By Valentina Izmirlieva
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Extra resources for All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic
17 Responding to the increasing demand for the works of the Areopagite, the Serbian Metropolitan Theodosius urged a monk by the name of Isaiah from the city of Serres to translate the corpus together with the combined scholia of John and Maximus. 19 The Bulgarian hesychast Cyprian (ca. 1330–1406), who became the Metropolitan of Moscow in 1389, personally brought one copy to Russia, thus expanding further the territory of Dionysius’s influence. In 22 chapter one 1675, the Russian monk Euthymius of the Chudov Monastery prepared a new translation for a printed publication which, however, never came out, while Isaiah’s version appeared in print in 1870, as part of the monumental edition of the Reading Menaion completed under the aegis of Metropolitan Makarii ([Macarius]; 1542–63).
There are only a few books in Christian culture that rival—in scope or impact—the fabulous career of the Greek theological works attributed to Saint Dionysius the Areopagite. 1 Each of them holds a unique position of authority in the Christian canon, and the corpus as a whole has shaped Christian spirituality as few texts, outside the biblical canon, ever have. Since, however, I focus on the names of God, our particular interest turns on the treatise The Divine Names, which stands out in the Christian tradition as the most authoritative theological discourse on the naming of God.
Yet such a theological commitment is fueled by the assumption—the hope—that the act of trying itself has both an epistemological and a salvific value. 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.