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Theory and Practice

Theory and Practice

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter Four Theory and Practice
Source:
All the Names of the Lord
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226388724.003.0005

There is one crucial difference between The Divine Names of Dionysius the Areopagite and almost all previous Christian discourses on the naming of God: it is not a polemic work. In accordance with the Areopagite's general disapproval of polemical engagement in theology, he does not establish his onomatological position by refuting or endorsing preexisting views. Instead, he approaches his subject directly and negotiates his legitimacy by “speaking appropriately of what he knows” not in preestablished contexts of conflict and controversy, but within the frame of an autonomous, comprehensive, and largely original theological system. The fact that the treatise is designed as part of a corpus of systematic theology is not just a formal matter of context or structure; it defines a specular as well as a speculative position.

Keywords:   The Divine Names, Dionysius the Areopagite, God, polemic work, theology, treatise

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