Part 2


Concerning Being—in which also concerning Exemplars.


LET us now then pass to the name “Being”—given in the Oracles as veritably
that of Him, Who veritably is. But we will recall to your remembrance this
much, that the purpose of our treatise is not to make known the
superessential Essence—qua superessential—(for this is inexpressible, and
unknowable, and altogether unrevealed, and surpassing the union itself), but
to celebrate the progression of the supremely Divine Source of Essence,
which gives essence to all things being. For the Divine Name of the Good, as
making known the whole progressions of the Cause of all, is extended, both
to things being, and things not being, and is above things being, and things
not being. But the Name of Being is extended to all things being, and is
above things being;—and the Name of Life is extended to all things living,
and is above things living; and the Name of Wisdom is extended to all the
intellectual and rational and sensible, and is above all these.


The treatise, then, seeks to celebrate these, the Names of God, which set
forth His Providence. For it does not profess to express the very
superessential Goodness, and Essence, and Life, and Wisdom, of the very
superessential Deity, Which is seated above all Goodness, and Deity, and
Essence, and Wisdom, and Life,—in secret places, as the Oracles affirm. But
it celebrates the beneficial Providence, which has been set forth as
preeminently Goodness and Cause of all good things, and as Being, and Life,
and Wisdom,—the Cause essentiating and vivifying, and wise-making, of those
who partake of essence, and life, and mind, and reason, and sense. But it
does not affirm that the Good is one thing, and the Being another; and that
Life is other than Wisdom; nor that the Causes are many, and that some
deities produce one thing and others another, as superior and inferior; but
that the whole good progressions and the Names of God, celebrated by us, are
of one God; and that the one epithet makes known the complete Providence of
the one God, but that the others are indicative of His more general and more
particular providences.


Yet, some one might say, for what reason do we affirm that Life is superior
to Being, and Wisdom to Life? Things with life no doubt are above things
that merely exist—things sensible above those which merely live,—and things
rational above these,—and the Minds [44] above the rational, and are around
God, and are more near to Him. Yet, things which partake of greater gifts
from God, must needs be better and superior to the rest. But if any one
assumed the intellectual to be without being, and without life, the
statement might hold good. But if the Divine Minds are both above all the
rest of beings, and live above the other living beings, and think and know,
above sensible perception and reason, and, beyond all the other existing
beings, aspire to, and participate in, the Beautiful and Good, they are more
around the Good, participating in It more abundantly, and having received
larger and greater gifts from It. As also, the rational creatures excel
those of sensible perception, by their superiority in the abundance of
reason, and these, by their sensible perception, and others, by their life.
And this, as I think, is true, that the things which participate more in the
One and boundless-giving God, are more near to Him, and more divine, than
those who come behind them (in gifts).


Now, since we are speaking of these things, come then, and let us praise the
Good, as veritably Being, and giving essence to all things that be. He, Who
is, is superessential, sustaining Cause of the whole potential Being, and
Creator of being, existence, subsistence, essence, nature; Source and
Measure of ages, and Framer of times, and Age of things that be, Time of
things coming into being, Being of things howsoever being, Birth of things
howsoever born. From Him, Who is, is age, and essence, and being, and time,
and birth, and thing born; the realities in things that be, and things
howsoever existing and subsisting. For Almighty God is not relatively a
Being, but absolutely and unboundedly, having comprehended and anticipated
the whole Being in Himself. Wherefore, He is also called King of the ages,
since the whole being both is, and is sustained, in Him and around Him. And
He neither was, nor will be, nor became, nor becomes, nor will become—yea
rather, neither is. But He is the Being to things that be, and not things
that be only, but the very being of things that be, absolutely from before
the ages. For He is the Age of ages—the Existing before the ages.


Summing up, then, let us say, that the being to all beings and to the ages,
is from the Preexisting. And every age and time is from Him. And of every
age and time, and of everything, howsoever existing, the Pre-existing is
Source and Cause. And all things participate in Him, and from no single
existing thing does He stand aloof. And He is before all things, and all
things in Him consist. And absolutely, if anything is, in any way
whatsoever, it both is, and is contemplated, and is preserved in the
Pre-existing. And, before all the other participations in Him, the being is
pre-supposed. And self-existent Being has precedence of the being
self-existent Life; and the being self-existent Wisdom; and the being
self-existent Divine Likeness; and the other beings, in whatever gifts
participating, before all these participate in being; yea, rather, all
self-existent things, of which existing things participate, participate in
the self-existent Being. And there is nothing existent, of which the
self-existent Being is not essence and age. Naturally, then, more chiefly
than all the rest, Almighty God is celebrated as Being, from the prior of
His other gifts; for pre-possessing even pre-existence, and super-existence,
and super-possessing being, He pre-established all being, I mean
self-existent being; and subjected everything, howsoever existing, to Being
Itself. And then, all the sources of beings, as participating in being, both
are, and are sources, and first are, and then are sources. And, if you wish
to say, that the self-existent Life is source of living things, as living;
and the self-existent Similitude, of things similar as similar; and the
self-existent Union, of things united, as united; and the self-existent
Order, of things ordered, as ordered and of the rest, as many as, by
participating in this or that, or both, or many, are this or that, or both,
or many, you will find the self-existent participations themselves, first
participating in being, and by their being, first remaining;—then being
sources of this or that, and by their participating in being, both being,
and being participated. But, if these are by their participation of being,
much more the things participating in them.


The self-existent Super-goodness then, as projecting the first gift of
self-existent being, is celebrated by the elder and first of the
participations; and being itself is from It, and in It; as also the sources
of things being, and all the things that be, and the things howsoever
sustained by being, and that irresistibly, and comprehensively and
uniformly. For even in a monad, every number preexists in the form of a
unit, and the monad holds every number in itself singly. And every number is
united in the monad, but so far as it advances from the monad, so far it is
distributed and multiplied. And in a centre, all the lines [45] of the
circle coexist within one union, and the point holds all the straight lines
in itself, uniformly united, both to each other, and to the one source from
which they proceeded, and in the centre itself they are completely united;
but standing slightly distant from it, they are slightly separated; but when
more apart, more so. And in one word, the nearer they are to the centre, the
more they are united to it and to each other? and the more they stand apart
from it, the more they stand apart from each other.


But all the proportions of nature individually are comprehended in the whole
nature of the whole, within one unconfused union; and in the soul, the
powers of each several part are provident of the whole body in a uniform
fashion. There is nothing out of place then, that, by ascending from obscure
images to the Cause of all, we should contemplate, with supermundane eyes,
all things in the Cause of all, even those contrary to each other, after a
single fashion and unitedly. For It is Source of things existing, from which
are both being itself, and all things however being; every source, every
term, every life, every immortality, every wisdom, every order, every
harmony, every power, every protection, every stability, every endurance,
every conception, every word, every sensible perception, every habit, every
standing, every movement, every union, every mingling, every friendship,
every agreement, every difference, every limit, and whatever other things
existing by being, characterize all things being.


And from the same Cause of all, are the higher and lower intellectual [46]
essences of the godlike angels; and those of the souls; and the natures of
the whole Cosmos; all things whatsoever said to be either in others, or by
reflection. Yea, even the all holy and most honoured Powers veritably being,
and established, as it were, in the vestibule of the superessential Triad,
are from It, and in It; and have the being and the godlike being; and after
them, as regards Angels, the subordinate, subordinately, and the remotest,
most remotely, but as regards ourselves, supermundanely. And the souls, and
all the other beings, according to the same rule, have their being, and
their well-being; and are, and are well; by having from the Pre-existing
their being and their well-being. And in It are both being and well-being;
and from It, beginning; and in It, guarded; and to It, terminated. And the
prerogatives of being he distributes to the superior beings, which the
Oracles call even eternal. But being itself never at any time fails all
existing beings. And even self-existent being is from the Pre-existent, and
of Him is being, and He is not of being;—and in Him is being, and He is not
in being; and being possesses Him, and not He possesses being; and He is
both age and beginning, and measure of being; being essentiating Source, and
Middle and End, of pre-essence, and being and age and all things. And for
this reason, by the Oracles, the veritably Pre-existing is represented under
many forms, according to every conception of beings, and the “Was” and the
“Is,” and the “Will be,” and the “Became,” and the “Becomes,” and the “Will
become,” are properly sung respecting Him. For all these, to those who think
worthily of God, signify by every conception His being superessentially, and
Cause in every way of things existing. For He is not this, but not that; nor
is He in some way, but not in some other; but He is all things, as Cause of
all, and containing and pre-holding in Himself all governments, all
controls, of all existing things. And He is above all, as superessentially
super-being before all. Wherefore, also, all things are predicated of Him
and together, and He is none of them all; of every shape, of every kind,
without form, without beauty, anticipating in Himself, beginnings and
middles, and ends of things existing, irresistibly and preeminently; and
shedding forth without flaw, (the light of) being to all, as beseems a One
and super-united Cause. For, if our sun, at the same time that he is one and
sheds a uniform light, renews the essences and qualities of sensible
creatures, although they are many and various, and nourishes and guards, and
perfects and distinguishes, and unites, and fosters, and makes to be
productive, and increases, and transforms, and establishes, and makes to
grow, and awakens, and gives life to all; and each of the whole, in a manner
appropriate to itself, participates in the same and one sun; and the one sun
anticipated in himself, uniformly, the causes of the many participants; much
more with regard to the Cause of it and of all things, ought we to concede
that It first presides over, as beseems One superessential Oneness, all the
exemplars, of things existing; since He produces even essences, as beseems
the egression from essence. But, we affirm that the exemplars are the
methods in God, giving essence to things that be, and pre-existing
uniformly, which theology calls predeterminations, and Divine and good
wills, which define and produce things existing; according to which
(predeterminations) the Superessential both predetermined and brought into
existence everything that exists.


But, if the Philosopher Clemens thinks good, that the higher amongst beings
should be called exemplars in relation to something, his statement advances,
not through correct and perfect and simple names. But, when we have conceded
even this, to be correctly said, we must call to mind the Word of God, which
says, “I have not shewn thee these things for the purpose of going after
them, but that through the proportionate knowledge of these we may be led up
to the Cause of all, as we are capable.”

We must attribute, then, all existing things to It, as beseems One Union
pre-eminent above all, since by starting from Being, the essentiating
Progression and Goodness, both penetrating all, and filling all things with
Its own being, and rejoicing over all things being, pre-holds all things in
Itself, rejecting all duplicity by an one superfluity of simplicity. But It
grasps all things in the same way, as beseems its super-simplified Infinity,
and is participated in by all uniquely, even as a voice, whilst being one
and the same, is participated in by many ears as one.


The Pre-existing then is beginning and end of existing things; beginning
indeed as Cause, and end as for whom; and term of all, and infinitude of all
infinitude; and term, especially, of things that are, as it were, opposed.
For in One, as we have often said, He both pre-holds and sustains all
existing things, being present to all, and everywhere, both as regards the
one, and the same, and as the every same, and issuing forth to all, and
abiding in Himself; and standing and moving, and neither standing nor
moving; neither having beginning, or middle, or end; neither in any of the
existing things, nor being any of the existing things. And neither does any
of the things eternally existing, or those temporarily subsisting, entirely
come up to Him, but He towers above time and eternity, and all things
eternal and temporal. Wherefore also, He is Eternity itself, and things
existing, and the measures of things existing, and things measured through
Him and from Him. But let us speak of these things more opportunely on
another occasion.

[44] Angels.

[45] i.e. the radii.

[46] Maximus, Scholia, cap. 4, sec. i.


Concerning Life.


Now let us sing the Eternal Life, from which comes the self-existing Life,
and every life; and from which, to all things however partaking of life, is
distributed the power to live appropriately to each. Certainly the life; and
the immortality of the immortal Angels, and the very indestructibility of
the angelic perpetual motion, both is, and is sustained from It, and by
reason of It. Wherefore, they are also called living always and immortal;
and again, not immortal, because not from themselves have they their
immortality and eternal life; but from the vivifying Cause forming and
sustaining all life; and as we said of Him, Who is, that He is Age even of
the self-existing Being, so also here again (we say) that the Divine Life,
which is above life, is life-giving and sustaining even of the self-existing
Life; and every life and life-giving movement is from the Life which is
above every life, and all source of all life. From It, even the souls have
their indestructibility, and all living creatures, and plants in their most
remote echo of life, have their power to live. And when It is “taken
away,” according to the Divine saying, all life fails, and to It even things
that have failed, through their inability to participate in It, when again
returning, again become living creatures.


And It gives chiefly to the self-existing Life to be a life, and to every
life, and to the individual life, that each should be conformable to that
which nature intended it to be. And to the supercelestial lives It gives the
immaterial and godlike, and unchangeable immortality; and the unswerving and
undeviating perpetual movement; whilst extending Itself through excess of
goodness, even to the life of demons [47] . For, neither has this its being
from another cause, but from It life has both its being and its continuance.
Further, It bequeaths even to men the angelic life, so far as is possible to
compound being, and through an overflowing love towards man turns, and calls
us back to Itself, even when we are departing from It; and, what is still
more Divine, promises to transfer even our whole selves (I mean souls, and
bodies their yoke-fellows), to a perfect life and immortality;—a fact which
perhaps seems to Antiquity contrary to nature, but to me, and to thee, and
to the truth, both Divine and above nature. But, by “above nature,” I
understand our visible nature, not the all-powerful nature of the Divine
Life. For, to this, as being nature of all the living creatures, and
especially the more Divine, no life is against nature, or above nature. So
that the contradictory statements of Simon’s folly on this matter, let them
be far repelled from a Divine assembly, and from thy reverent soul. For this
escaped him, as I imagine, whilst thinking to be wise, that the
right-thinking man ought not to use the visible reason of the sensible
perception, as an ally against the invisible Cause of all; and this must be
our reply to him, that his statement is against nature, for to It nothing is


From It, both all living creatures and plants draw their life and
nourishment; and whether you speak of intellectual, or rational, or
sensible, or nourishing, or growing, or whatever, life, or source of life,
or essence of life, from It, which is above every life, it both lives and
thrives; and in It, as Cause, uniformly pre-existed. For the super-living,
and life-springing Life is Cause both of all life, and is generative, and
completive, and dividing of life, and is to be celebrated from every life,
in consequence of its numerous generation of all lives, as Manifold, and
contemplated, and sung by every life; and as without need, yea, rather,
superfull of life, the Self-living, and above every life, causing to live
and super-living, or in whatever way one might extol the life which is
unutterable by human speech.

[47] Rom. xi. 29, “For the gifts of God are without repentance.”


Concerning Wisdom, Mind, Reason, Truth, faith.


