By Valentina Izmirlieva
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Extra info for All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic
8 Dionysius’s arguments are paradoxical, luxuriously thick, labyrinthine. 9 That difficulty is, I believe, deliberate, and very much part of the theological project of the corpus. The reader’s effort to understand the text is meant to approximate the experience of being in God’s presence, and it aims to cultivate a particular state of mind: not only receptivity, but also responsiveness—by deed as well as words—to a divinity beyond being, beyond language and comprehension. It should not surprise us, therefore, that almost every generation of Christian thinkers has felt compelled to revisit Dionysius and find new treasures of meaning and insight in his works.
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.
More important still, these biblical terms are commonly used as divine names in the ritual language of worship to cope with the practical problems that thrive in the absence of a direct name revelation. Thus, on the one hand, the Bible consistently refers to a single name of God that remains mysterious, while, on the other hand, it provides an array of God-terms that are never defined explicitly as his names. 10 What is the name that the Christians worship and confirm? Is it, to paraphrase T. S.