Part 3


THIS Liturgy gives the doctrine of Dionysius in a liturgical form. The Greek
original might be restored from the writings of Dionysius. No one could
reasonably doubt that the Author of the Writings and the Liturgy was the
same. This Liturgy should be compared with the Coptic Liturgy of Dionysius,
Bishop of Athens, disciple of Paul, and with the Liturgy of St. Basil,
adapted from this, as used by the Uniat Copts, translated by the Marquess of
Bute. In my opinion, this Liturgy was written for the Therapeutae near
Alexandria, described by Philo in his “contemplative life,” who were
Christians; who occupied themselves with the contemplation of the Divine
Names, and the heavenly Hierarchy. It was written not earlier than the death
of James, Apostle and Martyr, A.D. 42, and probably not later than A.D. 67;
when Dionysius, at the request of St. Paul, left Athens to meet the Apostle
at Rome, for the purpose of being sent by him to Gaul. A note of primitive
antiquity is found in the description of the Church, as “from one end of the
earth to the other.” There is no “one, only, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Orthodox Church,” as in the later Liturgy of St. Basil. Some expressions are
obscure, from the Latin Version, and it would be rash, without profound
study, to venture to suggest the Greek text. In consequence of this, and
other Liturgies, and his excellent writings, Dionysius was frequently
commemorated in the diptychs as one of the Doctors of the Church.


1st. The Prayer before the Pax [136] .

Pr. [137] “O Lord God, Who art simplex, not compound, and hidden in essence
sublime! God the Father, from Whom all paternity which is in heaven and
earth is named [138] , Source of Divinity, of those who participate in the
Divine Nature, and Perfector of those who attain perfection; Good above all
good, and Beautiful above all beautiful; Peaceful repose, Peace, Concord and
Union of all souls; compose the dissensions which divide us from one
another, and lead them back to an union with charity, which has a kind of
similitude to Thy sublime essence: and as Thou art One above all, and we,
one, through the unanimity of a good mind; that we may be found before Thee
simplex and not divided, whilst celebrating this mystery; and that through
the embraces of Charity and bonds of Love, we may be spiritually one, both
with ourselves and with one another, through that Thy Peace pacifying all;
through the Grace and Compassion and Love towards man of Thine Only-begotten
Son; through Whom, and with Whom is due to Thee, glory, honour and dominion,
with Thy most holy Spirit.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Pax” (to all). P. “And with thy
spirit.” D. “Let each one give the Peace.” P. “All.” D. “Post.” P. “Before
Thee, O Lord.” Pr. “Giver of Holiness, and distributor of every good, O
Lord, Who sanctifiest every rational creature with sanctification, which is
from Thee; sanctify, through Thy Holy Spirit, us Thy servants, who bow
before Thee; free us from all servile passions of sin, from envy, treachery,
deceit, hatred, enmities, and from him, who works the same, that we may be
worthy, holily to complete the ministry of these life-giving Sacraments,
through the heavenly Pontiff, Jesus Christ, Thine Only-begotten Son, through
Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory and honour.” P. “Amen.” Pr.
“Essentially existing, and from all ages; Whose nature is incomprehensible,
Who art near and present to all, without any change of Thy sublimity; Whose
goodness every existing thing longs for and desires; the intelligible
indeed, and creatures endowed with intelligence, through intelligence; those
endowed with sense, through their senses; Who, although Thou art One
essentially, nevertheless art present with us, and amongst us, in this hour,
in which Thou hast called and led us to these Thy holy mysteries; and hast
made us worthy to stand before the sublime throne of Thy majesty, and to
handle the sacred vessels of Thy ministry with our impure hands: take away
from us, O Lord, the cloke of iniquity in which we are enfolded, as from
Jesus, the son of Josedec the High Priest, Thou didst take away the filthy
garments, and adorn us with piety and justice, as Thou didst adorn him with
a vestment of glory; that clothed with Thee alone, as it were with a
garment, and being like temples crowned with glory, we may see Thee unveiled
with a mind divinely illuminated, and may feast, whilst we, by communicating
therein, enjoy this sacrifice set before us; and render to Thee glory and
praise.” P. “Amen.” D. “Let us stand becomingly.” P. “The Mercies of God.”
Pr. “Charity.” P. “And with thy spirit.” Pr. “Lift up your hearts.” P. “We
lift them to the Lord.” Pr. “Let us give thanks to the Lord.” P. “It is meet
and right.” Priest (bending low), “For truly the celebration of Thy
benefits, O Lord, surpasses, the powers of mind, of speech, and of thought;
neither is sufficient every mouth, mind and tongue, to glorify Thee
worthily. For, by Thy word the heavens were made, and by the breath of Thy
mouth all the celestial powers; all the lights in the firmament, sun and
moon, sea and dry land, and whatever is in them. The voiceless, by their
silence, the vocal, by their voices, words and hymns, perpetually bless
Thee; because Thou art essentially good and beyond all praise, existing in
Thy essence incomprehensibly. This visible and sensible creature praises
Thee, and also that intellectual, placed above sensible perception. Heaven
and earth glorify Thee. Sea and air proclaim Thee. The sun, in his course,
praises Thee; the Moon, in her changes, venerates Thee. Troops of
Archangels, and hosts of Angels; those virtues, more sublime than the world
and mental faculty, send benedictions to Thine abode. Rays of light, eminent
and hidden, send their sanctus to Thy glory. Principalities and Orders
praise Thee, with their Jubilate. Powers and dominions venerate Thee.
Virtues, Thrones and Seats inaccessible exalt Thee. Splendours of light
eternal—mirrors without flaw—holy essences—recipients of wisdom
sublime—beyond all, investigators of the will hidden from all, in clearest
modulations of inimitable tones, and by voices becoming a rational creature;
many eyed Cherubim of most subtle movement, bless Thee. Seraphin, furnished
with six wings intertwined, cry Sanctus unto Thee. Those very ones, who veil
their faces with their wings, and cover their feet with wings, and flying on
every side, and clapping with their wings, (that they may not be devoured by
Thy devouring fire) sing one to another with equal harmony of all, sweet
chants, pure from every thing material, rendering to Thee, eternal glory;
crying with one hymn, worthy of God, and saying,” P. “Holy, holy, holy.”
Priest (bending)—“Holy art Thou, O God the Father, Omnipotent, Maker and
Creator of every creature—Invisible and visible, and sensible; Holy art
Thou, O God, the Only-begotten Son, Power and Wisdom of the Father, Lord and
our Saviour Jesus Christ; Holy art Thou, O God, the Holy Spirit, Perfector
and Sanctifier of Saints. Triad, Holy and undivided:—co-essential and of
equal glory, Whose compassion towards our race is most effusive. Thou art
holy, and making all things holy. Who didst not leave that, our very race,
in exile from Paradise, although in the meantime involved in every kind of
sin, but wast manifested to it by the Word, Who, in the presence of the”
world, suffered extreme poverty; it in very truth, He, the Word, took, being
made like to it in all things, sin excepted, that it might make Him prepared
beforehand unto holiness, and disposed for this life-giving feast. (Raising
his voice) Who being conceived, formed and configured by the Holy Spirit,
and from virgin blood of the Virgin Mary, holy genitrix of God, was born
indeed Man, and from the pure and most holy body of the same, and receiving
Deity in Flesh, whilst the law and properties of nature were preserved, but
in a manner beyond nature, and was acknowledged God in the Spirit, and Man
in the flesh; and inasmuch as the Word existed before the ages, from Thee,
as was worthy of God, was born, and by power and miracles, such as became
the Maker of all, was testified that He was such, from the very fact that He
has freely imparted a complete healing and a perfect salvation to the whole
human race. Likewise, in the end and consummation of His dispensation on our
behalf, and before His saving Cross, He took bread into His pure and holy
hands, and looked to Thee, O God the Father; giving thanks, He blessed,
sanctified, brake and gave to His disciples, the holy Apostles, saying,
“Take and eat from it and believe that it is my body, that same, which for
you and for many is broken and given, for the expiation of faults, the
remission of sins, and eternal life.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Likewise, in the same
manner, over the cup also, which He mingled with wine and water, He gave
thanks, blessed, sanctified, and gave to the same disciples and holy
apostles, saying, ‘Take, drink from it, all of you, and believe that this is
My blood of the new covenant, which is shed and given for you and for many,
for the expiation of faults, remission of sins, and eternal life.’” P.

Pr. “Himself also, through the same holy Apostles, gave a precept to the
whole company and congregation of the faithful, saying, ‘This do to the
memory of Me, and as oft as ye shall eat this bread and drink the commixture
which is in this cup, and shall celebrate this feast, ye shall perform a
commemoration of My death until I come.’” P. “Of Thy death, O Lord, we
perform a memorial.” Pr. “Obeying, then, Thy sovereign precept, and
celebrating a commemoration of Thy death and resurrection, through this
sacrifice in perpetual mystery, we await also Thy second coming, the
renovation of our race, and the vivification of our mortality. For, not
simply, but with glory worthy of God, in Spirit ineffable, Thou wilt
terribly come, and seated upon the lofty throne of Thy majesty, Thou wilt
exact the acknowledgment of Thy royal power, from all things created and
made: and justly, Thou wilt take vengeance for Thy image upon those who have
corrupted it through evil passions. This sacrifice, here celebrated, we
commemorate to Thee, O Lord, and the sufferings which Thou didst endure on
the Cross for us. Be propitious, O Good, and Lover of men, in that hour
full, of fear and trembling, to this congregation of those adoring Thee, and
to all sons of the holy Church, bought by Thy precious blood. May coals of
fire be kept from those who are tinged with Thy blood, and sealed by Thy
sacraments in Thy holy Name, as formerly the Babylonian flame from the
youths of the house of Hanania; for neither do we know others beside Thee, O
God, nor in other have we hope of attaining salvation, since indeed Thou art
the Helper and Saviour of our race; and on this account, our wise Church,
through all our lips and tongues, implores Thee, and through Thee, and with
Thee, Thy Father, saying”—

