Divine Names

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Divine Names  
Author(s) Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Original title Περὶ θείων ὀνομάτων
Country Byzantine Empire
Language Greek
Subject(s) Theology

Divine Names (Περὶ θείων ὀνομάτων) by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

Negative (apophatic) theology, as translated by Jones (1999)

Chapter 1

The indefiniteness beyond being
lies beyond beings.
The unity beyond intellect
lies beyond intellect.
The one beyond thought is
unintelligible to all thinking.
The good beyond logos:
ineffable to all logos
unity unifying every unity
being beyond being
non-intelligible intellect
ineffable logos
be-ing according to no being
cause of being to all; but itself: non-be-ing,
as it is beyond every being, and
So that it would properly and knowingly
manifest itself about itself.

It is cause of all;
but itself: nothing
as beyond-beingly apart from all:

Chapter 2

Ground beyond being,
Divinity beyond god,
Goodness beyond good,
Sameness beyond all of the whole
individualness which is beyond all,
Unity beyond source of unity,
Ineffable, many named,
Unknowing, completely unintelligible,
Position of all, denial of all,
Beyond all position and denial.
(If one must say:)
The abiding and foundation
of the ruling persons in one another,
wholly beyond every way of unity, and
confused in none of its parts.

From the "Theological Elements" of the most holy Hierotheus

The cause and fullness of all is
the divinity of Jesus:
An ordering of consonant parts to wholeness;
it is neither whole nor part.
Whole and part as anticipating, beyond having, and
before-having every whole and part in itself.
A completion to the non-complete as
source of completion,
Non-complete to the complete as
beyond completion and before completion.
Form producing form in those without form as
source of form,
Non-form in those which are formed as
beyond form.
Being undefiledly taking a stand upon the
totality of being;
Beyond-being: apart from every being.
A determining of the totality of principles and orders;
Yet, founded beyond every principle and order.
The measure of what is.
Eternity, before eternity, and beyond eternity.
Fullness in those which lack;
Beyond fullness in those which are full.
Ineffable and unspeakable,
Beyond intellect, beyond life, and beyond being.
That beyond nature: beyond-naturally,
That beyond being: beyond-beingly.

It is differenced in a unified way:
being given to all beings
overflowing the participations of the
totality of those that are good,
singly made many,
non-wanderingly multiplied out of the one.
Since God is beyond-beingly be-ing, and as
being is given to beings and
brings forth the totality of beings,
That one be-ing is said to be multiplied by
the bringing forth of all beings out of itself.
It abides
not less than itself,
one in its manifoldness,
unified in its procession,
full in its difference,
By its beyond-beingly apartness from beings,
its single bringing up of the whole, and
the undiminished flowing of its
undiminished gifts.
Be-ing one
it has bestowed unity to every part and whole,
and every unity and multitude;
As beyond-beingly one in the same way, and
not a part of a multitude,
not a whole of parts;
it is not one,
does not partake in the one, and
does not have the one.
Far away from these, a one:
beyond the one in beings,
a partless multitude,
unfilled and beyond full,
completing and binding together
every unity and multiude.

