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Document Details :
Title: Structure and Meaning of St. Denys' Fundamental Theology in De divinis nominibus
Subtitle: A Comparison with Proclus' Theory of the One in Institutio theologica
Author(s): VASSÁNYI, Miklós
Volume: 73 Issue: 4 Date: 2012
It is known that Denys carries out a merger between Neo-Platonic and Christian theology but it is still a moot question to what extent his synthesis is philosophically homogenous. Our intention in this paper is to find an answer to this question in the region of fundamental theology, i.e., in the ‘deep structure’ of Denys’ concept of God. The Areopagite – this 5th-century unknown theologian – differentiates between an absolutely transcendent kernel and a creation-oriented periphery within God. The periphery (the trinitological persons) is necessary for Denys to establish a channel whereby the removed divine kernel, despite its hyperbolical transcendence, may act as an efficient cause as it creates the world. This dialectical move, however, hurts the divine attributes of homogeneity and simplicity. After this partial conclusion, we go on to see how Proclus’ concept of the One relates to Denys’ concept of God. Proclus argues for an ‘indivisible division’ of the One and he considers, like Denys, the One to be also the Good. In the list of divine perfections, he ranks, together with Denys, productivity above transcendence. These and other points let us draw the final conclusion that in Proclus and Denys alike, the central logical problem is the issue of transcendent efficient causality. Hence we are entitled to say that De divinis nominibus is a fundamental theological reflection and elaboration on Proclus. As an overall interpretation of the Corpus Dionysiacum, I argue that it takes an essentially Christian theological stance, put forward in Neo-Platonic terms in order to show that the partial incorporation of Platonism into Christian thought is at least not impossible.