in things being.


BE it so then. Let us come to the appellation “Good,” already mentioned in
our discourse, which the Theologians ascribe pre-eminently and exclusively
to the super-Divine Deity, as I conjecture, by calling the supremely Divine
Subsistence, Goodness; and because the Good, as essential Good, by Its
being, extends Its Goodness to all things that be.

For, even as our sun—not as calculating or choosing, but by its very being,
enlightens all things able to partake of its light in their own degree—so
too the Good—as superior to a sun, as the archetype par excellence, is above
an obscure image—by Its very existence sends to all things that be, the rays
of Its whole goodness, according to their capacity. By reason of these
(rays) subsisted all the intelligible and intelligent essences and powers
and energies. By reason of these they are, and have their life, continuous
and undiminished, purified from all corruption and death and matter, and
generation; and separated from the unstable and fluctuating and vacillating
mutability, and are conceived of as incorporeal and immaterial, and as minds
they think in a manner supermundane, and are illuminated as to the reasons
of things, in a manner peculiar to themselves; and they again convey to
their kindred spirits things appropriate to them; and they have their
abiding from Goodness; and thence comes to them stability and consistence
and protection, and sanctuary of good things; and whilst aspiring to It,
they have both being and good being; and being conformed to It, as is
attainable, they are both patterns of good, and impart to those after them,
as the Divine Law directs, the gifts which have passed through to themselves
from the Good.


Thence come to them the supermundane
orders, the unions amongst themselves, the mutual penetrations, the
unconfused distinctions, the powers elevating the inferior to the superior,
the providences of the more exalted for those below them; the guardings of
things pertaining to each power; and unbroken convolutions around
themselves; the identities and sublimities around the aspiration after the
Good; and whatever is said in our Treatise concerning the angelic properties
and orders. Further also, whatever things belong to the heavenly Hierarchy,
the purifications befitting angels, the supermundane illuminations, and the
things perfecting the whole angelic perfection, are from the all-creative
and fontal Goodness; from which was given to them the form of Goodness, and
the revealing in themselves the hidden Goodness, and that angels are, as it
were, heralds of the Divine silence, and project, as it were, luminous
lights revealing Him Who is in secret. Further, after these—the sacred and
holy minds—the souls, and whatever is good in souls is by reason of the
super-good Goodness—the fact that they are intellectual—that they have
essential life—indestructible—the very being itself—and that they are able,
whilst elevated themselves to the angelic lives, to be conducted by them as
good guides to the good Origin of all good things, and to become partakers
of the illuminations, thence bubbling forth, according to the capacity of
each, and to participate in the goodlike gift, as they are able, and
whatever else we have enumerated in our Treatise concerning the soul. But
also, if one may be permitted to speak of the irrational souls, or living
creatures, such as cleave the air, and such as walk on earth, and such as
creep along earth, and those whose life is in waters, or amphibious, and
such as live concealed under earth, and burrow within it, and in one word,
such as have the sensible soul or life, even all these have their soul and
life, by reason of the Good. Moreover, all plants have their growing and
moving life from the Good; and even soulless and lifeless substance is by
reason of the Good, and by reason of It, has inherited its substantial


But, if the Good is above all things being, as indeed it is, and formulates
the formless, even in Itself alone, both the non-essential is a pre-eminence
of essence, and the non-living is a superior life, and the mindless a
superior wisdom, and whatever is in the Good is of a superlative formation
of the formless, and if one may venture to say so, even the nonexistent
itself aspires to the Good above all things existing, and struggles somehow
to be even itself in the Good,—the really Superessential—to the exclusion of
all things.


But what slipped from our view in the midst of our discourse, the Good is
Cause of the celestial movements in their commencements and terminations, of
their not increasing, not diminishing, and completely changeless, course
[31] , and of the noiseless movements, if one may so speak, of the vast
celestial transit, and of the astral orders, and the beauties and lights,
and stabilities, and the progressive swift motion of certain stars, and of
the periodical return of the two luminaries, which the Oracles call
“great,” from the same to the same quarter, after which our days and nights
being marked, and months and years being measured, mark and number and
arrange and comprehend the circular movements of time and things temporal.
But, what would any one say of the very ray of the sun? For the light is
from the Good, and an image of the Goodness, wherefore also the Good is
celebrated under the name of Light; as in a portrait the original is
manifested. For, as the goodness of the Deity, beyond all, permeates from
the highest and most honoured substances even to the lowest, and yet is
above all, neither the foremost outstripping its superiority, nor the things
below eluding its grasp, but it both enlightens all that are capable, and
forms and enlivens, and grasps, and perfects, and is measure of things
existing, and age, and number, and order, and grasp, and cause, and end; so,
too, the brilliant likeness of the Divine Goodness, this our great sun,
wholly bright and ever luminous, as a most distant echo of the Good, both
enlightens whatever is capable of participating in it, and possesses the
light in the highest degree of purity, unfolding to the visible universe,
above and beneath, the splendours of its own rays, and if anything does not
participate in them, this is not owing to the inertness or deficiency of its
distribution of light, but is owing to the inaptitude for light-reception of
the things which do not unfold themselves for the participation of light. No
doubt the ray passing over many things in such condition, enlightens the
things after them, and there is no visible thing which it does not reach,
with the surpassing greatness of its own splendour. Further also, it
contributes to the generation of sensible bodies, and moves them to life,
and nourishes, and increases, and perfects, and purifies and renews; and the
light is both measure and number of hours, days, and all our time. For it is
the light itself, even though it was then without form, which the divine
Moses declared to have fixed that first Triad [32] of our days. And, just as
Goodness turns all things to Itself, and is chief collector of things
scattered, as One-springing and One-making Deity, and all things aspire to
It, as Source and Bond and End, and it is the Good, as the Oracles say, from
Which all things subsisted, and are being brought into being by an
all-perfect Cause; and in Which all things consisted, as guarded and
governed in an all-controlling route; and to Which all things are turned, as
to their own proper end; and to Which all aspire —the intellectual and
rational indeed, through knowledge, and the sensible through the senses, and
those bereft of sensible perception by the innate movement of the aspiration
after life, and those without life, and merely being, by their aptitude for
mere substantial participation; after the same method of its illustrious
original, the light also collects and turns to itself all things
existing—things with sight —things with motion—things enlightened—things
heated—things wholly held together by its brilliant splendours—whence also,
Helios, because it makes all things altogether (aollē), and collects things
scattered. And all creatures, endowed with sensible perceptions, aspire to
it, as aspiring either to see, or to be moved and enlightened, and heated,
and to be wholly held together by the light. By no means do I affirm, after
the statement of antiquity, that as being God and Creator of the universe,
the sun, by itself, governs the luminous world, but that the invisible
things of God are clearly seen from the foundation of the world, being
understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Deity.