Chapter 4

That, beautiful beyond being, is said to be
it gives beauty from itself in a manner
appropriate to each,
it causes the consonance and splendor
of all
it flashes forth upon all, after the
manner of light, the beauty producing
gifts of its flowing ray,
it calls all to itself,
whence it is called beauty,
it brings all together
into the same;
At once all-beautiful and beyond-beautiful,
always be-ing beautiful
according to the same and in like manner;
not coming to be,
not passing out of being,
not increasing or decreasing,
not beautiful to some and
ugly to others,
not beautiful at one time and
ugly at another,
not beautiful in one relation and
ugly in another.
It is not beautiful to some and
ugly to others, but
itself-always be-ing uniformly beautiful
in virtue of itself and with itself,
preeminently before-having in itself
the flowing beauty of what is beautiful;
before subsisting,
in the simple nature beyond nature of
the whole of what is beautiful and
in its cause:
all beauty and all that is beautful.
From out of the beautiful:
being to all beings, so that each is
beautiful according to its proper logos,
the agreements, friendships, and
communion of an that is,
the unifications of all that is.
Source of all:
the productive cause
which makes and conserves the whole
by its love of the beauty
which is proper for each being.
Limit of all and beloved:
the final cause-for all beings emerge
for the sake of the beautiful.
Paradigmatic cause:
all are determined according to it.
The beautiful and good are the same:
all beings desire the beautiful and the good
with respect to every cause,
no being fails to partake
of the beautiful and good.
(Indeed, we must necessarily dare to say:)
that which is not partakes in the beautiful
and good; it is itself the good when
beyond-beingly celebrated in God in the
denial of all.
The one beautiful and good is the single cause
of all of the many
which are beautiful and good.
From out of the beautiful and good:
the essential constitutions of all beings,
their unities and their differences,
their identities and their otherness,
their similarity and their dissimilarity,
the association of opposites,
the distinction of their unities,
the providences of superiors,
the bonds of equals,
and the reversion of inferiors,
the protection and immutable abiding and
foundation of all among themselves,
the communions, agreements, and unconfused
friendship of all beings in all
which are proper to each,
the commixture of all,
the undissolved constancy of what is,
the uneclipsed sllccessions of what comes to be,
the rest and motion of the intellects,
souls, and bodies.
That beyond all rest and motion is
the rest and motion for all, as
founding each being in its logos, and
moving each being according to its proper motion.

Chapter 5

In a power beyond being
the be-ing of the whole being is
support, cause and creator
of be-ing, constitution,
being, and nature.
source and measure
of what is eternal,
be-ingness of what is temporal,
eternity of what is,
time of what comes to be,
the being of whatsoever is,
genesis of whatsoever comes to be.
From out of be-ing:
eternity, being, be-ing,
time, genesis, becoming,
what is in beings,
whatsoever is constituted and subsisting.
God is
not somehow be-ing,
but simply and unlimitedly be-ing,
comprehending and anticipating
the whole being in itself.
(Thus it is called)
king of what is eternal,
for it has subsisted
alI being and be-ing
in it and about it.
Moreover, God
neither was,
nor will be,
nor has come to be,
nor is come to be
nor will come to be,
nor, indeed, is not;
but is the being for beings.
Not only beings but even
the being itself for beings
is from the be-ing before eternity.
For God is
the eternity of what is eternal,
the one who is begun before what is eternal.

Being itself is
from out of the before be-ing.
Being is of it;
it is not of being
Being is in it;
it is not in being.
Being has it;
it does not have being.
It is
eternity, source, and measure of being
be-ing before being, be-ing, and eternity,
being-producing beginning, middle,
and end of all.
Thus in the writings, the really before be-ing
is multiplied according to every
conception of beings;
these are properly celebrated of it:
was, is, will be,
has come to be, is coming to be, and
will come to be.
For those who think in a divinely suitable way
all of these signify
the beyond-beingly being itself, and
cause of all which is everywhere,
according to every conception.
For it is not this
but not that;
it is not in some way
but not in some other way.
It is
cause of all:
co-having and before-having in itself
all the sources and ends of all beings;
beyond all:
beyond be-ing-beyond-beingly-before-all.
Hence all are at once said of it:
it is nothing among all -
all-structure, all-form,
non-form, non-beauty.
It separately and incomprehensibly
anticipates in itself
the beginnings, means, and ends of beings.
It purely illuminates the being for all
in one, more than unified causality.

The before be-ing
proceeds to all,
abides in itself,
stands and moves,
neither stands nor moves,
does not have beginning, middle, or end,
is not something in beings,
is not something away from beings, and
neither in general does there pertain to it
any of those which are eternal
or subsist temporally.
But it is the eternity of time
and apart from all those
in eternity and time.
Wherefore, eternity itself and beings
and the measures and what is measured of beings
are through it and by it.