P. “Have mercy.” Pr. “We also.” D. “How tremendous is this hour.” (The
Priest bending, says the prayer of the invocation of the Holy Spirit.) Pr.
“I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy upon us, and wash away, through
Thy grace, the uncleanness of my evil deeds; destroy, through Thy mercy,
what I have done, worthy of wrath; for I do not extend my hands to Thee with
presumption, for I am not able even to look to heaven on account of the
multitude of my iniquities and the filth of my wickedness. But,
strengthening my mind, in Thy loving-kindness, grace and long-suffering, I
crave Thy holy Spirit, that Thou wouldst send Him upon me, and upon these
oblations, here set forth, and upon Thy faithful people.” Pr. “Hear me, O
Lord.” P. “Kyrie eleison,” three times. Pr. “Through His alighting upon
them, and His overshadowing, may He make this bread indeed, living body, and
procuring life to our souls; body salutary—body celestial—body saving our
souls and bodies—body of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ—for
remission of sins, and eternal life, for those receiving it.” P. “Amen.” Pr.
“And the commixture, which is in this cup, may He make living blood, and
procuring life to all our souls; blood salutary—blood celestial—blood saving
our souls and bodies—blood of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, for
remission of sins to those receiving them.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Further,
according to the tradition, and Divine recommendation of those, who were eye
witnesses of Thy mysteries, and interpreters of Thy wonderful acts, we offer
this Eucharist before Thee, O Lord, and through it we commemorate Thy
charity towards us, and the universal dispensation of Thine Only-begotten
One, in this world, that Thou wouldst also be reminded through it of Thy
mercy, cognate and natural to Thee, which, at all hours, is shed upon Thy
creatures, and wouldst snatch us from the wrath, reserved for the wicked;
and from the punishments of those who work iniquity; and from the cruel
attack of demons, who attack our souls, when we shall go hence; and wouldst
make us worthy of Thy kingdom, and the habitations of those who have kept
Thy precepts; and we will render to Thee, glory and the giving of thanks,
&c.” P. “Amen.” Pr. (bending) “By Thy words, that cannot lie, and by Thy
most true teachings, Thou hast said, O Lord, that great is the joy in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth. Rejoice then now, O Lord, in the conversion
of Thy servants, who stand here before Thee; add also, exultation over us,
to the souls of the pious and just Fathers — Patriarchs — Prophets —
Apostles —Preachers — Evangelists — Martyrs — Confessors —Zealots” of Divine
Worship—Benefactors—Givers of Alms—of those who minister to the necessities
of the poor—and from all, may there be one act of praise to-day, before
Thee, at this holy Altar, and in the heavenly Jerusalem.” (Elevating his
voice) “And on account of these, and other things of the same kind, may Thy
holy Church, which is from one end of the earth to the other, be
established, and preserved in tranquillity and peace, in doctrines
evangelical and apostolical, by Divine Hierarchs, rightly dispensing the
word of truth, and instructing, by the dogmas of true religion: through holy
Priests, who embrace the word of life, and carry themselves illustriously in
dispensing Thy celestial mysteries: through Deacons, who are modest, and
perform the pure and royal ministry without flaw, through true, faithful
ones, who occupy themselves in words and acts worthy of a Christian; through
choirs of virgins of each sex, bearing about in their members the
life-giving mortification of Thy Only-begotten Son. And from hence, in one
troop, may we all be sent to that Church, the Jerusalem of the firstborn,
whose names are written in the heavens, and there let us spiritually glorify
Thee, O God the Father, and Thine Only-begotten Son, and Thy Holy Spirit.”
P. “Amen.” Pr. “Assist also, O Lord, all those who assist Thy Holy Church,
by offerings—by tenths—by ministry—and by oblations; and those also, who ask
the prayers of our littleness, give to them the object of those their
prayers, O Lord, Lover of men.” (Raising his voice) “Send also perfect
attention and full health to all those who have the charge of the poor, who
provide food for orphans and widows, and visit the infirm and afflicted.
Restore to them, here indeed abundance and goods, there also delights
incorruptible, because thou art Lord of each age, and distributor of immense
reward. And to Thee beseems beneficence, both here and there, and to Thine
Only-begotten Son.” P. “Amen.” Pr. (bending) “Restrain, O King of Kings, the
wrath of kings, mitigate the fury of soldiers, take away wars and seditions,
cast down the pride of heretics, and the sentences pronounced against us by
Justice, may Thy love for mankind overcome, and turn into the gentleness of
benignity”; (raising his voice) “Tranquillity and Peace from Thee, concede
to the earth and all its inhabitants, visit it with Thy benefits and the
care of Thy mercy, with a good and temperate condition of atmosphere,
copiousness of fruits, and abundance of crops, and variety of flowers;
preserve it from all pests of fury, and all unjust attacks of enemies, both
spiritual and sensible, that without any injury of passion, we may sing
perpetual hymns of praise, to Thee and to Thine Only-begotten Son.” P.
“Amen.” Pr. (bending) “At this altar, and at that more exalted one in
heaven, may there be a good remembrance of all those, who, out of the world,
have pleased Thee—chiefly indeed of the Holy genitrix of God, of John the
Messenger, Baptist and Forerunner, of Peter and Paul, and of the holy
company of the Apostles, of Stephen also, and of the whole multitude of
Martyrs, and of all those, who, before them, with them and after them, have
pleased, and do please Thee.” (Raising his voice) “And since indeed Thou art
Omnipotent, to the company of those beloved ones and to Thy family, join our
weakness, O Lord, to that blessed congregation, to this Divine part, that,
through them may be received our oblations and prayers, before the lofty
throne of Thy Majesty, inasmuch as we are weak and infirm, and wanting in
confidence before Thee. Forsooth, our sin and our righteousness are as
nothing in comparison with the ocean, broad and immense, of Thy mercy.
Looking then, into the hearts of each, send to each one good returns for
their petitions, that in all and in each may be adored and praised, Thy
Majesty, and that of Thine Only-begotten Son.” P. “Amen.” Pr. (bending)
“Remember, O Lord, all Bishops, Doctors and Prelates of Thy holy Church,
those, who from James, Apostle, Bishop and Martyr, to this present day, have
pleased, and do please Thee.” (Raising his voice) “Engraft in us, O Lord,
their true faith, and their zeal for the true religion; their sincere
charity without defect; their morals without stain; in order that, adhering
to their footsteps, we may be partakers of their reward, and of the crowns
of victory which are prepared for them in Thy heavenly kingdom, and there,
together with them, we may sing to Thee, Glory unceasing, and to Thy
Only-begotten Son.” P. “Amen.” Pr. (bending) “Remember, O Lord, all those
who are fallen asleep, who have laid themselves down in Thy hope, in the
true faith. More especially, and by name, our Fathers, Brothers and Masters,
and those, on behalf of whom, and by favour of whom, this holy oblation is
offered,” (raising his voice) “join, O Lord, their names, with the names of
Thy Saints in the blessed habitation of those, who feast and rejoice in
Thee; not recalling against them the memory of their sins, nor bringing to
their memory the things which they have foolishly done. For no one is tied
to the flesh, and at the same time, innocent in Thy sight. For One alone has
been seen on earth without sin, Jesus Christ, Thine Only-begotten Son;
Simplex [139] , who came to composition, through whom we also have hope of
obtaining mercy.” P. “Keep quiet.” Pr. (bending) “Remitting our and their
voluntary sins, knowingly or ignorantly committed. Be propitious, O Lord,
Lover of men.” (Raising his voice) “And grant to us a peaceful end,
departure with mercy, that we may stand without fault on the right hand;
and, with open face, and confidence, run to meet the arising of Thine
Only-begotten Son, and His second and glorious manifestation from heaven;
and may hear from Him, that blessed voice, which He shall pronounce at the
last day to the Blessed.” “Blessed of my Father receive the inheritance of
the heavenly kingdom,” “that in this, as in all, may be glorified and
praised, Thy most venerated Name.” P. “That, &c.” Pr. “Peace.” P. “And with
thy spirit.” The Priest breaks the Host, and says the prayer, before “Our
Father.” Pr, “Father of all, and Beginning, Which is above all things—Light
eternal, and Fountain of Light, Which illuminates all natures endowed with
reason; Who callest the poor from the dust, and raisest the beggar from the
dunghill; and hast called us, lost, rejected, and infirm, to the liberty and
household dignity of Thy sons, through Thy beloved Son, grant to us, that we
may appear in Thy sight, holy sons, and not unworthy of the name; and may
also perform all our ministry after a blameless manner; and with purity of
soul, and cleanness of intellect, and with a godly mind, whenever we invoke
Thee, God the Father Omnipotent, holy and heavenly, we pray and say, Our
Father, which art in heaven.” P. “Hallowed be Thy Name, &c.” Pr. “Free us,
Thy servants and sons, from all temptations, most difficult, and surpassing
our forces; and from all griefs, which can bring loss to our body or soul.
Guard us, at the same time from the evil one, and from his universal power,
and from his most pernicious devices. For Thou art King of all, and to Thee
we render glory.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Peace,” P. “And with thy spirit.” D.
“Before” (Ante). P. “Before Thee, O Lord.” (Coram.) Pr. “Look, O Lord, upon
Thy faithful people, who bend before Thee, and await Thy gift, and
contemplate the deposit of the Sacraments of Thy Only-begotten, O God the
Father. Take not away Thy grace from us, and cast us not away from Thy
ministry, and from participation in Thy sacraments, but prepare us, that we
may be pure and without flaw, and worthy of this feast; and that, with a
conscience unblamable, we may ever enjoy His precious body and blood; and in
a life, glorious and endless, may recline in a spiritual habitation, and may
feast at the table of Thy kingdom, and may render to Thee glory and
praise.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Peace.” P. “And with thy spirit.” D. “With fear.”
Pr. “Holy things to holy persons.” P. “One holy Father.” D. “Let us stand
becomingly.” P. “Before Thee.” Pr. “We give thanks to Thee, O Lord, and with
grateful mind we acknowledge Thy loving-kindness; because, from nothing,
Thou hast led us forth to that which we are, and hast made us members of Thy
household, and sons of Thy sacraments; and hast entrusted this religious
ministry to us, and hast made us worthy of this spiritual table. Preserve in
us, O Lord, the deposit of Thy Divine Mysteries, that we may frame and
complete our life in Thy sight, after the fashion of the angels; that we may
be secured and inseparable through the reception of Thy holy (mysteries);
performing Thy great and perfect will, and may be found ready for that last
consummation, and to stand before Thy Majesty, and may be made worthy of the
pleasure of Thy kingdom, through the grace, mercy and love towards man, of
Thy Only-begotten Son, through Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory,
honour, &c.” P. “Amen.” Pr. “Peace.” P. “And with thy spirit.” D. “After”
(Post), P. “Before Thee, O Lord.” Pr. “O Christ, the King of Glory, and
Father of the Age to come; Holy Sacrifice; heavenly Hierarch; Lamb of God,
Who takest away the sin of the world, spare the sins of Thy people, and
dismiss the foolishness of Thy flock. Preserve us, through, the
communication of Thy Sacraments, from every sin, whether it be committed by
word, or thought, or deed; and from whatever makes us far from the
familiarity of Thy household, that our bodies may be guarded by Thy body,
and our souls renewed through Thy sacraments. And may Thy benediction, O
Lord, be in our whole man, within and without; and may Thou be glorified in
us, and by us, and may Thy right hand rest upon us, and that of Thy blessed
Father, and of Thy most holy Spirit.” P. “Amen.” D. “Bless, O Lord.”

Christmas, 1896.

[135] Liturgiarum Orien. Collectio E. Renaudoti. Par. 1847. T, ii. p. 201.

[136] D. N., C. 1. § 4; C. II. § 11.

[137] Pr. = Priest. D. = Deacon. P. = Populus.

[138] C. II. § 5.

[139] D. N., C. I. § 4.


THE most plausible objection to the genuineness of these writings is thus
expressed by Dupin: “Eusebius and Jerome wrote an accurate catalogue of each
author known to them—with a few obscure exceptions,—and yet never mention
the writings of the Areopagite.” Great is the rejoicing in the House of the
Anti-Areopagites over this PROOF;—but what are the facts? Eusebius
acknowledges that innumerable works have not come to him—Jerome disclaims
either to know or to give an accurate catalogue either of authors or works.
The Library of Caesarea contained three hundred thousand volumes, according
to the modest computation of Doublet, according to Schneider, many
more—Jerome says there are some writings, so illustrious in themselves, that
they will not suffer from not being mentioned by him; Jerome fallows
Dionysius on the Heavenly Hierarchy; Jerome’s Catalogue of Illustrious Men
contains one hundred and thirty-five names.

Josephus is mentioned for his testimony to Christ —Seneca, for his
correspondence with St, Paul—Philo, for his description of the Therapeutse
of Alexandria. Yet Dupin would have the unwary infer that Jerome gives a
full catalogue of each Author known to him, with a few obscure exceptions.

