Friday, February 06, 2009

Questions on the Corpus Areopagatum

Here are some questions as to the strength of arguments against authentic Dionysian authorship of the Corpus Areopagatum, as well as questions about possible indications of an earlier date. Call me insane and proud, but I am inclined to agree with Georges Darboy{1} and the monks of the Monastery of St. Dionysius on Mt. Athos that Bishop St. Dionysius the Areopagite Martyr of Athens (d. 96) is the true author of the Corpus Areopagatum.{2}

1. Does the author's quotation of the Gospel of Bartholomew in Mystical Theology 1:3 indicate that the author wrote before the New Testament canon was closed? Or is this part of a scheme to trick readers into believing in the authenticity of the writings in question?{3}
2. Does the author's mention of anointing of the dead indicate that he was contemporary with early Jewish Christians? Or is this part of a scheme to trick readers into believing in the authenticity of the writings in question?{4}
3. Are we going to affirm that the many saints who attested the authenticity of the works were so incompetent at historical criticism as to not see that the writings are not authentic?{5}
4. Does St. Jerome the Great in fact allude to writings by St. Dionysius the Areopagite? In Epistle 17A9 St. Jerome the Great describes a certain extremely scripturally erudite Greek who gives a detailed description of Seraphim, which seemingly corresponds to the writings in question.{6} Could this, coupled with the fact that St. Jerome mentions that certain writers will not suffer by not being named in his catalogs, satisfactorily explain why St. Jerome does not name St. Dionysius in De Viris Illustribus?
5. Is it plausible that Christian instructors of the first Neo-Platonists transmitted the Dionysian traditions, or the Neo-Platonists found the Dionysian writings in the private Athenian libraries, and the Neo-Platonists plagiarized and then hid them so that they would avoid the embarrassment of being caught lifting ideas from a Christian source?{7}
6. Is the use of but one Chalcedonian Christological adverb ("unconfusedly") enough to date the writings after the 451 Council of Chalcedon?{8}
7. Do scholars have so much difficulty in identifying the real author of the Corpus Areopagatum because they are trying to put the writings in the wrong century?
9. St. Ignatius of Antioch

11. St. Timothy

12. Eusebius of Caesarea


Notes & References
{1} Darboy, Georges. Œuvres de Saint Denys l'Aréopagite. Paris: Sagnier et Bray, 1845. 18 Feb. 2009 <>.


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