Dionysius (a.k.a Dionysios or Denys) the Areopagite.

Acts 17:34

The First Convert to Christianity and Responder to Paul’s discourse regarding to the Unknown God at Mars Hill


1.0 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia1)J. E. Harry http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/dionysius.html

di-o-nish’-i-us (Dionusios, surnamed “the Areopagite”):

One of the few Athenians converted by Paul (Acts 17:34). We know nothing further about him (see AREOPAGUS). According to one account he was the first bishop of the church at Athens; according to another he suffered martyrdom in that city under Domitian. We are even told that he migrated to Rome and was sent to Paris, where he was beheaded on Montmartre (Mount of the Martyr). The patron saint of France is Denys; compare the French “Denys d’Halicarnasse” (Dionysius of Halicarnassus). The mystical writings which were circulated in the Middle Ages and are still extant, are pronounced by the best authorities to be forgeries, and date from a period not earlier than the 5th century.


2.0 Orthodoxwiki Dionysius the Areopagite2)https://orthodoxwiki.org/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

The holy, glorious and right-victorious Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite (also Dionysios or Denys) was baptized by Saint Paul in Athens and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles. His feast day is celebrated on October 3.

Life

Prior to his baptism, Dionysius grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to the True Faith, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens.

Eventually he left his wife and children for Christ and went with St. Paul in missionary travel.

He travelled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition.

Seeing St. Paul martyred in Rome, St. Dionysius desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul, along with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equalled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity.

In the year 96, St. Dionysius was seized and tortured for Christ, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, and all three were beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionysius’ head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian. She honorably buried it along with his body.

Works

Four theological works are attributed to Dionysius: The Divine Names, The Mystical Theology, The Celestial Hierarchy, and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, as well as eleven letters. While there were occasional questions raised regarding the true authorship of the Dionysian writings in the Middle Ages, it is Hugo Koch and Josef Stiglmayer’s works (1895)3)“Proklus als Quelle des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre von Bösen,” by Hugo Koch, Philologus 54 (1895) 438-54; Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in seinen Beziehungen zum Neuplatonismu und Mysterienweses by Hugo Koch (Mainz: 1900); and “Der Neuplatoniker Proklos als Vorlage des sog. Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre vom Übel,” by Josef Stiglmayr, Historisches Jahrbuch 16 (1895) 253-73 and 721-48. See also Stiglmayr’s “Das Aufkommen der Ps.-Dionysischen Schriften und ihr Eindrungen in die christliche Literatur bis zum Lateranconcil 649. Ein zweiter Beitrag zur Dionysius Frage,” IV Jahresbericht des offentlichen Privatgymnasiums an der Stelle matutina zu Feldkirch (Feldkirch: 1895). that definitively laid to rest the idea of tracing the texts back to the apostolic age. The scholarly consensus now identifies the corpus as the work of a fifth-century Syrian student of the pagan Neoplatonist Proclus.4)For more, see, for instance, Andrew Louth, Denys the Areopagite (ISBN 082645772X), as well as Jaroslav Pelikan, “The Odyssey of Dionysian Spirituality” in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (ISBN 0809128381). In his introduction to Mystagogy: A Monastic Reading of Dionysius Areopagita, Orthodox Bishop Alexander (Golitzin) of Toledo writes that it is “now recognized as indefensible” that the author of the Dionysian writings could be the first century disciple of St Paul.5).(Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2013) xxv. “The first clearly datable reference to the Dionysian corpus comes to us from …532….”6)Ibid., xix. Bishop Alexander’s own suggestion is that the real author of the works was the fifth-century theologian Peter the Iberian.

Pseudo-Dionysius is recognized to be “employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas.”7).Wikipedia: Dionysius the Areopagite; cf. also Wikipedia: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Some recent Orthodox scholars (such as Frs. Georges Florovsky and John Meyendorff) have been mildly critical of the influence of the Dionysian corpus,8)Golitzin, xxvii. but recent defenders include Bp. (then-Igumen) Alexander, mentioned above, who sees it as a fully Christian liturgical theology,9)Ibid., passim. Mystagogy is a reworking and revision of Bp Alexander’s earlier book Et introibo ad altare dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita. (Thessalonika: George Dedousis Publishing Co., 1994.). and Vladimir Lossky, who sees the Dionysian interpretation of the unknowability of God as fundamental to any Christian thought and as setting the stage for the work of St. Gregory Palamas.10)The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1997) passim. However controversial the texts in recent years11)The Reformers were quite antagonistic, and their successors have continued to be. (Golitzin, xxii.)., their theology was incorporated into the mainstream of Orthodox theology through its adoption by St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus, who quotes Dionysius’ Letter to Titus in his work On the Divine Images, a defense of icons during the iconoclastic controversies.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 4)

