DIONYSIUS THE
(pseudo-)
AREOPAGITE

(c. 500)

THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY
Tr. modifed from those of:  C. Lubheid, (Paulist, CWS 1987) and C. Rolt  (SPCK, 1920).  Greek ed. G. Heil, de Gruyter, 1991 Corp. Dionys. II, pp. 142-150

ON MYSTICAL THEOLOGY
 - to Timothy

ΠΕΡΙ ΜΥΣΤΙΚΗΣ ΘΕΟΛΟΓΙΑΣ
ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΜΟ
ΘΕΟΝ

TRINITY!! Higher than any being, any divinity, any goodness!

<1> Τριὰς ὑπερούσιε καὶ ὑπέρθεε καὶ ὑπεράγαθε,

Guide of Christians in the wisdom of heaven!
lead us up beyond unknowing and light, up to the farthest, highest peak of mystic scripture,

τῆς Χριστιανῶν ἔφορε θεοσοφίας
ἴθυνον ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν τῶν μυστικῶν λογίων ὑπεράγνωστον καὶ ὑπερφαῆ καὶ ἀκροτάτην κορυφήν·

where the mysteries of God's Word lie simple, absolute and unchangeable in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence.

ἔνθα τὰ ἁπλᾶ καὶ ἀπόλυτα καὶ [142] ἄτρεπτα τῆς θεολογίας μυστήρια κατὰ τὸν ὑπέρφωτον ἐγκεκάλυπται τῆς κρυφιομύστου σιγῆς γνόφον,

Amid the deepest shadow [darkness] they pour overwhelming light on what is most manifest.

ἐν τῷ σκοτεινοτάτῳ τὸ ὑπερφανέστατον ὑπερλάμποντα

Amid the wholly unsensed and unseen they completely fill our sightless minds with treasures beyond all beauty

καὶ ἐν τῷ πάμπαν ἀναφεῖ καὶ ἀοράτῳ τῶν ὑπερκάλων ἀγλαϊῶν ὑπερπληροῦντα τοὺς ἀνομμάτους νόας.

 

 CHAPTER ONE

[the divine darkness]

FOR this I pray; and, Timothy, my friend, my advice to you as you look for a sight of the mysterious things, is to leave behind you everything perceived and understood, everything perceptible and understandable, all that is not and all that is,  

Εμοὶ μὲν οὖν ταῦτα ηὔχθω· σὺ δέ, ὦ φίλε Τιμόθεε, τῇ περὶ τὰ μυστικὰ θεάματα συντόνῳ διατριβῇ καὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ἀπόλειπε καὶ τὰς νοερὰς ἐνεργείας καὶ πάντα αἰσθητὰ καὶ νοητὰ καὶ πάντα οὐκ ὄντα καὶ ὄντα

and unknowingly strive upward as much as you can toward union with him who is beyond all being and knowledge. καὶ πρὸς τὴν ἕνωσιν, ὡς ἐφικτόν, ἀγνώστως ἀνατάθητι τοῦ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν οὐσίαν καὶ γνῶσιν·

By an undivided and Absolute abandonment of yourself and everything, shedding all and freed from all freed from all, you will be uplifted to the ray of the divine shadow [darkness] which is above everything that is.

τῇ γὰρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ πάντων ἀσχέτῳ καὶ ἀπολύτῳ καθαρῶς ἐκστάσει πρὸς τὸν ὑπερούσιον τοῦ θείου σκότους ἀκτῖνα, πάντα ἀφελὼν καὶ ἐκ πάντων ἀπολυθείς, ἀναχθήσῃ.

2. BUT see to it that none of this comes to the hearing of the uninformed,  that is to say, to those caught up with the things of the world, who imagine that there is nothing beyond instances of individual being and who think that by their own intellectual resources they can have a direct knowledge of him who has made the shadows [darkness] his hiding place.

<2> Τούτων δὲ ὅρα, ὅπως μηδεὶς τῶν ἀμυήτων ἐπακούσῃ· τούτους δέ φημι τοὺς ἐν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐνισχημένους καὶ οὐδὲν ὑπὲρ τὰ ὄντα ὑπερουσίως εἶναι φανταζομένους, ἀλλ' οἰομένους εἰδέναι τῇ καθ' αὑτοὺς γνώσει τὸν θέμενον "σκότος ἀποκρυφὴν αὐτοῦ".

