Tuesday, February 1, 2011

notes on gods/angels in Iamblichus de mysteriies

Crucial difference between gods and angels -- gods are above being, angels are beings

Iamblichus On the Mysteries Clark et al
13 Indeed, to tell the truth, the contact that we have with the divinity is not to be taken as knowledge. Knowledge, after all, is separated (from its object) by some degree of otherness.
... we are enveloped by divine presence and filled ... same with superior beings
15 knowledge of divine is not at same level as knowledge of everything else [problem of angelic knowledge takes a cue from this Iamblichean problematic construction of supernatural knowledge]
19 if you take each of them to be a unity, then the whole structure of scientific theology is thrown into conclusion [Gilson on Aquinas: need angel for perfection of universe]

there is no single essential definition common to all of them, but the prior among them are separate from the inferior [precursor of "each angel its own species" in Aquinas, who is still dealing with problem of individuality of superior beings]
apply analogical principle of identity
23 receiving that degree of participation in beauty innate to them [recalls PD capacity]
29 soul participates in a partial and multiform intellect... it belongs to the soul to participate continuously in intelligible order and divine beauty (DM I.6)
29 I.7 soul is defined by the divine principle of limit
[man in a weird way not limited for Pico because he can self-divinize using free will given as image of God, but doesn't really do this by his own power, just as passive as Iamblichean theurgist]

Iamblichus is clear about distinction between souls and superior classes, as Pico will be clear about superiority of angel
Like PD+T Pico reluctant to speak about nature of angels themselves, like Iamblichus 39 "best solution is to examine closely the mode of allotment of roles among the gods [DM 1.9]
39 sunlight metaphor for illumination and participation
41 beholding the visible image of the gods (1.9)
43 assignment of superior classes of being to the various parts of the cosmos [Pico's Heptaplus as iangelized cosmos hearkens back to this without necessarily being a magical cosmos--in other places Pico criticizes magical cosmos]
47 passion disordered and defective, never being its own master

59 DM 1.15 it is not the way of one person addressing another that it participates in the thought expressed by the prayers
Iamblichus speaks of the importance of "consciousness of our own nothingness" in relation to the gods.
59 "joins itself to the archetype of perfection" [compare seraphic closeness to God in PD]
61 hieratic prayer-formulae given to men by gods [I see this as similar to problem of angelic knowledge in PD--similar reasons for being worried, needing to account theurgically]

69 It is participation, then, which becomes the cause of the proliferation of otherness in secondary entities, and also the intermingling of material elements with immaterial emanations, and further, the fact that what is bestowed in one way is received by the things of this realm in another way. DM 1.18

73 the more we ascend to the heights... the more we discover the eternal union that exist there

83 II.1 daemons/heroes II.2 one must also define their activities

85 And though the soul has to a lesser degree the eternity of unchanging life and full actuality, by means of the gods good will and the illumination bestowed by their light, it often goes higher and is elevated to a greater rank, even to that of the angelic order. When it no longer abides in the confines of the soul, this totality is perfected in an angelic soul and an immaculate life. Hence, the soul seems to have in itself all kinds of being and activity, all kinds of principles, and forms in their entirety. Indeed, to tell the truth, while the soul is always limited to a single, definite body, it is, in associating itself with the superior guiding principles, variously allied to different ones. (DM II.2)

87 II.3 their manifestations are in accordance with their true natures, their potentialities and activities... those of the angels are simpler than those of daemons, but inferior to those of gods

89 with the angels, orderly arrangement and calmness are no longer exempt from motion

89 a beauty almost irresistible

91 II.4 movements of the angels are involved with some motion (vs. gods who are more rapid than the intellect itself)

95 souls produce a fitfully visible light, soiled by the many compounds in the realm of generation

95 I.5 Again, the purification of souls attains a perfect degree among the gods, while the characteristic of the archangels is anagogic. Angels do no more than loosen the bonds of matter, whereas daemons draw the soul towards nature.
(Cf. VIII.8.271.11 on the theoi anagogoi)

97 in the case of the archangels there is consumption of [matter] over a short period, while in the case of angels there is a process of dissolution and absorption of it.

99 II.6 The advent of the archangels produces the same effects as that of the gods, except that it gives good things neither always nor in all cases--neither sufficient, complete, nor inalienable; and it illuminates us in a manner proportionate to their appearance. The advent of angels confers separately goods still more particular, and the activity by which it is manifested is far short of the perfect light that embraces it in itself.

191 in the divine visions we get a display of the order maintained by the objects of vision, the gods having gods or archangels about themselves; archangels calling up about themselves angels as escorts, either arrayed with themselves or following after them, or, in some other way, being accompanied by a copious bodyguard of angels; that of angels revealing at the same time the works proper to the rank which they have attained...

105 II.9 in the case of archangels, [souls illuminated] gain a pure settled state, intellectual contemplation and stable power; in the case of the angels, they obtain a rational wisdom, truth, pure virtue, a firm knowledge, and a proportional order.''
107 The epiphany of angels provides even more than the archangels and, with progressively lesser limitations, is the giver of good things.

DM III.20 171 if we seem actually able to act by participating in, and being enlightened by the gods, it is to this extent alone that they have the benefit of the divine energy.

265 V.22 is it not the highest purpose of the hieratic art to ascend to the One, which is supreme master of the whole multiplicity[of gods]?

it is in accordance with their nature and with the sphere of authority which they have been allotted that one should render them worship.249

IV.2 the whole of theurgy presents a double aspect... performed by men but controls divine symbols...raised to union with the higher powers

199 they who associate with daemons who are deceitful and causes of licentiousness are obviously in conflict with the theurgists. DM III.31

193 DM II.29 Why, then, should this useless conjuring be so desired by a man who is a lover of the truth?

189 the skill of producing images is, indeed, far removed from the creative workmanship of things genuine

183 clear visions of the gods vs. images artificially produced by magic

1 comment:

  1. there is no single essential definition common to all of them, but the prior among them are separate from the inferior [precursor of "each angel its own species" in Aquinas, who is still dealing with problem of individuality of superior beings]

    I would not exactly say that this is the precursor of Aquinas' doctrine. In the first place, Aquinas would not have had access to this text; but more importantly, the common root of this Iamblichean doctrine with respect to angels and the similar doctrine in Aquinas is the status of the henads prior to Being, and hence prior to essence. The henads are already supra-essential for Iamblichus, and this structure of the angelic manifolds is simply an ontic echo of the structure of the henadic manifold.

    To exist prior to Being means that there can be no species to which the Gods belong; each is sui generis. This is a doctrine which reached Aquinas much more loudly and clearly, albeit in bowdlerized form, than the faint echoes of Neoplatonic angelology.