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Princeton University Press, 1964), esp. 46–57 (on Dionysius and others). A useful short overview of negative theologians can be found in David R. Law, Kierkegaard as Negative Theologian (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 26–34. 21 In our culture, negative theology arose as a reaction to the Greek thought on Being. , in Buddhism. ECHOES OF AN EMBARRASSMENT 15 the derived beings and the way in which the transcendence of Being is experienced as absolute. Neoplatonism starts from the desire, eros, for what surpasses this world, what is outside humanity, and for what is unknowable to human knowledge.

It is said to contradict the Christian experience of faith. It is said first that faith legitimates the earthly: God created the world; thus, despite the Fall, it is essentially good and has something to say to us. Moreover, God has sent a mediator (His Son), who showed us through his living and speaking how we must order our earthly humanity in relation to Him. Christianity has always defended the world against gnostic views, traces of which were thought to be found in negative theology. Furthermore, Christianity asserts that faith also legitimates human, ‘earthly’ language: Christ spoke in human language, and the Holy Scriptures are written in human language, too.

Names are and they mean. Dionysius posited that divine names had a special meaning. Like all beings, they bear the stamp of spiritual beauty. Divine names are the basis for affirmative speech about God, for a positive, cataphatic theology. These special names are inspired by the Spirit. They have a special effective power: they unify the human spirit with the highest principles. Human intellect moves from nature to the Good—just as all things according to their ability strive toward analogy with the Good.

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