Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

атрибуция Ареопагитик и винопитие (1)

1.1.1.      Θεανδρικὴ ἐνέργεια vs Θεανδρίτηςxml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /


In his Letter IV, to Gaius, Dionysius says that, in Christ, “God became male” (ἀνδρωθέντος θεοῦ) and “lived among us according to certain new theandric energy (καινήν τινα τὴν θεανδρικὴν ἐνέργειαν).”[1]

The first “objective link” between Dionysius and Proclus pointed out by Henri-Dominique Saffrey was that between Areopagite’s expression θεανδρικὴ ἐνέργεια and the name of an Arabian god Θεανδρίτης, mentioned by Damascius in his Life of Isidore (fr. 198) and known as an addressee of a lost hymn composed by Proclus. John of Scythopolis was elaborating on this similarity of words in his scholion SchEP 536.1[2] trying to reject any suspicion of connection between Christ and Theandrites. Saffrey considers this scholion as an evidence (one among others) of independent knowledge of Proclean Neo-Platonism by John of Scythopolis.[3]

Rosemary Griffith considers the very epithet “theandric” as going to Damascius.[4] However, the word is to be found already in Pindarus, Nemean Odes 4:10, who expressed intention to sing “Theandrides” (Θεανδρίδαισι). The word itself was nothing but a common legacy of the Ancient Greek culture.

The only interesting aspect seems here its Christological use considered as unprecedented before Areopagite’s Letter IV.

John of Scythopolis comments: “Let nobody, fallen into foolish talk (εἰς μωρολογίαν τραπείς), say that he [Dionysius] called the Lord Jesus ‘Theandrites.’ Because he did not say ‘theandritic’ (θεανδριτικήν) derived from ‘Theandrites’ (ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεανδρίτης σχηματίσας), but ‘theandric energy,’in the sense of interwoven energy of God and male (οἶον Θεοῦ καὶ ἀνδρὸς συμπεπλεγμένην ἐνέργειαν). This is why he said ‘God became male’ instead of ‘male became God’ (ἀντὶ τοῦ, Θεὸν ἄνδρα γενόμενον).”

Thus, John of Scythopolis establishes a connection between believing in Theandrites and an opinion that some ‘male’ became God. Saffrey thinks that it is Proclean Neo-Platonism that John bears in mind here. Very probably, he is right. Nevertheless, this is not the whole picture.

There is a precedent of Areopagite’s Christological formula in the Gospel paraphrase ascribed to Nonnus. Here, the author uses the term “God male” (θεὸς ἀνήρ) when one could anticipate “God man” (θεὸς ἄνθρωπος): there are two occurrences, А 39 and А 157, with no occurrence of “God man.”[5] This peculiarity of Nonnus’ Christological terminology has so far no explanation except a guess that “[t]he main reason for this choice is probably poetic metre.”[6]

This terminology of the Gospel paraphrase has, I think, its own conceptual background in opposing to the perverse androgyny of the god Dionysus of another Nonnus’ poem, Διονυσιακά, and of the corresponding late Roman cult of Dionysus. Probably, even the apparent correspondence of the names between Dionysus and Dionysius is not a mere coincidence.[7]

In its turn, Διονυσιακά touches the topic of “god male” in its own way. In canticle XX the poem describes a war between Dionysus and some Lycurgus. Unlike Homeric myths on the rivalry between Dionysus and Lycurgus, this Lycurgus is a ruler in “Arabia” (not Thrace); his capital is Arabian Nysa, that is, Scythopolis. Long ago, on the ground of Greek and Nabatean inscriptions found in the lands of the ancient Nabatean kingdom, this Arabian Lycurgus has been identified with Arabian god Šica al-Qaum (šyc’lqwm), “guide of troop” (or maybe “leader of the people”), god “who does not drink wine,” according to one Nabatean inscription.[8] Recently, Jan Retsö continued this identification of Šica al-Qaum and Lycurgus by adding Theandrites as the third name of the same god. Retsö considers the whole story in Nonnus as having historical background in the competition between two groups of Arabian tribes within the Nabatean kingdom, one of them being wine-drinkers and another one teetotallers.[9]

The word “Theandrites” is never mentioned in Nonnus, however. Nevertheless, it was well-known to John of Scythopolis, whose town Scythopolis/Nysa was, in Nonnus’ Διονυσιακά, the capital of Lycurgus/Theandrites. Thus, the rivalry between Dionysus and Lycurgus has some parallel in contraposition of “theandric” Christ and Theandrites in John of Scythopolis’ scholion.

All this is of importance anyway, at least, as an additional link between the Corpus Dionysiacum and John of Scythopolis, on the one hand, and Nonnus, on the other. For the reasons explained above this indicates the direction of Eudocia’s circle in our search of the author of the Corpus. In a sense, the closer to Nonnus, the closer to Peter the Iberian.

Be that as it may, it is clear that Dionysius’ idea of God as “male” and the corresponding term “theandric energy” has its conceptual (Christological) precedent in the poetry of the Gospel paraphrase.

Let us recall that the Christology of the Gospel paraphrase has strong anti-Nestorian overtones, and its exegesis is depending on Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentaries on the Gospel of John.[10] Therefore, this text was conceptually close to the milieu of Dionysius.

[1] G. Heil, A. M. Ritter, Corpus Dionysiacum II: Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De coelesti hierarchia, de ecclesiastica hierarchia, de mystica theologia, epistulae (Berlin, 1991) (Patristische Texte und Studien, 36) 161.

[2] PG 4, 536 A.

[3] See Saffrey, Un lien objectif entre le Pseudo-Denys et Proclus, and the whole series of Saffrey’s studies on Dionysius.

[4] Pace Griffith, Neo-Platonism and Christianity..., 241.

[5] A. Scheindler, Nonni Panopolitani Paraphrasis S. Evangelii Ioannei (Lipsiae, 1881) (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana) 5 and 12–13, correspondingly. The recent critical edition was unavailable to me: C. De Stefani, