By Valentina Izmirlieva
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Extra resources for All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic
Clearly, to attempt to know God in this capacity is to attempt the impossible (as in the case of naming the nameless, which is but a facet of the same problem). Yet such a theological commitment is fueled by the assumption—the hope—that the act of trying itself has both an epistemological and a salvific value. This is the raison d’etre of theology according to Dionysius, calling to ˆ mind T. S. Eliot’s stoic resolution in The Four Quartets, “For us, there is only the trying. ” Even though the goal is unattainable, perpetually hidden, the increasingly closer approximations to it that result from the ascent are by themselves productive, progressively revealing.
32:29). Almost the same exchange occurs between the angel of Yahweh and Manoah and his wife, but with a notable qualifier to the answer: “Why do you ask my name? ” (Judg. ’ . . ” [Exod. 3:13–15] This cryptic passage, one of the most discussed scriptural texts, is often interpreted in the Christian tradition as a positive ontological assertion about ¯ (“I am the one who God, following the Septuagint translation ego eimi ho on 5 is”). Paul Ricoeur has summarized the results in the following terse observation: “This translation opened up an affirmative noetics of God’s absolute being that could subsequently be transcribed into Neoplatonic and Augustinian ontology and then into Aristotelian and Thomistic metaphysics.
This trust, I believe, is the force working to redeem theology from inside a theological project that circumscribes so rigidly the human potential for knowing the divine. What, then, is the model for a theology beyond knowledge if theology within knowledge is based on the hierarchies? As Lossky argues convincingly in his analysis of Dionysius’s apophatism, the Trinity provides such a model. ” The Trinitarian model as envisioned by Dionysius is distinctly nonhierarchical—in sharp contrast to the standard Neoplatonic model of the primary Triad, where Mind and Soul are ontologically inferior to the One.