And if initiation into the divine is beyond such people, what is to be said of those others, still more uninformed, who describe the transcendent Cause of all things in terms derived from the lowest orders of being, and who claim that it is in no way superior to the godless, multiformed shapes they themselves have made?

Εἰ δὲ ὑπὲρ τούτους εἰσὶν αἱ θεῖαι μυσταγωγίαι, τί ἄν τις φαίη περὶ τῶν μᾶλλον ἀμύστων, ὅσοι τὴν [143] πάντων ὑπερκειμένην αἰτίαν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐσχάτων χαρακτηρίζουσιν καὶ οὐδὲν αὐτὴν ὑπερέχειν φασὶ τῶν πλαττομένων αὐτοῖς ἀθέων καὶ πολυειδῶν μορφωμάτων;

What has actually to be said about the Cause of everything is this. Since it is the Cause of all beings, we should posit and ascribe to it all the affirmations we make in regard to beings, and, more appropriately, we should negate all these affirmations, since it surpasses all being.

Δέον ἐπ' αὐτῇ καὶ πάσας τὰς τῶν ὄντων τιθέναι καὶ καταφάσκειν θέσεις, ὡς πάντων αἰτίᾳ, καὶ πάσας αὐτὰς κυριώτερον ἀποφάσκειν, ὡς ὑπὲρ πάντα ὑπερούσῃ,

NOW we should not conclude that the negations (apophaseis) are simply the opposites of the affirmations, (kataphaseis)

καὶ μὴ οἴεσθαι τὰς ἀποφάσεις ἀντικειμένας εἶναι ταῖς καταφάσεσιν,
but rather that the cause of all is considerably prior to this, ἀλλὰ πολὺ πρότερον αὐτὴν

beyond privations,

beyond every denial,

beyond every assertion.

 ὑπὲρ τὰς στερήσεις εἶναι

 τὴν ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν καὶ ἀφαίρεσιν

καὶ θέσιν.

   

3. THIS , at least, is what was taught by the blessed Bartholomew. He says that the Word of God is vast and minuscule, that the Gospel is wide-ranging and yet restricted. To me it seems that in this he is extraordinarily shrewd, for he has grasped that the good cause of all is both eloquent and taciturn, indeed wordless.

<3> Οὕτω γοῦν ὁ θεῖος Βαρθολομαῖός φησι καὶ πολλὴν τὴν θεολογίαν εἶναι καὶ ἐλαχίστην καὶ τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον πλατὺ καὶ μέγα καὶ αὖθις συντετμημένον, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν ἐκεῖνο ὑπερφυῶς ἐννοήσας, ὅτι καὶ πολύλογός ἐστιν ἡ ἀγαθὴ πάντων αἰτία καὶ βραχύλεκτος ἅμα καὶ ἄλογος,

[Allegorical exegesis of Deut. 24:1-11
God in light on sapphire pavement
]

 

It has neither word nor act of understanding, since it is on a plane above all this, and it is made manifest only to those who travel through foul and fair,

ὡς οὔτε λόγον οὔτε νόησιν ἔχουσα, διὰ τὸ πάντων αὐτὴν ὑπερουσίως ὑπερκειμένην εἶναι καὶ μόνοις ἀπερικαλύπτως καὶ ἀληθῶς ἐκφαινομένην τοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐναγῆ πάντα καὶ τὰ καθαρὰ διαβαίνουσι
who pass beyond the summit of every holy ascent, καὶ πᾶσαν πασῶν ἁγίων ἀκροτήτων ἀνάβασιν

who leave behind them every divine light,

every voice,

every word from heaven,

ὑπερβαίνουσι καὶ πάντα τὰ θεῖα φῶτα

καὶ ἤχους

καὶ λόγους οὐρανίους ἀπολιμπάνουσι

and who plunge into the darkness where, as scripture proclaims, there dwells the One who is beyond all things.

