Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo- (fl. ca. 500)

Greek author of an influential corpus of mystical writings. The author, whose identity remains unclear, must have been writing after the Neoplatonist Proclus (d. 485), upon whose works he draws, and before 532, when the writings are first mentioned; it is likely that he was writing in Syria or Palestine. The corpus consists of books entitled: On the Celestial Hierarchy (CH); On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (EH); the Divine Names (DN); the Mystical Theology (MT); and 10 Letters. These were translated into Syriac by Sergios of Reshʿayna (d. 536), and again, in a revised form by Phocas of Edessa in the late 7th cent. The former survives in a single ms. (Sinai Syr. 52), the latter in several mss. The earlier version is a particularly important witness to the earliest form of the Greek text (critical edition by B. Suchla, G. Heil and A. M. Ritter, in PTS 33, 36; 1990, 1991); Sergios’s translation provides the unusual order of DN, CH, MT, EH, Letters. Neither Syriac version has yet been published in full; thus the only editions available so far are: MT, ch. 1: J.-M. Hornus, in ParOr 1 (1970), 69–94 (both versions); and EH, ch. 4 (on Myron): W. Strothmann, GOFS 15:1–2 (1977) (both versions).

Already in the 6th cent. the Corpus was provided with Greek Scholia by John Scholasticus, and later by others too; those by John were also translated into Syriac, and further scholia were added by a number of Syriac authors. The scholia are only found in mss. of Phocas’s version.

There are also several later Syriac works associated with Dionysius the Areopagite: 1. The Book of the Holy Hierotheos (ed. with ET, F. S. Marsh; 1927), probably by Sṭephanos bar Ṣudayli; this work claims to be by the teacher of Dionysius; on it see K. Pinggéra, All-Erlösung und All-Einheit (2002); 2. A supposed autobiography (ed. M. Kugener, in OC 7 [1907], 292–348); 3. an astronomical and meteorological treatise (ed. Kugener, in Actes XIV Congrès International des Orientalistes, vol. 2 (1905), 137–94; also by G. Furlani, in JRAS 1917, 245–72); and 4. an Anaphora (ed. M. Vidalis, forthcoming).


  • CPG 6600–6635.
  • R.  Beulay, ‘Quelques axes de l’enseignement de Denys l’Aréopagite chez les mystiques syro-orientaux et leur continuité possible en mystique musulmane’, in Les Syriaques transmetteurs de civilisations (2005), 97–106.
  • I.  Perczel, ‘Sergius of Reshaina’s Syriac translation of the Dionysian Corpus’, in La diffusione dell’eredità classica nell’età tardoantica e medievale, ed. C. Baffioni (2000), 79–94.
  • M.  Quaschning-Kirsch, ‘Ein weiterer Textzeuge für die syrische Version des Corpus Dionysiacum Areopagiticum, Paris BN Syr. 378’, LM 113 (2000), 115–24.
  • P. Sherwood, ‘Sergius of Reshaina and the Syriac versions of the Pseudo-Denis’, Sacris Erudiri 4 (1952), 174–84.
  • M.  van Esbroeck, ‘La triple préface syriaque de Phocas’, in Denys l’Aréopagite et sa postérité en Orient et en Occident, ed. Y. de Andia (1997), 167–86.
  • G.  Wiessner, Zur Handschriftenüberlieferung der syrischen Fassung des Corpus Dionysianum (Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, phil.-hist. Kl. 3; 1972).
  • G.  Wiessner, ‘Eine Miszelle zur syrischen Kommentierung des Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita’, in GOFS 17 (1978), 273–85.

How to Cite This Entry

Sebastian P. Brock , “Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-,” in Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Dionysius-the-Areopagite-Pseudo-.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Sebastian P. Brock , “Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-,” in Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Dionysius-the-Areopagite-Pseudo-.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Brock, Sebastian P. “Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-.” In Dionysius the Areopagite, Pseudo-. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Dionysius-the-Areopagite-Pseudo-.

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