But we have spoken of these things in our Symbolical Theology. Let us now
then celebrate the spiritual Name of Light, under Which we contemplate the
Good, and declare that He, the Good, is called spiritual [33] Light, on the
ground that He fills every supercelestial mind with spiritual light, and
expels all ignorance and error from all souls in which they may be, and
imparts to them all sacred light, and cleanses their mental vision from the
mist which envelops them, from ignorance, and stirs up and unfolds those
enclosed by the great weight of darkness, and imparts, at first, a measured
radiance; then, whilst they taste, as it were, the light, and desire it
more, more fully gives Itself, and more abundantly enlightens them, because
“they have loved much,” and ever elevates them to things in advance, as
befits the analogy of each for aspiration.


The Good then above every light is called spiritual Light, as fontal ray,
and stream of light welling over, shining upon every mind, above, around
[34] , and in the world, from its fulness, and renewing their whole mental
powers, and embracing them all by its over-shadowing; and being above all by
its exaltation; and in one word, by embracing and having previously and
pre-eminently the whole sovereignty of the light-dispensing faculty, as
being source of light and above all light, and by comprehending in itself
all things intellectual, and all things rational, and making them one
altogether. For as ignorance puts asunder those who have gone astray, so the
presence of the spiritual light is collective and unifying of those being
enlightened, both perfecting and further turning them towards the true
Being, by turning them from the many notions and collecting the various
views, or, to speak more correctly, fancies, into one true, pure and uniform
knowledge, and by filling them with light, one and unifying.


This Good is celebrated by the sacred theologians, both as beautiful and as
Beauty, and as Love, and as Beloved; and all the other Divine Names which
beseem the beautifying and highly-favoured comeliness. But the beautiful and
Beauty are not to be divided, as regards the Cause which has embraced the
whole in one. For, with regard to all created things, by dividing them into
participations and participants, we call beautiful that which participates
in Beauty; but beauty, the participation of the beautifying Cause of all the
beautiful things. But, the superessential Beautiful is called Beauty, on
account of the beauty communicated from Itself to all beautiful things, in a
manner appropriate to each, and as Cause of the good harmony and brightness
of all things which flashes like light to all the beautifying distributions
of its fontal ray, and as calling (kaloun) all things to Itself (whence also
it is called Beauty) (kallos), and as collecting all in all to Itself. (And
it is called) Beautiful, as (being) at once beautiful and super-beautiful,
and always being under the same conditions and in the same manner beautiful,
and neither coming into being nor perishing, neither waxing nor waning;
neither in this beautiful, nor in that ugly, nor at one time beautiful, and
at another not; nor in relation to one thing beautiful, and in relation to
another ugly, nor here, and not there, as being beautiful to some, and not
beautiful to others; but as Itself, in Itself, with Itself, uniform, always
being beautiful, and as having beforehand in Itself pre-eminently the fontal
beauty of everything beautiful. For, by the simplex and supernatural nature
of all beautiful things, all beauty, and everything beautiful, pre-existed
uniquely as to Cause. From this Beautiful (comes) being to all existing
things,—that each is beautiful in its own proper order; and by reason of the
Beautiful are the adaptations of all things, and friendships, and
inter-communions, and by the Beautiful all things are made one, and the
Beautiful is origin of all things, as a creating Cause, both by moving the
whole and holding it together by the love of its own peculiar Beauty; and
end of all things, and beloved, as final Cause (for all things exist for the
sake of the Beautiful) and exemplary (Cause), because all things are
determined according to It. Wherefore, also, the Beautiful is identical with
the Good, because all things aspire to the Beautiful and Good, on every
account, and there is no existing thing which does not participate in the
Beautiful and the Good. Yea, reason will dare to say even this, that even
the non-existing participates in the Beautiful and Good. For then even it is
beautiful and good, when in God it is celebrated superessentially to the
exclusion of all. This, the one Good and Beautiful, is uniquely Cause of all
the many things beautiful and good. From this are all the substantial
beginnings of things existing, the unions, the distinctions, the identities,
the diversities, the similarities, the dissimilarities, the communions of
the contraries, the commingling of things unified, the providences of the
superior, the mutual cohesions of those of the same rank; the attentions of
the more needy, the protecting and immoveable abidings and stabilities of
their whole selves and, on the other hand, the communions of all things
among all, in a manner peculiar to each, and adaptations and unmingled
friendships and harmonies of the whole, the blendings in the whole, and the
undissolved connections of existing things, the never-failing successions of
the generations, all rests and movements, of the minds, of the souls, of the
bodies. For, that which is established above every rest, and every movement,
and moves each thing in the law of its own being to its proper movement, is
a rest and movement to all.