COME then, if you please, let us sing the good and eternal Life, both as
wise, and as wisdom’s self; yea, rather, as sustaining all wisdom, and being
superior to all wisdom and understanding. For, not only is Almighty God
superfull of wisdom, and of His understanding there is no number, but He is
fixed above all reason and mind and wisdom. And, when the truly divine man,
the common sun of us, and of our leader, had thought this out, in a sense
above nature, he says, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” (meaning)
not only that all human intelligence is a sort of error, when tried by the
stability and durability of the Divine and most perfect conceptions, but
that it is even usual with the theologians to deny, with respect to God,
things of privation, in an opposite sense. Thus, the Oracles declare, the
All-luminous Light, invisible, and Him, Who is often sung, and of many
names, to be unutterable and without name, and Him, Who is present to all,
and is found of all, to be incomprehensible and past finding out. In this
very way, even now, the Divine Apostle is said to have celebrated as
“foolishness of God,” that which appears unexpected and absurd in it, (but)
which leads to the truth which is unutterable and before all reason. But, as
I elsewhere said, by taking the things above us, in a sense familiar to
ourselves, and by being entangled by what is congenial to sensible
perceptions, and by comparing things Divine with our own conditions, we are
led astray through following the Divine and mystical reason after a mere
appearance. We ought to know that our mind has the power for thought,
through which it views things intellectual, but that the union through which
it is brought into contact with things beyond itself surpasses the nature of
the mind. We must then contemplate things Divine, after this Union, not
after ourselves, but by our whole selves, standing out of our whole selves,
and becoming wholly of God. For it is better to be of God, and not of
ourselves. For thus things Divine will, be given to those who become dear to
God. Celebrating then, in a superlative sense, this, the irrational and
mindless and foolish Wisdom, we affirm that It is Cause of all mind and
reason, and all wisdom and understanding; and of It is every counsel, and
from It every knowledge and understanding; and in It all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge are hidden. For, agreeably to the things already
spoken, the super-wise, and all-wise Cause is a mainstay [48] even of the
self-existing Wisdom, both the universal and the individual.


From It the contemplated and contemplating powers of the angelic Minds have
their simple and blessed conceptions; collecting their divine knowledge, not
in portions, or from portions, or sensible perceptions, or detailed
reasonings, or arguing from something common to these things, but purified
from everything material and multitudinous, they contemplate the conceptions
of Divine things intuitively, immaterially and uniformly, and they have
their intellectual power and energy resplendent with the unmixed and
undefiled purity, and see at a glance the Divine conceptions indivisibly and
immaterially, and are by the Godlike One moulded, as attainable by reason of
the Divine Wisdom, to the Divine and Super-wise Mind and Reason. And souls
have their reasoning power, investigating the truth of things by detailed
steps and rotation, and through their divided and manifold variety falling
short of the single minds, but, by the collection of many towards the One,
deemed worthy, even of conceptions equal to the angels, so far as is proper
and attainable to souls. But, even as regards the sensible perceptions
themselves, one would not miss the mark, if one called them an echo of
wisdom. Yet, even the mind of demons, qua mind, is from It; but so far as a
mind is irrational, not knowing, and not wishing to attain what it aspires
to, we must call it more properly a declension from wisdom. But, since the
Divine Wisdom is called source, and cause, and mainstay, and completion and
guard, and term of wisdom itself, and of every kind, and of every mind and
reason, and every sensible perception, how then is Almighty God Himself, the
super-wise, celebrated as Mind and Reason and Knowledge? For, how will He
conceive any of the objects of intelligence, seeing He has not intellectual
operations? or how will He know the objects of sense, seeing He is fixed
above all sensible perception? Yet the Oracles affirm that He knoweth all
things, and that nothing escapes the Divine Knowledge. But, as I have been
accustomed to say many times before, we must contemplate things Divine, in a
manner becoming God. For the mindless, and the insensible, we must attribute
to God, by excess—not by defect, just as we attribute the irrational to Him
Who is above reason; and imperfection, to the Super-perfect, and
Pre-perfect; and the impalpable, and invisible gloom, to the light which is
inaccessible on account of excess of the visible light. So the Divine Mind
comprehends all things, by His knowledge surpassing all, having anticipated
within Himself the knowledge of all, as beseems the Cause of all; before
angels came to being, knowing and producing angels; and knowing all the rest
from within; and, so to speak, from the Source Itself, and by bringing into
being. And, this, I think, the sacred text teaches, when it says, “He,
knowing all things, before their birth.” For, not as learning existing
things from existing things, does the Divine Mind know, but from Itself, and
in Itself, as Cause, it pre-holds and pre-comprehends the notion and
knowledge, and essence of all things; not approaching each several thing
according to its kind, but knowing and containing all things, within one
grasp of the Cause; just as the light, as cause, presupposes in itself the
notion of darkness, not knowing the darkness otherwise than from the light.
The Divine Wisdom then, by knowing Itself, will know all things; things
material, immaterially, and things divisible, indivisibly, and things many,
uniformly; both knowing and producing all. things by Itself, the One. For
even, if as becomes one Cause, Almighty God distributes being to all things
that be, as beseems the self-same, unique Cause, He will know all things, as
being from Himself, and pre-established in Himself, and not from things that
be will He receive the knowledge of them; but even to each of them, He will
be provider of the knowledge of themselves, and of the mutual knowledge of
each other. Almighty God, then, has not one knowledge, that of Himself,
peculiar to Himself, and another, which embraces in common all things
existing; for the very Cause of all things, by knowing Itself, will hardly,
I presume, be ignorant of the things from Itself, and of which It is Cause.
In this way then, Almighty God knows existing things, not by a knowledge of
things existing, but by that of Himself. For the Oracles affirm, that the
angels also know things on the earth, not as knowing them by sensible
perceptions, although objects of sensible perception, but by a proper power
and nature of the Godlike Mind.


In addition to these things, we must examine how we know God, Who is neither
an object of intellectual nor of sensible perception, nor is absolutely
anything of things existing. Never, then, is it true to say, that we know
God; not from His own nature (for that is unknown, and surpasses all reason
and mind), but, from the ordering of all existing things, as projected from
Himself, and containing a sort of images and similitudes of His Divine
exemplars, we ascend, as far as we have power, to that which is beyond all,
by method and order in the abstraction and pre-eminence of all, and in the
Cause of all. Wherefore, Almighty God is known even in all, and apart from
all. And through knowledge, Almighty God is known, and through agnosia. And
there is, of Him, both conception, and expression, and science, and contact,
and sensible perception, and opinion, and imagination, and name, and all the
rest. And He is neither conceived, nor expressed, nor named. And He is not
any of existing things, nor is He known in any one of existing things. And
He is all in all, and nothing in none. And He is known to all, from all, and
to none from none. For, we both say these things correctly concerning God,
and He is celebrated from all existing things, according to the analogy of
all things, of which He is Cause. And there is, further, the most Divine
Knowledge of Almighty God, which is known, through not knowing (agnosia)
during the union above mind; when the mind, having stood apart from all
existing things, then having dismissed also itself, has been made one with
the super-luminous rays, thence and there being illuminated by the
unsearchable depth of wisdom. Yet, even from all things, as I said, we may
know It, for It is, according to the sacred text, the Cause formative of
all, and ever harmonizing all, and (Cause) of the indissoluble adaptation
and order of all, and ever uniting [49] the ends of the former to the
beginnings of those that follow, and beautifying the one symphony and
harmony of the whole.


But Almighty God is celebrated in the holy Oracles as “Logos”; not only
because He is provider of reason and mind and wisdom, but because He
anticipated the causes of all, solitarily in Himself, and because He passes
through all, as the Oracles say, even to the end of all things; and even
more than these, because the Divine Word surpasses every simplicity, and is
set free from all, as the Superessential. This “Logos “is the simple and
really existing truth, around which, as a pure and unerring knowledge of the
whole, the Divine Faith is—the enduring foundation of the believers—which
establishes them in the truth, and the truth in them, by an unchangeable
identity, they having the pure knowledge of the truth of the things
believed. For, if knowledge unites the knowing and the known, but ignorance
is ever a cause to the ignorant person of change, and of separation from
himself, nothing will move one who has believed in the truth, according to
the sacred Logos, from true Faith’s Sanctuary upon which he will have the
steadfastness of his unmoved, unchangeable identity. For, well does he know,
who has been united to the Truth, that it is well with him although the
multitude may admonish him as “wandering.” For it probably escapes them,
that he is wandering from error to the truth, through the veritable faith.
But, he truly knows himself, not, as they say, mad, but as liberated from
the unstable and variable course around the manifold variety of error,
through the simple, and ever the same, and similar truth. Thus then the
early leaders [50] of our Divine Theosophy are dying every day, on behalf of
truth, testifying as is natural, both by every word and deed, to the one
knowledge of the truth of the Christians, that it is of all, both more
simple and more Divine, yea rather, that it is the sole true and one and
simple knowledge of God.

[48] See Caput XI., Section VI.

[49] True theory of evolution.

[50] First persecution of Nero.


Concerning power, justice, preservation, redemption, in which also
concerning inequality.


BUT since the theologians sing the Divine truth fulness and super-wise
wisdom, both as power and as justice, and designate It preservation and
redemption, come then, let us unfold these Divine Names also, as best we
can. Now, that the Godhead is pre-eminent above, and surpasses every power,
howsoever being and conceived, I do not suppose any of those nourished in
the Divine Oracles does not know. For on many occasions the Word of God
attributes the Lordship to It, even when distinguishing It from the
supercelestial powers themselves. How then do the theologians sing it also
as a Power, which is pre-eminent above every power? or how ought we to
understand the name of power as applied to It?


We say, then, that Almighty God is Power, as pre-having, and super-having,
every power in Himself, and as Author of every power, and producing
everything as beseems a Power inflexible and unencompassed, and as being
Author of the very existence of power, either the universal or particular,
and as boundless in power, not only by the production of all power, but by
being above all, even the self. existent Power, and by His superior power,
and by His bringing into existence, ad infinitum, endless powers other than
the existing powers; and by the fact that the endless powers, even when
brought into existence without end, are not able to blunt the super-endless
production of His power-making power; and by the unutterable and unknown,
and inconceivable nature of His all-surpassing power, which, through
abundance of the powerful, gives power even to weakness, and holds together
and preserves the remotest of its echoes; as also we may see even with
regard to the powerful insensible perception, that the super-brilliant
lights reach even to obscure visions, and they say, that the loud sounds
enter even into ears which are not very well adapted to the reception of
sounds. For that which does not hear at all is not hearing; and that which
does not see at all is not sight.


The distribution, then, of boundless power, from Almighty God, passes to all
beings, and there is no single being which is utterly deprived of the
possession of some power; but it has either intellectual, or rational, or
sensible, or vital, or essential power; yea even, if one may say so,
self-existent being has power to be from the superessential Power.


From It, are the godlike powers of the angelic ranks; from It, they have
their immutability, and all their intellectual and immortal perpetual
movements; and their equilibrium itself, and their undiminishable aspiration
after good, they have received from the Power boundless in goodness; since
It commits to them the power to be, and to be such, and to aspire always to
be, and the power itself to aspire to have the power always.


But the gifts of the unfailing Power pass on, both to men and living
creatures, and plants, and the entire nature of the universe; and It
empowers things united for their mutual friendship and communion, and things
divided for their being each within their own sphere and limit, without
confusion, and without mingling; and preserves the order and good relations
of the whole, for their own proper good, and guards the undying lives of the
individual angels inviolate; and the heavenly and the life-giving and astral
bodies [51] and orders without change: and makes the period of time possible
to be; and disperses the revolutions of time by their progressions, and
collects them together by their returns; and makes the powers of fire
unquenchable, and the rills of water unfailing; and sets bounds to the
aerial current, and establishes the earth upon nothing; and guards its
life-giving throes from perishing; and preserves the mutual harmony and
mingling of the elements without confusion, and without division; and holds
together the bond of soul and body; and arouses the nourishing and growing
powers of plants; and sustains the essential powers of the whole; and
secures the continuance of the universe without dissolution, and bequeaths
the deification Itself, by furnishing a power for this to those who are
being deified. And in a word, there is absolutely no single thing which is
deprived of the overruling surety and embrace of the Divine Power. For that
which absolutely has no power, neither is, nor is anything, nor is there any
sort of position of it whatever.


Yet Elymas, the Magician, says, “if Almighty God is All-powerful, how is He
said by your theologian, not to be able to do some thing “? But he
calumniates the Divine Paul, who said, “that Almighty God is not able to
deny Himself.” Now in advancing this, I very much fear lest I should incur
ridicule for folly, as undertaking to pull down frail houses, built upon the
sand by little boys at play; and as being eager to aim at the theological
intelligence of this, as if it were some inaccessible mark. For, the denial
of Himself, is a falling from truth, but the truth is an existent, and the
falling from the truth is a falling from the existent. If, then, the truth
is an existent, and the denial of the truth a falling from the existent,
Almighty God cannot fall from the existent, and non-existence is not; as any
one might say, the powerless is not powerful; and ignorance, by privation,
does not know. The wise man, not having understood this, imitates those
inexperienced wrestlers, who, very often, by assuming that their adversaries
are weak, according to their own opinion, and manfully making a show of
fight with them, when absent, and courageously beating the air with empty
blows, think that they have overcome their antagonists, and proclaim
themselves victors (though) not yet having experienced their rivals’
strength. But we, conjecturing the meaning of the Theologian to the best of
our ability, celebrate the Super-powerful God, as Omnipotent, as blessed,
and only Lord; as reigning in the kingdom of Eternity itself; as in no
respect fallen from things existing;—but rather, as both super-having and
pre-having all existing things, as beseems Power superessential; and as
having bequeathed to all things being, the power to be, and this their being
in an ungrudging stream, as beseems abundance of surpassing power.


But further, Almighty God is celebrated as justice, as distributing things
suitable to all, both due measure, and beauty, and good order, and
arrangement, and marking out all distributions and orders for each,
according to that which truly is the most just limit, and as being Cause for
all of the free action of each. For the Divine Justice arranges and disposes
all things, and preserving all things unmingled and unconfused, from all,
gives to all existing beings things convenient for each, according to the
due falling to each existing thing. And, if we speak correctly, all those
who abuse the Divine Justice, unconsciously convict themselves of a manifest
injustice. For they say, that immortality ought to be in mortals, and
perfection in the imperfect, and imposed necessity in the free, and identity
in the variable, and perfect power in the weak, and the temporal should be
eternal, and things moveable by nature, unchangeable, and that temporary
pleasures should be eternal; and in one word, they assign the properties of
one thing to another. They ought to know that the Divine Justice in this
respect is really a true justice, because it distributes to all the things
proper to themselves, according to the fitness of each existing thing, and
preserves the nature of each in its own order and capacity.


But some one may say, it is not the mark of justice to leave pious men
without assistance, when they are ground down by evil men. To which we must
reply, that, if those whom you call pious do indeed love things on earth,
which are zealously sought after by the earthly, they have altogether fallen
from the Divine Love. And I do not know how they could be called pious, when
they unjustly treat things truly loveable and divine, which do not at once
surpass in influence in their estimation things undesirable and unloveable.
But, if they love the realities, they who desire certain things ought to
rejoice when they attain the things desired. Are they not then nearer the
angelic virtues, when, as far as possible, by aspiration after things
Divine, they withdraw from the affection for earthly things, by being
exercised very manfully to this, in their perils, on behalf of the
beautiful? So that, it is true to say, that this is rather a property of the
Divine Justice—not to pamper and destroy the bravery of the best, by the
gifts of earthly things, nor, if any one should attempt to do this, to leave
them without assistance, but to establish them in the excellent and harsh
condition, and to dispense to them, as being such, things meet for them.