The “Ecclesiastical History” of Eusebius treats of the nature of Christ, the
companions of the Apostles, the Martyrdoms—the succession of Bishops—the
persecutions—the folk-lore of the Church to the fourth Century. The Book
would fill about 125 pages, yet Dupin would have us believe that he gives a
complete catalogue; He does not give the writings of Hymenseus and
Narcissus, of Athenagoras, and Pantaenus, nor a complete list of Clement,
Origen, and Dionysius of Alexandria. His silence, in my opinion, is owing to
“odium theologicum.” According to Eusebius, Jesus is dittos; according to
Dionysius, Jesus is haplous; both true when properly understood, but when
misunderstood—“Hinc lachrymae illae”—Dupin formed his premise for his
conclusion, not from facts [140] .


Pearson, Daillé, Blundellum, Erasmus, Valla, Westcott, Lupton, pronounce
against the genuineness. Who are you? But Pearson demolishes Daillé; Vossius
pulverises Blundellum; Erasmus repudiates Valla. Dr. Westcott, following
Dupin, assumes the non-genuineness, but his literary instinct places his
Article on Dionysius before that on Origen. Dean Colet bumps the scale
against Mr. Lupton.

Pearson, in the xth Chapter of Ignatii Vindiciae, gives the shortest and
best summary in favour of the genuineness. Speaking of the scholars of his
own day, he says, “No one is so ignorant as not to know that these writings
were recognised as genuine by the best judges in the sixth, fifth, fourth,
and third centuries.” Unhappily, he also said, Every “erudite” person
regarded them in his day as written in the fourth century, and he assumed
the date of Eusebius’ death, as the date of the works, to account for his
silence. Hence every inerudite person, who wished to pass for erudite,
maintained that opinion for his own reputation. But when Pearson had
re-surveyed the evidence, he confessed, with shame, that though he had
given, what seemed to him a true opinion, he left the decision of the whole
matter to the judgment of a more learned person.

Erasmus, in his “Institutio” of a Christian Prince, writes thus:—“Divus ille
Dionysius qui fecit tres Hierarchias.” In his prime work, “ratio verae
religionis,” Erasmus not only enumerates the “Divine Names,” the “Mystic and
Symbolic Theology,” but calls them, not Stoic, not Platonic, not
Aristotelian, but “celestial” philosophy. He so moulds Dionysius into his
book, that it becomes Dionysius writing elegant Latin. The only reason which
outweighed with him all external testimony, was, that Erasmus could not
imagine that any man, living in apostolic times, and so far removed from the
age of Erasmus, could possibly have penned such a mirror of apostolic
doctrine. How could the Areopagite, though disciple of Paul, and familiar
friend of John Theologus, possibly be so learned as the author of these
writings? Such is the testimony of the two Theologians who have been
permitted to be doubtful of the genuineness.


Gregory is the great authority of those who think that the St. Denis of
France is not identical with Dionysius the Areopagite. The authority is
worthy of their critical acumen. Gregory collects the more obscure
martyrdoms, in Gaul, under Nero, and subsequent Emperors. He gives several
martyrdoms under Nero, and thus proves the Apostolic Evangelisation of Gaul.
Gregory quotes, and misquotes, and misunderstands the ancient document [142]
, “Concerning [143] seven men sent by St. Peter into Gaul,—in Gallias—to
preach.” “Under Claudius —sub CLDIO—Peter the Apostle sent certain disciples
into Gaul to preach,—they were, Trophimus, Paulus, Martial, Austremonius,
Gatianus, Saturninus, Valerius, and many companions.”—These men were sent
A.D. 42–43. Gregory omits Valerius, and inserts Dionysius —who was not
converted to the Christian Faith till A.D. 44 or 49. Then Gregory misreads
“Claudio “for “consulibus Decio,” and adds, “Grato” as the fellow-consul.
Thus a disciple of the Apostles, sent by Clement, successor of Peter,
arrives in Gaul A.D. 250, and the identical names of his companions recur
miraculously in the third century. At the very time that Trophimus [144] is
thus supposed to have arrived at Aries, we have a letter from Cyprian, A.D.
254, urging Pope Stephen to depose Marcion, 15th or 18th Bishop of Aries
from Trophimus. Such is the basis upon which our critical friends build
their house upon the sand.


The Pères Bolandistes are a wonder in Christendom. They are critical, and
yet follow the gross blunder of Gregory of Tours. They belong to the papal
obedience, and yet prefer Gregory of Tours when wrong, to Gregory XIII.,
when right. They pronounce the solemn declaration of Pope John XIXth, “that
Martial of Limoges was an apostolic man [145] ,” as of no historic value.
They think that St. John Damascene did not possess the same critical
apparatus for proving the authenticity of the writings of Dionysius, that we
possess in the xixth Century. Their “actes authentiques [146] ” of Dionysius
acknowledge that he was sent to Gaul by Clement, successor of Peter; and yet
they affirm that he arrived in Gaul, A.D, 250. After Clement I., who
succeeded Peter and Paul, there was not another Clement, Bishop of Rome, for
a thousand years [147] . Happily, Les petits Bolandistes are more rational
and critical than their Pères.


“The style, the theological learning, the language and allusions, prove the
writings written after the apostolic age.”

Is the Epistolary style the proof? St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, St. Luke,
and nearly the whole of the New Testament is written under the form of
Epistles. The Epistle of St. James,—the first written in the Canon of the
New Testament,—will bear comparison with the book of Job for ornate diction.
Consult the marginal references to the Epistle of St. Peter, to see the
scriptural knowledge of the Apostles. Men use the testimony of the High
Priests, that the Apostles were unlearned and ignorant men, but omit their
testimony that they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus;
and the further testimony, that Jesus opened their understanding, that they
should understand the testimony of the Scriptures, respecting Himself; and
further, that the Holy Spirit should recall to them whatever He had said to
them. Those who would rather assume twenty miracles, than acknowledge one
natural fact, surmise, that a Syrian, in the ivth century, may have written
Greek permeated with technical expressions of Plato and Aristotle. There is
not a single allusion to persons or events after the first century, unless
it be supposed that the Epistle of Ignatius, A.D. 108, is quoted. The works
abound in names recorded in the New Testament. The Apostolic Epistles allude
to the leaven of heresy already working. The Antwerp edition gives about
five hundred references to Holy Scripture in the Writings of Dionysius. He
quotes every book in the Bible, except the two last particular Epistles of
St. John, or John Presbyter. Dionysius writes four letters to Gaius, to whom
St. John wrote his third Epistle. We have, therefore, in the writings of
this Apostolic man, a proof that the Canonical Scriptures were quoted as the
Oracles of God, in the first century, and a triumphant testimony that

Faith is more trustworthy than criticism.

Thanks be to God!

Other Works by same Author.




Printed by James Parker and Co., Crown Yard, Oxford.

[140] Vidieu, page 107.

[141] L’Abbé Darras. St. Denys l’Areopagite, p. 34.

[142] Ibid., p. 51.

[143] See Monuments inédits de M. Faillon, t. ii. p. 375.

[144] Darras, p. 14.

[145] See Surius.

[146] Darras, 293-300.

[147] Clement I., A.D. 67, Cl. II. 1046.





Author of

“Christianity Chronologically Confirmed.” &c.

James Parker and Co,


Dionysius the Areopagite and the Alexandrine School v
On the Heavenly Hierarchy1
On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy67

Lists of Bishops

Apostolic Traditions generally in abeyance








1st. “The doctrine of the Lord, through the Twelve Apostles, to the
Gentiles.” Spence, Nisbet.

2nd. “The Apostolic Constitutions.” Lagarde. Williams and Norgate, 1862.

3rd. “Coptic Constitutions.” Lagarde. Tattam, 1845,

4th. Justin Martyr—for Liturgy.

5th. Hippolitus, “Refutation of all heresies.” Duncker. Göttingen, 1859.

6th. Hierocles on “Golden Verses” of Pythagoras. Roger Daniel. London, 1654.

7th. “Ecclesiastical History (in Greek) from establishment of the Church to
our own time.” By Professor Kyriakos. Athens, 1898.

8th. “St. Denys, l’Areopagite, premier Evèque de Paris.” Darras, 1863.
Vives, Paris.

9th. Gale’s “Court of the Gentiles.” Hall, Oxon, 1672.

10th. Dexter’s Chronicle. Migne, T. 31.

11th. Monuments inédits. Faillon.


ALEXANDRIA became the home of Christian Philosophy, but Athens was its
birthplace. Pantaenus and Ammonius-Saccus were chief founders of the
Alexandrine School. They were both Christian. They both drew their teaching
from the Word of God, “ the Fountain of Wisdom,” and from the writings of
Hierotheus, and Dionysius the Areopagite—Bishops of Athens. For several
centuries there had been a Greek preparation for the Alexandrine School. As
the Old Testament was a Schoolmaster, leading to Christ, so the Septuagint,
Pythagoras, Plato, Aristobulus, Philo, and Apollos were heralds who prepared
the minds of men for that fulness of light and truth in Jesus Christ, which,
in Alexandria, clothed itself in the bright robes of Divine Philosophy.

Pantaenus was born in Athens, a.d. 120, and died in Alexandria, a.d. 213. He
was Greek by nationality, and Presbyter of the Church in, Alexandria by
vocation. First, Stoic, then Pythagorean, he became Christian some time
before a.d. 186, at which date he was appointed chief instructor in the
Didaskeleion, by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. Pantaenus recognised the
preparation for the Christian Faith in the Greek Philosophy.
Anastasius-Sinaita describes him as “one of the early expositors who agreed
with each other in treating the first six days of Creation as prophetic of
Christ and the whole Church.”

Eusebius says, that “Pantaenus expounded the treasures of the Divine dogmas
preserved direct, as from father to son, from St. Paul and other Apostles.
Phptius records that Pantaenus was pupil of those who had seen the Apostles,
but that he certainly had not listened to any of them themselves. Now, if
Pantaenus was pupil of those who had seen the Apostles, and yet had, not
listened to their oral teaching, it is natural to infer that he was pupil
through their writings. I am a pupil of Dr. Pusey, but I never listened to
his oral teaching; I am pupil through his writings. Now, there exist, to
this day, the writings of two Presbyters who had seen the Apostles—both,
converts to the faith through St. Paul,—-whose writings contain the
treasures of the Divine dogmas, received from St. Paul and the other
Apostles. Those two Presbyters are Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite,
both ordained Bishop of Athens by St. Paul. Dionysius the Areopagite
expressly calls, St. Paul his “chief initiator,” and as such, gives his
teaching on the holy Angels, in the sixth chapter of the Heavenly Hierarchy;
and frequently describes St. Paul as his “chief instructor.”

If, then, we can prove that the writings of Dionysius existed before and
were known in Alexandria, when Pantaenus delivered his lectures in that
city, we may fairly infer that Pantaenus would know, and knowing, would use,
the writings penned by the Chief of his own Areopagus, and Bishop of his own

Historical criticism does not permit us to reject probabilities, merely
because they confirm the Christian Faith.

Dexter, in his Chronicle, collected from the Archives of Toledo and other
churches in Spain, gives this testimony:—

“U.C. 851 (a.d. 98). Dionysius Areopagita dicat Eugenio Marcello, dicto,
propter ingenii excellentiam, Timotheo, libros de Divinis Nominibus.”

Dionysius of Alexandria, writing to Tope Sixtus II., c. 250, respecting the
writings of Dionysius the Areopagite, affirms “that no one can intelligently
dispute their paternity—that no one penetrated more profoundly than
Dionysius into the mysterious depths of Holy Scripture—that Dionysius was
disciple of St. Paul, and piously governed the Church of Athens.” If, then,
the Bishops of Alexandria and Rome exchanged letters only a few years after
the death of Pantaenus, and only seven years after the death of Ammonius,
and in those letters affirmed the writings to be undoubtedly written by
Dionysius the Areopagite, it would be the height of absurdity to affirm that
such writings were unknown to Pantaenus and Ammonius.

