The Dionysian Tradition

  • L. Michael Harrington
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The Dionysian writings appeared first within the Christological controversies of the sixth century. It was long thought that they were first cited by the Monophysite party, whose doctrines were condemned as heretical by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and so the Dionysius writings were frequently assumed to have been written by a Christian heretic. Paul Rorem and John Lamoreaux have recently shown that all parties in these disputes, both Chalcedonian and Monophysite, took up the Dionysian corpus with vigor at the same time, and so we do not need to assume a heretical milieu for their author.1 The corpus soon attracted a great deal of interest even outside the context of Christology, and received its first commentary within fifty years of its composition. This commentary, now known as the Dionysian scholia, has long been associated with the name of Maximus the Confessor (580–662), though it now appears that he was responsible for few, if any, of the scholia.


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  1. 6.
    L. Thunberg, Microcosm and Mediator: the Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor (Chicago: Open Court, 1995), pp. 381–91.Google Scholar
  2. 30.
    J.-C. Larchet, La divinisation de l’homme selon saint Maxime le Confesseur (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1996), p. 401.Google Scholar
  3. 54.
    D. Moran, The Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena: a Study of Idealism in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 194–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 106.
    G. Zinn, “Suger, Theology, and the Pseudo-Dionysian Tradition,” in Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis, ed. P.L. Gerson (New York, 1986), pp. 33–40.Google Scholar

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© Michael L. Harrington 2004

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  • L. Michael Harrington

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