All the Names of the LordLists, Mysticism, and Magic

All the Names of the LordLists, Mysticism, and Magic

Valentina Izmirlieva

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226388700

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book began its journey with two texts and two conjectures. The texts were chosen to represent two alternative models for listing the names of God: an open-ended list and a closed series of seventy-two names. Both lists presume to be exhaustive. Their respective understandings of “all,” however, are not identical. If they both comply with the axiom of monotheist onomatology that the single divinity has many names, each reflects a different position as to exactly how many they are. Theology vouches for an infinite number. Magic counters with seventy-two, the numerical equivalent of finitude. The central pronouncement of Christian theology on the naming of God—attributed to the authority of St. Dionysius the Areopagite—endorses the infinite list of names as the most adequate “name” for the unnamable divinity. It may be concluded that the theological vision emerging from the text of Dionysius presents an asymmetrical system of order that posits its “beyond” as its condition of possibility—a transcendent divinity exempt from the order it generates. The idea of order presented by the amulet The 72 Names of the Lord is based on an entirely different principle.