But we do not need to base our proof on mere supposition. Routh gives two
fragments of Pantaenus. The second is a distinct echo of Dionysius. In
Divine Names (c. 7), Dionysius discusses how Almighty God knows existing
things, and explains the text; “He, knowing all things before their birth”
as proving that “not as learning existing things from existing things, but
from Himself, and in Himself, as Cause, the Divine Being pre-holds and
pre-comprehends the notions 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. Thus Almighty God knows existing things, not
by a knowledge of existing things, but by that of Himself.” Dionysius, c. V.
s. 8, speaking of creation, declares that the Divine and good volitions of
Almighty God define and produce existing things.

Pantaenus teaches the same: “Neither does He know things sensible sensibly
(aisthētōs), nor things intelligible intellectually. For it is not possible
that He, Who is above all things, should comprehend things being, after
things being (kata ta onta), but we affirm that He knows things being” as
His own volitions . . . yea, as His own volitions, Almighty God knows things
being, since by willing (thelōn), He made all things being.”

In Mystic Theology, c. V., Dionysius says, “Almighty God does not know
existing things, qua existing.” The teaching of Ammonius-Saccus is the same;
Ammonius uses the word boulēma, Dionysius and Pantaenus, thelēmata, of God,
as Source of Creation.

But, though the known fragments of Pantaenus are few, we possess abundant
writings of two pupils, Clement of Alexandria and Origen, from which we may
gather the teaching of their master. Clement speaks of Pantaenus as his
“great instructor and collaborator.” Such is the similarity between the
writings of Clement and Dionysius, that some have hazarded the conjecture
that Clement the Philosopher, mentioned by Dionysius, was Clement of
Alexandria! I give only one familiar illustration. Clement writes: “As then,
those riding at anchor at sea, drag the anchor, but do not drag it to
themselves, but themselves to the anchor, thus those who are drawn to God in
the gnostic life, find themselves unconsciously led to God.” Dionysius, D.
N., c. III. s. 1, says, “or, as if after we have embarked on ship, and are
holding on to the cable, attached to some rock, we do not draw the rock to
us, but ourselves, and the ship, to the rock. Wherefore, before everything,
and especially theology, we must begin with prayer; not as though we
ourselves were drawing the power, which is everywhere, and nowhere present,
but as, by our godly reminiscences and invocations, conducting ourselves to,
and making ourselves one with It.”

Origen confessed that Pantaenus was his superior in the philosophy of the
schools, and that he moulded his teaching upon the model of Pantaenus. Do
the writings of Origen bear the stamp of Dionysius and Hierotheus? Origen,
on the resurrection of the body, says, “For how does it not seem absurd that
this body which has endured scars for Christ, and, equally with the soul,
has borne the savage torments of persecutions, and has also endured the
suffering of chains, and rods, and has been tortured with fire, beaten with
the sword, and has further suffered the cruel teeth of wild beasts, the
gallows of the cross, and divers kinds of punishments,—that this should be
deprived of the prizes of such contests. If forsooth, the soul alone, which
not alone contended, should receive the crown, and its companion the body,
which served it with much labour, should attain no recompense, for its agony
and victory,—how does it not seem contrary to all reason, that the flesh,
resisting for Christ its natural vices, and its innate lust, and guarding
its virginity with immense labour,—that one, when the time for rewards has
come, should be rejected as unworthy and the other should receive its crown?
Such a fact would undoubtedly argue on the part of God, either a lack of
justice or a lack of power.” Dionysius (E. H., c. VII.) says, “Now the pure
bodies of the holy souls, enrolled together as yoke-fellows, and fellow
travellers, which together strove during the divine contests, throughout the
Divine Life, in the unmoved steadfastness of the souls, will together
receive their own resurrection. For, having been made one with the holy
souls, to which they were united during this present life, by having become
members of Christ, they will receive in return the godlike and incorruptible
immortality and blessed inheritance.” Dionysius (D. N., c. VI. s. 2) says,
“what is still more divine, It promises to “transfer our whole selves (I
mean souls and bodies, their yoke-fellows), to a perfect life and
immortality. Others again do this injustice to bodies, that, after having
toiled with the holy souls, they unjustly deprive them of the holy
retributions, when they have come to the goal of their most divine
course.” “For if the man have passed a life dear to God in soul and body,
the body which has contended throughout the Divine struggles will be
honoured together with the devout soul.”

To shew that Origen knew the works of Hierotheus, we give an extract from
his letter to Gregory: “Would that you might both participate in and
continually augment this part, so that you may not only say, ‘we are
partakers of Christ,’ but also partakers of God.” Papias [148] , Bishop of
Hierapolis (fragment V.) says, “the Presbyters, the disciples of the
Apostles, say that this is the gradation and method of those who are saved,
and that they advance through steps of this nature, and that, moreover, they
ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father; and
that, in due time, the Son will yield up His work to the Father.” Who the
Presbyters, the disciples of the Apostles were, we may gather from the three
last chapters of the “Book of Hierotheus [149] ,” in which the very same
doctrine is taught. Is it not, then, a legitimate inference, that when
Photius says “ that Pantaenus was a pupil of the Presbyters who had seen the
Apostles,” he designated Hierotheus and Dionysius the Areopagite, generally
known under that title?

Ammonius Saccus was born of Christian parents in Alexandria, and died in
that city, a.d. 242.

Anastasius Sinaita calls him “the Wise,” and Hierocles, “the taught of
God.” Besides being famous for his expositions of Holy Scripture, he wrote
the “Diatesseron,” or “Harmony of the Gospels,” contained in the Bib.
Patrum. In a.d. 236, he wrote the agreement between Moses and Jesus. He was
the great conciliator, who sought the good in every system, and to make all
one in Christ. Pressensé beautifully describes him as a man who wished to
believe and to know—to adore and to comprehend—to conciliate the Greek
Philosophy with the Mysteries of the East. He wrote a commentary on the
golden verses of Pythagoras, which Hierocles published, as well as
reproduced his other works. The titles of his books, mentioned by Photius,
such as “Providence” and “Free Will,” recall those of the lost books of
Dionysius, of which we have only a summary in his known works. (Cod.

Ammonius was surnamed Saccus from having been a corn carrier. Virgil,
Shakespere, Milton, were great geniuses in themselves, but when we know the
sources from which they drew, we can better understand their achievements.

Dionysius was indebted to Hierotheus—Ammonius drew from Dionysius. This we
shall shew, not as we might, by his works as described by Photius, but from
Plotinus, his disciple, in order that we may have the prevailing proof, to
some minds, of testimony not necessarily Christian.

Plotinus was born in Lycopolis, a.d. 205, and died in Campagna, a.d. 270. At
the age of 29, he began to search for truth, in the schools of Alexandria.
He wandered from teacher to teacher, but could find no rest until he was
persuaded to go and hear Ammonius-Saccus. After listening to him, he
exclaimed, “This is what I sought.”

Plotinus remained under him eleven years, until the death of Ammonius, a.d.
242. In a.d. 244, Plotinus began to teach in Rome. Plotinus was not a
refined scholar. Porphyry, therefore, committed his teaching to writing.
Porphyry was regarded as the greatest enemy to the Christian Faith in the
early centuries. Persecutors burned the bodies of Christians, but Porphyry
sought to undermine their faith in the Holy Scriptures, by quibbles of
unbelief, which have been revived to-day as “New Criticism.” Porphyry wrote
against the Holy Scriptures with a bitterness engendered by a conviction of
their truth. Now, it is a startling fact, that though the teaching of
Plotinus comes to us through Porphyry, there is not a word in the Enneades,
in which the teaching of Plotinus is given, against the Christian Faith. It
is true that Eutochius published another version of the teaching of
Plotinus, on the ground that his teaching was coloured by Porphyry, but we
prefer to rest our proof on Porphyry, as not being prejudiced in favour of
the truth.

Let us then first see what Plotinus teaches respecting the Holy Trinity. He
says, “We need not go beyond the three Hypostaseis” (Persons). It is true
that Plotinus presents that Trinity as “One,” “Mind,” and “Soul,” whereas
Dionysius gives the formula “Father, Son, and Spirit.” Occasionally Plotinus
uses “Logos” instead of “Mind.” But even this substitution of “One” for
“Father” may be traced to Dionysius, who speaks of the Triad, enarchikē and
even enarchikōn hupostaseōn, “One springing.” The “One” represents the
Father. Plotinus says, “We may represent the first principle, ‘One,’ as
source, which has no other origin than Itself, and which pours Itself in a
multitude of streams without being diminished by what it gives.” Dionysius
speaks of the “Father” as sole source of Godhead, and says that “the Godhead
is undiminished by the gifts imparted.” In Chap. XII. of Divine Names,
Dionysius treats of “One” and “Perfect” as applied to Almighty God.

Let Us now hear Plotinus on the “Beautiful” Enneades (I. 6-7). Plotinus
says, “The soul advances in its ascent towards God, until being raised above
everything alien, it sees face to face, in His simplicity, and in all His
purity, Him upon Whom all hangs, to Whom all aspire; from Whom all hold
existence, life and thought. What transport of love must not he feel who
sees Him! with what ardour ought he not to desire to be united to Him! He,
who has not seen Him, desires Him as the Good; he who has seen Him, admires
Him as the sovereign Beauty; and struck at once with astonishment and
pleasure, disdains the things which heretofore he called by the name of
Beauty. This is what happens to those to whom have appeared the forms of
gods and demons;—they no longer care For the beauty of other bodies. What
think you, then, should he experience who has seen the Beautiful
Himself,—the Beautiful surpassing earth and heaven! The miserable is not he,
Who has neither fresh colour nor comely form, nor power, nor royalty; it is
alone he, Who sees himself excluded from the possession of Beauty—a
possession in comparison with which he ought to disdain royalty, rule of the
whole earth, of the sea, and heaven itself, if he should be able, by
abandoning, by despising all these, to rise to the contemplation of the
Beautiful, face to face.” Plotinus also recognised, “that the eye soiled
with impurity could never bear the sight, or attain to the vision of that
Beauty. We must render the organs of vision analogous and like to the object
that they would contemplate. Every man ought to begin by rendering himself
beautiful and divine to obtain a Vision of the Beautiful and the Deity.”
Well might St. Augustine say, that “with the change of a few words, Plotinus
became concordant with Christ’s religion.” No wonder that Gregory and Basil
quoted so largely from Plotinus. Let us now hear what Dionysius says of the
“Good and Beautiful”:— “Goodness turns all things to Itself; all things
aspire to It, as source and bond and end. From this Beautiful comes being to
all existing things. All things aspire to the Beautiful and Good,—and there
is no existing thing which does not participate in the Beautiful and
Good.” Read the Fourth Chapter of the Divine Names.

Porphyry records that Plotinus attained to that vision of the Beautiful
three times during his life. How that vision of the Beautiful is to be
attained, Dionysius describes in the “Mystic Theology:”—“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
agnostically to the union, as attainable, with Him Who is above every
essence and knowledge. For by unchecked and absolute extasy, 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.” Ammonius had such extasy during his lectures, in which he seemed
to have Divine visions.

Plotinus differs from Dionysius in regarding creation as an act of
necessity, whereas Dionysius regards it as an act of love. Plotinus treats
evil as “an elongation from God.” Dionysius speaks of Almighty God as
immanent in matter the most elongated from spirit. Plotinus traces evil to
matter; Dionysius to the fallacious choice of a free agent. May it not be
that the pagan colouring of Porphyry in these respects led Eutochius to give
a more faithful and consistent account of the teaching of Plotinus.