καὶ "εἰς τὸν γνόφον" εἰσδυομένοις, "οὗ" ὄντως ἐστίν, ὡς τὰ λόγιά φησιν, ὁ πάντων ἐπέκεινα.

It is not for nothing that the blessed Moses is commanded to submit first to purification and then to depart from those who have not undergone this. When every purification is complete, he hears the many-voiced trumpets. He sees the many lights, pure and with rays streaming abundantly.

Καὶ γὰρ οὐχ ἁπλῶς ὁ θεῖος Μωϋσῆς ἀποκαθαρθῆναι πρῶτον αὐτὸς κελεύεται καὶ αὖθις τῶν μὴ τοιούτων ἀφορισθῆναι καὶ μετὰ πᾶσαν ἀποκάθαρσιν ἀκούει τῶν [144] πολυφώνων σαλπίγγων καὶ ὁρᾷ φῶτα πολλὰ καθαρὰς ἀπαστράπτοντα καὶ πολυχύτους ἀκτῖνας·

    Then, standing apart from the crowds and accompanied by chosen priests, he pushes ahead to the summit of the divine ascents. And yet he does not meet God himself, but contemplates, not him who is invisible, but rather [the place] where he stands.

εἶτα τῶν πολλῶν ἀφορίζεται καὶ μετὰ τῶν ἐκκρίτων ἱερέων ἐπὶ τὴν ἀκρότητα τῶν θείων ἀναβάσεων φθάνει. Κἀν τούτοις αὐτῷ μὲν οὐ συγγίνεται τῷ θεῷ, θεωρεῖ δὲ οὐκ αὐτόν ἀθέατος γάρ ἀλλὰ τὸν τόπον οὗ ἔστη.

    This means, I presume, that the holiest and highest of the things perceived with the eye of the body or the mind are but the logoi (inner meanings or purposes) of all that lies below the Transcendent One. 

Τοῦτο δὲ οἶμαι σημαίνειν τὸ τὰ θειότατα καὶ ἀκρότατα τῶν ὁρωμένων καὶ νοουμένων ὑποθετικούς τινας εἶναι λόγους τῶν ὑποβεβλημένων τῷ πάντα ὑπερέχοντι,

Through them, however, his unimaginable presence is shown, walking the heights of those holy places to which the mind at least can rise.

δι' ὧν ἡ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἐπίνοιαν αὐτοῦ παρουσία δείκνυται ταῖς νοηταῖς ἀκρότησι τῶν ἁγιωτάτων αὐτοῦ τόπων ἐπιβατεύουσα).

[Allegorical exegesis of Deut. 24:12-18
Moses goes alone into the cloud on Sinai
]

 

But then he [Moses] breaks free of them, away from what sees and is seen, and he plunges into the truly mysterious darkness of unknowing.

Καὶ τότε καὶ αὐτῶν ἀπολύεται τῶν ὁρωμένων καὶ τῶν ὁρώντων καὶ εἰς τὸν γνόφον τῆς ἀγνωσίας εἰσδύνει τὸν ὄντως μυστικόν,

Here, renouncing all that the mind may conceive, wrapped entirely in the intangible and the invisible, he belongs completely to him who is beyond everything.

καθ' ὃν ἀπομύει πάσας τὰς γνωστικὰς ἀντιλήψεις, καὶ ἐν τῷ πάμπαν ἀναφεῖ καὶ ἀοράτῳ γίγνεται, πᾶς ὢν τοῦ πάντων ἐπέκεινα καὶ οὐδενός,

Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one is supremely united by a completely unknowing inactivity of all knowledge, and knows beyond the mind by knowing nothing. 

οὔτε ἑαυτοῦ οὔτε ἑτέρου, τῷ παντελῶς δὲ ἀγνώστῳ τῇ πάσης γνώσεως ἀνενεργησίᾳ κατὰ τὸ κρεῖττον ἑνούμενος καὶ τῷ μηδὲν γινώσκειν ὑπὲρ νοῦν γινώσκων.

 

CHAPTER TWO

[Apophatic Theology as Praise:
The Analogy of the Sculptor
]

 

   I PRAY we could come to this darkness so far above light! If only we lacked sight and knowledge so as to see, so as to know, unseeing and unknowing, that which lies beyond all vision and knowledge.