Now, the divine minds [35] are said to be moved circularly indeed, by being
united to the illuminations of the Beautiful and Good, without beginning and
without end; but in a direct line, whenever they advance to the succour of a
subordinate, by accomplishing all things directly; but spirally, because
even in providing for the more indigent, they remain fixedly, in identity,
around the good and beautiful Cause of their identity, ceaselessly dancing


Further, there is a movement of soul, circular indeed,—the entrance into
itself from things without, and the unified convolution of its intellectual
powers, bequeathing to it inerrancy, as it were, in a sort of circle, and
turning and collecting itself, from the many things without, first to
itself, then, as having become single, uniting with the uniquely unified
powers, and thus conducting to the Beautiful and Good, which is above all
things being, and One and the Same, and without beginning and without end.
But a soul is moved spirally, in so far as it is illuminated, as to the
divine kinds of knowledge, in a manner proper to itself, not intuitively and
at once, but logically and discursively; and, as it were, by mingled and
relative operations; but in a straight line, when, not entering into itself,
and being moved by unique intuition (for this, as I said, is the circular),
but advancing to things around itself, and from things without, it is, as it
were, conducted from certain symbols, varied and multiplied, to the simple
and unified contemplations.


Of these three motions then in everything perceptible here below, and much
more of the abidings and repose and fixity of each, the Beautiful and Good,
which is above all repose and movement, is Cause and Bond and End; by reason
of which, and from which, and in which, and towards which, and for sake of
which, is every repose and movement. For, both from It and through It is
both Essence and every life, and both of mind and soul and every nature, the
minutiae, the equalities, the magnitudes, all the standards and the
analogies of beings, and harmonies and compositions; the entireties, the
parts, every one thing, and multitude, the connections of parts, the unions
of every multitude, the perfections of the entireties, the quality, the
weight, the size, the infinitude, the compounds, the distinctions, every
infinitude, every term, all the bounds, the orders, the pre-eminences, the
elements, the forms, every essence, every power, every energy, every
condition, every sensible perception, every reason, every conception, every
contact, every science, every union, and in one word, all things existing
are from the Beautiful and Good, and in the Beautiful and Good, and turn
themselves to the Beautiful and Good.

Moreover, all things whatever, which are and come to being, are and come to
being by reason of the Beautiful and Good; and to It all things look, and by
It are moved and held together, and for the sake of It, and by reason of It,
and in It, is every source exemplary, final, creative, formative, elemental,
and in one word, every beginning, every bond, every term, or to speak
summarily, all things existing are from the Beautiful and Good; and all
things non-existing are superessentially in the Beautiful and Good; and it
is of all, beginning and term, above beginning and above term, because from
It, and through It, and in It, and to It, are all things, as says the Sacred

By all things, then, the Beautiful and Good is desired and beloved and
cherished; and, by reason of It, and for the sake of It, the less love the
greater suppliantly; and those of the same rank, their fellows brotherly;
and the greater, the less considerately; and these severally love the things
of themselves continuously; and all things by aspiring to the Beautiful and
Good, do and wish all things whatever they do and wish. Further, it may be
boldly said with truth, that even the very Author of all things, by reason
of overflowing Goodness, loves all, makes all, perfects all, sustains all,
attracts all; and even the Divine Love is Good of Good, by reason of the
Good. For Love itself, the benefactor of things that be, pre-existing
overflowingly in the Good, did not permit itself to remain unproductive in
itself, but moved itself to creation [36] , as befits the overflow which is
generative of all.


And let no one fancy that we honour the Name of Love beyond the Oracles, for
it is, in my opinion, irrational and stupid not to cling to the force of the
meaning, but to the mere words; and this is not the characteristic of those
who have wished to comprehend things Divine, but of those who receive empty
sounds and keep the same just at the ears from passing through from outside,
and are not willing to know what such a word signifies, and in what way one
ought to distinctly represent it, through other words of the same force and
more explanatory, but who specially affect sounds and signs without meaning,
and syllables, and words unknown, which do not pass through to the mental
part of their soul, but buzz without, around their lips and ears, as though
it were not permitted to signify the number four, by twice two, or straight
lines by direct lines, or motherland by fatherland, or any other, which
signify the self-same thing, by many parts of speech.

We ought to know, according to the correct account, that we use sounds, and
syllables, and phrases, and descriptions, and words, on account of the
sensible perceptions; since when our soul is moved by the intellectual
energies to the things contemplated, the sensible perceptions by aid of
sensible objects are superfluous; just as also the intellectual powers, when
the soul, having become godlike, throws itself, through a union beyond
knowledge, against the rays of the unapproachable light, by sightless
efforts. But, when the mind strives to be moved upwards, through objects of
sense, to contemplative conceptions, the clearer interpretations are
altogether preferable to the sensible perceptions, and the more definite
descriptions are things more distinct than things seen; since when objects
near are not made clear to the sensible perceptions, neither will these
perceptions be well able to present the things perceived to the mind. But
that we may not seem, in speaking thus, to be pushing aside the Divine
Oracles, let those who libel the Name of Love (Erōtos) hear them. “Be in
love with It,” they say, “and It will keep thee—Rejoice over It, and It will
exalt thee—Honour It, in order that It may encompass thee,”—and whatever
else is sung respecting Love, in the Word of God.


And yet it seemed to some of our sacred expounders that the Name of Love is
more Divine than that of loving-kindness (agapēs). But even the Divine
Ignatius [37] writes, “my own Love (erōs) is crucified;” and in the
introductions to the Oracles you will find a certain One saying of the
Divine Wisdom, “1 became enamoured of her Beauty.” So that we, certainly,
need not be afraid of this Name of Love, nor let any alarming statement
about it terrify us. For the theologians seem to me to treat as equivalent
the name of Loving-kindness, and that of Love; and on this ground, to
attribute, by preference, the veritable Love, to things Divine, because of
the misplaced prejudice of such men as these. For, since the veritable Love
is sung of in a sense befitting God, not by us only, but also by the Oracles
themselves, the multitude, not having comprehended the Oneness of the Divine
Name of Love, fell away, as might be expected of them, to the divided and
corporeal and sundered, seeing it is not a real love, but a shadow, or
rather a falling from the veritable Love. For the Oneness of the Divine and
one Love is incomprehensible to the multitude, wherefore also, as seeming a
very hard name to the multitude, it is assigned to the Divine Wisdom, for
the purpose of leading back and restoring them to the knowledge of the
veritable Love; and for their liberation from the difficulty respecting it.
And again, as regards ourselves, where it happened often that men of an
earthly character imagined something out of place, (there is used) what
appears more euphonius. A certain one says, “Thy affection fell upon me, as
the affection of the women.” For those who have rightly listened to things
Divine, the name of Loving-kindness and of Love is placed by the holy
theologians in the same category throughout the Divine revelations, and this
is of a power unifying, and binding together, and mingling pre-eminently in
the Beautiful and Good; pre-existing by reason of the beautiful and good,
and imparted from the beautiful and good, by reason of the Beautiful and
Good; and sustaining things of the same rank, within their mutual coherence,
but moving the first to forethought for the inferior, and attaching the
inferior to the superior by respect.