Chapter 7

According to our power,
we attain to that beyond all
by a path and order
in the denial and preeminellce of all, and
in the cause of all,
God is known
in all, and
apart from all.
God is known
through knowledge, and
through unknowing.
Of God there is
intellect, reason, knowledge,
contact, sensation, opinion, imagination, name, and
everything else.
God is
not known, not spoken, not named,
not something among beings, and
not known in something among beings.
God is
all in all,
nothing in none,
known to all in reference to all,
known to no one in reference to nothing.
For we say all of this correctly about God
who is celebrated according
to the analogy of all,
of which it is the cause.
The most divine knowledge of God is
one which knows through unknowing
in the unity beyond intellect
when the intellect stands away from beings
and then stands away from itself,
it is united to the more than resplendent rays,
and is then and there illumined
hy the inscrutahle depths of wisdom.
Nevertheless, as we have said,
it is known from all;
(for according to the writings)
it is
productive of all,
always harmonizing the all,
cause of the indissoluable
concordance and harmony of all,
always joining together
the end of those which are prior to
the beginnings of secondaries, and
beautifying the agreement and harmony of all.

Chapter 8

We say that God is power as
before-having and beyond-having
every power in itself,
cause of every power,
bringing forth all
in an unlimited and undefined power,
be-ing cause of the being itself of power
whether universal or particular,
unlimited power,
for not only does it bring forth every power;
it is beyond every power -
even power itself,
and it prevails over and unlimitedly brings forth
unlimited [powers] which are
other than those which are
such that these powers
It is
even if brought forth to infinity
would not be able to blunt
the more than unlimited production
of its power-producing power.
an unspeakable, unknown,
and inconceivable power,
beyond-having all,
which, through abundance of power,
empowers the weak and
conserves and preserves the last beings
which are echoes of its power.

Chapter 9

God is called the same as
everlasting beyond every manner of being,
abiding in itself,
always the same and in the same way,
presencing similarly to all,
steadfastly and purely established
in itself and by itself
in the beautiful limits
of the identity beyond being,
unchanged, inflexible,
unswerving, unalterable,
without mixture, without matter
most simple, without lack,
without increase, undiminished,
ungenerated nor
as not yet generated, nor without completion
nor generated by this or that,
nor as be-ing any manner whatsoever,
but as all-ungenerated and
absolutely ungenerated,
always be-ing, self complete be-ing,
be-ing the same in itself,
uniformly and identically determining itself,
shining the same out of itself
upon all those enabled to participate in it.
coordinating others to others,
abundance and cause of identity,
identically before-having in itself
those which are opposed
in the one single cause
beyond-having the whole identity.

Chapter 13

The one and whole divinity:
the one cause of all,
that before
every unity and multitude,
part and whole,
definition and indefiniteness,
limit and non-limit,
that which determines
all beings and being itself,
and is at once and singularly
cause of all and every totality,
before all,
beyond all,
beyond the one be-ing itself, and
what determines the one be-ing itself;
for the one be-ing
is enumerable in beings,
but number partakes in being.
The one beyond being
determines the one be-ing
and every number, and
is source, cause, number, and order
of unity, number, and all be-ing.
Thus the divinity beyond all is celebrated
as one and trinity;
it is neither unity or trinity,
or what is conceived by us
or any other being.
That we may truly celebrate
its beyond unity and god-genesis,
we name that beyond names
by trinity and a unitary divine name;
we name the beyond being
by beings.
But no unity, or trinity, or number,
or oneness, or fecundity,
or anything among beings,
or anything known among beings,
brings down the hiddenness,
beyond all
and beyond logos and intellect,
of the beyond-divinity beyond be-ing
beyond-beingly beyond all.
There is neither name nor logos of it;
it is apart in inaccessibility.

See also


  • Jones, John D. (trans.) (1999). The Divine Names and the Mystical Theology. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Marquette University Press. ISBN 0-87462-221-2.