Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint

Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint dīənĭsh´ēəs, ârēŏp´əjīt [key], fl. 1st cent. AD, Athenian Christian, converted by St. Paul. Acts 17.34. Tradition has made him a martyr and the first bishop of Athens. He has been confused with St. Denis . During the Middle Ages he was revered as the author of certain philosophical writings erroneously attributed to him since the 6th cent. These are ten letters and four treatises ( The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names, Mystical Theology ) written in Greek, possibly in Palestine, in the late 5th or early 6th cent. It is now customary to refer to their author as Pseudo-Dionysius. Their obscure style was no barrier to their study and repeated translation into Latin, notably by Erigena and Robert Grosseteste. They exerted a lasting influence on the development of scholasticism , particularly through St. Thomas Aquinas. The treatises provided a medium for transmission to Western culture of the concepts of Neoplatonism and of the theology of angels. Feast: Oct. 9.

See studies by D. Rutledge (1965) and R. F. Hathaway (1970).

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