Theurgy in Dionysius the Areopagite

In Panagiotis G. Pavlos, Lars Fredrik Janby, Eyjólfur K. Emilsson & Torstein Theodor Tollefsen (eds.), Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity. London: Routledge 2019. pp. 151-180 (2019)

Authors
Panagiotis G. Pavlos
University of Oslo
Abstract
The present chapter aims at offering insights into Dionysius the Areopagite’s notion of theurgy, both with respect to the metaphysical principles that connect with “θεουργία” and the particular sacramental reality that emerges from it. Pavlos argues that despite the linguistic affinities and terminological appropriations - whether Iamblichean or Proclean - Dionysius’ premises on the matter remain radically different from that of Neoplatonism, both in terms of the sacramental tradition he recapitulates and the wider Christian metaphysical contours he adheres to. Of central importance in the argument is the striking fact that, throughout the Corpus Dionysiacum, “theurgy” is a term exclusively used by the author to refer to the works of Christ in His earthly historical presence, and to the whole divine providential, creative, sustaining, and divinising activity and work of God. Consequently, if for Dionysius a “theurgist” (θεουργός) could not be any human being, but only Christ Himself, the God-Man, Dionysian theurgy aims at the deification of man, which is nothing other than Christ-likeness.
Keywords Neoplatonism  Late Antiquity  Early Christianity  Metaphysics  ontology  theurgy
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