But Divine Love is extatic, not permitting (any) to be lovers of themselves,
but of those beloved. They shew this too, the superior by becoming mindful
of the inferior; and the equals by their mutual coherence; and the inferior,
by a more divine respect towards things superior. Wherefore also, Paul the
Great, when possessed by the Divine Love, and participating in its extatic
power, says with inspired lips, “I live no longer, but Christ lives in
me.” As a true lover, and beside himself, as he says, to Almighty God, and
not living the life of himself, but the life of the Beloved, as a life
excessively esteemed. One might make bold to say even this, on behalf of
truth, that the very Author of all things, by the beautiful and good love of
everything, through an overflow of His loving goodness, becomes out of
Himself, by His providences for all existing things, and is, as it were,
cozened by goodness and affection and love, and is led down from the
Eminence above all, and surpassing all, to being in all, as befits an
extatic superessential power centred in Himself. Wherefore, those skilled in
Divine things call Him even Jealous, as (being) that vast good Love towards
all beings, and as rousing His loving inclination to jealousy,—and as
proclaiming Himself Jealous—to Whom the things desired are objects of
jealousy, and as though the objects of His providential care were objects of
jealousy for Him. And, in short, the lovable is of the Beautiful and Good,
and Love preexisted both in the Beautiful and Good, and on account of the
Beautiful and Good, is and takes Being.


But what do the theologians mean when at one time they call Him Love, and
Loving-kindness, and at another, Loved and Esteemed? For, of the one, He is
Author and, as it were, Producer and Father; but the other, He Himself is;
and by one He is moved, but by the other He moves; or (when they say), that
He Himself is Procurer and Mover of Himself and by Himself. In this sense,
they call Him esteemed and loved, as Beautiful and Good: but again Love and
Loving-kindness, as being at once moving and conducting Power to
Himself;—the alone—self Beautiful and Good, by reason of Itself, and, being,
as it were, a manifestation of Itself through Itself, and a good Progression
of the surpassing union, and a loving Movement, simplex, self-moved,
self-operating, pre-existing in the Good, and from the Good bubbling forth
to things existing, and again returning to the Good, in which also the
Divine Love indicates distinctly Its own unending and unbeginning, as it
were a sort of everlasting circle whirling round in unerring combination, by
reason of the Good, from the Good, and in the Good, and to the Good, and
ever advancing and remaining and returning in the same and throughout the
same. And these things our illustrious initiator divinely set forth
throughout His Hymns of Love, of which we may appropriately make mention,
and, as it were, place as a certain sacred chapter to our treatise
concerning Love.


Extract from the “Hymns of Love” by the most holy Hierotheus:—

Love, whether we speak of Divine, or Angelic, or intelligent, or psychical,
or physical, let us regard as a certain unifying and combining power, moving
the superior to forethought for the inferior, and the equals to a mutual
fellowship, and lastly, the inferior to respect towards the higher and


Of the same, from the same Erotic Hymns.

Since we have arranged the many loves from the one, by telling, in due
order, what are the kinds of knowledge and powers of the mundane and
supermundane loves; over which, according to the defined purpose of the
discourse, the orders and ranks of the mental and intelligible loves
preside; next after [38] which are placed the self-existent intelligible and
divine, over the really beautiful loves there which have been appropriately
celebrated by us; now, on the other hand, by restoring all back to the One
and enfolded Love, and Father of them all, let us collect and gather them
together from the many, by contracting It into two Powers entirely lovable,
over which rules and precedes altogether the Cause, resistless from Its
universal Love beyond all, and to which is elevated, according to the nature
of each severally, the whole love from all existing things.


Of the same, from the same Hymns of Love.

Come then, whilst collecting these again into one, let us say, that it is a
certain simplex power, which of itself moves to a sort of unifying
combination from the Good, to the lowest of things existing, and from that
again in due order, circling round again, through all to the Good from
Itself, and through Itself and by Itself, and rolling back to Itself always
in the same way.


And yet, any one might say, “if the Beautiful and Good is beloved and
desired, and esteemed by all (for even that which is non-existing desires
It, as we have said, and struggles how to be in It; and Itself is the
form-giving, even of things without form, and by It alone, even the
non-existing is said to be, and is superessentially)—“How is it that the
host of demons do not desire the Beautiful and Good, but, through their
earthly proclivities, having fallen away from the angelic identity, as
regards the desire of the Good, have become cause of all evils both to
themselves and to all the others who are said to be corrupted? and why, in
short, when the tribes of demons have been brought into being from the Good,
are they not like the Good? or how, after being a good production from the
Good, were they changed? and what is that which depraved them, and in short,
what is evil? and from what source did it spring? and in which of things
existing is it? and how did He, Who is Good, will to bring it into being?
and how, when He willed it, was He able? And if evil is from another cause,
what other cause is there for things existing, beside the Good? Further,
how, when there is a Providence, is there evil, either coming into existence
at all, or not destroyed? And how does any existing thing desire it, in
comparison with the Good?