This Divine Justice, then, is celebrated also even as preservation of the
whole, as preserving and guarding the essence and order of each, distinct
and pure from the rest; and as being genuine cause of each minding its own
business in the whole. But, if any one should also celebrate this
preservation, as rescuing savingly the whole from the worse, we will
entirely accept this as the cantique of the manifold preservation, and we
will deem him worthy to define this even as the principal preservation of
the whole, which preserves all things in themselves, without change,
undisturbed and unswaying to the worse; and guards all things without strife
and without war, each being regulated by their own methods; and excludes all
inequality and minding others’ business, from the whole; and maintains the
relations of each from falling to things contrary, and from migrating. And
since, without missing the mark of the sacred theology, one might celebrate
this preservation as redeeming all things existing, by the goodness which is
preservative of all, from falling away from their own proper goods, so far
as the nature of each of those who are being preserved admits; wherefore
also the Theologians name it redemption, both so far as it does not permit
things really being to fall away to non-existence, and so far as, if
anything should have been led astray to discord and disorder, and should
suffer any diminution of the perfection of its own proper goods, even this
it redeems from passion and listlessness and loss; supplying what is
deficient, and paternally overlooking the slackness, and raising up from
evil; yea, rather, establishing in the good, and filling -up the leaking
good, and arranging and adorning its disorder and deformity, and making it
complete, and liberating it from all its blemishes. But let this suffice
concerning these matters, and concerning Justice, in accordance with which
the equality of all is measured and defined, and every inequality, which
arises from deprivation of the equality, in each thing severally, is
excluded. For, if any one should interpret inequality as distinctions in the
whole, of the whole, in relation to the whole, Justice guards even this, not
permitting the whole, when they have become mingled throughout, to be thrown
into confusion, but keeping all existing things within each particular kind,
in which each was intended by nature, to be.

[51] ousias


Concerning great, small, same, different, similar, dissimilar, standing,
movement, equality.


BUT since even the great and the small are attributed to the Cause of all,
arid the same, and the different, and the similar, and the dissimilar, and
the standing, and the movement. Come! and let us gaze upon these images of
the Divine Names, such as have been manifested to us. Almighty God, then, is
celebrated in the Oracles as great, both in greatness and in a gentle
breeze, which manifests the Divine littleness; and as the same, when the
Oracles declare “thou art the same”; and as different, when He is depicted,
by the same Oracles, as of many shapes and many forms; and as similar, as
mainstay of things similar and similitude; and as dissimilar to all, as the
like of whom there is not; and as standing, and unmoved, and seated for
ever; and as moving, as going forth to all; and whatever other Divine Names,
of the same force with these, are celebrated by the Oracles.


Almighty God, then, is named great in reference to His own peculiar
greatness, which imparts itself to all things great; and overflows, and
extends itself outside of all greatness; embracing every place, surpassing
every number, going through every infinitude, both in reference to its
super-fulness, and mighty operation, and its fontal gifts, in so far as
these, being participated by all in a stream of boundless gifts, are
altogether undiminished, and have the same super-fulness, and are not
lessened by the impartations, but are even still more bubbling over. This
Greatness then is infinite, and without measure and without number. And this
is the preeminence as regards the absolute and surpassing flood of the
incomprehensible greatness.


But little, i.e. fine, is affirmed respecting Him,—that which leaves behind
every mass and distance, and penetrates through all, without hindrance. Yet
the little is Elemental [52] Cause of all, for nowhere will you find the
idea of the little unparticipated. Thus then the little must be received as
regards God as penetrating to all, and through all, without impediment; and
operating, and piercing through, to “a dividing of soul and spirit, and
joints and marrow”; and “discerning thoughts and intents of heart,” yea
rather—all things that be. For there is not a creature unmanifest in His
sight. This littleness is without quality and without quantity, without
restraint, without limit, without bound, comprehending all things, but
itself incomprehensible.


But the same is superessentially everlasting, inconvertible, abiding in
itself, always being in the same condition and manner; present to all in the
same manner, and itself by itself, upon itself, firmly and purely fixed in
the most beautiful limits of the superessential sameness, without changing,
without falling, without swerving, unalterable, unmingled, immaterial, most
simplex, self-sufficient, without increase, without diminution,
unoriginated, not as not yet come into being, or unperfected, or not having
become from this, or that, nor as being in no manner of way whatever, but as
all unoriginated, and absolutely unoriginated, and ever being; and being
self-complete, and being the same by itself, and differentiated by itself in
one sole and same form; and shedding sameness from itself to all things
adapted to participate in It; and assigning things different to those
different; abundance and cause of identity, preholding identically in itself
even things contrary, as beseems the One and unique Cause, surpassing the
whole identity.


But the different, since Almighty God is present to all providentially, and
becomes all in all, for the sake of the preservation of all, resting upon
Himself, and His own identity within Himself, standing, as beseems an
energy, one and ceaseless, and imparting Himself with an unbending power,
for deification of those turned to Him. And we must suppose that the
difference of the manifold shapes of Almighty God, during the multiform
visions, signifies that certain things are different from the phenomena
under which they appear. For, as when language depicts the soul itself,
under a bodily form, and fashions bodily members around the memberless, we
think differently of the members attributed to it, as befits the soul’s
memberless condition; and we call the mind head, and opinion neck,—as
intermediate between rational and irrational—and anger, breast; and lust,
belly; and the constitution, legs and feet; using the names of the members
as symbols of the powers. Much more then, as respects Him, Who is beyond
all, is it necessary to make clear the difference of forms and shapes by
reverent and God-becoming, and mystic explanations. And if you wish to apply
the threefold shapes of bodies to the impalpable and shapeless God, you must
say, that the Progression of Almighty God, which spreads out to all things,
is a Divine extension; and length, the power extending itself over the
whole; and depth, the hiddenness and imperception incomprehensible to all
creatures. But, that we may not forget ourselves, in our explanation, of the
different shapes and forms, by confounding the incorporeal Divine Names with
those given through symbols of objects of sense, we have for this reason
spoken concerning these things in the Symbolic Theology. But now, let us
suppose the Divine difference, as really not a sort of change from the
super-immovable identity, but as the single multiplication of itself, and
the uniform progressions of its fecundity to all.


But similar, if any one might speak of Almighty God as the same, as being
wholly throughout, similar to Himself—abidingly and indivisibly; we must not
despise the Divine Name of the Similar; but the Theologians affirm that the
God above all, in His essential nature, is similar to none; but that He
bequeaths a Divine similarity to those who turn to Him, Who is above every
limit and expression, by imitation according to their capacity. And there is
the power of the Divine similitude, which turns all created things to the
Cause. These things, then, must be said to be similar to Almighty God, both
after a Divine likeness and similitude. For, neither must we say that
Almighty God is similar to them, because neither is a man like his own
image. For, with regard to those of the same rank, it is possible that these
should be similar to each other, and that the similarity corresponds to
each, and that both are similar to each other, after a preceding appearance
of like. But, with respect to the Cause and the things caused, we do not
accept the correspondence. For, the being similar is bequeathed, not to
these, or those, alone, but to all those who participate in similarity.
Almighty God becomes Cause of their being similar, and is mainstay of the
self-existing Similarity itself; and the similar in all is similar to a soft
of footprint of the Divine Similarity and completes their Oneness.


And what must we say concerning this? For the Word of God Itself extols the
fact that He is dissimilar, and of the same rank with none; as “different”
even from everything, and, what is more paradoxical, says there is nothing
that is similar to Him. Yet the expression is not contrary to the similarity
towards Him, for the same things are both similar to God, and dissimilar—the
former as regards the received imitation [53] of the inimitable, the latter
as regards the dependence of the things caused upon the cause, and their
being inferior in degrees, endless and incalculable.


But what also do we say concerning the Divine standing, i.e. seat? What
other than that Almighty God remains Himself, in Himself, and is abidingly
fixed in unmoved identity, and is firmly established on high; and that He
acts according to the same conditions, and in reference to the same object,
and in the same way; and that He exists altogether, as beseems the
immutability from Himself; and as beseems the immovability Itself, entirely
immovable, and that superessentially. For He is Cause of the standing and
sitting of all, Who is above all sitting and standing, and in Him all things
consist, being kept from falling out of the state of their own proper goods.


But what again, when the Theologians say, that the unmoved goes forth to
all, and is moved? Must we not understand this in a sense befitting God? For
we must reverently suppose that He is moved, not as beseems carriage, or
change, or alteration, or turning, or local movement, or the straight, or
the circular, or that from both (curvative), or the intellectual, or the
spiritual, or the physical, but that Almighty God brings into being and
sustains everything, and provides in every way for everything; and is
present, to all, by the irresistible embrace of all, and by His providential
progressions and operations to all existing things. But we must concede to
our discourse, to celebrate in a sense becoming God, even movements of God,
the immovable. And the straight must be considered (to be) the unswerving
and the undeviating progression of the operation, and the production from
Himself of the whole; and the curvative—the steady progression and the
productive condition; and the circular the same, and the holding together
the middle and extremities, which encompass and are encompassed,—and the
turning to Him of the things which proceeded from Him.


But, if any one should take the Divine Name in the Oracles, of “the same,”
or that of “justice,” in the sense of “the equal,” we must say, that
Almighty God is equal, not only as indivisible and unswerving, but also as
going forth to all, and through all, equally; and as foundation of the
self-existent Equality, in conformity with which, He equally effects the
same passage, through all things mutually, and the participation of those
who receive equally, according to the aptitude of each; and the equal gift
distributed to all, according to due; and according as He has anticipated
pre-eminently and uniquely in Himself, every equality, intelligible,
intelligent, rational, sensible, essential, physical, voluntary, as beseems
the Power over all, which is productive of every equality.

[52] Atomic theory.

[53] Letter 2.


Concerning Sovereign Lord, “Ancient of days” in which also, concerning Age
and Time [54] .


THE time, then, is come for our discourse, to sing the God of many Names, as
“Sovereign Lord,” and as “Ancient of days.” For He is called the former, by
reason that He is an all-controlling basis, binding and embracing the whole,
and establishing and supporting, and tightening, and completing the whole.
Continuous in itself, and from itself, producing the whole, as it were from
a Sovereign root, and turning to itself the whole, as to a sovereign parent
stock, and holding them together as an all-embracing basis of all, securing
all the things embraced, within one grasp superior to all, and not
permitting them, when fallen from itself to be destroyed, as moved from an
all-perfect sanctuary. But the Godhead is called Sovereign, both as
controlling and governing the members of His household, purely, and as being
desired and beloved by all, and as placing upon all the voluntary yokes, and
the sweet pangs of the Divine and Sovereign, and in dissolvable love of the
Goodness itself,


But Almighty God is celebrated as “Ancient of days” because He is of all
things both Age and Time,—and before Days, and before Age and Time. And yet
we must affirm that He is Time and Day, and appointed Time, and Age, in a
sense befitting God, as being throughout every movement unchangeable and
unmoved, and in His ever moving remaining in Himself, and as being Author of
Age and Time and Days. Wherefore, in the sacred Divine manifestations of the
mystic visions, He is represented as both old and young; the former indeed
signifying the “Ancient” and being from the beginning, and the latter His
never growing old; or both teaching that He advances through all things from
beginning to end,—or as our Divine initiator says, “since each manifests the
priority of God, the Elder having the first place in Time, but the Younger
the priority in number; because the unit, and things near the unit, are
nearer the beginning than numbers further advanced.


But we must, as I think, see from the Oracles the nature of Time and
Eternity, for they do not always (merely) call all the things absolutely
unoriginated and really everlasting, eternal, but also things imperishable
and immortal and unchangeable, and things which are in like fashion, as when
they say, “be ye opened, eternal doors,” and the like. And often they
characterize the things the most ancient by the name of Eternity; and again
they call the whole duration of our time Eternity, in so far as the ancient
and unchangeable, and the measurement of existence throughout, is a
characteristic of Eternity. But they call time that concerned in generation
and decay and change, and sometimes the one, and sometimes the other.
Wherefore also, the Word of God says that even we, who are bounded here by
time, shall partake of Eternity, when we have reached the Eternity which is
imperishable and ever the same. But sometimes eternity is celebrated in the
Oracles, even as temporal, and time as eternal. But if we know them better
and more accurately, things spiritual [55] are spoken of and denoted by
Eternity, and things subject to generation by time. It is necessary then to
suppose that things called eternal are not absolutely co-eternal with God,
Who is before Eternity, but that following unswervingly the most august
Oracles, we should understand things eternal and temporal according to the
hopes recognized by them, hut whatever participates partly in eternity and
partly in time, as things midway between things spiritual and things being
born. But Almighty God we ought to celebrate, both as eternity and time, as
Author of every time and eternity, and “Ancient of days,” as before time,
and above time; and as changing appointed seasons and times; and again as
being before ages, in so far as He is both before eternity and above
eternity and His kingdom, a kingdom of all the Ages. Amen.

[54] Dulac, p. 226.

[55] ta onta—actual.


Concerning Peace, and what is meant by the self-existent Being; what is the
self-existent Life, and what the self-existent Power, and such like


COME, then, let us extol the Peace Divine, and Source of conciliation, by
hymns of peace! For this it is which unifies all, and engenders, and effects
the agreement and fellowship of all. Wherefore, even all things aspire to
it, which turns their divided multiplicity into the thorough Oneness, and
unifies the tribal war of the whole into a homogeneous dwelling together, by
the participation of the divine Peace. With regard, then, to the more
reverend of the conciliating powers, these indeed are united to themselves
and to each other, and to the one Source of Peace of the whole; and the
things (that are) under them, these they unite also to themselves and to
each other, and to the One and all-perfect Source and Cause of the Peace of
all, which, passing in-divisibly to the whole, limits and terminates and
secures everything, as if by a kind of bolts, which bind together things
that are separated; and do not permit them, when separated, to rush to
infinity and the boundless, and to become without order, and without
stability, and destitute of God, and to depart from the union amongst
themselves, and to become intermingled m each other, in every sort of
confusion. Concerning then, this, the Divine Peace and Repose, which the
holy Justus calls unutterableness, and, as compared with every known
progression, immobility, how it rests and is at ease, and how it is in
itself, and within itself, and entire, and to itself entire is super-united,
and when entering into itself, and multiplying itself, neither loses its own
Union, but even proceeds to all, whilst remaining entire within, by reason
of excess of its Union surpassing all, it is neither permitted, nor
attainable to any existing being, either to express or to understand. But,
having premised this, as unutterable and unknowable, as being beyond all,
let us examine its conceived and uttered participations, and this, as
possible to men, and to us, as inferior to many good men.


First then, this must be said, that It is mainstay of the self-existent
Peace, both the general and the particular; and that It mingles all things
with each other within their unconfused union, as beseems which, united
indivisibly, and at the same time they severally continuously unmingled
stand, as regards their own proper kind, not muddled through their mingling
with the opposite, nor blunting any of their unifying distinctness and
purity. Let us then contemplate a certain One and simple nature of the
peaceful Union, unifying all things to Itself, and to themselves, and to
each other; and preserving all things in an unconfused grasp of all, both
unmingled and mingled together; by reason of which the divine Minds, being
united,, are united to their own conceptions, and to the things conceived;
and again they ascend to the unknowable contact of things fixed above mind;
by reason of which, souls, by uniting their manifold reasonings, and
collecting them together to an One intellectual Purity, advance in a manner
proper to themselves, by method and order, through the immaterial and
indivisible conception, to the union above conception; by reason of which,
the one and indissoluble connection of all is established, within its Divine
Harmony, and is harmonized by complete concord and agreement and fellowship,
being united without confusion, and held together without division. For the
fulness of the perfect Peace passes through to all existing things, as
beseems the most simple, and unmingled presence of Its unifying power,
making all One. and binding the extremes through the intermediate to the
extremes, which are yoked together in an one connatural friendship; and
bestowing the enjoyment of Itself, even to the furthest extremities of the
whole, and making all things of one family, by the unities, the identities,
the unions, the conjunctions of the Divine Peace, standing of course
indivisibly, and showing all in one, and passing through all, and not
stepping out of Its own identity. For It advances to all, and imparts Itself
to all, in a manner appropriate to them, and there overflows an abundance of
peaceful fertility; and It remains, through excess of union, super-united,
entire, to and throughout Its whole self.