But the crowning proof that Dionysius was the source from which the
Alexandrine School drew much of its wisdom, is Proclus (450-485). Suidas
affirmed long ago that Proclus cribbed whole passages from Dionysius.
Professor Stiglmayr fills seven pages with parallel passages.

Vachérot describes certain chapters of the “Divine Names” as extracts from
Proclus, word for word, and says the whole doctrine of Dionysius seems to be
a commentary upon the Theology of Alexandria. Barthélémy St. Hilaire says
that Dionysius and Scotus Erigena, almost entirely implanted, in the middle
age, the doctrine of Neo-Platonism. Matter is more profound; Professor
Langen finds in Dionysius the “characteristics of Neo-Platonic
speculation.” The similarity of doctrine is denied by none. Which writings
appeared first? that is the question.

Dexter commemorates the “Divine Names” a.d. 98 [150] .

Polycarp quotes Dionysius verbatim as “a certain one.” Jerome quotes him as
“quidam Graecorum.” Dionysius of Alexandria (a.d. 250), writing to Sixtus
II., declares that no one can intelligently doubt that the writings are
those of Dionysius, the convert of St. Paul, Bishop of Athens. Tertullian,
expresses the Agnosia “nihil scire omnia scire,” Origen quotes him by name.
Theodore (a.d. 420) answers objections,—whom Photius approved. Gregory calls
Dionysius “an ancient and venerable Father.” The Second Council of Nicea
quotes the very words, contained in the “Ecclesiastical Hierarchy,” c. I. s.
4, as those of the great Dionysius. Bishop Pearson proves that the best
judges in the sixth, fifth, fourth and third centuries regarded the writings
as written: by Dionysius the Areopagite. German scholars to-day admit that
the external testimony is in favour of their genuineness.

Yet eccentric critics, on account of the precise theology, cannot believe
that the works were written; by a learned Greek,—Chief of the Areopagus—who
forsook all to follow Christ,—the convert and disciple of St.. Paul,—the
familiar friend of St. John and other Apostles, to whom our Saviour revealed
the mysteries of the Father; but those critics can believe that an unknown
man, whose century no one can fix, and possibly a Syrian, may have gleaned
from writers of the first four centuries these theological pearls expressed
in Greek in a style unique and always like itself. They can, believe that
the Author of these Divine writings, would incorporate, fictitious allusions
to persons and events of the apostolic, age, to add lustre to incomparable
works, and to impute them to another. They can believe that writings, so
composed, were foisted upon a credulous Christendom, so that Dionysius of
Alexandria, Maximus, St. John Damascene, and the Council of Nicea, accepted
them as the genuine works of Dipnysius. I do not belong to that school. Only
unbelief could believe anything so incredible. Rational men will not hazard
the surmise that works known in the first century were gleaned from writings
composed four hundred years afterwards.

The tone of the Alexandrine School may be further illustrated from Amelius
and Dionysius the Sublime. Amelius attended Plotinus twenty-four years as
companion and pupil. Eusebius gives an extract from his writings, in which
Amelius says, “This plainly was the Word, by Whom, being Eternal, things
becoming became, as Heraclitus would say.” It was probably he who said, “the
Prologue of St. John’s Gospel ought to be written in gold, and placed in the
most conspicuous place in every church.” De Civ. Dei, LX. c. 29. Dionysius,
the famous secretary of Zenobia, attended the lectures of Ammonius-Saccus.
He was the “arbiter” of all literary questions. He expresses his admiration,
De sub. L. 9, of the diction of Moses in the description of the six days’
creation, and numbers St. Paul amongst the most brilliant Greek orators, as
a man who propounded a “dogma beyond demonstration.”

We claim that the testimony of these illustrious men, and the extracts from
Pantaenus, Ammonius, and their disciples, justify the conclusion that the
Alexandrine School was Biblical, Christian, and Philosophical, that its
Philosophy was a Divine Philosophy of the Faith, not a pagan philosophy
against the Faith, and that the main sources of its Divine Philosophy were
the writings of Hierotheus and Dionysius, Bishops of Athens.


Epiphany, 1899.

For sketch of Life, Internal Evidence of date, and External Testimony to
genuineness during first nine centuries, see “Celestial and Ecclesiastical
Hierarchy.” (Skeffington, 2s. 6d.)

[148] c. 140.

[149] Br. Mus. (Ad. Rich. 7189)

[150] From Tabularia of Toledo, a.d. 98.




To my Fellow Presbyter Timothy. [151] Dionysius the Presbyter.

That every divine illumination, whilst going forth lovingly to the objects
of its forethought under various forms, remains simplex. Nor is this all. It
also unifies the things illuminated.

Section I.

“Every good gift [152] and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down
from the Father of Lights.”

Further also, every procession of illuminating light, proceeding from the
Father, whilst visiting us as a gift of goodness, restores us again
gradually as an unifying power, and turns us to the oneness of our
conducting Father, and to a deifying simplicity. For [153] all things are
from Him, and to Him, as said the Sacred Word.

Section II.

Invoking then Jesus, the Paternal Light, the Real, the True, “which lighteth
[154] every man coming into the world,” “through [155] Whom we have access
to the Father,” Source of Light, let us aspire, as far as is attainable, to
the illuminations handed down by our fathers in the most sacred Oracles, and
let us gaze, as we may, upon the Hierarchies of the Heavenly Minds
manifested by them symbolically for our instruction. And when we have
received, with immaterial and unflinching mental [156] eyes, the gift of
Light, primal and super-primal, of the supremely Divine Father, which
manifests to us the most blessed Hierarchies of the Angels in types and
symbols, let us then, from it, be elevated to its simple splendour [157] .
For it never loses its own unique inwardness, but multiplied and going
forth, as becomes its goodness, for an elevating and unifying blending of
the objects of its care, remains firmly and solitarily centred within itself
in its unmoved sameness; and raises, according to their capacity, those who
lawfully aspire to it, and makes them one, after the example of its own
unifying Oneness. For it is not possible that the supremely Divine Ray
should otherwise illuminate us, except so far as it is enveloped, for the
purpose of instruction, in variegated sacred veils, and arranged naturally
and appropriately, for such as we are, by paternal forethought.

Section III.

Wherefore, the Divine Institution of sacred Rites, having deemed it worthy
of the supermundane imitation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, and having
depicted the aforesaid immaterial Hierarchies in material figures and bodily
compositions, in order that we might be borne, as far as our capacity
permits, from the most sacred pictures to the instructions and similitudes
without symbol and without type, transmitted to us our most Holy Hierarchy.
For it is not possible for our mind to be raised to that immaterial
representation and contemplation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, without using
the material guidance suitable to itself, accounting the visiblePs. xix.
beauties as reflections of the invisible comeliness; and the sweet [158]
odours of the senses as emblems of the spiritual distribution; and the
material [159] lights as a likeness of the gift of the immaterial
enlightenment; and the detailed sacred instructions [160] , of the feast of
contemplation within the mind; and the ranks [161] of the orders here, of
the harmonious and regulated habit, with regard to Divine things; and the
reception of the most Divine Eucharist, of the partaking [162] of Jesus, and
whatever other things were transmitted to Heavenly Beings supermundanely,
but to us symbolically.

For the sake, then, of this our proportioned deification, the philanthropic
Source of sacred mysteries, by manifesting the Heavenly Hierarchies to us,
and constituting our Hierarchy as fellow-ministers with them, through our
imitation of their Godlike priestliness [163] , so far as in us lies,
described under sensible likeness the supercelestial Minds, in the inspired
compositions of the Oracles, in order that It might lead us through the
sensible to the intelligible [164] , and from inspired symbols to the simple
sublimities of the Heavenly Hierarchies.

[151] 1 Pet. v. 1.

[152] James i. 17.

[153] Rom. xi. 36.

[154] John i. 9.

[155] Rom. v. 2.

[156] Syr. Doc. p. 61, Clark.

[157] Plato Rep. 6, 7-11, 121-126. Read Allegory of Cave.

[158] Num. xv. 3.

[159] Luke 11. 9.

[160] John vii. 14.

[161] Rom. xiii. 1, 2.

[162] 1 Cor. x. 16.

[163] 1 Pet ii. 9.

[164] noēta.


That Divine and Heavenly things are appropriately revealed, even through
dissimilar symbols.

Section I.

It is necessary then, as I think, first to set forth what we think is the
purpose of every Hierarchy, and what benefit each one confers upon its
followers; and next to celebrate the Heavenly Hierarchies according to their
revelation in the Oracles; then following these Oracles, to say in what
sacred forms the holy writings of the Oracles depict the celestial orders,
and to what sort of simplicity we must be carried through the
representations; in order that we also may not, like the vulgar,
irreverently think that the heavenly and Godlike minds are certain
many-footed [165] and many-faced [166] creatures, or moulded to the
brutishness of oxen [167] , or the savage form of lionsIbid., and fashioned
like the hooked beaks of eaglesIbid., or the feathery down of birds [168] ,
and should imagine that there are certain wheels [169] of fire above the
heaven, or material thrones [170] upon which the Godhead may recline, or
certain many-coloured [171] horses, and spear-bearing leaders of the host
[172] , and whatever else was transmitted by the Oracles to us under
multifarious symbols of sacred imagery.

And indeed, the Word of God [173] artlessly makes use of poetic
representations of sacred things, respecting the shapeless minds, out of
regard to our intelligence, so to speak, consulting a mode of education
proper and natural to it, and moulding the inspired writings for it.

Section II.

But if any one think well to accept the sacred compositions as of things
simple and unknown in their own nature, and beyond our contemplation, but
thinks the imagery of the holy minds in the Oracles is incongruous, and that
all this is, so to speak, a rude scenic representation of the angelic names;
and further says that the theologians ought, when they have come to the
bodily representation of creatures altogether without body, to represent and
display them by appropriate and, as far as possible, cognate figures, taken,
at any rate, from our most honoured and immaterial and exalted beings, and
ought not to clothe the heavenly and Godlike simple essences with the many
forms of the lowest creatures to be found on the earth (for the one would
perhaps be more adapted to our instruction, and would not degrade the
celestial explanations to incongruous dissimilitudes; but the other both
does violence without authority to the Divine powers, and likewise leads
astray our minds, through dwelling upon these irreverent descriptions); and
perhaps he will also think that the super-heavenly places are filled with
certain herds of lions, and troops of horses, and bellowing songs of praise,
and flocks of birds, and other living creatures, and material and less
honourable things, and whatever else the similitudes of the Oracles, in
every respect dissimilar, describe, for a so-called explanation, but which
verge towards the absurd, and pernicious, and impassioned; now, in my
opinion, the investigation of the truth demonstrates the most sacred wisdom
of the Oracles, in the descriptions of the Heavenly Minds, taking
forethought, as that wisdom does, wholly for each, so as neither, as one may
say, to do violence to the Divine Powers, nor at the same time to enthral us
in the grovelling passions of the debased imagery. For any one might say
that the cause why forms are naturally attributed to the formless, and
shapes to the shapeless, is not alone our capacity which is unable
immediately to elevate itself to the intelligible contemplations, and that
it needs appropriate and cognate instructions which present images, suitable
to us, of the formless and supernatural objects of contemplation; but
further, that it is most agreeable to the revealing Oracles to conceal,
through mystical and sacred enigmas, and to keep the holy and secret truth
respecting the supermundane minds inaccessible to the multitude. For it is
not every one that is holy, nor, as the Oracles affirm, does knowledge
belong to all [174] .

Section III.