Such a statement as this might be alleged by way of objection. We, however,
on our part, will pray the objector to look to the truth of the facts, and
will make bold to say this first. The Evil is not from the Good, and if it
is from the Good, it is not the Evil. For, it is not the nature of fire to
make cold, nor of good to bring into being things not good; and if all
things that be are from the Good (for to produce and to preserve is natural
to the Good, but to destroy and to dissolve, to the Evil), there is no
existing thing from the Evil, nor will the Evil itself be, if it should be
evil even to itself. And, if it be not so, the Evil is not altogether evil,
but has some portion of the Good, in consequence of which it wholly is. Now,
if the things existing desire the Beautiful and Good, and whatever they do,
they do for the sake of that which seems good, and every purpose of things
existing has the Good for its beginning and end (for nothing looking to the
Evil qua evil, does what it does), how shall the Evil be in things existing;
or, wholly being, how has it been seduced from such a good yearning? Also if
all the things existing are from the Good, and the Good is above all things
existing, then there is existing in the Good even the non-existing; but the
Evil is not existing; and, if this be not the case, it is not altogether
evil, nor non-existing, for the absolutely non-existing will be nothing,
unless it should be spoken of as in the Good superessentially. The Good,
then, will be fixed far above both the absolutely existing and the
non-existing; but the Evil is neither in things existing, nor in things
non-existing, but, being further distant from the Good than the non-existing
itself, it is alien and more unsubstantial. Where then is the Evil? some one
may perchance say. For if the Evil is not,—virtue and vice are the same,
both universally and particularly. Or, not even that which opposes itself to
virtue will be evil, and yet sobriety and license, and righteousness and
unrighteousness, are contraries. And I, by no means, speak in reference to
the just and unjust man, and the temperate and intemperate man; but also,
long before the difference between the just man and his opposite is made
manifest externally, in the very soul itself the vices stand altogether
apart from the virtues, and the passions rebel against the reason; and from
this we must grant some evil contrary to the Good. For the Good is not
contrary to Itself, but as the product from one Source and one Cause, It
rejoices in fellowship and unity and friendship. Nor yet is the lesser good
opposed to the greater, for neither is the less heat or cold opposed to the
greater. The Evil [40] then is in things existing, and is existing, and is
opposed, and is in opposition to, the Good; and if it is the destruction of
things existing, this does not expel the Evil from existence; but it will
be, both itself existing, and generator of things existing. Does not
frequently the destruction of one become birth of another? and the Evil will
be contributing to the completion of the whole, and supplying through itself
non-imperfection to the whole.


Now to all this true reason will answer, that the Evil qua evil makes no
single essence or birth, but only, as far as it can, pollutes and destroys
the subsistence of things existing. But, if any one says, that it is
productive of being, and that by destruction of one it gives birth to
another, we must truly answer, that not qua destruction it gives birth, but
qua destruction and evil, it destroys and pollutes only, but it becomes
birth and essence, by reason of the Good; and the Evil will be destruction
indeed, by reason of itself; but producer of birth by reason of the Good;
and qua evil, it is neither existing, nor productive of things existing;
but, by reason of the Good, it is both existing and good-existing, and
productive of things good. Yea, rather (for neither will the same by itself
be both good and evil, nor the self-same power be of itself destruction and
birth—neither as self-acting power, nor as self-acting destruction), the
absolutely Evil is neither existing nor good, nor generative, nor productive
of things being and good; but the Good in whatever things it may be
perfectly engendered, makes them perfect and pure, and thoroughly good,—but
the things which partake of it in a less degree are both imperfectly good,
and impure, by reason of the lack of the Good. And (thus) the Evil
altogether, is not, nor is good, nor good producing; but that which
approaches more or less near the Good will be proportionately good; since
the All-perfect Goodness, in passing through all, not only passes to the
All-good beings around Itself, but extends Itself to the most remote, by
being present to some thoroughly, to others subordinately, but to the rest,
in the most remote degree, as each existing thing is able to participate in
It. And some things, indeed, participate in the Good entirely, whilst others
are deprived of It, in a more or less degree, but others possess a more
obscure participation in the Good; and to the rest, the Good is present as a
most distant echo. For if the Good were not present according to the
capacity of each, the most Divine and honoured would occupy the rank of the
lowest. And how were it possible that all should participate in the Good
uniformly, when not all are in the same way adapted to its whole

Now, this is the exceeding greatness of the power of the Good, that It
empowers, both things deprived, and the deprivation of Itself, with a view
to the entire participation of itself. And, if one must make bold to speak
the truth, even the things fighting against It, both are, and are able to
fight, by Its power. Yea rather, in order that I may speak summarily, all
things which are, in so far as they are, both are good, and from the Good;
but, in so far as they are deprived of the Good, are neither good, nor do
they exist. For, even with regard to the other conditions, such as heat or
cold, there are things which have been heated, and when the heat has
departed from them, many of them are deprived both of life and intelligence
(now Almighty God is outside essence, and is, superessentially), and, in one
word, with regard to the rest, even when the condition has departed, or has
not become completely developed, things exist, and are able to subsist; but
that which is every way deprived of the Good, in no way or manner ever was,
or is, or will be, nor is able to be. For example, the licentious man, even
if he have been deprived of the Good, as regards his irrational lust, in
this respect he neither is, nor desires realities, but nevertheless he
participates in the Good, in his very obscure echo of union and friendship.
And, even Anger participates in the Good, by the very movement and desire to
direct and turn the seeming evils to the seeming good. And the very man, who
desires the very worst life, as wholly desirous of life and that which seems
best to him, by the very fact of desiring, and desiring life, and looking to
a best life, participates in the Good. And, if you should entirely take away
the Good, there will be neither essence, nor life, nor yearning, nor
movement, nor anything else. So that the fact, that birth is born from
destruction, is not a power of evil, but a presence of a lesser good, even
as disease is a defect of order, not total—for, if this should be, not even
the disease itself will continue to exist, but the disease remains and is,
by having the lowest possible order of essence, and in this continues to
exist as a parasite. For that which is altogether deprived of the Good, is
neither existing, nor in things existing; but the compound, by reason of the
Good in things existing, and in consequence of this in things existing, is
also existing in so far as it participates in the Good. Yea rather, all
things existing will so far be, more or less, as they participate in the
Good; for, even as respects the self-existing Being, that which in no ways
is at all, will not be at all; but that which partially is, but partially is
not, in so far as it has fallen from the ever Being, is not; but so far as
it has participated in the Being, so far it is, and its whole being, and its
non-being, is sustained and preserved. And the Evil,—that which has
altogether fallen from the Good—will be good, neither in the more nor in the
less; but the partially good, and partially not good, fight no doubt against
a certain good, but not against the whole Good, and, even it is sustained by
the participation of the Good, and the Good gives essence even to the
privation of Itself, wholly by the participation of Itself; for, when the
Good has entirely departed, there will be neither anything altogether good,
nor compound, nor absolute evil. For, if the Evil is an imperfect good,
(then) by the entire absence of the Good, both the imperfect and the perfect
Good will be absent; and then only will be, and be seen, the Evil, when on
the one hand, it is an evil to those things to which it was opposed, and, on
the other, is expelled from other things on account of their goodness. For,
it is impossible that the same things, under the same conditions in every
respect, should fight against each other. The Evil then is not an actual


