Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Boland on Aquinas, Dionysius, Proclus

130bot Proclus was the first to produce a systematic treatise on the divine attributes, seeking the essential constitutive qualities of divinity. Among Christians the first example of this kind of theology is CA.

The important Proclean term henad occurs seven times in CA but is used only once in the plural and then to refer to the angels. Otherwise it refers to the divine unity. The terms monad and henad seem to be synonymous to Dionysius which they are not for Proclus. Texts of Proclus on the modalisation of the henads and texts of Dionysius on the hierarchies reveal greater differences than similarities since Dionysius always allows for direct and unmediated access from all levels of the hierarchy to the unique Godhead.

Triads are as fundamental for Dionysius as they are for Proclus.

133top Dionysius uses the Proclean invention ai noetai kai noerai in speaking of the angels (DN IV.1 (693B-696A) and p.104n.56 Proclus p.128 n.194 above); each of them understands divine providence in terms of self-knowledge and bestowal of being; Proclus speaks of higher causes reaching more effects and Dionysius says that divine causality reaches to the outermost limits of creation and they both relate "the good" and "being" in speaking of the primary henad, gift or participation.

Further similarities and differences are found in what Dionysius says about the divine liturgy and what neoplatonism says about theurgy.

134top The divine procession is an ontological bestowal of being in which the angels too owe their being to God [CH VII.2 (208A)].

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