But if any one should blame the descriptions as being incongruous, by saying
that it is shameful to attribute shapes so repugnant to the Godlike and most
holy Orders, it is enough to reply that the method of Divine revelation is
twofold; one, indeed, as is natural, proceeding through likenesses that are
similar, and of a sacred character, but the other, through dissimilar forms,
fashioning them into entire unlikeness and incongruity. No doubt, the
mystical traditions of the revealing Oracles sometimes extol the august
Blessedness of the super-essential Godhead, as Word [175] , and Mind [176] ,
and Essence [177] , manifesting its God-becoming expression and wisdom, both
as really being Origin, and true Cause of the origin of things being, and
they describe It as light [178] , and call it life. While such sacred
descriptions are more reverent, and seem in a certain way to be superior to
the material images, they yet, even thus, in reality fall short of the
supremely Divine similitude. For It is above every essence and life. No
light, indeed, expresses its character, and every description and mind
incomparably fall short of Its similitude.

But at other times its praises are supermundanely sung, by the Oracles
themselves, through dissimilar revelations, when they affirm that it is
invisible [179] , and infinite [180] , and incomprehensible [181] ; and when
there is signified, not what it is, but what it is not. For this, as I
think, is more appropriate to It, since, as the secret and sacerdotal
tradition taught, we rightly describe its non-relationship to things
created, but we do not know its superessential, and inconceivable, and
unutterable indefinability. If, then, the negations respecting things Divine
are true, but the affirmations are inharmonious, the revelation as regards
things invisible, through dissimilar representations, is more appropriate to
the hiddenness of things unutterable. Thus the sacred descriptions of the
Oracles honour, and do not expose to shame, the Heavenly Orders, when they
make them known by dissimilar pictorial forms, and demonstrate through these
their supermundane superiority over all. material things. And I do not
suppose that any sensible man will gainsay that the incongruous elevate our
mind more than the similitudes; for there is a likelihood, with regard to
the more sublime representations of heavenly things, that we should be led
astray, so as to think that the Heavenly Beings are certain creatures with
the appearance of gold, and certain men with the appearance of light [182] ,
and glittering like lightning [183] , handsome [184] , clothed in bright
shining raiment, shedding forth innocuous flame, and so with regard to all
the other shapes and appropriate forms, with which the Word of God has
depicted the Heavenly Minds. In order that men might not suffer from this,
by thinking they are nothing more exalted than their beau tiful appearance,
the elevating wisdom of the pious theologians reverently conducts to the
incongruous dissimilarities, not permitting our earthly part to rest fixed
in the base images, but urging the upward tendency of the soul, and goading
it by the unseemliness of the phrases (to see) that it belongs neither to
lawful nor seeming truth, even for the most earthly conceptions, that the
most heavenly and Divine visions are actually like things so base. Further
also this must particularly be borne in mind, that not even one of the
things existing is altogether deprived of participation in the beautiful,
since, as is evident and the truth of the Oracles affirms, all things are
very beautiful [185] .

Section IV.

It is, then, possible to frame in one’s mind good contemplations from
everything, and to depict, from things material, the aforesaid dissimilar
similitudes, both for the intelligible and the intelligent; since the
intelligent hold in a different fashion things which are attributed to
things sensible differently. For instance, appetite, in the irrational
creatures, takes its rise in the passions, and their movement, which takes
the form of appetite, is full of all kinds of unreasonableness. But with
regard to the intelligent, we must think of the appetite in another fashion,
as denoting, according to my judgment, their manly style, and their
determined persistence in their Godlike and unchangeable steadfastness. In
like manner we say, with regard to the irrational creatures, that lust is a
certain uncircumspect and earthly passionate attachment, arising
incontinently from an innate movement, or intimacy in things subject to
change, and the irrational supremacy of the bodily desire, which drives the
whole organism towards the object of sensual inclination. But when we
attribute “lust” to spiritual beings, by clothing them with dissimilar
similitudes, we must think that it is a Divine love of the immaterial, above
expression and thought, and the inflexible and determined longing for the
supernally pure and passionless contemplation, and for the really perpetual
and intelligible fellowship in that pure and most exalted splendour, and in
the abiding and beautifying comeliness. And ‘incontinence’ we may take for
the persistent and inflexible, which nothing can repulse, on account of the
pure and changeless love for the Divine beauty, and the whole tendency
towards the really desired. But with regard to the irrational living beings,
or soulless matter, we appropriately call their irrationality and want of
sensible perception a deprivation of reason and sensible perception. And
with regard to the immaterial and intelligent beings, we reverently
acknowledge their superiority, as supermundane beings, over our discursive
and bodily reason, and the material perception of the senses which is alien
to the incorporeal Minds. It is, then, permissible to depict forms, which
are not discordant, to the celestial beings, even from portions of matter
which are the least honourable, since even it, having had its beginning from
the Essentially Beautiful, has throughout the whole range of matter some
echoes of the intellectual comeliness; and it is possible through these to
be led to the immaterial archetypes—things most similar being taken, as has
been said, dissimilarly, and the identities being denned, not in the same
way, but harmoniously, and appropriately, as regards the intellectual and
sensible beings.

Section V.

We shall find the Mystic Theologians enfolding these things not only around
the illustrations of the Heavenly Orders, but also, sometimes, around the
supremely Divine Revelations Themselves. At one time, indeed, they extol It
under exalted imagery as Sun [186] of Righteousness, as Morning [187] Star
rising divinely in the mind, and as Light [188] illuming without veil and
for contemplation; and at other times, through things in our midst, as Fire
[189] , shedding its innocuous light; as Water [190] , furnishing a fulness
of life, and, to speak symbolically, flowing into a belly, and bubbling
forth rivers flowing irresistibly; and at other times, from things most
remote, as sweet-smelling ointment [191] , as Head Corner-stone [192] . But
they also clothe It in forms of wild beasts, and attach to It identity with
a Lion [193] , and Panther [194] , and say that it shall be a Leopard [195]
, and a rushing BearIbid.. But, I will also add, that which seems to be more
dishonourable than all, and the most incongruous, viz. that distinguished
theologians have shewn it to us as representing Itself under the form of a
worm [196] . Thus do all the godly-wise, and interpreters of the secret
inspiration, separate the holy of holies [197] from the uninitiated and the
unholy, to keep them undefined, and prefer the dissimilar description of
holy things, so that Divine things should neither be easily reached by the
profane, nor those who diligently contemplate the Divine imagery rest in the
types as though they were true; and so Divine things should be honoured by
the true negations, and by comparisons with the lowest things, which are
diverse from their proper resemblance. There is then nothing absurd if they
depict even the Heavenly Beings under incongruous dissimilar similitudes,
for causes aforesaid. For probably not even we should have come to an
investigation, from not seeing our way,—not to say to mystic meaning through
an accurate enquiry into Divine things,—unless the deformity of the
descriptions representing the Angels had shocked us, not permitting our mind
to linger in the discordant representations, but rousing us utterly to
reject the earthly proclivities, and accustoming us to elevate ourselves
through things that are seen, to their supermundane mystical meanings. Let
these things suffice to have been said on account of the material and
incongruous descriptions of the holy Angels in the Holy Oracles. And next,
it is necessary to define what we think the Hierarchy is in itself, and what
benefit those who possess a Hierarchy derive; from the same. But let Christ
lead the discourse—if it be lawful to me to say—He Who is mine,—the
Inspiration of all Hierarchical revelation. And thou, my son, after the
pious rule of our Hierarchical tradition, do thou religiously listen to
things religiously uttered, becoming inspired through instruction in
inspired things; and when thou hast enfolded the Divine things in the secret
recesses of thy mind, guard them closely from the profane multitude as being
uniform, for it is not lawful, as the Oracles say, to cast to swine the
unsullied and bright and beautifying comeliness of the intelligible pearls.

[165] Ezek. i. 7.

[166] Ibid. i. 6.

[167] Ibid. i. 10.

[168] Ibid. i. 6-8.

[169] Dan. vii. 9.

[170] Dan. vii. 9.

[171] Zech. i. 8.

[172] Joshua v. 13, 14; 2 Macc. iii. 25.

[173] Theologia.

[174] 1 Cor. viii. 7.

[175] John i. 1.

[176] Ps. cxxxvi. 5.

[177] Exod. iii. 14.

[178] John i. 4.

[179] 1 Tim. vi. 16.

[180] Ps. cxlv. 13.

[181] Rom. xi. 33; Jer. li. 15.

[182] Acts i. 10.

[183] Matt. xxviii. 3.

[184] Acts vi. 15.

[185] Gen. i. 31.

[186] Mal. iv. 2.

[187] Num. xxiv. 17; 2 Pet. i. 19.

[188] John i. 5.

[189] Exod. iii. 2.

[190] John vii. 38.

[191] Cant. i. 2.

[192] Eph. ii. 20.

[193] Hos. xiii. 8.

[194] Ibid. 7.

[195] Ibid. 8.

[196] Ps. xxii. 6.

[197] hagia tōn hagiōn.


What is Hierarchy? and what the use of Hierarchy?

Section I.

Hierarchy is, in my judgment, a sacred order and science and operation,
assimilated, as far as attainable, to the likeness of God, and conducted to
the illuminations granted to it from God, according to capacity, with a view
to the Divine imitation. Now the God-becoming Beauty, as simple, as good, as
source of initiation, is altogether free from any dissimilarity, and imparts
its own proper light to each according to their fitness, and perfects in
most Divine initiation, as becomes the undeviating moulding of those who are
being initiated harmoniously to itself.

Section II.

The purpose, then, of Hierarchy is the assimilation and union, as far as
attainable, with God, having Him Leader of all religious science and
operation, by looking unflinchingly to His most Divine comeliness, and
copying, as far as possible, and by perfecting its own followers as Divine
images, mirrors most luminous and without flaw, receptive of the primal
light and the supremely Divine ray, and devoutly filled with the entrusted
radiance, and again, spreading this radiance ungrudgingly to those after it,
in accordance with the supremely Divine regulations. For it is not lawful
for the Mystic Rites of sacred things, or for things religiously done, to
practise anything whatever beyond the sacred regulations of their own proper
function. Nor even must they attempt otherwise, if they desire to attain its
deifying splendour, and look to it religiously, and are moulded after the
example of each of the holy minds. He, then, who mentions Hierarchy, denotes
a certain altogether Holy Order, an image of the supremely Divine freshness,
ministering the mysteries of its own illumination in hierarchical ranks, and
sciences, and assimilated to its own proper Head as far as lawful.

For each of those who have been called into the Hierarchy, find their
perfection in being carried to the Divine imitation [198] in their own
proper degree; and, what is more Divine than all, in becoming a
fellow-worker [199] with God, as the Oracles say, and in shewing the Divine
energy in himself manifested as far as possible. For it is an Hierarchical
regulation that some are purified and that others purify [200] ; that some
are enlightened and others enlighten [201] ; that some are perfected and
others perfect; the Divine imitation will fit each one in this fashion. The
Divine blessedness, to speak after the manner of men, is indeed unstained by
any dissimilarity [202] , and is full of invisible light [203] —perfect
[204] , and needing no perfection; cleansing, illuminating, and perfecting,
yea, rather a holy purification, and illumination, and perfection—above
purification, above light, preeminently perfect, self-perfect source and
cause of every Hierarchy, and elevated pre-eminently above every holy thing.

Section III.

It is necessary then, as I think, that those who are being purified should
be entirely perfected, without stain, and be freed from all dissimilar
confusion; that those who are being illuminated should be filled with the
Divine Light, conducted to the habit and faculty of contemplation in all
purity of mind; that those who are being initiated should be separated from
the imperfect, and become recipients of that perfecting science of the
sacred things contemplated. Further, that those who purify should impart,
from their own abundance of purity, their own proper holiness; that those
who illuminate, as being more luminous intelligences, whose function it is
to- receive and to impart light, and who are joyfully filled with holy
gladness, that these should overflow, in proportion to their own overflowing
light, towards those who are worthy of enlightenment; and that those who
make perfect, as being skilled in the impartation of perfection, should
perfect those being perfected, through the holy instruction, in the science
of the holy things contemplated. Thus each rank of the Hierarchical Order is
led, in its own degree, to the Divine co-operation, by performing, through
grace and God-given power, those things which are naturally and
supernaturally in the Godhead, and accomplished by It superessentially, and
manifested hierarchically, for the attainable imitation of the God-loving
Minds [205] .