But neither is the Evil in things existing. For, if all things existing are
from the Good, and the Good is in all things existing, and embraces all,
either the Evil will not be in things existing, or it will be in the Good;
and certainly it will not be in the Good, for neither is cold in fire, nor
to do evil in Him, Who turns even the evil to good. But, if it shall be, how
will the Evil be in the Good? If forsooth, from Itself, it is absurd and
impossible. For it is not possible, as the infallibility of the Oracles
affirms, that a “good tree should bring forth evil fruits,” nor certainly,
vice versa. But, if not from Itself, it is evident that it will be from
another source and cause. For, either the Evil will be from the Good, or the
Good from the Evil; or, if this be not possible, both the Good and the Evil
will be from another source and cause, for no dual is source, but a Unit
will be source of every dual. Further, it is absurd that two entirely
contraries should proceed and be from one and the same, and that the
self-same source should be, not simplex and unique, but divided and double,
and contrary to itself, and be changed; and certainly it is not possible
that there should be two contrary sources of things existing, and that these
should be contending in each other, and in the whole. For, if this were
granted, even Almighty God will not be in repose, nor free from disquietude,
if there were indeed something bringing disturbance even to Him. Then,
everything will be in disorder, and always fighting; and yet the Good
distributes friendship to all existing things, and is celebrated by the holy
theologians, both as very Peace, and Giver of Peace. Wherefore, things good
are both friendly and harmonious, every one, and products of one life, and
marshalled to one good; and kind, and similar, and affable to each other. So
that the Evil is not in God, and the Evil is not inspired by God. But
neither is the Evil from God, for, either He is not good, or He does good,
and produces good things; and, not once in a way, and some; and at another
time not, and not all; for this would argue transition and change, even as
regards the very Divinest thing of all, the Cause. But, if in God, the Good
is sustaining essence, God, when changing from the Good, will be sometimes
Being, and sometimes not Being. But, if He has the Good by participation, He
will then have it from another; and sometimes He will have it, and sometimes
not. The Evil, then, is not from God, nor in God, neither absolutely nor


But neither is the Evil in Angels; for if the good-like angel proclaims the
goodness of God, being by participation in a secondary degree that which the
Announced is in the first degree as Cause, the Angel is a likeness of
Almighty God—a manifestation of the unmanifested light—a mirror
untarnished—most transparent—without flaw—pure—without spot— receiving, if I
may so speak, the full beauty of the Good-stamped likeness of God—and
without stain, shedding forth undefiledly in itself, so far as is possible,
the goodness of the Silence, which dwells in innermost shrines. The Evil,
then, is not even in Angels. But by punishing sinners are they evil? By this
rule, then, the punishers of transgressors are evil, and those of the
priests who shut out the profane from the Divine Mysteries. And yet, the
being punished is not an evil, but the becoming worthy of punishment; nor
the being deservedly expelled from Holy things, but the becoming accursed of
God, and unholy and unfit for things un-defiled.


But, neither are the demons evil by nature; for, if they are evil by nature,
neither are they from the Good, nor amongst things existing; nor, in fact,
did they change from good, being by nature, and always, evil. Then, are they
evil to themselves or to others? If to themselves, they also destroy
themselves; but if to others, how destroying, or what destroying?—Essence,
or power, or energy? If indeed Essence, in the first place, it is not
contrary to nature; for they do not destroy things indestructible by nature,
but things receptive of destruction. Then, neither is this an evil for every
one, and in every case; but, not even any existing thing is destroyed, in so
far as it is essence and nature, but by the defect of nature’s order, the
principle of harmony and proportion lacks the power to remain as it was. But
the lack of strength is not complete, for the complete lack of power takes
away even the disease and the subject; and such a disease will be even a
destruction of itself; so that, such a thing is not an evil, but a defective
good, for that which has no part of the Good will not be amongst things
which exist. And with regard to the destruction of power and energy the
principle is the same. Then, how are the demons, seeing they come into being
from God, evil? For the Good brings forth and sustains good things. Yet they
are called evil, some one may say. But not as they are (for they are from
the Good, and obtained a good being), but, as they are not, by not having
had strength, as the Oracles affirm, “to keep their first estate.” For in
what, tell me, do we affirm that the demons become evil, except in the
ceasing in the habit and energy for good things Divine? Otherwise, if the
demons are evil by nature, they are always evil; yet evil is unstable.
Therefore, if they are always in the same condition, they are not evil; for
to be ever the same is a characteristic of the Good. But, if they are not
always evil, they are not evil by nature, but by wavering from the angelic
good qualities. And they are not altogether without part in the good, in so
far as they both are, and live and think, and in one word—as there is a sort
of movement of aspiration in them. But they are said to be evil, by reason
of their weakness as regards their action according to nature. The evil
then, in them, is a turning aside and a stepping out of things befitting
themselves, and a missing of aim, and imperfection and impotence, and a
weakness and departure, and falling away from the power which preserves
their integrity in them. Otherwise, what is evil in demons? An irrational
anger—a senseless desire—a headlong fancy.—But these, even if they are in
demons, are not altogether, nor in every respect, nor in themselves alone,
evils. For even with regard to other living creatures, not the possession of
these, but the loss, is both destruction to the creature, and an evil. But
the possession saves, and makes to be, the nature of the living creature
which possesses them. The tribe of demons then is not evil, so far as it is
according to nature, but so far as it is not; and the whole good which was
given to them was not changed, but themselves fell from the whole good
given. And the angelic gifts which were given to them, we by no means affirm
that they were changed, but they exist, and are complete, and all luminous,
although the demons themselves do not see, through having blunted their
powers of seeing good. So far as they are, they are both from the Good, and
are good, and aspire to the Beautiful and the Good, by aspiring to the
realities, Being, and Life, and Thought; and by the privation and departure
and declension from the good things befitting them, they are called evil,
and are evil as regards what they are not: and by aspiring to the
non-existent, they aspire to the Evil.