Κατὰ τοῦτον ἡμεῖς γενέσθαι τὸν ὑπέρφωτον εὐχόμεθα γνόφον καὶ δι' ἀβλεψίας καὶ ἀγνωσίας ἰδεῖν καὶ γνῶναι τὸν ὑπὲρ θέαν καὶ γνῶσιν αὐτῷ τῷ μὴ ἰδεῖν μηδὲ γνῶναι

For this would be really to see and to know: to praise the Transcendent One in a transcending way, namely through the denial of all beings.

τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι τὸ ὄντως ἰδεῖν καὶ γνῶναι καὶ τὸν ὑπερούσιον ὑπερουσίως ὑμνῆσαι διὰ τῆς πάντων τῶν ὄντων ἀφαιρέσεως,

 

Michelangelo,
Slave
The Tomb of  Julius II
Florence, 1536

    WE would be like sculptors who set out to carve a statue. They remove every obstacle to the pure view of the hidden image, and simply by this act of clearing asid they show up the beauty which is hidden.

ὥσπερ οἱ αὐτοφυὲς ἄγαλμα ποιοῦντες ἐξαιροῦντες πάντα τὰ ἐπιπροσθοῦντα τῇ καθαρᾷ τοῦ κρυφίου θέᾳ κωλύματα καὶ αὐτὸ ἐφ' ἑαυτοῦ τῇ ἀφαιρέσει μόνῃ τὸ ἀποκεκρυμμένον ἀναφαίνοντες κάλλος.

   NOW it seems to me that we should praise the denials quite differently than we do the assertions. When we made assertions we began with the first things, moved down through intermediate terms until we reached the last things. 

Χρὴ δέ, ὡς οἶμαι, τὰς ἀφαιρέσεις ἐναντίως ταῖς θέσεσιν ὑμνῆσαι· καὶ γὰρ ἐκείνας μὲν ἀπὸ τῶν πρωτίστων ἀρχόμενοι καὶ διὰ μέσων ἐπὶ τὰ ἔσχατα κατιόντες ἐτίθεμεν·

   BUT now as we climb from the last things up to the most primary we deny all things so that we may unhiddenly know that unknowing which itself is hidden from all those possessed of knowing amid all beings, so that we may see above being that darkness concealed from all the light among beings.

ἐνταῦθα δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἐπὶ τὰ ἀρχικώτατα τὰς γνῶμεν ἐκείνην τὴν ἀγνωσίαν τὴν ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν γνωστῶν ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσι περικεκαλυμμένην καὶ τὸν ὑπερούσιον ἐκεῖνον ἴδωμεν γνόφον τὸν ὑπὸ παντὸς τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὖσι φωτὸς ἀποκρυπτόμενον

 

CHAPTER THREE

What are the Affirmative theologies and what are the negative?

 

In my Theological Representations, I have praised the notions which are most appropriate to affirmative theology. I have shown the sense in which the divine and good nature is said to be one and then triune, how Fatherhood and Sonship are predicated of it, the meaning of the theology of the Spirit,

Ἐν μὲν οὖν ταῖς Θεολογικαῖς Ὑποτυπώσεσι τὰ κυριώτατα τῆς καταφατικῆς θεολογίας ὑμνήσαμεν, πῶς ἡ θεία καὶ ἀγαθὴ φύσις ἑνικὴ λέγεται, πῶς τριαδική· τίς ἡ κατ' αὐτὴν λεγομένη πατρότης τε καὶ υἱότης· τί βούλεται δηλοῦν ἡ τοῦ πνεύματος θεολογία·

how these core lights of goodness grew from the incorporeal and indivisible good, and how in this sprouting they have remained inseparable from their co-eternal foundation in it, in  themselves, and in each other.

πῶς ἐκ τοῦ ἀΰλου καὶ ἀμεροῦς ἀγαθοῦ τὰ ἐγκάρδια τῆς ἀγαθότητος ἐξέφυ φῶτα καὶ τῆς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς καὶ ἐν ἀλλήλοις συναϊδίου τῇ ἀναβλαστήσει μονῆς ἀπομεμένηκεν ἀνεκφοίτητα

I have spoken of how Jesus, who is above individual being, became a being with a true human nature. Other revelations of scripture were also praised in The Theological Representations.

