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Dionysius the Areopagite -- Pseudo or Not?

Homer D. Klong Investigates!


"Whatever you do, do in faith".


I am quite amazed at the lack of quality in the work of modern Biblical scholars. Most of them just go along with the crowd, like lemmings. This is particularly true when it comes to the works of Dionysius the Areopagite. A cursory study of the matter, over the course of several weeks, should convince any scholar of average intelligence that the literature on this subject is a complete joke. It is time that the works were studied seriously for their historical value, as works contemporary with the Apostles and the formation of the New Testament, and not forgeries from the 5th or 6th centuries A.D. This has apparently never been attempted, because it would cause too much embarrassment to the Catholic Church. God bless the Catholic Church! Such a historical investigation would be a large undertaking and I do not attempt it here on this webpage. Perhaps at some later time I will work on it.

The reasons for placing the writings outside the first century are weak and full of deceit and one-sidedness. This is especially true of the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the subject, a masterpiece of worthless sophistry. I offer my commentary on this article--it is the centerpiece of my webpage; please see the link below. Also important are Rev. John Parker's treatises of 1897 and 1899. Parker was the last writer to claim authenticity for the Dionysian works.

Dionysius the Areopagite was a real person who lived in Athens, Greece, in the 1st Century. You can read about him in the New Testament, in the Book of Acts, chapter 17. Here is the passage, starting at verse 15:

But they that conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timothy that they should come to him with all speed, they departed. 16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with them that met him. 18 And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, What would this babbler say? others, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took hold of him, and brought him unto the Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new teaching is, which is spoken by thee? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers sojourning there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.) 22 And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Ye men of Athens, in all things, I perceive that ye are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you. 24 The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us: 28 for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man. 30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, We will hear thee concerning this yet again. 33 Thus Paul went out from among them. 34 But certain men clave unto him, and believed: among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. [American Standard Version]
According to some, Dionysius was one of the council of nine judges of the Areopagus (literally, Mars Hill). "And they took hold of him (Paul), and brought him to the Areopagus." So Dionysius may have first heard Paul while sitting officially before him as a judge.

The woman Damaris, mentioned above in verse 34, was never heard from again. But several controversial writings claiming to be from the hand of Dionysius the Areopagite appeared later. These writings are now generally believed to be a product of a pseudonymous writer who lived centuries after the close of the Apostolic Age.

It is my contention that the writings are truly from the hand of Dionysius the Areopagite, of New Testament times. This is the main purpose of this webpage, to allow the reader to examine the issue for himself. I will be continually updating as I learn and research further into the complexities of this wide-ranging enigma. I am Homer D. Klong!


Here is a short, readable examination of the whole issue, giving both sides.


Catholic Encyclopedia article (1909)

Klong's Commentary on the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article (in progress)

John Parker's 1899 Preface to the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy including Klong's commentary (still in progress).

John Parker's 1897 Preface to the Divine Names Lots of interesting material here!

Short Quote from John Parker regarding manuscripts, etc. and other items of interest.


Update: May 15, 2002.-- I've been working on a commentary to the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Dionysius. It should be up in a couple weeks. I will also be putting up another treatise by the Rev. John Parker within a week or so. The treatise was written in 1899. Parker believed that the Dionysian writings were genuine, from the pen of the First-Century Areopagite of Acts 17. I will also be adding some commentary to Parker's treatise, as there is much that I don't agree with. I also hope start organizing this webpage better, as part of a long-term goal of making it more readable and understandable, both to "scholars" and "novices" alike. Jesus is Lord


Update: April 9, 2002.Today I removed two links to articles I wrote, because they were too sarcastic in tone. I may revise them and put them up at a later date.


"With Denys [Dionysius] we have a unique case in theology, indeed in all intellectual history. A man of the foremost rank and of prodigious power hid his identity not only from centuries of credulity but also from the critical acumen of the modern period, and precisely through that concealment exercised his influence. That for our modern, and above all German, scholarly world is unforgiveable. After their tank-formations have laid waste his garden, there is for them not a blade of grass left: all that remains is PSEUDO-, written in bold letters, and underlined with many marks of contempt..." (Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Denys," in vol. 2, Studies in theological Style, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1984, p. 144.



An Example of the Writing Style and Theology of Dionysus, Which may have had a Profound Influence on Later Greek Philosophers

To Dorotheus, Leitourgos: The Divine gloom is the unapproachable light in which God is said to dwell [1 Tim. 6:6]. And in this gloom, invisible indeed, on account of the surpassing brightness, and unapproachable on account of the excess of the superessential stream of light, enters every one deemed worthy to know and to see God -- by the very fact of neither seeing nor knowing, really entering in Him, Who is above vision and knowledge, knowing this very thing, that He is after all the object of sensible and intelligent perception, and saying in the words of the Prophet, "Thy knowledge was regarded as wonderful by me; It was confirmed; I can by no means attain unto it," [Ps. 138 (139):6]; even as the Divine Paul is said to have known Almighty God, by having known Him as being above all conception and knowledge. Wherefore also, he says, "His ways are past finding out and His Judgements inscrutable," [Rom. 11:33], and His gifts "indescribable", [2 Cor. 9:15], and that His peace surpasses every mind [Phil. 4:7], as having found Him Who is above all, and having known this which is above conception, that, by being Cause of all, He is beyond all.


(to Polycarp--Hierarch)

Say to him [Apollophanes, apparently an aquaintance of both Dionysius and Polycarp] however, "What do you affirm concerning the eclipse, which took place at the time of the saving Cross?" For both of us at that time, at Heliopolis, being present, and standing together, saw the moon approaching the sun, to our suprise (for it was not appointed time for conjunction); and again, from the ninth hour to the evening, supernaturally placed back again into a line opposite the sun. And remind him also of something further. For he knows that we saw, to our surprise, the contact itself beginning from the east, and going towards the edge of the sun's disc, then receding back, and again, both the contact and the re-clearing, not taking place from the same point, but from that diametrically opposite. So great are the supernatural things of that appointed time, and possible to Christ alone, the Cause of all, Who worketh great things and marvellous, of which there is not number. These things say, if occasion serves, and if possible. O Apollophanes, refute them, and to me, who was then both present with thee, and saw and judged and wondered with thee at them all. And in truth Apollophanes begins prophesying at that time, I know not whence, and to me he said, as of conjecturing the things taking place, "these things, O excellent Dionysius, are requitals of Divine deeds." Let so much be said by us by letter; but you are capable, both to supply the deficiency, and to bring eventually to God that distinguished man, who is wise in many things, and who perhaps will not disdain to meekly learn the truth, which is above wisdom, of our religion.

A Passage from the Divine Names of Dionysius


Here is a long excerpt from the Celestial Hierarchy, with footnotes at the bottom so you may compare passages of Dionysius with passages from Plotinus (3rd Century) and Proclus (5th Century). These passages are supposed to show that the Dionysian writings came later (!!). Is this, like, faulty reasoning, or what?

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Klong's Other Pages:

The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca
The Slavonic Josephus
The Homeless Chamber Music Society