But does some one say that souls are evil? If it be that they meet with evil
things providentially, and with a view to their preservation, this is not an
evil, but a good, and from the Good, Who makes even the evil good. But, if
we say that souls become evil, in what respect do they become evil, except
in the failure of their good habits and energies; and, by reason of their
own lack of strength, missing their aim and tripping? For we also say, that
the air around us becomes dark by failure and absence of light, and yet the
light itself is always light, that which enlightens even the darkness. The
Evil, then, is neither in demons nor in us, as an existent evil, but as a
failure and dearth of the perfection of our own proper goods.


But neither is the Evil in irrational creatures, for if you should take away
anger and lust, and the other things which we speak of, and which are not
absolutely evil in their own nature, the lion having lost his boldness and
fierceness will not be a lion; and the dog, when he has become gentle to
every body, will not be a dog, since to keep guard is a dog’s duty, and to
admit those of the household, but to drive away the stranger. So the fact
that nature is not destroyed is not an evil, but a destruction of nature,
weakness, and failure of the natural habitudes and energies and powers. And,
if all things through generation in time have their perfection, the
imperfect is not altogether contrary to universal nature.


But neither is the Evil in nature throughout, for if all the methods of
nature are from universal nature, there is nothing contrary to it. But in
each individual (nature) one thing will be according to nature, and another
not according to nature. For one thing is contrary to nature in one, and
another in another, and that which is according to nature to one, is to the
other, contrary to nature. But malady of nature, that which is the contrary
to nature, is the deprivation of things of nature. So that there is not an
evil nature; but this is evil to nature, the inability to accomplish the
things of one’s proper nature.


But, neither is the Evil in bodies. For deformity and disease are a defect
of form, and a deprivation of order. And this is not altogether an evil, but
a less good; for if a dissolution of beauty and form and order become
complete, the body itself will be gone. But that the body is not cause of
baseness to the soul is evident, from the fact that baseness continues to
coexist even without a body, as in demons. For this is evil to minds and
souls and bodies, (viz.) the weakness and declension from the habitude of
their own proper goods.


But neither (a thing which they say over and over again) is the evil in
matter, so far as it is matter. For even it participates in ornament and
beauty and form. But if matter, being without these, by itself is without
quality and without form, how does matter produce anything—matter, which, by
itself, is impassive? Besides how is matter an evil? for, if it does not
exist in any way whatever, it is neither good nor evil but if it is any how
existing, and all things existing are from the Good, even it would be from
the Good; and either the Good is productive of the Evil, or the Evil, as
being from the Good, is good; or the Evil is capable of producing the Good;
or even the Good, as from the Evil, is evil; or further, there are two first
principles, and these suspended from another one head. And, if they say that
matter is necessary, for a completion of the whole Cosmos, how is matter an
evil? For the Evil is one thing, and the necessary [41] is another. But, how
does He, Who is Good, bring anything to birth from the Evil? or, how is
that, which needs the Good, evil? For the Evil shuns the nature of the Good.
And how does matter, being evil, generate and nourish nature? For the Evil,
quâ evil, neither generates, nor nourishes, nor solely produces, nor
preserves anything.

But, if they should say, that it does not make baseness in souls, but that
they are dragged to it, how will this be true? for many of them look towards
the good; and yet how did this take place, when matter was dragging them
entirely to the Evil? So that the Evil in souls is not from matter, but from
a disordered and discordant movement. But, if they say this further, that
they invariably follow matter, and unstable matter is necessary for those
who are unable to stand firmly by themselves, how is the Evil necessary, or
the necessary an evil?


But neither is it this which we affirm—the “privation fights against the
Good by its own power [42] ”; for the complete privation is altogether
powerless, and the partial has the power, not in respect of privation, but
in so far as it is not a complete privation. For, whilst privation of good
is partial, it is not, as yet, an evil, and when, it has become an
accomplished fact, the nature of the evil has departed also.


But, to speak briefly, the Good is from the one and the whole Cause, but the
Evil is from many and partial defects. Almighty God knows the Evil qua good;
and, with Him, the causes of the evils are powers producing good [43] . But,
if the Evil is eternal, and creates, and has power, and is, and does, whence
do these come to it? Is it either from the Good, or by the Good from the
Evil, or by both from another cause? Everything that is according to nature
comes into being from a defined cause. And if the Evil is without cause, and
undefined, it is not according to nature. For there is not in nature what is
contrary to nature; nor is there any raison d’ etre for want of art in art.
Is then the soul cause of things evil, as fire of burning, and does it fill
everything that it happens to touch with baseness? Or, is the nature of the
soul then good, but, by its energies, exists sometimes in one condition, and
sometimes in another? If indeed by nature, even its existence is an evil,
and whence then does it derive its existence? Or, is it from the good Cause
creative of the whole universe? But, if from this, how is it essentially
evil? For good are all things born of this. But if by energies, neither is
this invariable, and if not, whence are the virtues? Since it (the soul)
comes into being without even seeming good. It remains then that the Evil is
a weakness and a falling short of the Good.


