<i>The Divine Names</i> and Dionysius the Areopagite

in All the Names of the Lord

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780226388700
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226388724 | DOI:
The Divine Names and Dionysius the Areopagite

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This book deals with the practice of listing the names of God, a practice that often pluralizes the singular “name” of biblical language in extravagantly abundant litanies and inventories of gargantuan proportions. Its numerous purposes defy easy generalizations. Lists of divine names are used across written and oral discourses to glorify and to instruct, to protect and to subjugate, and are equally at home in all quarters of Christian culture: from theology to liturgy and magic, and from official ceremonial practices to the practices of everyday life. To be sure, such extensive production of sacronymic catalogues is not unique to Christianity. Virtually all theistic religions share the Christian zeal for embracing the divine realm in a list, whether through the names of numerous gods and goddesses or through the numerous names of a single divinity. Archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia even suggest that the listing of sacred names was perhaps the oldest practice of writing.

Keywords: God; name; divine names; Christian culture; theology; liturgy; sacronymic catalogues; Christianity; Mesopotamia; sacred names

Chapter.  3295 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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