πῶς ὁ ὑπερούσιοςἸησοῦς ἀνθρωποφυϊκαῖς ἀληθείαις οὐσίωται καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα πρὸς τῶν λογίων ἐκπεφασμένα κατὰ τὰς Θεολογικὰς Ὑποτυπώσεις ὕμνηται.

In The Divine Names I have shown the sense in which God is described as good, existent, life, wisdom, power, and whatever other things pertain to the conceptual names for God. In my Symbolic Theology" I have discussed analogies of God drawn from what we perceive.

Ἐν δὲ τῷ Περὶ ΘείωνὈνομάτων, πῶς ἀγαθὸς ὀνομάζεται, πῶς ὤν, πῶς ζωὴ καὶ σοφία καὶ δύναμις καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα τῆς νοητῆς ἐστι θεωνυμίας.Ἐν δὲ τῇ Συμβολικῇ Θεολογίᾳ, τίνες αἱ ἀπὸ τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἐπὶ τὰ θεῖα μετωνυμίαι,

I have spoken of the images we have of him, of the forms, figures, and instruments proper to him, of the places in which he lives and of the ornaments he wears. I have spoken of his anger, grief, and rage, of how he is said to be drunk and hungover,

τίνες αἱ θεῖαι μορφαί, τίνα τὰ θεῖα σχήματα καὶ μέρη καὶ ὄργανα, τίνες οἱ θεῖοι τόποι καὶ κόσμοι, τίνες οἱ θυμοί, τίνες αἱ λῦπαι καὶ αἱ μήνιδες, τίνες αἱ μέθαι καὶ αἱ [147] κραιπάλαι,

of his oaths and curses, of his sleeping and waking, and indeed of all those images we have of him, images shaped by the workings of the symbolic representations of God.

τίνες οἱ ὅρκοι καὶ τίνες αἱ ἀραί, τίνες οἱ ὕπνοι καὶ τίνες αἱ ἐγρηγόρσεις καὶ ὅσαι ἄλλαι τῆς συμβολικῆς εἰσι θεοτυπίας ἱερόπλαστοι μορφώσεις.

And I feel sure that you have noticed how these latter come much more abundantly than what went before, since The Theological Representations and a discussion of the names appropriate to God are inevitably briefer than what can be said in The Symbolic Theology.

Καί σε οἴομαι συνεωρακέναι, πῶς πολυλογώτερα μᾶλλόν ἐστι τὰ ἔσχατα τῶν πρώτων· καὶ γὰρ ἐχρῆν τὰς ΘεολογικὰςὙποτυπώσεις καὶ τὴν τῶν ΘείωνὈνομάτων ἀνάπτυξιν βραχυλογώτερα εἶναι τῆς Συμβολικῆς Θεολογίας.

The fact is that the more we take flight upward, the more our words are confined to the ideas we are capable of forming;

Επείπερ ὅσῳ πρὸς τὸ ἄναντες ἀνανεύομεν, τοσοῦτον οἱ λόγοι ταῖς συνόψεσι τῶν νοητῶν περιστέλλονται·

so that now as we plunge into that darkness which is beyond intellect, we shall find ourselves not simply running short of words but actually speechless and unknowing.

καθάπερ καὶ νῦν εἰς τὸν ὑπὲρ νοῦν εἰσδύνοντες γνόφον οὐ βραχυλογίαν, ἀλλ' ἀλογίαν παντελῆ καὶ ἀνοησίαν εὑρήσομεν.

        In the earlier books my argument traveled downward from the most exalted to the humblest categories, taking in on this downward path an ever-increasing number of ideas which multiplied with every stage of the descent.

Κἀκεῖ μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἄνω πρὸς τὰ ἔσχατα κατιὼν ὁ λόγος κατὰ τὸ ποσὸν τῆς καθόδου πρὸς ἀνάλογον πλῆθος ηὐρύνετο·

But my argument now rises from what is below up to the transcendent, and the more it climbs, the more language falters, and when it has passed up and beyond the ascent, it will turn silent completely, since it will finally be at one with him who is indescribable.

