Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

“No longer I”: Paul, Dionysius the Areopagite, and the apophasis of the self
by Stang, Charles M., Th.D., Harvard Divinity School, 2008, 248; 3329719
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I argue that the pseudonym, Dionysius the Areopagite, and the influence of Paul together constitute the best interpretive lens for understanding the aims and purposes of the Corpus Dionysiacum [CD] and its pseudonymous author. By and large, modern scholarship on the CD has passed over the question of the pseudonym and the influence of Paul, preferring to interpret the corpus against the backdrop either of late Neoplatonism or late antique Eastern Christianity. Appreciating why this late fifth or early sixth century author wrote under the name of Paul's Athenian convert, mentioned in Acts 17:34, I argue, not only alters our understanding of many of the central themes of the CD but also resolves certain scholarly debates. Specifically, attention to the pseudonym and Paul allows us to made headway on such central, but controversial, themes as hierarchy, Christology, theurgy, and apophasis. This is the first contribution of this dissertation to the field. The second contribution has to do with theological anthropology. When we read the CD against the backdrop of the pseudonym and the influence of Paul, I contend, it becomes clear that the “mystical theology” of the CD has a corresponding “mystical anthropology,” to which Paul is the premier and authoritative witness. Paul is for Dionysius the exemplary lover of God, whose fervent eros carries him outside himself in ecstasy, and therefore renders him split and so open to the indwelling of Christ. Finally, I argue that the very practice of writing under a pseudonym, and especially this pseudonym, is for our author an ecstatic devotional practice that aims to breach the singular self—the “I”—and thereby to suffer, as Paul does, the indwelling of Christ: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The third and final contribution of this dissertation, then, is my argument that the very writing of the CD, under a pseudonym, is a practice integral to the enterprise described in the CD, the mystical, theological and anthropological asceticism aiming to “unsay” and “unknow” God and self both.

Indexing (document details)
School: Harvard Divinity School
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Theology
Keywords: Apophasis, Apophatic anthropology, Apophatic theology, Dionysius the Areopagite, Paul the Apostle, Saint, Pseudepigraphia, Pseudo-Dionysius, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudonymity, Self
Publication Number: 3329719
ISBN: 978-0-549-82762-7
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