[198] Eph. v. 1.

[199] 1 Cor. iii. 9.

[200] Ps. li. 9.

[201] Ibid. cxix. 18.

[202] Deut. vi. 4.

[203] John xii. 46.

[204] Matt. v. 48.

[205] The Holy Angels.


What is meant by the appellation “Angels?”

Section I.

Now that the Hierarchy itself has been, in my judgment, sufficiently
defined, we must next extol the Angelic Hierarchy, and we must contemplate,
with supermundane eyes, its sacred formations, depicted in the Oracles, in
order that we may be borne aloft to their Divinely resplendent simplicity,
through the mystic representations, and may extol the source of all
Hierarchical science with God-becoming reverence and with thanksgivings.
First of all, however, let this truth be spoken —that it was through
goodness that the superessential Godhead, having fixed all the essences of
things being, brought them into being. For this is the peculiar
characteristic of the Cause of all things, and of goodness surpassing all,
to call things being to participation of Itself, as each order of things
being was determined from its own analogy. For all things being share in a
Providence, which bubbles forth from the superessential Deity, Cause of all
things. For they would not be, unless they had participated in the Essence
and Origin of things being. All things then, without life, participate in It
by their being. For the being of all things is the Deity, above being;
things living participate in its life-giving power, above all life; things
rational and intellectual participate in its self-perfect and preeminently
perfect wisdom, above all reason and mind. It is evident, then, that all
those Beings are around It, which have participated in It, in many forms.

Section II.

The holy orders, then, of the Heavenly Beings share in the supremely Divine
participation, in a higher degree than things which merely exist, or which
lead an irrational life, or which are rational like ourselves. For by
moulding themselves intelligibly to the Divine imitation, and looking
supermundanely to the supremely Divine likeness, and striving to mould their
intellectual appearance, they naturally have more ungrudging communications
with It, being near and ever moving upwards, as far as lawful, elevating
themselves with the intensity of the Divine unswerving love, and receiving
the primal illuminations without earthly stain, and ranging themselves to
these, and having their whole life intellectual. These, then, are they who,
at first hand, and under many forms, participate in the Divine, and, at
first hand, and under many forms, make known the supremely Divine
Hiddenness. Wherefore, beyond all, they are deemed pre-eminently worthy of
the appellation Angelic, on the ground that the supremely Divine
illumination comes to them at first hand, and, through them, there pass to
us manifestations above us. Thus, then, the Law, as the Word of God affirms,
was given to us through the ministration of Angels [206] ; and Angels led
our illustrious fathers [207] before the Law, and after the Law, to the
Divine Being, either by leading [208] them to what was to be done, and by
converting them from error, and an unholy life, to the straight way of truth
[209] , or by making known to them sacred ordinances [210] , or hidden
visions, or supermundane mysteries [211] , or certain Divine predictions
through the Prophets [212] .

Section III.

But if any one should say that Divine manifestations were made directly and
immediately to some holy men [213] , let him learn, and that distinctly,
from the most Holy Oracles, that no one hath seen, nor ever shall see, the
“hidden” to kruphion of Almighty God as it is in itself [214] . Now Divine
manifestations were made to the pious as befits revelations of God, that is
to say, through certain holy visions analogous to those who see them. Now
the all-wise Word of God (Theologia) naturally calls Theophany that
particular vision which manifests the Divine similitude depicted in itself
as in a shaping of the shapeless, from the elevation of the beholders to the
Divine Being, since through it a divine illumination comes to the beholders,
and the divine persons themselves are religiously initiated into some
mystery. But our illustrious fathers were initiated into these Divine
visions, through the mediation of the Heavenly Powers. Does not the
tradition of the Oracles describe the holy legislation of the Law, given to
Moses, as coming straight from God, in order that it may teach us this
truth, that it is an outline of a Divine and holy legislation? But the Word
of God, in its Wisdom, teaches this also—that it came to us through Angels,
as though the Divine regulation were laying down this rule, that, through
the first, the second are brought to the Divine Being. For not only with
regard to the superior and inferior minds, but even for those of the same
rank, this Law has been established by the superessential supreme ordinance,
that, within each Hierarchy, there are first, and middle, and last ranks and
powers, and that the more divine are instructors and conductors of the less,
to the Divine access, and illumination, and participation.

Section IV.

But I observe that Angels first were initiated in the Divine mystery of the
love of Jesus towards man, then, through them, the gift of its knowledge
passed to us. Thus, for example, the most divine Gabriel instructed
Zachariah, the Hierarch, that the son who was to be born to him, beyond
hope, by Divine grace, should be a prophet of the God-incarnate work of the
Lord Jesus, to be manifested to the world for its salvation, as becomes the
Divine goodness; and he revealed to Mary, how, in her, should be born the
supremely Divine mystery of the unutterable God-formation. Yet another Angel
instructed Joseph, how, in very truth, should be fulfilled the things
Divinely promised to his ancestor David. Another declared glad tidings to
the shepherds, as being purified by their separation from the multitude, and
their quiet life, and, with him, a multitude of the Heavenly Host announced
to those on earth that often-sung doxology. Let us then ascend to the
highest manifestations of light contained in the Oracles, for I perceive
that even Jesus Himself, the superessential Cause of the super-heavenly
Beings, when He had come to our condition, without change, did not overstep
the good order which becomes mankind, which Himself arranged and took, but
readily subjected Himself to the dispositions of the Father and God, through
Angels; and, through their mediation, was announced to Joseph the departure
of the Son to Egypt, which had been arranged by the Father, and again the
return to Judaea from Egypt. And through Angels we see Him subjecting
Himself to the Father’s decrees. For I forbear to speak, as addressing one
who knows the teaching of our hierarchical tradition, both concerning the
Angel who strengthened the Lord Jesus, or that even Jesus Himself, when He
had come to manifest the good work of our beneficent salvation, was called
Angel of Great Counsel. For, as He Himself says, after the manner of an
Angel, “Whatsoever He heard from the Father, He announced to us.”

[206] Gal. iii. 18.

[207] Acts vii. 53.

[208] Gen. xxii. 12.

[209] Acts x. 3.

[210] Dan. vii. 16.

[211] Ibid. 10.

[212] 2 Cor. xii. 2.

[213] Matt. ii. 13.

[214] John i. 18; 1 John iv. 12; 1 Tim. vi. 16.


For what reason all the Heavenly Beings are called, in common, Angels.

This, then, in our judgment, is the reason for the appellation Angelic in
the Oracles. We must now, I suppose, enquire for what reason the theologians
call all the Heavenly Beings together “Angels;” but when they come to a more
accurate description of the supermundane orders, they name exclusively,
“angelic rank,” that which completes the full tale of the Divine and
Heavenly Hosts. Before this, however, they range pre-eminently, the Orders
of Archangels, and the Principalities, the Authorities, and Powers, and as
many Beings as the revealing traditions of the Oracles recognize as superior
to them. Now, we affirm that throughout every sacred ordinance the superior
ranks possess the illuminations and powers of their subordinates, but the
lowest have not the same powers as those who are above them. The theologians
also call the most holy ranks of the highest Beings “Angels,” for they “also
make known the supremely Divine illumination. But there is no reason to call
the lowest rank of the celestial Minds, Principalities, or Thrones, or
Seraphim. For it does not possess the highest powers, but, as it conducts
our inspired Hierarchs to the splendours of the Godhead known to it; so
also, the saintly powers of the Beings above it are conductors, towards the
Divine Being, of that Order which completes the Angelic Hierarchies. Except
perhaps some one might say this also, that all the angelic appellations are
common, as regards the subordinate and superior communication of all the
celestial powers towards the Divine likeness, and the gift of light from
God. But, in order that the question may be better investigated, let us
reverently examine the saintly characteristics set forth respecting each
celestial Order in the Oracles.


Which is the first Order of the Heavenly Beings? which the middle? and which
the last?

How many, and of what sort, are the Orders of the supercelestial Beings, and
how the Hierarchies are classified amongst themselves, I affirm, the
deifying Author of their consecration alone distinctly knows; and further,
that they know their own proper powers and illuminations, and their sacred
and supermundane regularity. For it is impossible that we should know the
mysteries of the supercelestial Minds and their most holy perfections,
except, some one might say, so far as the Godhead has revealed to us,
through them, as knowing perfectly their own condition. We, then, will utter
nothing as from ourselves, but whatever angelic visions have been gazed upon
by the holy Prophets of God, we, as initiated in these, will set forth as
best we can. The Word of God has designated the whole Heavenly Beings as
nine, by appellations, which shew their functions. These our Divine
Initiator divides into three threefold Orders. He also says that that which
is always around God is first and is declared by tradition to be united
closely and immediately, to Him, before all the rest. For he says that the
teaching of the Holy Oracles declares, that the most Holy Thrones, and the
many-eyed and many-winged hosts, named in the Hebrew tongue Cherubim and
Seraphim, are established immediately around God, with a nearness superior
to all. This threefold order, then, our illustrious Guide spoke of as one,
and of equal rank, and really first Hierarchy, than which there is not
another more Godlike or immediately nearer to the earliest illuminations of
the Godhead. But he says, that which is composed of the Authorities, and
Lordships, and Powers is second; and, as respects the lowest of the Heavenly
Hierarchies, the Order of the Angels and Archangels and Principalities is


Concerning the Seraphim and Cherubim and Thrones, and concerning their first

Section I.

We, whilst admitting this as the arrangement of the holy Hierarchies,
affirm, that every appellation of the celestial Minds denotes the Godlike
characteristic of each; and those who know Hebrew affirm, that the holy
designation of the Seraphim denotes either that they are kindling or
burning; and that of Cherubim, a fulness of knowledge or stream of wisdom.
Naturally, then, the first (order) of the Heavenly Hierarchies is ministered
by the most exalted Beings, holding, as it does, a rank which is higher than
all, from the fact, that it is established immediately around God, and that
the first-wrought Divine manifestations and perfections pass earlier to it,
as being nearest. They are called, then, “Burning,” and Thrones, and Stream
of Wisdom—by a name which sets forth their Godlike conditions. The
appellation of Seraphim plainly teaches their ever moving around things
Divine, and constancy, and warmth, and keenness, and the seething of that
persistent, indomitable, and inflexible perpetual motion, and the vigorous
assimilation and elevation of the subordinate, as giving new life and
rekindling them to the same heat; and purifying through fire and
burnt-offering, and the light-like and light-shedding characteristic which
can never be concealed or consumed, and remains always the same, which
destroys and dispels every kind of obscure darkness. But the appellation of
the Cherubim denotes their knowledge and their vision of God, and their
readiness to receive the highest gift of light, and their power of
contemplating the super-Divine comeliness in its first revealed power, and
their being filled anew with the impartation which maketh wise, and their
ungrudging communication to those next to them, by the stream of the given
wisdom. The appellation of the most exalted and pre-eminent Thrones denotes
their manifest exaltation above every grovelling inferiority, and their
supermundane tendency towards higher things; and their unswerving separation
from all remoteness; and their invariable and firmly-fixed settlement around
the veritable Highest, with the whole force of their powers; and their
receptivity of the supremely Divine approach, in the absence of all passion
and earthly tendency, and their bearing God; and the ardent expansion of
themselves for the Divine receptions.

