Abstract
One large exception to this generalisation is John Scottus Eriugena, who wrote original philosophical works, and also produced some translations of philosophical works. "Eriugena" is his rendering into Greek of "Scottus", which at that time meant Irish: John the Irishman. He was born in Ireland about AD 810, lived and wrote in France from about 840; he was one of the Irish and English clergy attracted to France by the Carolingian renaissance. He mastered Greek; knowledge of Greek was rare in western Europe before the Renaissance of the fourteenth century, but at most times during the middle ages there were some Latin-speaking Europeans who also knew Greek. He translated from Greek into Latin the works of Dionysios the Areopagite: the Mystical Theology , the Divine Names and the Celestial Hierarchy. Dionysios the Areopagite is mentioned in the bible, in Acts 17:34; he was one of the few converts Paul made when he visited Athens. In France it was believed that this Dionysios had travelled to Gaul to preach Christianity, and that he had founded the Abbey of St. Denys in Paris. His writings were held in great respect. Unfortunately they are not authentic. Modern scholars refer to their author as pseudo-Dionysios ("pseudo" meaning "false"), or as Dionysios the pseudo-Areopagite: perhaps his name was Dionysios, but he was not the "Areopagite" mentioned in the bible. His writings are a Christianised version of Proclus and are therefore yet another channel of neo-Platonic influence on medieval Latin thought. John's own philosophical writings, which are also in the neo-Platonic style, did not have much influence on later medieval thinkers. For an account of them see E. Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages.
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