By Valentina Izmirlieva
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Additional info for All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic
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. At the heart of Dionysius’s positive theology, in other words, there lies his trust in the hierarchies, in their capacity to illuminate similarities within the dissimilar and thus to further the ascent.
It was the task of theology to justify this application by devising a concept of divine names that was compatible with the tenets of a unified theological vision, and to defend the very possibility of “naming” a transcendent divinity against the absence of a direct name revelation. ” could not be answered without a relatively clear theoretical concept of the name. In short, a systematic Christian onomatology could emerge only as a negotiation between 30 chapter two the theoretical constraints of theology and the demands of living rhetorical practice.
19 Still, we should not overestimate the contribution of Aristotle’s linguistic relativism to Christian thought. It did manage to undermine the Cratylian longing for “true by nature” names of God, but it never actually succeeded in eradicating it. Upon reflection, the early history of Christian name theology is defined more by the competition between the camps of the name-realists and the name-relativists than by the temporary victory of one over the other. Christian representatives of the cratylic trend gravitated toward the theory that the true divine names are given to man by God himself.