νῦν δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν κάτω πρὸς τὸ ὑπερκείμενον ἀνιὼν κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς ἀνόδου συστέλλεται καὶ μετὰ πᾶσαν ἄνοδον ὅλως ἄφωνος ἔσται καὶ ὅλως ἑνωθήσεται τῷ ἀφθέγκτῳ.

Now you may wonder why it is that, after starting out from the highest category when our method involved assertions, we begin now from the lowest category when it involves a denial.

Διὰ τί δὲ ὅλως, φῄς, ἀπὸ τοῦ πρωτίστου θέμενοι τὰς θείας θέσεις ἀπὸ τῶν ἐσχάτων ἀρχόμεθα τῆς θείας ἀφαιρέσεως;

        The reason is this. When we assert what is beyond every assertion, we must then proceed from what is most akin to it, and as we do so we make the affirmation  on which everything else depends.

                Ὅτι τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν τιθέντας θέσιν ἀπὸ τοῦ μᾶλλον αὐτῷ συγγενεστέρου τὴν ὑποθετικὴν κατάφασιν ἐχρῆν τιθέναι·

But when we deny that which is beyond every denial, we have to start by denying those qualities which differ most from the goal we hope to attain.

τὸ δὲ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἀφαίρεσιν ἀφαιροῦντας ἀπὸ τῶν μᾶλλον αὐτοῦ διεστηκότων ἀφαιρεῖν.

Is it not closer to reality to say that God is life and goodness rather than that he is air or stone?

Η οὐχὶ μᾶλλόν ἐστι ζωὴ καὶ ἀγαθότης ἢ ἀὴρ καὶ λίθος;

Is it not more accurate to deny that drunkenness and rage can be attributed to him than to deny that we can apply to him the terms of speech and thought?

Καὶ μᾶλλον οὐ κραιπαλᾷ καὶ οὐ μηνιᾷ ἢ οὐ λέγεται οὐδὲ νοεῖται;

CHAPTER FOUR
That the supreme Cause of every perceptible thing is not itself perceptible

< Ῑ .>
[148]

        So this is what we say. The Cause of all is above all and is not inexistent, lifeless, speechless, mindless. It is not a material body, and hence has neither shape nor form, quality, quantity, or weight. It is not in any place and can neither be seen nor be touched.

                Λέγομεν οὖν, ὡς ἡ πάντων αἰτία καὶ ὑπὲρ πάντα οὖσα οὔτε ἀνούσιός ἐστιν οὔτε ἄζωος, οὔτε ἄλογος οὔτε ἄνους· οὐδὲ σῶμά ἐστιν οὔτε σχῆμα, οὔτε εἶδος οὔτε ποιότητα ἢ ποσότητα ἢ ὄγκον ἔχει·

It is neither perceived nor is it perceptible. It suffers neither disorder nor disturbance and is overwhelmed by no earthly passion. It is not powerless and subject to the disturbances caused by sense perception. It endures no deprivation of light.

οὐδὲ ἐν τόπῳ ἐστὶν οὔτε ὁρᾶται οὔτε ἐπαφὴν αἰσθητὴν ἔχει· οὐδὲ αἰσθάνεται οὔτε αἰσθητή ἐστιν· οὐδὲ ἀταξίαν ἔχει καὶ ταραχήν, ὑπὸ παθῶν ὑλικῶν ἐνοχλουμένη, οὔτε ἀδύναμός ἐστιν, αἰσθητοῖς ὑποκειμένη συμπτώμασιν, οὔτε ἐν ἐνδείᾳ ἐστὶ φωτός·

It passes through no change, decay, division, loss, no ebb and flow, nothing of which the senses may be aware. None of all this can either be identified with it nor attributed to it.

οὐδὲ ἀλλοίωσιν ἢ φθορὰν ἢ μερισμὸν ἢ στέρησιν ἢ ῥεῦσιν οὔτε ἄλλο τι τῶν αἰσθητῶν οὔτε ἐστὶν οὔτε ἔχει.

CHAPTER FIVE
That the supreme Cause of every conceptual thing
is not itself conceptual

<. >
[149]

        Again, as we climb higher we say this. It is not soul or mind, nor does it possess imagination, conviction, speech, or understanding.