But how, some one may say, do all things aspire to peace, for many things
rejoice in diversity and division, and would not, at any time, of their own
accord, be willingly in repose. Now, if in saying this, he affirms, that the
identity of each existing thing is diversity and division, and that there is
no existent thing whatever, which at any time is willing to destroy this
(identity), neither would we in any way contradict this, but would declare
even this an aspiration after peace. For all things love to dwell at peace,
and to be united amongst themselves, and to be unmoved and unfallen from
themselves, and the things of themselves. And the perfect Peace seeks to
guard the idiosyncrasy of each unmoved and unconfused, by its peace-giving
forethought, preserving everything unmoved and unconfused, both as regards
themselves and each other, and establishes all things by a stable and
unswerving power, towards their own peace and immobility.


And if all things in motion desire, not repose, but ever to make known their
own proper movement, even this is an aspiration after the Divine Peace of
the whole, which preserves all things from falling away of their own accord,
and guards the idiosyncrasy and moving life of all moving things unmoved and
free from falling, so that the things moved, being at peace amongst
themselves, and always in the same condition, perform their own proper


But if, in affirming the diversity as a falling from peace, he insists that
peace is not beloved by all, verily there is no existing being which has
entirely fallen from every kind of union; for, the altogether unstable and
infinite, and unestablished, and without limit, is neither an actual thing,
nor in things actual. But if he says, that those are inimical to peace, and
good things of peace, who rejoice in strife and anger and changes and
disturbances, even these are controlled by obscure images of a peaceful
aspiration; being vexed by tumultuous passions, and ignorantly aspiring to
calm them, they imagine that they will pacify themselves by the
gratification of things which ever elude them, and they are disturbed by the
non-attainment of the pleasures which overpowered them. What would any one
say of the peaceful stream of love towards man in Christ, according to which
we have learned no longer to wage war, either with ourselves, or each other,
or with angels, but that with them, according to our power, we should also
be fellow-workers in Divine things, after the purpose of Jesus, Who worketh
all in all, and forms a peace unutterable and pre-determined from Eternity,
and reconciles us to Himself, in Spirit, and through Himself and in Himself
to the Father; concerning which supernatural gifts it is sufficiently spoken
in the Theological Outlines, whilst the Oracles of the sacred inspiration
furnish us with additional testimony.


But, since you once asked me by letter, what in the world I consider the
self-existent Being, the self-existent Life, the self-existent Wisdom, and
said that you debated with yourself how, at one time, I call Almighty God,
self-existent Life, and at another, Mainstay of the self-existent Life, I
thought it necessary, O holy man of God, to also free you from this
difficulty, so far as lay in my power. And first then, in order that we may
now resume that which I have said a thousand times already, there is no
contradiction in saying that Almighty God is self-existent Power, or
self-existent Life, and that He is Mainstay of the self-existent Life or
Peace or Power. For the latter, He is named from things existing, and
specially from the first existing, as Cause of all existing things; and the
former, as being above all, even the first existing of beings, being above
superessentially. But you say, what in the world do we call the
self-existent Being, or the self-existent Life, or whatever we lay down to
be absolutely and originally and to have stood forth primarily from God? And
we reply, this is not crooked but straight, and has a simple explanation.
For we do not say that the self-existent Being, as Cause of the being of all
things, is a sort of Divine or angelic essence (for the Superessential alone
is Source and Essence and Cause of the existence of all things, and of the
self-existent Being), nor that another Deity, besides the Super-divine,
produces Life for all that live, and is a Life Causative of the
self-existent Life; nor to speak summarily, that essences and personalities
originate and make existing things, so that superficial people have named
them both gods, and creators of existing things,—whom, to speak truly and
properly, neither they themselves knew (for they are non-existent), nor
their fathers,—but we call self-existent Being, and self-existent Life, and
self-existent Deity, as regards at least Source, and Deity, and Cause, the
One Superior and Superessential Source and Cause; but as regards
Impartation, the providential Powers, that issue forth from God the
unparticipating, (these we call) the self-existent essentiation,
self-existent living, self-existent deification, by participating in which
according to their own capacity, things existing, both are, and are said to
be, existing, and living, and full of God—and the rest in the same way.
Wherefore also, He is called the good Mainstay of the first of these, then
of the whole of them, then of the portions of them, then of those who
participate in them entirely, then of those who participate in them in part.
And why must we speak of these things, since some of our divine instructors
in holy things, affirm that the Super-good and Super-divine self-existent
Goodness and Deity, is Mainstay even of the self-existent Goodness and
Deity; affirming that the good-making and deifying gift issued forth from
God; and that the self-existent beautifying stream, is self-existent beauty,
and whole beauty, and partial beauty, and things absolutely beautiful, and
things partially beautiful, and whatever other things are said and shall be
said after the same fashion, which declare that providences and goodnesses
issuing forth from God the unparticipating, in an ungrudging stream, are
participated by existing things, and bubble over in order that distinctly
the Cause of all may be beyond all, and the Superessential and Supernatural
may, in every respect, be above things of any sort of essence and nature


Concerning Holy of Holies, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God of Gods.


BUT since whatever we have to say on these matters has reached, in my
opinion, a fitting conclusion, we must sing Him of endless names, both as
Holy of Holies and King of Kings; and as ruling eternity and for ever and
beyond, and as Lord of Lords, and God of Gods. And first we must say, what
we think Holiness Itself is; and what Kingdom, and what Lordship, and what
Divinity, and what the Oracles wish to denote by the duplication of the


Holiness then is (so far as we can say) the purity free from every
pollution, and all perfect, and altogether unstained; Kingdom is the
assignment of every limit and order, and ordinance and rank; and Lordship is
not only the superiority over the worse, but also the perfect possession,
in. every respect, of the Beautiful and Good; and a true and unswerving
stability. Wherefore Lordship is parallel to to Kuros kai kurion, kai to
kuristōn [56] ; and Deity is the Providence watching over all, and with
perfect goodness both circumscribing and grasping all, and filling with
Itself, and surpassing all things which enjoy Its forethought.


These things, then, must be sung absolutely, respecting the Cause surpassing
all, and we must add that It surpasses Holiness, and Lordship, and Kingdom,
and most simplex [57] Deity. For, from It, individually and collectively,
were born and distributed every untarnished distinctness of every spotless
purity, the whole arrangement and regulation of things existing, whilst It
excludes want of harmony and want of equality, and want of symmetry, and
rejoices over the well-ordered identity and rectitude, and leads round
things, deemed worthy to participate in Itself. From It is all the perfect
and complete possession of all. good things, every good forethought,
watching and sustaining the objects of Its forethought, imparting Itself, as
befits Its goodness, for deification of those who are turned to It.


But since the Cause of all is super-full of all, as beseems the One
superfluity which surpasses all, He is sung as Holy of Holies and the rest,
as beseems an overflowing Cause, and a towering Pre-eminence. As one might
say, so far as the things which are,—holy or divine, or lordly, or
kingly,—surpass the things which are not, and the self-existent
participations, their participants; to such an extent is seated above all
things that be, He Who is above all things that be, and the unparticipating
Cause of all the participants and the participations. But Holy and Kings and
Lords and Gods, the Oracles call the higher orders in each, through whom the
inferior in participating the gifts from God, multiply the simplicity of
their distribution around their own diversities, the variety of which, the
superior orders carefully and divinely collect to their own Oneness.

[56] The rendering of which may be, the lordly, and the lordlier, and the

[57] Letter 2.


Concerning “Perfect” and “One”.


So much then on these matters; but let us now at last, with your good
pleasure, approach the most difficult subject in the whole discourse. For
the Word of God predicates everything, singly and collectively, respecting
the Cause of all, and extols Him both as Perfect and as One [58] . He is
then perfect not only as self-perfect, and solitarily separated within
Himself, by Himself, and throughout most perfect, but also as super-perfect,
as beseems His pre-eminence over all, and limiting every infinitude, and
surpassing every term, and by none contained or comprehended; but even
extending at once to all, and above all, by His unfailing gratuities and
endless energies. But, on the other hand, He is called perfect, both as
without increase, and always perfect, and as undiminished, as pre-holding
all things in Himself, and overflowing as beseems one, inexhaustible, and
same, and super-full, and undiminished, abundance, in accordance with which
He perfects all perfect things, and fills them with His own perfection.


But One, because He is uniquely all, as beseems an excess of unique Oneness,
and is Cause of all without departing from the One. For there is no single
existing being, which does not participate in the one, but as every number
participates in an unit, and one dual and one decade is spoken of, and one
half, and one third and tenth, so everything, and part of everything
participates in the one, and by the fact that the One is, all existing
things are. And the Cause of all is not One, as one of many, but before
every one and multitude, and determinative of every one and multitude. For
there is no multitude which does not partake in some way or other of the
one. Yea, that which is many by parts, is one in the whole; and the many by
the accidents, is one by the subject; and the many by the number or the
powers, is one by the species, and the many by the species, is one by the
genus; and the many by the progressions, is one by the source. And there is
no single thing which does not participate in some way in the one, which
uniformly pre-held in the uniqueness throughout all, all and whole, all,
even the things opposed. And indeed, without the one there will not be a
multitude, but without the multitude there will be the one, even as the unit
previous to every multiplied number; and, if any one should suppose, that
all things are united to all, the All will be one in the whole.


Especially must this be known, that according to the pre-conceived species
of each one, things united are said to be made one, and the one is elemental
of all; and if you should take away the one, there will be neither totality
nor part, nor any other single existing thing. For the one, uniformly,
pre-held and comprehended all things in itself. For this reason, then, the
Word of God celebrates the whole Godhead, as Cause of all, by the epithet of
the One, both one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, and one and the
same Spirit, by reason of the surpassing indivisibility of the whole Divine
Oneness, in which all things are uniquely collected, and are super-unified,
and are with It Superessentially. Wherefore also, all things are justly
referred and attributed to It, by Which and from Which, and through Which,
and in Which, and to Which, all things are, and are co-ordinated, and abide,
and are held together, and are filled, and are turned towards It. And you
would not find any existing thing, which is not what it is, and perfected
and preserved, by the One, after which the whole Deity is superessentially
named. And it is necessary also, that we being turned from the many to the
One, by the power of the Divine Oneness, should celebrate as One the whole
and one Deity—the one Cause of all—which is before every one and multitude,
and part and whole, and limit and illimitability, and term and infinity,
which bounds all things that be, even the Being Itself, and is uniquely
Cause of all, individually and collectively, and at the same time before
all, and above all, and above the One existing Itself, and bounding the One
existing Itself; since the One existing—that in things being—is numbered,
and number participates in essence; but the superessential One bounds both
the One existing, and every number, and Itself is, of both one and number,
and every being, Source and Cause, and Number and. Order. Wherefore also,
whilst celebrated as Unit and Triad, the Deity above all is neither Unit nor
Triad, as understood by us or by any other sort of being, but, in order that
we may celebrate truly. Its super-oneness, and Divine generation, by the
threefold and single name of God, we name the Deity, Which is inexpressible
to things that be, the Superessential. But no Unit nor Triad, nor number nor
unity, nor productiveness, nor any other existing thing, or thing known to
any existing thing, brings forth the hiddenness, above every expression and
every mind, of the Super-Deity Which is above all superessentially. Nor has
It a Name, or expression, but is elevated above in the inaccessible. And
neither do we apply the very Name of Goodness, as making it adequate to It,
but through a desire of understanding and saying something concerning that
inexpressible nature, we consecrate the most august of Names to It, in the
first degree, and although we should be in accord in this matter with the
theologians, yet we shall fall short of the truth of the facts. Wherefore,
even they have given the preference to the ascent through negations, as
lifting the soul out of things kindred to itself, and conducting it through
all the Divine conceptions, above which towers that which is above every
name, and every expression and knowledge, and at the furthest extremity
attaching it to Him, as far indeed as is possible for us to be attached to
that Being.


We then, having collected these intelligible Divine Names, have unfolded
them to the best of our ability, falling short not only of the precision
which belongs to them, (for this truly, even Angels might say) nor only of
their praises as sung by Angels (and the chief of our Theologians come
behind the lowest of them), nor indeed of the Theologians themselves, nor of
their followers or companions, but even of those who are of the same rank as
ourselves, last and subordinate to them; so that, if the things spoken
should be correct, and, if we, as far as in us lies, have really reached the
perception of the unfolding of the Divine Names, let the fact be ascribed to
the Author of all good things, Who, Himself, bestows first the power to
speak, then to speak well. And if any one of the Names of the same force has
been passed over, that also you must understand according to the same
methods. But, if these things are either incorrect or imperfect, and we have
wandered from the truth, either wholly or partially, may it be of thy
brotherly kindness to correct him, who unwillingly is ignorant, and to
impart a word to him, who wishes to learn, and to vouchsafe assistance to
him, who has not power in himself; and to heal him, who, not willingly, is
sick; and having found out some things from thyself, and others from others,
and receiving all from the good to transfer them also to us. By no means
grow weary in doing good to a man thy friend, for thou perceivest, that we
also have kept to ourselves none of the hierarchical communications
transmitted to us, but have transmitted them without flaw, both to you and
to other holy men, yea, and will continue to transmit them, as we may be
sufficient to speak, and those to whom we speak, to hear, doing injury in no
respect to the tradition, if at least we do not fail in the conception and
expression thereof. But, let these things be held and spoken in such way, as
is well pleasing to Almighty God; and let this indeed be our conclusion to
the intelligible Divine Names. But I will now pass to the Symbolic Theology
[59] , with God for my Guide.

27 October, 1896.

[58] [Greek]. It should be noted that where He, Him and His are used in this
Section, the Neuter is used in the Greek.

[59] See letter to Titus.



” MY love is crucified.”

Upon this passage I differ from all the commentators that I know. I believe
the passage to have been written and inserted in the text by Dionysius when
writing this letter, which must have been before A.D. 98. I do not think it
a quotation from the letter of Ignatius written just previous to his
martyrdom. I think Dionysius quoted some previous writing of Ignatius, in
which he spoke of our Saviour as ”My Love, Which is mine.” That is the sense
in this passage, to shew the exalted use of Love. In the letter of Ignatius
to the Romans, he seems to use ”love” in the sense of human passion or fire,
and says that that is crucified in him. In any case, there is no
chronological difficulty. Ignatius was martyred A.D. 107, Dionysius, A.D.


MYSTIC THEOLOGY is like that ladder set up on the earth whose top reached to
Heaven on which the angels of God were ascending and descending, and above
which stood Almighty God. The Angel ascending is the “negative” which
distinguishes Almighty God from all created things. God is not matter—soul,
mind, spirit, any being, nor even being itself, but above and beyond all
these. The Angel descending is the “Affirmative.” God is good, wise,
powerful, the Being, until we come to Symbolic Theology, which denotes Him
under material forms and conditions: Theology prefers the negative because
Almighty God is more appropriately presented by distinction than by



What is the Divine Gloom?