Having learned goodness and maintaining continence in all things,
you were arrayed with a good conscience as befits a priest.
From the chosen Vessel you drew ineffable mysteries;
you kept the faith, and finished a course equal to His.
Bishop martyr Dionysius, entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion (Tone 8)

As a disciple of the apostle caught up to the third heaven,
you spiritually entered the gate of heaven, Dionysius.
You were enriched with understanding of ineffable mysteries
and enlightened those who sat in the darkness of ignorance.
Therefore we cry to you: Rejoice, universal Father!

3.0 Wikipedia Dionysius the Areopagite 12)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

Dionysius the Areopagite (Greek Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης) was a judge of the Areopagus who, as related in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 17:34), was converted to Christianity by the preaching of the Apostle Paul during the Areopagus sermon. According to Dionysius of Corinth, quoted by Eusebius, this Dionysius then became the first Bishop of Athens.13)Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae III: iv

Historic confusions

In the early 6th century, a series of famous writings of a mystical nature, employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas, was ascribed to the Areopagite.14).Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the confusion between Dionysius and Pseudo-Dionysius They have long been recognized as pseudepigrapha, and their author is now called “Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite“. see Dionysius the Areopagite, Works (1897)15)http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_03_divine_names.htm

Dionysius has been misidentified with the martyr of Gaul, Dionysius, the first Bishop of Paris, Saint Denis. However, this mistake by a ninth century writer is ignored and each saint is commemorated on his respective day.16)Hieromartyr Dionysius of Paris, Bishop“. oca.org. Retrieved 2015-10-16.


4.0 “Who is the unknown god in Acts 17:23?”17)http://www.gotquestions.org/unknown-god.html

At the Areopagus, or Mars Hill – “One of the members of the Areopagus, named Dionysius, exercised faith in Christ, and several other Athenians also became Christians that day.”

In Acts 17, Paul arrives in Athens, the citadel of the many Greek gods. In that city was the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, where a council of civic leaders met. This council, also called the Areopagus, had charge of religious and educational matters in Athens.

While in Athens, Paul was provoked by the many idols he saw. As was his custom, he went to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. He also preached to those in the marketplace. That is when he encountered the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, who were always looking to discover something “new” to discuss. The Epicureans were followers of Epicurus (341—270 BC), who taught that happiness was the ultimate goal in life. The Stoic thinkers regarded Zeno (340—265 BC) as their founder. He was noted for promoting the rational over the emotional. Both Epicurus and Zeno believed in many gods.

Hearing Paul teach about Jesus, the philosophers had Paul come to the Areopagus and asked him to tell them about this “new,” strange teaching he was proclaiming. Standing in the midst of the Areopagus, Paul tells those gathered that he realized Athenians were very religious, having seen their many objects of worship. But one altar among the many caught his attention. On it were inscribed the words “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” In their ignorance, the Greeks had erected an altar to whatever god they might have inadvertently left out of their pantheon. Paul masterfully uses this altar as an opportunity to share the one true God.

Since the Greeks obviously didn’t know who this god was, Paul explains that this “unknown god” was the biblical God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who does not dwell in temples made with hands. Actually, God is the Source of life for all nations, and He is really the One they were unwittingly seeking. Paul says God is near; in fact, “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27–28). The Greeks, however, were unable to find the true God on their own, so God came searching for them. He calls all men to repent and accept Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and will judge the world in righteousness.

Paul’s mention of the resurrection brought a varied response from the philosophers. Some sneered outright. Others said they wanted to hear more from Paul (Acts 17:32). Praise the Lord, some believed. One of the members of the Areopagus, named Dionysius, exercised faith in Christ, and several other Athenians also became Christians that day.

The “unknown God” desires to be known. That is why He has spoken to us through His Word; that is why He sent His Son into the world (Luke 10:22). God can be known through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).


