Thursday, 5 February 2015

Ernesto Sergio Mainoldi: Why “Dionysius the Areopagite”? The Invention of the First Father

The creation of the most influential pseudo-epigraphic work of the patristic literature, i.e. the Corpus dionysiacum, in the intentions of his real author was that of providing an authoritative apostolic point of view finalized to suggest solutions for the doctrinal problems encountered by the eastern Church in the late 5th / early 6th century. Aim of this paper is to show that the main features of ps.-Dionysius’ doctrines, i.e. the hierarchical structure of the Church, the Christological position, the anti-Manichean purpose of the treatise on the evil in Divine Names, the liturgical and mystagogical commentary provided in the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy etc., are evidences of a political-ecclesiastical strategy pointing to the city of Constantinople during the early years of the rise of the emperor Justinian. Dionysius is here identified as the apostolic authority “designed” to suggest new solutions in the theological debates of the early 6th century, and to sponsor Justinian’s project, focused on the rising of the capital of the Empire to an ecclesiological and theological primacy, basing his prestige on the affirmation of the theology of Chalcedon, on the Cappadocian Fathers’ teaching and on a supposed Greek author, “Dionysius the Areopagite”, connected by territorial, cultural and linguistic concerning with the Church of Constantinople. As first of the Church Fathers “Dionysius” actually obtained a prominence that quickly overpassed the influence of the authors of the schools of Alexandria and Antioch, among those, Origen, whom doctrines were condemned after Justinian’s request.

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