TRIAD supernal, both super-God and super-good, Guardian of the Theosophy of
Christian men, direct us aright to the super-unknown and super-brilliant and
highest summit of the mystic Oracles, where the simple and absolute and
changeless mysteries of theology lie hidden within the super-luminous gloom
of the silence, revealing hidden things, which in its deepest darkness
shines above the most super-brilliant, and in the altogether impalpable and
invisible, fills to overflowing the eyeless minds with glories of surpassing
beauty. This then be my prayer; but thou, O dear Timothy, by thy persistent
commerce with the mystic visions, leave behind both sensible perceptions and
intellectual efforts, and all objects of sense and intelligence, and all
things not being and being, and be raised aloft unknowingly to the union, as
far as attainable, with Him Who is above every essence and knowledge. For by
the resistless and absolute ecstasy in all purity, from thyself and all,
thou wilt be carried on high, to the superessential ray of the Divine
darkness, when thou hast cast away all, and become free from all.


But see that none of the uninitiated listen to these things—those I mean who
are entangled in things being, and fancy there is nothing superessentially
above things being, but imagine that they know, by their own knowledge, Him,
Who has placed darkness as His hiding-place. But, if the Divine initiations
are above such, what would any one say respecting those still more
uninitiated, such as both portray the Cause exalted above all, from the
lowest of things created, and say that It in no wise excels the no-gods
fashioned by themselves and of manifold shapes, it being our duty both to
attribute and affirm all the attributes of things existing to It, as Cause
of all, and more properly to deny them all to It, as being above all, and
not to consider the negations to be in opposition to the affirmations, but
far rather that It, which is above every abstraction and definition, is
above the privations.


Thus, then, the divine Bartholomew says that Theology is much and least, and
the Gospel broad and great, and on the other hand concise. He seems to me to
have comprehended this supernaturally, that the good Cause of all is both of
much utterance, and at the same time of briefest utterance and without
utterance; as having neither utterance nor conception, because It is
superessentially exalted above all, and manifested without veil and in
truth, to those alone who pass through both all things consecrated and pure,
and ascend above every ascent of all holy summits, and leave behind all
divine lights and sounds, and heavenly words, and enter into the gloom,
where really is, as the Oracles say, He Who is beyond all. For even the
divine Moses is himself strictly bidden to be first purified, and then to be
separated from those who are not so, and after entire cleansing hears the
many-voiced trumpets, and sees many lights, shedding pure and streaming
rays; then he is separated from the multitude, and with the chosen priests
goes first to the summit of the divine ascents, although even then he does
not meet with Almighty God Himself, but views not Him (for He is viewless)
but the place where He is. Now this I think signifies that the most Divine
and Highest of the things seen and contemplated are a sort of suggestive
expression, of the things subject to Him Who is above all, through which His
wholly inconceivable Presence is shown, reaching to the highest spiritual
summits of His most holy places; and then he (Moses) is freed from them who
are both seen and seeing, and enters into the gloom of the Agnosia; a gloom
veritably mystic, within which he closes all perceptions of knowledge and
enters into the altogether impalpable and unseen, being wholly of Him Who is
beyond all, and of none, neither himself nor other; and by inactivity of all
knowledge, united in his better part to. the altogether Unknown, and by
knowing nothing, knowing above mind.


How we ought both to be united and render praise to the Cause of all and
above all.


WE pray to enter within the super-bright gloom, and through not seeing and
not knowing, to see and to know that the not to see nor to know is itself
the above sight and knowledge. For this is veritably to see and to know and
to celebrate super-essentially the Superessential, through the abstraction
of all existing things, just as those who make a lifelike statue, by
extracting all the encumbrances which have been placed upon the clear view
of the concealed, and by bringing to light, by the mere cutting away [60] ,
the genuine beauty concealed in it. And, it is necessary, as I think, to
celebrate the abstractions in an opposite way to the definitions. For, we
used to place these latter by beginning from the foremost and descending
through the middle to the lowest, but, in this case, by making the ascents
from the lowest to the highest, we abstract everything, in order that,
without veil, we may know that Agnosia, which is enshrouded under all the
known, in all things that be, and may see that superessential gloom, which
is hidden by all the light in existing things.

[60] i.e. the abstraction.


What are the affirmative expressions respecting God, and what the negative.


IN the Theological Outlines, then, we celebrated the principal affirmative
expressions respecting God—how the Divine and good Nature is spoken of as
One—how as Threefold—what is that within it which is spoken of as Paternity
and Sonship—what the Divine name of “the Spirit “is meant to signify,—how
from the immaterial and indivisible Good the Lights dwelling in the heart of
Goodness sprang forth, and remained, in their branching forth, without
departing from the coeternal abiding in Himself and in Themselves and in
each other,—how the super-essential Jesus takes substance in veritable human
nature—and whatever other things, made known by the Oracles, are celebrated
throughout the Theological Outlines; and in the treatise concerning Divine
Names, how He is named Good—how Being—how Life and Wisdom and Power—and
whatever else belongs to the nomenclature of God. Further, in the Symbolical
Theology, what are the Names transferred from objects of sense to things
Divine?—what are the Divine forms?—what the Divine appearances, and parts
and organs?—what the Divine places and ornaments?—what the angers?—what the
griefs?—and the Divine wrath?—what the carousals, and the ensuing
sicknesses?—what the oaths,—and what the curses?—what the sleepings, and
what the awakings?—and all the other Divinely formed representations, which
belong to the description of God, through symbols. And I imagine that you
have comprehended, how the lowest are expressed in somewhat more words than
the first. For, it was necessary that the Theological Outlines, and the
unfolding of the Divine Names should be expressed in fewer words than the
Symbolic Theology; since, in proportion as we ascend to the higher, in such
a degree the expressions are circumscribed by the contemplations of the
things intelligible. As even now, when entering into the gloom which is
above mind, we shall find, not a little speaking, but a complete absence of
speech, and absence of conception. In the other case, the discourse, in
descending from the above to the lowest, is widened according to the
descent, to a proportionate extent; but now, in ascending from below to that
which is above, in proportion to the ascent, it is contracted, and after a
complete ascent, it will become wholly voiceless, and will be wholly united
to the unutterable. But, for what reason in short, you say, having
attributed the Divine attributes from the foremost, do we begin the Divine
abstraction from things lowest? Because it is necessary that they who place
attributes on that which is above every attribute, should place the
attributive affirmation from that which is more cognate to it; but that they
who abstract, with regard to that which is above every abstraction, should
make the abstraction from things which are further removed from it. Are not
life and goodness more (cognate) than air and stone? and He is not given to
debauch and to wrath, more (removed) than He is not expressed nor conceived.


That the pre-eminent Cause of every object of sensible perception is none of
the objects of sensible perception.


WE say then- that the Cause of all, which is above all, is neither without
being, nor without life—nor with- out reason, nor without mind, nor is a
body—nor has shape—nor form—nor quality, or quantity, or bulk—nor is in a
place—nor is seen—nor has sensible contact—nor perceives, nor is perceived,
by the senses—nor has disorder and confusion, as being vexed by earthly
passions,—nor is powerless, as being subject to casualties of sense,—nor is
in need of light;—neither is It, nor has It, change, or decay, or division,
or deprivation, or flux,—or any other of the objects of sense.


That the pre-eminent Cause of every object of intelligible perception is
none of the objects of intelligible perception.

ON the other hand, ascending, we say, that It is neither soul, nor mind, nor
has imagination, or opinion, or reason, or conception; neither is expressed,
nor conceived; neither is number, nor order, nor greatness, nor littleness;
nor equality, nor inequality; nor similarity, nor dissimilarity; neither is
standing, nor moving; nor at rest; neither has power, nor is power, nor
light; neither lives, nor is life; neither is essence nor eternity, nor
time; neither is Its touch intelligible, neither is It science, nor truth;
nor kingdom, nor wisdom; neither one, nor oneness; neither Deity, nor
Goodness; nor is It Spirit according to our understanding; nor Sonship, nor
Paternity; nor any other thing of those known to us, or to any other
existing being; neither is It any of non-existing nor of existing things,
nor do things existing know It, as It is; nor does It know existing things,
qua existing; neither is there expression of It, nor name, nor knowledge;
neither is It darkness, nor light; nor error, nor truth; neither is there
any definition at all of It, nor any abstraction. But when making the
predications and abstractions of things after It, we neither predicate, nor
abstract from It; since the all-perfect and uniform Cause of all is both
above every definition and the pre-eminence of Him, Who is absolutely freed
from all, and beyond the whole, is also above every abstraction.


THESE Letters attest the existence of the writings, and the wisdom spoken
among the perfect, in the Apostolic Age.—To Gaius, who is commemorated by
St. John and St. Paul, we owe the explanation of Agnosia, and valued
teaching on the Personality of our Lord; to Dorotheus we are indebted for a
fuller explanation of the Divine Gloom; to Sosipater, twice mentioned in the
Acts and Romans, we owe the wisest letter ever penned for the instruction of
the Christian Apologist and Missionary. The Letter to Polycarp touches on
those mysterious signs in the heavens, by which Almighty God shewed His
universal power. Dionysius shews his reverence for God’s holy word, by never
seeking to explain away, or to substitute what seems a less miracle for a
greater. The trifold Mithra commemorated amongst the Babylonians shews that
Hezekiah’s sign was not merely visible and observed in Judea. The King, as
High Priest of his people, was already robed for evening prayer, when he
observed the sun gone back; and one day became almost three, i.e. thirty-two
hours instead of thirty-six. Dionysius describes the darkness at the time of
the Crucifixion, as it appeared in Egypt, and is recorded by Phlegon. We do
not explain and interpret the facts recorded in the Gospel, by denying them,
or by treating the same testimony outside the Gospel as superstitious.

To Demophilus, we owe a knowledge of Church-law and order, which teaches the
Christian duty of being “sent,” and which should teach clergy to obey their
Bishop, and not merely the Act of uniformity. To Titus, we owe the
preservation of the sum of the Symbolic Theology. From the letter to St.
John in Patmos, we learn the love between St. John arid Dionysius, and that
St. John was then Called the “Sun of the Gospel.” From the letter to
Apollophanes, we know that the prayers of Dionysius for the conversion of
his friend did not fall to the ground. Apollophanes was tutor to Polemon,
who again was tutor to Aristides, who presented his “Apology” to the Emperor
Hadrian. The conversion of Statonice, the wife of Apollophanes, was the
cause of St. Paul’s being cast into chains at Philippi, where the messengers
from Corinth found him, through whom he sent the Epistle recently brought to
light [61] .

Circumcision, 1897.

[61] See “Correspondence of St, Paul,” Carrière et Berger, p. 20.
Fishbacher, Paris.


LETTER I. To Gaius Therapeutes.

DARKNESS becomes invisible by light, and specially by much light. Varied
knowledge (ai gnōseis), and especially much varied knowledge, makes the
Agnosia [62] to vanish. Take this in a superlative, but not in a defective
sense, and reply with superlative truth, that the Agnosia, respecting God,
escapes those who possess existing light, and knowledge of things being; and
His pre-eminent darkness is both concealed by every light, and is hidden
from every knowledge. And, if any one, having seen God, understood what he
saw, he did not see Him, but some of His creatures that are existing and
known. But He Himself, highly established above mind, and above essence, by
the very fact of His being wholly unknown, and not being, both is
super-essentially, and is known above mind. And the all-perfect Agnosia, in
its superior sense, is a knowledge of Him, Who is above all known things.

[62] C. I. § 1.

LETTER II. To the same Gaius Therapeutes.

How is He, Who is beyond all [63] , both above source of Divinity and above
source of Good? Provided you understand Deity and Goodness, as the very
Actuality of the Good-making and God-making gift, and the inimitable
imitation of the super-divine and super-good (gift), by aid of which we are
deified and made good. For, moreover, if this becomes source of the
deification and making good of those who are being deified and made good,
He,—Who is super-source of every source, even of the so-called Deity and
Goodness, seeing He is beyond source of Divinity and source of Goodness, in
so far as He is inimitable, and not to be retained—excels the imitations and
retentions, and the things which are imitated and those participating.

[63] C. II. § 6.

LETTER III. To the same Gaius.

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

LETTER IV. [64] To the same Gaius Therapeutes.

How, you ask, is Jesus, Who is beyond all, ranked essentially with all men?
For, not as Author of men is He here called man, but as being in absolute
whole essence truly man. But we do not define the Lord Jesus, humanly, for
He is not man only, (neither superessential nor man only), but truly man, He
Who is pre-eminently a lover of man, the Super-essential, taking substance,
above men and after men, from the substance of men. And it is nothing less,
the ever Superessential, super-full of super-essentiality, disregards the
excess [65] of this, and having come truly into substance, took substance
above substance, and above man works things of man. And a virgin
supernaturally conceiving, and unstable water, holding up weight of material
and earthly feet, and not giving way, but, by a supernatural power standing
together so as not to be divided, demonstrate this. Why should any one go
through the rest, which are very many? Through which, he who looks with a
divine vision, will know beyond mind, even the things affirmed respecting
the love towards man, of (the Lord) Jesus,—things which possess a force of
superlative negation. For, even, to speak summarily, He was not man, not as
not being man, but as being from men was beyond men, and was above man,
having truly been born man, and for the rest, not having done things Divine
as God, nor things human as man, but exercising for us a certain new
God-incarnate energy of God having become man.

[64] C. II. § 6.

[65] tē tautēs periousia.

LETTER V. To Dorotheus, Leitourgos.

The Divine gloom is the unapproachable light in which God is said to dwell
[66] . And in this gloom, invisible [67] indeed, on account of the
surpassing brightness, and unapproachable on account of the excess of the
superessential stream of light, enters every one deemed worthy to know and
to see God, by the very fact of neither seeing nor knowing, really entering
in Him, Who is above vision and knowledge, knowing this very thing, that He
is after all the object of sensible and intelligent perception, and saying
in the words of the Prophet, “Thy knowledge was regarded as wonderful by me;
It was confirmed; I can by no means attain unto it [68] ;” even as the
Divine Paul is said to have known Almighty God, by having known Him as being
above all conception and knowledge. Wherefore also, he says, “His ways are
past finding out [69] and His Judgements inscrutable,” and His gifts
“indescribable [70] ,” and that His peace surpasses every mind [71] , as
having found Him Who is above all, and having known this which is above
conception, that, by being Cause of all, He is beyond all.

[66] 1 Tim. vi. 6.

[67] Ib. i. 17.

[68] Ps. cxxxix. 6.

[69] Rom. xi. 33.

[70] 2 Cor. ix. 15.

[71] Phil. iv. 7.

LETTER VI. To Sopatros [72] —Priest.

Do not imagine this a victory, holy Sopatros, to have denounced [73] a
devotion, or an opinion, which apparently is not good. For neither—even if
you should have convicted it accurately—are the (teachings) of Sopatros
consequently good. For it is possible, both that you and others, whilst
occupied in many things that are false and apparent, should overlook the
true, which is One and hidden. For neither, if anything is not red, is it
therefore white, nor if something is not a horse, is it necessarily a man.
But thus will you do, if you follow my advice, you will cease indeed to
speak against others, but will so speak on behalf of truth, that every thing
said is altogether unquestionable.

[72] Acts xx. 4; Rom. xvi. 21.

[73] Tit. iii. 9.


SECTION I. To Polycarp—Hierarch.

I, at any rate, am not conscious, when speaking in reply to Greeks or
others, of fancying to assist good men, in case they should be able to know
and speak the very truth, as it really is in itself. For, when this is
correctly demonstrated in its essential nature, according to a law of truth,
and has been established without flaw, every thing which is otherwise, and
simulates the truth, will be convicted of being other than the reality, and
dissimilar, and that which is seeming rather than real. It is superfluous
then, that the expounder of truth should contend with these or those [74] .
For each affirms himself to have the royal coin, and perchance has some
deceptive image of a certain portion of the true. And, if you refute this,
first the one, and then the other, will contend concerning the same. But,
when the true statement itself has been correctly laid down, and has
remained unrefuted by all the rest, every thing which is not so in every
respect is cast down of itself, by the impregnable stability of the really
true. Having then as I think well understood this, I have not been over
zealous to speak in reply to Greeks or to others; but it is sufficient for
me (and may God grant this), first to know about truth, then, having known,
to speak as it is fitting to speak.