                Αὖθις δὲ ἀνιόντες λέγομεν, ὡς οὔτε ψυχή ἐστιν οὔτε νοῦς, οὔτε φαντασίαν ἢ δόξαν ἢ λόγον ἢ νόησιν ἔχει·

Nor is it speech per se, understanding per se. It cannot be spoken of and it cannot be grasped by understanding.

οὐδὲ λόγος ἐστὶν οὔτε νόησις, οὔτε λέγεται οὔτε νοεῖται·

It is not number or order, greatness or smallness, equality or inequality, similarity or dissimilarity.

οὔτε ἀριθμός ἐστιν οὔτε τάξις, οὔτε μέγεθος οὔτε σμικρότης, οὔτε ἰσότης οὔτε ἀνισότης, οὔτε ὁμοιότης ἢ ἀνομοιότης·

It is not immovable, moving, or at rest. It has no power, it is not power, nor is it light.

οὔτε ἕστηκεν οὔτε κινεῖται οὔτε ἡσυχίαν ἄγει· οὐδὲ ἔχει δύναμιν οὔτε δύναμίς ἐστιν οὔτε φῶς·

It does not live nor is it life. It is not a substance, nor is it eternity or time.

οὔτε ζῇ οὔτε ζωή ἐστιν· οὔτε οὐσία ἐστὶν οὔτε αἰὼν οὔτε χρόνος·

It cannot be grasped by the understanding since it is neither knowledge nor truth. It is not kingship. It is not wisdom.

οὐδὲ ἐπαφή ἐστιν αὐτῆς νοητὴ οὔτε ἐπιστήμη, οὔτε ἀλήθειά ἐστιν οὔτε βασιλεία οὔτε σοφί

It is neither one nor oneness, divinity nor goodness.

οὔτε ἓν οὔτε ἑνότης, οὔτε θεότης ἢ ἀγαθότης·

Nor is it a spirit, in the sense in which we understand that term. It is not sonship or fatherhood and it is nothing known to us or to any other being. It falls neither within the predicate of nonbeing nor of being. Existing beings do not know it as it actually is and it does not know them as they are.

οὐδὲ πνεῦμά ἐστιν, ὡς ἡμᾶς εἰδέναι, οὔτε υἱότης οὔτε [150] πατρότης οὔτε ἄλλο τι τῶν ἡμῖν ἢ ἄλλῳ τινὶ τῶν ὄντων συνεγνωσμένων· οὐδέ τι τῶν οὐκ ὄντων, οὐδέ τι τῶν ὄντων ἐστίν, οὔτε τὰ ὄντα αὐτὴν γινώσκει, ᾗ αὐτή ἐστιν, οὔτε αὐτὴ γινώσκει τὰ ὄντα, ᾗ ὄντα ἐστίν·

There is no speaking of it, nor name nor knowledge of it.

οὔτε λόγος αὐτῆς ἐστιν οὔτε ὄνομα οὔτε γνῶσις·

Darkness and light, error and truth - it is none of these. It is beyond assertion and denial. We make assertions and denials of what is next to it, but never of it,

οὔτε σκότος ἐστὶν οὔτε φῶς, οὔτε πλάνη οὔτε ἀλήθεια· οὔτε ἐστὶν αὐτῆς καθόλου θέσις οὔτε ἀφαίρεσις, ἀλλὰ τῶν μετ' αὐτὴν τὰς θέσεις καὶ ἀφαιρέσεις ποιοῦντες αὐτὴν οὔτε τίθεμεν οὔτε ἀφαιροῦμεν,

for it is both beyond every assertion, being the perfect and unique cause of all things, and, by virtue of its preeminently simple and absolute nature, free of every limitation, beyond every limitation; it is also beyond every denial.

ἐπεὶ καὶ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν θέσιν ἐστὶν ἡ παντελὴς καὶ ἑνιαία τῶν πάντων αἰτία καὶ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἀφαίρεσιν ἡ ὑπεροχὴ τοῦ πάντων ἁπλῶς ἀπολελυμένου καὶ ἐπέκεινα τῶν ὅλων.

 

 

 


This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2003....x....   .