October 3, 2017

Theodore the Presbyter's "On the Genuineness of the Works of Dionysius the Areopagite" (St. Photios the Great)

By St. Photios the Great

(Bibliotheca, Cod. 1)

1. [Theodore the Presbyter, On the Genuineness of the Works of Dionysius the Areopagite]*

Read the treatise of Theodore the Presbyter, in which he undertakes to prove the genuineness of the works of St. Dionysius. The following arguments against it are refuted: (1) If they are genuine, how is it that none of the later Fathers cites them or quotes any passages from them? (2) How is it that Eusebius Pamphilius, in his list of the writings of the Holy Fathers, does not mention them? (3) How is it that these treatises describe in detail rites and customs which only became established in the Church gradually and after a long time?

The great Dionysius, as is clear from the Acts, was contemporary with the Apostles [whereas most of the institutions described only became established gradually and in later times]; it is therefore improbable (says the objector), or rather a clumsy fiction, to assert that Dionysius could have undertaken to describe institutions which were not fully developed till long after his death. (4) How is it that a letter of the divinely-inspired Ignatius is referred to? for Dionysius flourished in the time of the Apostles, whereas Ignatius suffered martyrdom during the reign of Trajan, and wrote the letter referred to shortly before his death.

Theodore endeavors to solve these difficulties and does his best to prove the genuineness of the treatises.

* Nothing beyond than what is written here by Photios is known of Theodore the Presbyter or any of his writings. Photios clearly believes Theodore succeeded in refuting the arguments against the Dionysian authorship of the works attributed to him.