5.0 The Works of Dionysius18)http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/ante-nicene/vol-6-third-century/dionysius/works-of-dionysius-extant-fragments.html

Extant Fragments

   Part I.-Containing Various Sections of the Works.

   Part II.-Containing Epistles, or Fragments of Epistles.

   Elucidations.

Exegetical Fragments.

   I.-A Commentary on the Beginning of Ecclesiastes.

   II.-The Gospel According to Luke.

   III.-On Luke XXII. 42, Etc.

   IV.-An Exposition of Luke XXII. 46, Etc.

   V.-On John VIII. 12.

   VI.-Of the One Substance.

   VII.-On the Reception of the Lapsed to Penitence.

   Note by the American Editor.

   Against the Sabellians

   Elucidations. The Confession


6.0 Letter L.19)http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/post-nicene/vol-12-leo-and-gregory/leo-great/letter-l-people-of-constantinople-by-hand-of-epiphanius-and-dionysius-notary-church-of-rome.html

  Letter L. To the People of Constantinople, by the Hand of Epiphanius and Dionysius, Notary of the Church of Rome. (Exhorting them to stand firm and consoling them for Flavian’s deposition.) No Copy



genealogy-150-150

From a Notable Family in Athens.

Married

Had several children

Occupation: Member of the highest court in Greece, and then Bishop of Athens.


SOURCES

1.0) Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/dionysius.html

2.0) Source: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

3.0) Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite

4.0) Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/unknown-god.html

5.0) Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/ante-nicene/vol-6-third-century/dionysius/works-of-dionysius-extant-fragments.html

6.0) Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/post-nicene/vol-12-leo-and-gregory/leo-great/letter-l-people-of-constantinople-by-hand-of-epiphanius-and-dionysius-notary-church-of-rome.html

7.0) Source: bibleresources.americanbible.org | Tittle: “A Guide to Key Events, Characters and Themes of the Bible”


Related: Biblical Overviews List of Key Old Testament Characters

References   [ + ]

1. J. E. Harry http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/dionysius.html
2. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Dionysius_the_Areopagite
3. “Proklus als Quelle des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre von Bösen,” by Hugo Koch, Philologus 54 (1895) 438-54; Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita in seinen Beziehungen zum Neuplatonismu und Mysterienweses by Hugo Koch (Mainz: 1900); and “Der Neuplatoniker Proklos als Vorlage des sog. Dionysius Areopagita in der Lehre vom Übel,” by Josef Stiglmayr, Historisches Jahrbuch 16 (1895) 253-73 and 721-48. See also Stiglmayr’s “Das Aufkommen der Ps.-Dionysischen Schriften und ihr Eindrungen in die christliche Literatur bis zum Lateranconcil 649. Ein zweiter Beitrag zur Dionysius Frage,” IV Jahresbericht des offentlichen Privatgymnasiums an der Stelle matutina zu Feldkirch (Feldkirch: 1895).
4. For more, see, for instance, Andrew Louth, Denys the Areopagite (ISBN 082645772X), as well as Jaroslav Pelikan, “The Odyssey of Dionysian Spirituality” in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (ISBN 0809128381).
5. .(Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2013) xxv.
6. Ibid., xix.
7. .Wikipedia: Dionysius the Areopagite; cf. also Wikipedia: Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.
8. Golitzin, xxvii.
9. Ibid., passim. Mystagogy is a reworking and revision of Bp Alexander’s earlier book Et introibo ad altare dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita. (Thessalonika: George Dedousis Publishing Co., 1994.).
10. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1997) passim.
11. The Reformers were quite antagonistic, and their successors have continued to be. (Golitzin, xxii.).
12. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_the_Areopagite
13. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae III: iv
14. .Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the confusion between Dionysius and Pseudo-Dionysius
15. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/areopagite_03_divine_names.htm
16. Hieromartyr Dionysius of Paris, Bishop“. oca.org. Retrieved 2015-10-16.
17. http://www.gotquestions.org/unknown-god.html
18. http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/ante-nicene/vol-6-third-century/dionysius/works-of-dionysius-extant-fragments.html
19. http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/early-church-fathers/post-nicene/vol-12-leo-and-gregory/leo-great/letter-l-people-of-constantinople-by-hand-of-epiphanius-and-dionysius-notary-church-of-rome.html

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