The Cause of things good is One. If the Evil is contrary to the Good, the
many causes of the Evil, certainly those productive of things evil, are not
principles and powers, but want of power, and want of strength, and a mixing
of things dissimilar without proportion. Neither are things evil unmoved,
and always in the same condition, but endless and undefined, and borne along
in different things, and those endless. The Good will be beginning and end
of all, even things evil, for, for the sake of the Good, are all things,
both those that are good, and those that are contrary. For we do even these
as desiring the Good (for no one does what he does with a view to the Evil),
wherefore the Evil has not a subsistence, but a parasitical subsistence,
coming into being for the sake of the Good, and not of itself.


It is to be laid down that being belongs to the Evil as an accident and by
reason of something else, and not from its own origin, and thus that that
which comes into being appears to be right, because it comes into being for
the sake of the Good, but that in reality it is not right for the reason
that we think that which is not good to be good. The desired is shewn to be
one thing, and that which comes to pass is another. The Evil, then, is
beside the path, and beside the mark, and beside nature, and beside cause,
and beside beginning, and beside end, and beside limit, and beside
intention, and beside purpose. The Evil then is privation and failure, and
want of strength, and want of proportion, and want of attainment, and want
of purpose; and without beauty, and without life, and without mind, and
without reason, and without completeness, and without stability, and without
cause, and without limit, and without production; and inactive, and without
result, and disordered, and dissimilar, and limitless, and dark, and
unessential, and being itself nothing in any manner of way whatever. How, in
short, can evil do anything by its mixture with the Good? For that which is
altogether without participation in the Good, neither is anything, nor is
capable of anything. For, if the Good is both an actual thing and an object
of desire, and powerful and effective, how will the contrary to the
Good,—that which has been deprived of essence, and intention, and power, and
energy,—be capable of anything? Not all things are evil to all, nor the same
things evil in every respect. To a demon, evil is to be contrary to the
good-like mind—to a soul, to be contrary to reason—to a body, to be contrary
to nature.


How, in short, are there evils when there is a Providence? The Evil, qua
evil, is not, neither as an actual thing nor as in things existing. And no
single thing is without a Providence. For neither is the Evil an actual
thing existing unmixed with the Good. And, if no single thing is without
participation in the Good, but the lack of the Good is an evil, and no
existing thing is deprived absolutely of the Good, the Divine Providence is
in all existing things, and no single thing is without Providence. But
Providence, as befits Its goodness, uses even evils which happen for the
benefit, either individual or general, of themselves or others, and suitably
provides for each being. Wherefore we will not admit the vain statement of
the multitude, who say that Providence ought to lead us to virtue, even
against our will. For to destroy nature is not a function of Providence.
Hence, as Providence is conservative of the nature of each, it provides for
the free, as free; and for the whole, and individuals, according to the
wants of all and each, as far as the nature of those provided for admits the
providential benefits of its universal and manifold Providence, distributed
proportionably to each.


The Evil, then, is not an actual thing, nor is the Evil in things existing.
For the Evil, qua evil, is nowhere, and the fact that evil comes into being
is not in consequence of power, but by reason of weakness. And, as for the
demons, what they are is both from the Good, and good. But their evil is
from the declension from their own proper goods, and a change—the weakness,
as regards their identity and condition, of the angelic perfection befitting
them. And they aspire to the Good, in so far as they aspire to be and to
live and to think. And in so far as they do not aspire to the Good, they
aspire to the non-existent; and this is not aspiration, but a missing of the
true aspiration.


Now the Oracles call conscious transgressors those who are thoroughly weak
as regards the ever memorable knowledge or the practise of the Good, and
who, knowing the will, do not perform it,—those who are hearers indeed, but
are weak concerning the faith, or the energy of the Good. And for some, it
is against their will to understand to do good, by reason of the deviation
or weakness of the will. And in short, the Evil (as we have often said) is
want of strength and want of power, and defect, either of the knowledge, or
the never to be forgotten knowledge, or of the faith, or of the aspiration,
or of the energy of the Good. Yet, some one may say, the weakness is not
punishable, but on the contrary is pardonable. Now, if the power were not
granted, the statement might hold good; but, if power comes from the Good,
Who giveth, according to the Oracles, the things suitable to all absolutely,
the failure and deviation, and departure and declension of the possession
from the Good of our own proper goods is not praiseworthy. But let these
things suffice to have been sufficiently said according to our ability in
our writings “Concerning just and Divine chastisement” throughout which
sacred treatise the infallibility of the Oracles has cast aside those
sophistical statements as senseless words, speaking injustice and falsehood
against Almighty God. But now, according to our ability, the Good has been
sufficiently praised, as really lovable,—as beginning and end of all—as
embracing things existing—as giving form to things not existing—as Cause of
all good things—as guiltless of things evil—as Providence and Goodness
complete—and soaring above things that are and things that are not—and
turning to good things evil, and the privation of Itself—as by all desired,
and loved, and esteemed, and whatever else, the true statement, as I deem,
has demonstrated in the preceding.

[31] euroias.

[32] See Dulac, Theology anticipates Science.

[33] The Greek word is noēton, which in connection with phōs is rendered
here “spiritual light.”

[34] See Book of Hierotheus, c. 2.

[35] Angels.

[36] Creation through Goodness not necessity.

[37] See note, p. 128.

[38] i.e. in ascending order.

[39] Plato, Theaet.

[40] Theaet., 1763.

[41] Jahn, p. 66.

[42] Jahn, p, 67.

[43] Out of evil forth producing good.