But you say, the Sophist Apollophanes rails at me, and calls me parricide,
as using, not piously, the writings of Greeks against the Greeks. Yet, in
reply to him, it were more true for us to say, that Greeks use, not piously,
things Divine against things Divine, attempting through the wisdom of
Almighty God to eject the Divine Worship. And I am not speaking of the
opinion of the multitude, who cling tenaciously to the writings of the
poets, with earthly and impassioned proclivities, and Worship the creature
[75] rather than the Creator; but even Apollophanes himself uses not piously
things Divine against things Divine; for by the knowledge of things created,
well called Philosophy by him, and by the divine Paul named Wisdom of God,
the true philosophers ought to have been elevated to the Cause of things
created and of the knowledge of them. And in order that he may not
improperly impute to me the opinion of others, or that of himself,
Apollophanes, being a wise man, ought to recognise that nothing could
otherwise be removed from its heavenly course and movement, if it had not
the Sustainer and Cause of its being moving it thereto, who forms all
things, and “transforms them [76] ” according to the sacred text. How then
does he not worship Him, known to us even from this, and verily being God of
the whole, admiring Him for His all causative and super-inexpressible power,
when sun [77] and moon, together with the universe, by a power and stability
most supernatural, were fixed by them to entire immobility, and, for a
measure of a whole day, all the constellations stood in the same places; or
(which is greater than even this), if when the whole and the greater and
embracing were thus carried along, those embraced did not follow in their
course; and when a certain other day [78] was almost tripled in duration,
even in twenty whole hours [79] , either the universe retraced contrary
routes for so long a time, and (was) turned back by the thus very most
supernatural backward revolutions; or the sun, in its own course, having
contracted its five-fold motion in ten hours, retrogressively again retraced
it in the other ten hours, by traversing a sort of new route. This thing
indeed naturally astounded even Babylonians [80] , and, without battle,
brought them into subjection to Hezekiah, as though he were a somebody equal
to God, and superior to ordinary men. And, by no means do I allege the great
works in Egypt [81] , or certain other Divine portents, which took place
elsewhere, but the well-known and celestial ones, which were renowned in
every place and by all persons. But Apollophanes is ever saying that these
things are not true. At any rate then, this is reported by the Persian
sacerdotal legends, and to this day, Magi celebrate the memorials of the
threefold Mithrus [82] . But let him disbelieve these things, by reason of
his ignorance or his inexperience. Say to him, however, “What do you affirm
concerning the eclipse, which took place at the time of the saving Cross
[83] ?” For both of us at that time, at Heliopolis, being present, and
standing together, saw the moon approaching the sun, to our surprise (for it
was not appointed time for conjunction); and again, from the ninth hour to
the evening, supernaturally placed back again into a line opposite the sun.
And remind him also of something further. For he knows that we saw, to our
surprise, the contact itself beginning from the east, and going towards the
edge of the sun’s disc, then receding back, and again, both the contact and
the re-clearing [84] , not taking place from the same point, but from that
diametrically opposite. So great are the supernatural things of that
appointed time, and possible to Christ alone, the Cause of all, Who worketh
great things and marvellous, of which there is not number.


These things say, if occasion serves, and if possible, O Apollophanes,
refute them, and to me, who was then both present with thee, and saw and
judged and wondered with thee at them all. And in truth Apollophanes begins
prophesying at that time, I know not whence, and to me he said, as if
conjecturing the things taking place, “these things, O excellent Dionysius,
are requitals of Divine deeds.” Let so much be said by us by letter; but you
are capable, both to supply the deficiency, and to bring eventually to God
that distinguished man, who is wise in many things, and who perhaps will not
disdain to meekly learn the truth, which is above wisdom, of our religion.

[74] Greeks or others.

[75] 1 Cor. ii. 7.

[76] Dan. ii. 21. See note, p. 184.

[77] Joshua x. 12-14; Eccl. xlvi. 4; Isaiah xxviii. 21.

[78] Of twelve hours: 2 Kings xx. 9-11; Isaiah xxxviii. 8.

[79] The “twenty hours” which made one day almost equal to three are
reckoned thus. A degree represents an hour. The Sun went down ten degrees =
ten hours. The Sun had then run already a course of ten hours, from 6 A.M.
to 4 P.M. In returning there were ten hours more, and in retracing the route
ten hours more, which together make thirty hours. The two hours, to complete
the day of twelve hours, make thirty-two hours. The thirty-two hours are
four hours less than thirty-six, the time of three days of twelve hours
each. One day was thus nearly equal to three. Whatever we may think the
facts, the Babylonians commemorated the threefold Mythra —the Sun—in
consequence. See Dulac.

[80] Isaiah xxxix. 1; 2 Kings xx. 12; 2 Chron. xxxii. 31.

[81] Ex. vii. 14.

[82] See Dulac.

[83] Mark xv. 33; Luke xxiii. 44.

[84] The contact or adumbration refers to the moon, the re-clearing to the
sun. See notes on this letter in Ant. Ed. and Schema, p. 258, vol. 2.

LETTER VIII. To Demophilus, Therapeutes. About minding ones own business,
and kindness.


The histories of the Hebrews say, O noble Demophilus, that, even that holy,
distinguished Moses was deemed worthy of the Divine manifestation on account
of his great meekness [85] . And, if at any time they describe him as being
excluded from the vision [86] of God, they do not cast him out from God for
his meekness. But they say that when speaking very rashly, and opposing the
Divine Counsels, Jehovah was angry with him with wrath. But when they make
him proclaimed by his God-discerned deserts, he is proclaimed, from his
pre-eminent imitation of the Good. For he was very meek, and on this account
is called “Servant of God,” and deemed more fit for vision of God than all
Prophets. Now, when certain envious [87] people were contending with him and
Aaron, about the High Priesthood and government of the tribes, he was
superior to all love of honour, and love of rule, and referred the
presidency over the people to the Divine judgment. And, when they even rose
up against him, and reproaching him concerning the precedency, were
threatening him, and were already almost upon him, the meek man invoked the
Good for preservation, but very suitably asserted that he would be guiltless
of all evils to the governed. For he knew that it is necessary, that the
familiar with God the Good should be moulded, as far as is attainable, to
that which is specially most like the Good, and should be conscious within
himself of the performance of deeds of good friendship. And what made David
[88] , the father of God, a friend of God? Even for being good and generous
towards enemies [89] . The Super-Good, and the Friend of Good says—“I have
found a man after mine own heart.” Further also, a generous injunction was
given, to care for even one’s enemy’s beasts of burden [90] . And Job [91]
was pronounced just, as being free from injury. And Joseph [92] did not take
revenge upon the brethren who had plotted against him; and Abel, at once,
and without suspicion, accompanied the fratricide. And the Word of God
proclaims all the good as not devising evil things [93] , not doing them
[94] , but neither being changed from the good, by the baseness of others
[95] , but, on the contrary, after the example of God [96] , as doing good
to, and throwing their shield over the evil; and generously calling them to
their own abundant goodness, and to their own similitude. But let us ascend
higher, not proclaiming the gentleness of holy men, nor kindness of
philanthropic angels, who take compassion upon nations, and invoke good [97]
on their behalf, and punish the destructive and devastating mobs, and,
whilst being grieved over calamities, yet rejoice over the safety of those
who are being called back to things good [98] ; nor whatever else the Word
of God teaches concerning the beneficent angels [99] ; but, whilst in
silence welcoming the beneficent rays of the really good and super-good
Christ, by them let us be lighted on our path, to His Divine works of
Goodness. For assuredly is it not of a Goodness inexpressible and beyond
conception, that He makes all things existing to be, and brought all things
themselves to being, and wishes all things ever to become near to Himself,
and participants of Himself, according to the aptitude of each? And why?
Because He clings lovingly to those who even depart from Him, and strives
[100] and beseeches not to be disowned by those beloved who are themselves
coy; and He bears with those who heedlessly reproach Him [101] , and Himself
makes excuse for them, and further promises to serve them, and runs towards
and meets [102] even those who hold themselves aloof, immediately that they
approach; and when His entire self has embraced their entire selves, He
kisses them, and does not reproach them for former things, but rejoices over
the present, and holds a feast, and calls together the friends, that is to
say, the good, in order that the household may be altogether rejoicing.
(But, Demophilus, of all persons in the world, is at enmity with, and very
justly rebukes, and teaches beautiful things to, good men, and rejoices.)
“For how,” He says, “ought not the good to rejoice over safety of the lost,
and over life of those who are dead.” And, as a matter of course, He raises
upon His shoulders that which with difficulty has been turned from error,
and summons the good angels to rejoicing, and is generous to the unthankful,
and makes His sun to rise upon evil and good, and presents His very soul
[103] as an offering on behalf of those who are fleeing from Him.

But thou, as thy letters testify, I do not know how, being in thy senses,
hast spurned one fallen down before the priest, who, as thou sayest, was
unholy and a sinner. Then this one entreated and confessed that he has come
for healing of evil deeds, but thou didst not shiver, but even insolently
didst cover with abuse the good priest, for shewing compassion to a
penitent, and justifying the unholy. And at last, thou saidst to the priest,
“Go out with thy like”; and didst burst, contrary to permission, into the
sanctuary, and defiledst the Holy of holies, and writest to us, that “I have
providentially preserved the things sacred, which were about to be profaned,
and am still keeping them undefiled.”

Now, then, hear our view. It is not lawful that a priest should be corrected
by the Leitourgoi, who are above thee, or by the Therapeutae, who are of the
same rank with thee; even though he should seem to act irreverently towards
things Divine, and though he should be convicted of having done some other
thing forbidden. For, if want of order, and want of regulation, is a
departure from the most Divine institutions and decrees, it is not
reasonable that the divinely transmitted order should be changed on God’s
behalf. For Almighty God is not divided against Himself, for, “how then
shall His kingdom stand [104] ?” And if the judgment is of God, as the
Oracles affirm [105] , and the priests are angels and interpreters, after
the hierarchs, of the Divine judgments, learn from them through whom thou
wast deemed worthy to be a Therapeutes, through the intermediate Leitourgoi,
when opportunity serves, the things Divine suitable for thyself [106] . And
do not the Divine Symbols proclaim this, for is not the Holy of holies
altogether simply separated from all, and the order of the consecrators is
in closer proximity to it than the rank of the priests, and following these,
that of the Leitourgoi. But the gates of the sanctuary are bounded by the
appointed Therapeutae, within which they are both ordained, and around which
they stand, not to guard them, but for order, and teaching of themselves
that they are nearer the people than the priesthood. Whence the holy
regulation of the priests orders them to participate in things Divine,
enjoining the impartation of these to others, that is to say, the more
inward. For even those who always stand around the Divine Altar, for a
symbolical purpose, see and hear things Divine revealed to themselves in all
clearness; and advancing generously to things outside the Divine Veils, they
shew, to the subject Therapeutae, and to the holy people, and to the orders
under purification, according to their meetness, things holy which had been
beautifully guarded without pollution, until thou didst tyrannically burst
into them, and compelledst the Holy of holies, against its will, to be
strutted over by thee, and thou sayest, that thou holdest and guardest the
sacred things, although thou neither hast known, nor heard, nor possessest
any of the things belonging to the priests; as neither hast thou known the
truth of the Oracles, whilst cavilling about them each day to subversion of
the hearers. And even if same civil Governor undertook what was not
commanded him by a King, justly would any one of the subordinates standing
by be punished who dared to criticise the Governor, when justifying, or
condemning any one; (for I do not go so far as to say to vituperate), and at
the same time thought to cast him from his government; but thou, man, art
thus rash in what concerns the affairs of the meek and good, and his
hierarchical jurisdiction. We are bound to say these things, when any one
undertakes what is above his rank, and at the same time thinks that he acts
properly. For this is not within the powers of any one. For what was Ozias
[107] doing out of place, when offering incense to Almighty God? and what
Saul [108] in sacrificing?

Yea, further, what were those domineering demons [109] , who were truly
proclaiming the Lord Jesus God? But every one who meddles with other
people’s business, is outlawed by the Word of God; and each one shall be in
the rank of his own service, and alone the High Priest [110] shall enter
into the Holy of holies, and once only throughout the year [111] , and this
in the full legal hierarchical purification [112] . And the priests [113]
encompass the holy things, and the Levites must not touch the holy things,
lest they die. And Jehovah was angry with wrath at the rashness of Ozias,
and Mariam [114] becomes leprous, because she had presumed to lay down laws
for the lawgiver. And the demons fastened on the sons of Sceva, and He says,
“I did not send them, yet they ran, and I spake not to them yet they
prophesied [115] .” “And the profane [116] who sacrifices to me a calf, (is)
as he who slays a dog,” and to speak briefly, the all-perfect justice of
Almighty God does not tolerate the disregarders of law, but whilst they are
saying “in Thy [117] Name, we ourselves did many wonderful works,” He
retorts, “And I know you not; go from Me all ye workers of lawlessness.” So
that it is not permissible, as the holy Oracles say, even to pursue things
that are just, when not according to order [118] , but each must keep to
himself [119] , and not meditate things too high and too deep for him [120]
, but contemplate alone things prescribed for him according to order.


“ What then,” thou sayest, “is it not necessary to correct the priests who
are acting irreverently, or convicted of something else out of place, but to
those only, who glory in law, shall it be permitted to dishonour Almighty
God [121] , through the transgression of the Law? “And how are the priests
interpreters [122] of Almighty God? For, how do they announce to the people
the Divine virtues, who do not know the power of them? or how do they, who
are in darkness [123] , communicate light? Further, how do they impart the
Divine Spirit, who, by habit and truth do not believe whether there is a
Holy Spirit [124] ? Now I will give thee an answer to these things. For
truly my Demophilus is not an enemy, nor will I tolerate that thou shouldst
be overreached by Satan.

For each rank of those about God, is more godlike than that which stands
further away. And those which are somewhat nearer to the true light, are at
once more luminous, and more illuminating; and do not understand the
nearness topically, but according to God-receptive aptitude. If, then, the
order of the priests is the illuminating, entirely has he fallen from the
priestly rank and power, who does not illuminate, or perhaps rather (he
becomes) the unilluminated. And he seems, to me at least, rash who, being
such, undertakes the priestly functions, and has no fear, and does not
blush, when performing things Divine, contrary to propriety, and fancying
that God does not know the very things of which he is conscious in himself,
and thinks to mislead Him Who is falsely called by him Father, and presumes
to repeat his cursed blasphemies (for I would not say prayers) over the
Divine symbols, after the example of Christ. This one is not a
priest,—No!—but devilish—crafty —a deceiver of himself—and a wolf to the
people of God, clothed in sheep’s clothing.