Section II.

This, then, is the revelation of their names, so far as we can give it; and
we ought to say what we think their Hierarchy is. For I suppose we have
sufficiently shewn above, that the purpose of every Hierarchy is an
unswerving devotion to the divine imitation of the Divine Likeness, and that
every Hierarchical function is set apart for the sacred reception and
distribution of an undefiled purification, and Divine Light, and perfecting

And now I pray that I may speak worthily of the most exalted Minds—how the
Hierarchy amongst them is exhibited through the Oracles.

One must consider, then, that the Hierarchy is akin, and in every respect
like, to the first Beings, who are established after the Godhead, who gave
them Being, and who are marshalled, as it were, in Its very vestibule, who
surpass every unseen and seen created power. We must then regard them as
pure, not as though they had been freed from unholy stains and blemishes,
nor yet as though they were unreceptive of earthly fancies, but as far
exalted above every stain of remissness and every inferior holiness, as
befits the highest degree of purity—established above the most Godlike
powers, and clinging unflinchingly to their own self-moved and same-moved
rank in their invariable love of God, conscious in no respect whatever of
any declivity to a worse condition, but having the unsullied fixity of their
own Godlike identity—never liable to fall, and always unmoved; and again, as
“contemplative,” not contemplators of intellectual symbols as sensible, nor
as being led to the Divine Being by the varied texture of holy
representations written for meditation, but as being filled with all kinds
of immaterial knowledge of higher light, and satiated, as permissible, with
the beautifying and original beauty of super-essential and thrice manifested
contemplation, and thus, being deemed worthy of the Communion with Jesus,
they do not stamp pictorially the deifying similitude in divinely-formed
images, but, as being really near to Him, in first participation of the
knowledge of His deifying illuminations; nay more, that the imitation of God
is given to them in the highest possible degree, and they participate, so
far as is allowable to them, in His deifying and philanthropic virtues, in
the power of a first manifestation; and, likewise as “perfected,” not as
being illuminated with an analytic science of sacred variety, but as being
filled with a first and pre-eminent deification, as beseems the most exalted
science of the works of God, possible in Angels. For, not through other holy
Beings, but being ministered from the very Godhead, by the immediate
elevation to It, by their power, and rank, surpassing all, they are both
established near the All-Holy without any shadow of turning, and are
conducted for contemplation to the immaterial and intelligible comeliness,
as far as permissible, and are initiated into the scientific methods of the
works of God, as being first and around God, being ministered, in the
highest degree, from the very source of consecration.

Section III.

This, then, the theologians distinctly shew (viz.) that the subordinate
Orders of the Heavenly Beings are taught by the superior, in due order, the
deifying sciences; and that those who are higher than all are illuminated
from Godhead itself, as far as permissible, in revelations of the Divine
mysteries. For they introduce some of them as being religiously instructed,
by those of a higher rank, that He, Who was raised to Heaven as Man, is Lord
of the Heavenly Powers and King of Glory; and others, as questioning Jesus
Himself, as desiring to be instructed in the science of His Divine work on
our behalf, and Jesus Himself teaching them immediately, and shewing to
them, at first hand, His beneficent work out of love to man. For “I,” He
says, “am speaking of righteousness and judgment of Salvation.” Now I am
astonished that even the first of the Beings in Heaven, and so far above
all, should reverently strive after the supremely Divine illuminations, as
intermediate Beings. For they do not ask directly, “Wherefore are Thy
garments red? “ but they first raise the question among themselves, shewing
that they desire to learn, and crave the deifying knowledge, and not
anticipating the illumination given after a Divine procedure.

The first Hierarchy, then, of the Heavenly Minds is purified, and
enlightened, and perfected, by being ministered from the very Author of
initiation, through its elevation to It immediately, being filled, according
to its degree, with the altogether most holy purification of the
unproachable Light of the pre-perfect source of initiation, unstained indeed
by any remissness, and full of primal Light, and perfected by its
participation in first-given knowledge and science. But to sum up, I may say
this, not inappropriately, that the reception of the supremely Divine
Science is, both purification, and enlightenment, and perfecting,—purifying,
as it were, from ignorance, by the knowledge of the more perfect revelations
imparted to it according to fitness, and enlightening by the self-same
Divine knowledge, through which it also purifies, that which did not before
contemplate the things which are now made manifest through the higher
illumination; and perfecting further, by the self-same Light, through the
abiding science of the mysteries made clearly manifest.

Section IV.

This, then, according to my science, is the first rank of the Heavenly
Beings which encircle and stand immediately around God; and without symbol,
and without interruption, dances round His eternal knowledge in the most
exalted ever-moving stability as in Angels; viewing purely many and blessed
contemplations, and illuminated with simple and immediate splendours, and
filled with Divine nourishment,—many indeed by the first-given profusion,
but one by the unvariegated and unifying oneness of the supremely Divine
banquet, deemed worthy indeed of much participation and co-operation with
God, by their assimilation to Him, as far as attainable, of their excellent
habits and energies, and knowing many Divine things pre-eminently, and
participating in supremely Divine science and knowledge, as is lawful.
Wherefore the Word of God has transmitted its hymns to those on earth, in
which are Divinely shewn the excellency of its most exalted illumination.
For some of its members, to speak after sensible perception, proclaim as a
“voice of many waters,” “Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place”
and others cry aloud that frequent and most august hymn of God, “Holy, Holy,
Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of His glory.” These most
excellent hymnologies of the supercelestial Minds we have already unfolded
to the best of our ability in the “Treatise concerning the Divine Hymns,”
and have spoken sufficiently concerning them in that Treatise, from which,
by way of remembrance, it is enough to produce so much as is necessary to
the present occasion, namely, “That the first Order, having been
illuminated, from this the supremely Divine goodness, as permissible, in
theological science, as a Hierarchy reflecting that Goodness transmitted to
those next after it,” teaching briefly this, “That it is just and right that
the august Godhead — Itself both above praise, and all-praiseworthy—should
be known and extolled by the God-receptive minds, as is attainable; for they
as images of God are, as the Oracles say, the Divine places of the supremely
Divine repose; and further, that It is Monad and Unit tri-subsistent,
sending forth His most kindly forethought to all things being, from the
super-heavenly Minds to the lowest of the earth; as super-original Origin
and Cause of every essence, and grasping all things super-essentially in a
resistless embrace.


Concerning Lordships and Powers and Authorities, and concerning their middle

Section I.

Let us now pass to the middle Order of the Heavenly Minds, gazing, as far as
we may, with supermundane eyes upon those Lordships, and the truly terrible
visions of the Divine Authorities and Powers. For each appellation of the
Beings above us manifests their God-imitating characteristics of the Divine
Likeness. I think, then, that the explanatory name of the Holy Lordships
denotes a certain unslavish elevation, free from all grovelling
subserviency, as becomes the free, not submitting itself in any way whatever
to one of the tyrannical dissimilarities, as a cruel Lordship; superior to
every kind of cringing slavery, indomitable to every subserviency, and
elevated above every dissimilarity, ever aspiring to the true Lordship, and
source of Lordship; and moulding, as an image of goodness, itself, and those
after it, to its Lordly bearing, as attainable, turning itself wholly to
none of the things that vainly seem, but to the Lordly Being, and ever
sharing in the Lordly Likeness of God, to its utmost ability; and the
appellation of the Holy Powers denotes a certain courageous and unflinching
virility, for all those Godlike energies within them—not feebly weak for the
reception of any of the Divine illuminations vouchsafed to it—vigorously
conducted to the Divine imitation, not forsaking the Godlike movement
through its own unmanliness, but unflinchingly looking to the superessential
and powerful-making power, and becoming a powerlike image of this, as far as
is attainable, and powerfully turned to this, as Source of Power, and
issuing forth to those next in degree, in gift of Power, and in likeness to
God; and that the appellation of the Holy Authorities, of the same rank as
the Divine Lordships and Powers, (denotes) the beautiful and unconfused good
order, with regard to the Divine receptions, and the discipline of the
supermundane and intellectual authority, not using the authoritative powers
imperiously for base purposes, but conducted indomitably, with good order,
towards Divine things, and conducting those after it benignly, and
assimilated, as far as permissible, to the Authoritative Source of
authority, and making this visible, as is possible to Angels, in the
well-ordered ranks of the authoritative power within it. The middle Order of
the Heavenly Minds having these Godlike characteristics, is purified and
illuminated and perfected in the manner described, by the Divine
illuminations vouchsafed to it at second hand, through the first
Hierarchical Order, and passing through this middle as a secondary

Section II.

No doubt, as regards that message, which is said to pass through one angel
to another, we may take it as a symbol of a perfecting completed from afar,
and obscured by reason of its passage to the second rank. For, as men
skilled in our sacred initiations say, the fulness of Divine things
manifested directly to ourselves is more perfecting than the Divine
contemplations imparted through others. Thus, I think, the immediate
participation of the Angelic ranks elevated in first degree to God, is more
clear than those perfected through the instrumentality of others. Wherefore
by our sacerdotal tradition, the first Minds are named perfecting, and
illuminating, and purifying Powers of the subordinate, who are conducted,
through them, to the superessential Origin of all things, and participate,
as far as is permissible to them, in the consecrating purifications, and
illuminations, and perfections. For, this is divinely fixed absolutely by
the Divine source of order that, through the first, the second partake of
the supremely Divine illuminations. This you will find declared by the
theologians in many ways. For, when the Divine and Paternal Love towards man
whilst chastening, in a startling manner, His people Israel, for their
religious preservation, after delivering them to terrible and savage nations
for correction, by various leadings of His guided people to better things,
both liberated them from their misery, and mildly led them back, through His
compassion, to their former state of comfort; one of the theologians,
Zechariah, sees one of the first Angels, as I think, and near God, (for the
Angelic appellation is common, as I said, to them all), learning from God
Himself the comforting words, as they are called, concerning this matter;
and another Angel, of inferior rank, advancing to meet the first, as for
reception and participation of enlightenment: then, by him instructed in the
Divine purpose as from a Hierarch, and charged to reveal to the theologian
that Jerusalem should be abundantly occupied by a multitude of people. And
another theologian, Ezekiel, says that this was righteously ordained by the
glorious Deity Itself, seated above the Cherubim. For Paternal Love towards
man, conducting Israel as we have said through chastisement to better
things, by a righteousness worthy of God, deemed right to separate the
guilty from the guiltless. This is first revealed to one after the Cherubim;
him who was bound about the loins with a sapphire, and wore displayed the
robe coming down to the feet, as a Hierarchical symbol. But the Divine
Government enjoins the other Angels, who bore the battle-axes, to be
instructed from the former, as to the Divine judgment in this matter. For,
to one, He said that he should go through the midst of Jerusalem, and place
the sign upon the forehead of the innocent men, but to the others; “Go into
the city after him and strike, and draw not back your eyes, but to every one
upon whom is the sign draw not near.”

What would any one say concerning the Angel, who said to Daniel, “The word
has gone forth?” or concerning him the first, who took the fire from the
midst of the Cherubim, or what is more remarkable than this for shewing the
good order amongst the Angels, that the Cherubim casts the fire into the
hands of him who wears the sacred vestment; or concerning Him Who called the
most divine Gabriel, and said to him, “Make this man understand the
vision,” or whatever else is recorded by the holy theologians concerning the
Godlike order of the Heavenly Hierarchies; by being assimilated to which, as
far as possible, the discipline of our Hierarchy will have the Angelic
comeliness, as it were, in reflection, moulded through it, and conducted to
the superessential Source of order in every Hierarchy.