But, it is not to Demophilus that it is permitted to put these things
straight. For, if the Word of God commands to pursue just things justly
[125] (but to pursue just things is, when any one wishes to distribute to
each one things that are meet), this must be pursued by all justly, not
beyond their own meetness or rank [126] ; since even to angels it is just
that things meet be assigned and apportioned, but not from us, O Demophilus,
but through them to us, of God, and to them through the angels who are still
more pre-eminent. And to speak shortly, amongst all existing things their
due is assigned through the first to the second, by the well-ordered and
most just forethought of all. Let those, then, who have been ordered by God
to superintend others, distribute after themselves their due to their
inferiors. But, let Demophilus apportion their due to reason and anger and
passion; and let him not maltreat the regulation of himself, but let the
superior reason bear rule over things inferior. For, if one were to see, in
the market-place, a servant abusing a master, and a younger man, an elder;
or also a son, a father; and in addition attacking and inflicting wounds, we
should seem even to fail in reverence if we did not run and succour the
superior, even though perhaps they were first guilty of injustice; how then
shall we not blush, when we see reason maltreated by anger and passion, and
cast out of the sovereignty given by God; and when we raise in our own
selves an irreverent and unjust disorder, and insurrection and confusion?
Naturally, our blessed Law-giver from God does not deem right that one
should preside over the Church of God, who has not already well presided
over his own house [127] . For, he who has governed himself will also govern
another; and who, another, will also govern a house; and who, a house, also
a city; and who, a city, also a nation. And to speak briefly as the Oracles
affirm, “he who is faithful in little, is faithful also in much,” and “he
who is unfaithful in little, is unfaithful also in much.”


Thyself, then, assign their due limit to passion and anger and reason. And
to thyself, let the divine Leitourgoi assign the due limit, and to these,
the priests, and to the priests, hierarchs, and to the hierarchs, the
Apostles and the successors of the Apostles. And if, perchance, any, even
among these, should have failed in what is becoming, he shall be put right
by the holy men of the same rank; and rank shall not be turned against rank,
but each shall be in his own rank, and in his own service. So much for thee,
from us, on behalf of knowing and doing one’s own business. But, concerning
the inhuman treatment towards that man, whom thou callest “irreverent and
sinner,” I know not how I shall bewail the scandal of my beloved. For, of
whom dost thou suppose thou wast ordained Therapeutes by us? For if it were
not of the Good, it is necessary that thou shouldst be altogether alien from
Him and from us, and from our whole religion, and it is time for thee both
to seek a God, and other priests, and amongst them to become brutal rather
than perfected, and to be a cruel minister of thine own fierceness. For,
have we ourselves, forsooth, been perfected to the altogether Good, and have
no need of the divine compassion for ourselves [128] , or do we commit the
double sin [129] , as the Oracles say, after the example of the unholy, not
knowing in what we offend, but even justifying ourselves and supposing we
see, whilst really not seeing [130] ? Heaven was startled at this, and I
shivered, and I distrust myself. And unless I had met with thy letters (as
know well I would I had not), they would not have persuaded me if indeed any
other had thought good to persuade me concerning thee, that Demophilus
supposes, that Almighty God, Who is good to all, is not also compassionate
towards men, and that he himself has no need of the Merciful or the Saviour;
yea further, he deposes those priests who are deemed worthy, through
clemency, to bear the ignorances of the people, and who well know, that they
also are compassed with infirmity. But, the supremely Divine Priest pursued
a different (course), and that as the Oracles say, from being separate of
sinners, and makes the most gentle tending of the sheep a proof of the love
towards Himself; and He stigmatizes as wicked, him who did not forgive his
fellow-servant the debt, nor impart a portion of that manifold goodness,
graciously given to himself; and He condemns him to enjoy his own deserts,
which both myself and Demophilus must take care to avoid. For, even for
those who were treating Him impiously, at the very time of His suffering, He
invokes remission from the Father; and He rebukes even the disciples,
because without mercy they thought it right to convict of impiety the
Samaritans who drove Him away. This, indeed, is the thousand times repeated
theme of thy impudent letter (for thou repeatest the same from beginning to
end), that thou hast avenged, not thyself, but Almighty God. Tell me (dost
thou avenge) the Good by means of evil?


Avaunt! We have not a High Priest, “Who cannot be touched with our
infirmities, but is both without sin and merciful.” “He shall not strive nor
cry, and is Himself meek, and Himself propitiatory for our sins; so that we
will not approve your unenviable attacks, not if you should allege a
thousand times your Phineas and your Elias. For, when the Lord Jesus heard
these things, He was displeased with the disciples, who at that time lacked
the meek and good spirit. For, even our most divine preceptor teaches in
meekness those who opposed themselves to the teaching of Almighty God. For,
we must teach, not avenge ourselves upon, the ignorant, as we do not punish
the blind, but rather lead them by the hand. But thou, after striking him on
the cheek, rustiest upon that man, who is beginning to rise to the truth,
and when he is approaching with much modesty, thou insolently kickest him
away (certainly, this is enough to make one shudder), whom the Lord Christ,
as being good, seeks, when wandering upon the mountains, and calls to Him,
when fleeing from Him, and when, with difficulty, found, places upon His
shoulders. Do not, I pray, do not let us thus injuriously counsel for
ourselves, nor drive the sword against ourselves. For they, who undertake to
injure any one, or on the contrary to do them good, do not always effect
what they wish, but for themselves, when they have brought into their house
vice or virtue, will be filled either with Divine virtues, or ungovernable
passions. And these indeed, as followers and companions of good angels, both
here and there, with all peace and freedom from all evil, will inherit the
most blessed inheritances for the ever-continuing age, and will be ever with
God, the greatest of all blessings; but, the other will fall both from the
divine and their own peace, and here, and after death, will be companions
with cruel demons. For which reason, we have an earnest desire to become
companions of God, the Good, and to be ever with the Lord, and not to be
separated, along with the evil, from the most Just One, whilst undergoing
that which is due from ourselves, which I fear most of all, and pray to have
no share in anything evil. And, with your permission, I will mention a
divine vision of a certain holy man, and do not laugh, for I am speaking


When I was once in Crete, the holy Carpus [131] entertained me,—a man, of
all others, most fitted, on account of great purity of mind, for Divine
Vision. Now, he never undertook the holy celebrations of the Mysteries,
unless a propitious vision were first manifested to him during his
preparatory devout prayers. He said then, when some one of the unbelievers
had at one time grieved him (and his grief was, that he had led astray to
ungodliness a certain member of the Church, whilst the days of rejoicing
were still being celebrated for him); that he ought compassionately to have
prayed on behalf of both, and taking God, the Saviour, as his fellow-helper,
to convert the one, and to overcome the other by goodness [132] , and not to
have ceased warning them so long as he lived until this day; and thus to
lead them to the knowledge of God, so that the things disputed by them might
be clearly determined, and those, who were irrationally bold, might be
compelled to be wiser by a judgment according to law. Now, as he had never
before experienced this, I do not know how he then went to bed with such a
surfeit of ill-will and bitterness. In this evil condition he went to sleep,
for it was evening, and at midnight (for he was accustomed at that appointed
hour to rise, of his own accord, for the Divine melodies) he arose, not
having enjoyed, undisturbed, his slumbers, which were many and continually
broken; and, when he stood collected for the, Divine Converse, he was
guiltily vexed and displeased, saying, that it was not just that godless
men, who pervert the straight ways of the Lord, should live. And, whilst
saying this, he besought Almighty God, by some stroke of lightning,
suddenly, without mercy, to cut short the lives of them both. But, whilst
saying this, he declared, that he seemed to see suddenly the house in which
he stood, first torn asunder, and from the roof divided into two in the
midst, and a sort of gleaming fire before his eyes (for the place seemed now
under the open sky) borne down from the heavenly region close to him; and,
the heaven itself giving way, and upon the back of the heaven, Jesus, with
innumerable angels, in the form of men, standing around Him. This indeed, he
saw, above, and himself marvelled; but below, when Carpus had bent down, he
affirmed that he saw the very foundation ripped in two, to a sort of yawning
and dark chasm, and those very men, upon whom he had invoked a curse,
standing before his eyes, within the mouth of the chasm, trembling, pitiful,
only just not yet carried down by the mere slipping of their feet; and from
below the chasm, serpents, creeping up and gliding from underneath, around
their feet, now contriving to drag them away, and weighing them down, and
lifting them up, and again inflaming or irritating with their teeth or their
tails, and all the time endeavouring to pull them down into the yawning
gulf; and that certain men also were in the midst, co-operating with the
serpents against these men, at once tearing and pushing and beating them
down. And they seemed to be on the point of falling, partly against their
will, partly by their will; almost overcome by the calamity, and at the same
time resigned. And Carpus said, that he himself was glad, whilst looking
below, and that he was forgetful of the things above; further, that he was
vexed and made light of it, because they had not already fallen, and that he
often attempted to accomplish the fact, and that, when he did not succeed,
he was both irritated and cursed. And, when with difficulty he raised
himself, he saw the heaven again, as he saw it before, and Jesus, moved with
pity at what was taking place, standing up from His supercelestial throne,
and descending to them, and stretching a helping hand, and the angels,
co-operating with Him, taking hold of the two men, one from one place and
another from, another, and the Lord Jesus said to Carpus, whilst His hand
was yet extended, “Strike against Me in future, for I am ready, even again,
to suffer for the salvation of men; and this is pleasing to Me, provided
that other men do not commit sin. But see, whether it is well for thee to
exchange the dwelling in the chasm, and with serpents, for that with God,
and the good and philanthropic angels.” These are the things which I heard
myself, and believe to be true.


ZENAS, one of the seventy-two disciples, who was versed in the science of
law, wrote a life of Titus, and says that he was descended from the family
of Minos, King of Crete. Titus gave himself to the study of Homer and
Philosophy till his twentieth year, when he heard a voice from heaven, which
told him to quit this place and save his soul. He waited one year, to test
the truth of the voice, and then had a revelation which bade him read the
Hebrew Scriptures. Opening Isaiah, his eye fell on chapter xli. vv 1-5. He
was then sent to Jerusalem by the pro-consul of Crete to report upon the
reality of the miracles said to be performed by Jesus Christ. He saw our
Saviour, and His miracles, and believed; and became one of the seventy-two.
He witnessed the Passion and Ascension; the Apostles consecrated him, and
sent him with Paul, whom he attended to Antioch, to Seleucia and to Crete,
where Rutilus, pro-consul, was baptized, and Titus appointed Bishop. In A.D.
64, St. Paul addressed his Epistle to Titus, and about the same time
Dionysius also, this letter. Dexter records that Titus visited Spain, and
that Pliny, the younger, was converted to the Faith by Titus. He consecrated
the second Bishop of Alexandria, and died at the age of 94.

[85] Num. xii. 3-8.

[86] Ex. iv. 14.

[87] Num. xvi. 1-11.

[88] Matt. i. 1-16.

[89] I Sam. xxiv. 7, xiii. 14.

[90] Ex. xxiii. 4.

[91] Job i. 8.

[92] Gen. l. 21.

[93] 1 Cor. xiii. 5.

[94] Ps. xv. 3.

[95] Rom. xii. 21.

[96] Matt. v. 45.

[97] Zech. i. 12.

[98] Luke xv. 7.

[99] Ps. xci. 11.

[100] Matt. vi. 19.

[101] Luke xxiii. 34.

[102] Ib. xv. 20.

[103] 1 John ii. 10.

[104] Matt. xii. 26.

[105] Is. xxx. 18.

[106] Ec. Hier. c. 6. part 2.

[107] 2 Chron. xxvi. 16-19.

[108] I Sam. xiii. 19.

[109] Mark iii. 11.

[110] Lev. xvi. 2.

[111] Ex. xxx. 10.

[112] Ib. xix. 21.

[113] Num. iv. 15.

[114] Ib. xii. 10.

[115] Jer. xxiii. 21.

[116] Is. xlvi. 3.

[117] Matt. vii. 23.

[118] Deut. xvi. 20.

[119] 1 Tim. iv. 16.

[120] Rom. xii. 3-6.

[121] Rom. ii. 23.

[122] Mal. ii. 7.

[123] Eph. iv. 18.

[124] Acts xix. 2.

[125] Deut. xvi. 20.

[126] 2 Cor. xiii. 10.

[127] 1 Tim. iii. 5.

[128] Luke xvi. 10.

[129] Jer. ii. 13-35.

[130] Rom. i. 27.

[131] 2 Tim. iv. 13.

[132] Rom. xi. 21.

LETTER IX. To Titus, Hierarch, asking by letter what is the house of wisdom,
what the bowl, and what are its meats and drinks?


I do not know, O excellent Titus, whether the holy Timothy departed, deaf to
some of the theological symbols which were explained by me. But, in the
Symbolic Theology, we have thoroughly investigated for him all the
expressions of the Oracles concerning God, which appear to the multitude to
be monstrous. For they give a colour of incongruity dreadful to the
uninitiated souls, when the Fathers of the unutterable wisdom explain the
Divine and Mystical Truth, unapproachable by the profane, through certain,
certainly hidden and daring enigmas. Wherefore also, the many discredit the
expressions concerning the Divine Mysteries. For, we contemplate them only
through the sensible symbols that have grown upon them. We must then strip
them, and view them by themselves in their naked purity. For, thus
contemplating them, we should reverence a fountain of Life flowing into
Itself—viewing It even standing by Itself, and as a kind of single power,
simple, self-moved, and self-worked, not abandoning Itself, but a knowledge
surpassing every kind of knowledge, and always contemplating Itself, through
Itself. We thought it necessary then, both for him and for others, that we
should, as far as possible, unfold the varied forms of the Divine”
representations of God in symbols. For, with what incredible and simulated
monstrosities are its external, forms filled? For instance, with regard to
the superessential Divine generation, representing a body of God corporally
generating God; and describing a word flowing out into air from a man’s
heart, which eructates it, and a breath, breathed forth from a mouth; and
celebrating God-bearing bosoms embracing a son of God, bodily; or
representing these things after the manner of plants, and producing certain
trees, and branches, and flowers and roots, as examples; or fountains of
waters y, bubbling forth; or seductive light productions of reflected
splendours; or certain other sacred representations which explain
superessential descriptions of God; but with regard to the intelligible
providences of Almighty God, either gifts, manifestations, or powers, or
properties, or repose, or abidings, or progressions, or distinctions, or
unions, clothing Almighty God in human form, and in the varied shape of wild
beasts and other living creatures, and plants, and stones; and attributing
to Him ornaments of women, or weapons of savages; and assigning working in
clay, and in a furnace, as it were to a sort of artisan; and placing under
Him, horses and chariots and thrones; and spreading before Him certain
dainty meats delicately cooked; and representing Him as drinking, and
drunken, and sleeping, and suffering from excess. What would any one say
concerning the angers, the griefs, the various oaths, the repentances, the
curses, the revenges, the manifold and dubious excuses for the failure of
promises, the battle of giants in Genesis, during which He is said to scheme
against those powerful and great men, and this when they were contriving the
building, not with a view to injustice towards other people, but on behalf
of their own safety? And that counsel devised in heaven to deceive and
mislead Achab [133] ; and those mundane and meritricious passions of the
Canticles; and all the other sacred compositions which appear in the
description of God, which stick at nothing, as projections, and
multiplications of hidden things, and divisions of things one and undivided,
and formative and manifold forms of the shapeless and unformed; of which, if
any one were able to see their inner hidden beauty, he will find every one
of them mystical and Godlike, and filled with abundant theological light.
For let us not think, that the appearances of the compositions have been
formed for their own sake, but that they shield the science unutterable and
invisible to the multitude, since things all-holy are not within the reach
of the profane, but are manifested to those only who are genuine lovers of
piety, who reject all childish fancy respecting the holy symbols, and are
capable to pass with simplicity of mind, and aptitude of contemplative
faculty, to the simple and supernatural and elevated truth of the symbols.
Besides, we must also consider this, that the teaching, handed down by the
Theologians is two-fold—one, secret and mystical—the other, open and better
known—one, symbolical and initiative—the other, philosophic and
demonstrative;—and the unspoken is intertwined with the spoken. The one
persuades, and desiderates the truth of the things expressed, the other acts
and implants in Almighty God, by instructions in mysteries not learnt by
teaching. And certainly, neither our holy instructors, nor those of the law,
abstain from the God-befitting symbols, throughout the celebrations of the
most holy mysteries. Yea, we see even the most holy Angels, mystically
advancing things Divine through enigmas; and Jesus Himself, speaking the
word of God in parables, and transmitting the divinely wrought mysteries,
through a typical spreading of a table. For, it was seemly, not only that
the Holy of holies should be preserved undefiled by the multitude, but also
that the Divine knowledge should illuminate the human life, which is at once
indivisible and divisible, in a manner suitable to itself; and to limit the
passionless part of the soul to the simple, and most inward visions of the
most godlike images; but that its impassioned part should wait upon, and, at
the same time, strive after, the most Divine coverings, through the
pre-arranged representations of the typical symbols, as such (coverings)
are, by nature, congenial to it. And all those who are hearers of a distinct
theology without symbols, weave in themselves a sort of type, which conducts
them to the conception of the aforesaid theology.


But also the very order of the visible universe sets forth the invisible
things of Almighty God, as says both Paul and the infallible Word.
Wherefore, also, the Theologians view some things politically and legally,
but other things, purely and without flaw; and some things humanly, and
mediately, but other things supermundanely and perfectly; at one time
indeed, from the laws which are manifest, and at another, from the
institutions which are unmanifest, as befits the holy writings and minds and
souls under consideration. For the whole statement lying before them, and
all its details, does not contain a bare history, but a vivifying
perfection. We must then, in opposition to the vulgar conception concerning
them, reverently enter within the sacred symbols, and not dishonour them,
being as they are, products and moulds of the Divine characteristics, and
manifest images of the unutterable and supernatural visions. For, not only
are the superessential lights, and things intelligible, and, in one word,
things Divine, represented in various forms through the typical symbols, as
the superessential God, spoken of as fire, and the intelligible Oracles of
Almighty God, as flames of fire; but further, even the godlike orders of the
angels, both contemplated and contemplating, are described under varied
forms, and manifold likenesses, and empyrean shapes. And differently must we
take the same likeness of fire, when spoken with regard to the inconceivable
God; and differently with regard to His intelligible providences or words;
and differently respecting the Angels. The, one as causal, but the other as
originated, and the third as participative, and different things
differently, as their contemplation, and scientific arrangements suggest.

And never must we confuse the sacred symbols haphazard, but we must unfold
them suitably to the causes, or the origins, or the powers, or the orders,
or the dignities of which they are explanatory tokens. And, in order that I
may not extend my letter beyond the bounds of propriety, let us come at once
to the very question propounded by you; and we affirm that every nourishment
is perfective of those nourished, filling up their imperfection and their
lack, and tending the weak, and guarding their lives, making to sprout, and
renewing and bequeathing to them a vivifying wellbeing; and in one word,
urging the slackening and imperfect, and contributing towards their comfort
and perfection.


Beautifully then, the super-wise and Good Wisdom is celebrated by the
Oracles, as placing a mystical bowl, and pouring forth its sacred drink, but
first setting forth the solid meats, and with a loud voice Itself benignly
soliciting those who seek It. The Divine Wisdom, then, sets forth the
two-fold food; one indeed, solid and fixed, but the other liquid and flowing
forth; and in a bowl furnishes Its own providential generosities. Now the
bowl, being spherical and open, let it be a symbol of the Providence over
the whole, which at once expands Itself and encircles all, without beginning
and without end. But since, even while going forth to all, It remains in
Itself, and stands fixed in unmoved sameness; and never departing from
Itself, the bowl also itself stands fixedly and unmovably. But Wisdom is
also said to build a house for itself, and in it to set forth the solid
meats and drinks, and the bowl, so that it may be evident to those who
understand things Divine in a manner becoming God, that the Author of the
being, and of the well being, of all things, is both an all-perfect
providence, and advances to all, and comes into being in everything, and
embraces them all; and on the other hand, He, the same, in the same, par
excellence, is nothing in anything at all, but overtops the whole, Himself
being in Himself, identically and always; and standing, and remaining, and
resting, and ever being in the same condition and in the same way, and never
becoming outside Himself, nor falling from His own session, and unmoved
abiding, and shrine,—yea even, in it, benevolently exercising His complete
and all-perfect providences, and whilst going forth to all, remaining by
Himself alone, and standing always, and moving Himself; and neither
standing, nor moving Himself, but, as one might say, both connaturally and
supernaturally, having His providential energies, in His steadfastness, and
His steadiness in His Providence.


But what is the solid food and what the liquid? For the Good Wisdom is
celebrated as at once bestowing and providing these. I suppose then, that
the solid food is suggestive of the intellectual and abiding perfection and
sameness, within which, things Divine are participated as a stable, and
strong, and unifying, and indivisible knowledge, by those contemplating
organs of sense, by which the most Divine Paul, after partaking of wisdom,
imparts his really solid nourishment; but that the liquid is suggestive of
the stream, at once flowing through and to all; eager to advance, and
further conducting those who are properly nourished as to goodness, through
things variegated and many and divided, to the simple and invariable
knowledge of God. Wherefore the divine and spiritually perceived Oracles are
likened to dew, and water, and to milk, and wine, and honey; on account of
their life-producing power, as in water; and growth-giving, as in milk; and
reviving, as in wine; and both purifying and preserving, as in honey. For
these things, the Divine Wisdom gives to those approaching it, and furnishes
and fills to overflowing, a stream of ungrudging and unfailing good cheer.
This, then, is the veritable good cheer; and, on this account, it is
celebrated, as at once life-giving and nourishing and perfecting.


According to this sacred explanation of good cheer, even Almighty God,
Himself the Author of all good things, is said to be inebriated, by reason
of the super-full, and beyond conception, and ineffable, immeasurableness,
of the good cheer, or to speak more properly, good condition of Almighty
God. For, as regards us, in the worst sense, drunkenness is both an
immoderate repletion, and being out of mind and wits; so, in the best sense,
respecting God, we ought not to imagine drunkenness as anything else beyond
the super-full immeasurableness of all good things pre-existing in Him as
Cause. But, even in respect to being out of wits, which follows upon
drunkenness, we must consider the pre-eminence of Almighty God, which is
above conception, in which He overtops our conception, as being above
conception and above being conceived, and above being itself; and in short,
Almighty God is inebriated with, and outside of, all good things whatever,
as being at once a super-full hyperbole of every immeasurableness of them
all; and again, as dwelling outside and beyond the whole. Starting then from
these, we will take in the same fashion even the feasting of the pious, in
the Kingdom of Almighty God. For He says, the King Himself will come and
make them recline, and will Himself minister to them. Now these things
manifest a common and concordant communion of the holy, upon the good things
of God, and a church of the first born, whose names are written in heavens;
and spirits of just men made perfect by all good things, and replete with
all good things; and the reclining, we imagine, a cessation from their many
labours, and a life without pain; and a godly citizenship in light and place
of living souls, replete with every holy bliss, and an ungrudging provision
of every sort of blessed goods; within which they are filled with every
delight; whilst Jesus both makes them recline, and ministers to them, and
furnishes this delight; and Himself bequeaths their everlasting rest; and at
once distributes and pours forth the fulness of good things.


But, I well know you will further ask that the propitious sleep of Almighty
God, and His awakening, should be explained. And, when we have said, that
the superiority of Almighty God, and His incommunicability with the objects
of His Providence is a Divine sleep, and that the attention to His
Providential cares of those who need His discipline, or His preservation, is
an awakening, you will pass to other symbols of the Word of God. Wherefore,
thinking it superfluous that by running through the same things to the same.
persons, we should seem to say different things, and, at the same time,
conscious that you assent to things that are good, we finish this letter at
what we have said, having set forth, as I think, more than the things
solicited in your letters. Further, we send the whole of our Symbolical
Theology, within which you will find, together with the house of wisdom,
also the seven pillars investigated, and its solid food divided into
sacrifices and breads. And what is the mingling of the wine; and again, What
is the sickness arising from the inebriety of Almighty God? and in fact, the
things now spoken of are explained in it more explicitly. And it is, in my
judgment, a correct enquiry into all the symbols of the Word of God, and
agreeable to the sacred traditions and truths of the Oracles.

[133] I Kings xxii. 20.

LETTER X. To John, Theologos, Apostle and Evangelist, imprisoned in the Isle
of Patmos.

I salute thee, the holy soul! O beloved one! and this for me is more
appropriate than for most. Hail! O truly beloved! And to the truly Loveable
and Desired, very beloved! Why should it be a marvel, if Christ speaks
truly, and the unjust banish His disciples from their cities [134] ,
themselves bringing upon themselves their due, and the accursed severing
themselves, and departing from the holy. Truly things seen are manifest
images of things unseen. For, neither in the ages which are approaching,
will Almighty God be Cause of the just separations from Himself, but they by
having separated themselves entirely from Almighty God; even as we observe
the others, becoming here already with Almighty God, since being lovers of
truth, they depart from the proclivities of things material, and love peace
in a complete freedom from all things evil, and a Divine love of all things
good; and start their purification, even from the present life, by living,
in the midst of mankind, the life which is to come, in a manner suitable to
angels, with complete cessation of passion, and deification and goodness,
and the other good attributes. As for you then, I would never be so crazy as
to imagine that you feel any suffering; but I am persuaded that you ate
sensible of the bodily sufferings merely to appraise them. But, as for those
who are unjustly treating you, and fancying to imprison, not correctly, the
sun of the Gospel, whilst fairly blaming them, I pray that by separating
themselves from those things which they are bringing upon themselves they
may be turned to the good, and may draw you to themselves, and may
participate in the light. But for ourselves, the contrary will not deprive
us of the all-luminous ray of John, who are even now about to read the
record, and the renewal of this, thy true theology: but shortly after (for I
will say it, even though it be rash), about to be united to you yourself.
For, I am altogether trustworthy, from having learned, and reading the
things made foreknown to you by God, that you will both be liberated from
your imprisonment in Patmos, and will return to the Asiatic coast, and will
perform there imitations of the good God, and will transmit them to those
after you.

[134] Matt. xxiii. 34.

LETTER XI. Dionysius to Apollophanes, Philosopher.

At length I send a word to thee, O Love of my heart, and recall to thy
memory the many anxieties and solicitudes, which I have formerly undergone
on thy account.” For thou rememberest with what a mild and benevolent
disposition I have been accustomed to rebuke thy obstinacy in error,
although with scant reason, in order that I might uproot those vain opinions
with which thou wast deceived. But now, adoring the supreme toleration of
the Divine long-suffering towards thee, I offer thee my congratulations, O
part of my soul, now that you are turning your eyes to your soul’s health.
For, even the very things which formerly you delighted to spurn, you now
delight to affirm; and the things that you used to reject with scorn, you
now delight to enforce. For, often have I set before you, and that with
great precision, what even Moses committed to writing, that man was first
made by God, from mud, and the sins of the world were punished by the flood,
and in process of time, that the same Moses, united in friendship with God,
– performed many wonders, both in Egypt and the exodus from Egypt, by the
power and action of the same God. Nor Moses only, but other divine prophets
subsequently, published similar things, not infrequently, who long before
foretold that God should take the nature of man from a Virgin. To which
statement of mine, not once, but often, you replied, that you did not know
whether these things were true, and that you were entirely ignorant, even
who that Moses was, and whether he was white or black. Further, that you
rejected with scorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Who is God of all
Majesty—which you used to call mine. Further, that Paul, the globe trotter,
and a scatterer of words, who was calling people from things terrestrial to
things celestial, you were unwilling to receive. Lastly, you reproach me, as
a turncoat, who had left the customs of my country’s religion, and was
leading people to iniquitous sacrilege, and urged me to unlearn the things
in which I was placing my trust; or, at least, that I should put away other
people’s things, and deem it sufficient to keep what was my own, lest I
should be found to detract from the honour due to divine deities, and the
institutions of my fathers. But, after the supernal light of the paternal
glory of His own will sent the rays of His own splendour upon the darkness
of your mind, at once He put into my inmost heart, that I should recall to
your mind the whole counsel of God. How, for instance, when we were staying
in Heliopolis (I was then about twenty-five, and your age was nearly the
same as mine), on a certain sixth day, and about the sixth hour, the sun, to
our great surprise, became obscured, through the moon passing over it, not
because it is a god, but because a creature of God, when its very true light
was setting, could not bear to shine. Then I earnestly asked thee, what
thou, O man most wise, thought of it. Thou, then, gave such an answer as
remained fixed in my mind, and that no oblivion, not even that of the image
of death, ever allowed to escape. For, when the whole orb had been
throughout darkened, by a black mist of darkness, and the sun’s disk had
begun again to be purged and to shine anew, then taking the table of Philip
Aridaeus, and contemplating the orbs of heaven, we learned, what was
otherwise well known, that an eclipse of the sun could not, at that time,
occur. Next, we observed that the moon approached the sun from the east, and
intercepted its rays, until it covered the whole; whereas, at other times,
it used to approach from the west. Further also, we noted that when it had
reached the extreme edge of the sun, and had covered the whole orb, that it
then went back towards the east, although that was a time which called
neither for the presence of the moon, nor for the conjunction of the sun. I
therefore, O treasury of manifold learning, since I was incapable of
understanding so great a mystery, thus addressed thee—“What thinkest thou of
this thing, O Apollophanes, mirror of learning?” “Of what mysteries do these
unaccustomed portents appear to you to be indications?” Thou then, with
inspired lips, rather than with speech of human voice, “These are, O
excellent Dionysius,” thou saidst, “changes of things divine.” At last, when
I had taken note of the day and year, and had perceived that, that time, by
its testifying signs, agreed with that which Paul announced to me, once when
I was hanging upon his lips, then I gave my hand to the truth, and
extricated my feet from the meshes of error. Which truth, henceforth, I,
with admiration, both preach and urge upon thee—which is life and way, and
true light,—which lighteth every man coming into this world,—to which even
thou at last, as truly wise, hast yielded. For thou yieldedst to life when
thou renounced death. And surely thou hast, at length, acted in the best
possible manner, if thou shalt adhere henceforth to the same truth, so as to
associate with us more closely. For those lips will henceforth be on our
side, by the splendour of whose words, as blunting the edge of my mind, thou
hast been accustomed by pretexts brought from various quarters, and by a
gorgeous glow of eloquence, to vex the innermost recesses of our
breast;—yea, even sometimes to probe us sharply by occasional stings of
malice. Wherefore as formerly, as thou thyself used to say, the knowledge of
Christian doctrine, although savoury, was not savoury to thee, but when you
had brought yourself to it, merely to taste, it shrank from your mental
palate, and as it were, disdained to find a resting-place in your stomach;
so now, after you have acquired a heart, intelligent and provident, elevate
thyself to things supernal, and do not surrender, for things that are not,
things which really are. Therefore in future, be so much more obstinate
against those who have urged you to the false, as you showed yourself
perverse towards us, when we invited you, with all our force, to the truth.
For thus, I, in the Lord Jesus, Whose Presence is my being and my life, will
henceforth die joyful, since thou also livest in Him.

End of Dionysius the Areopagite. May his prayer be with us!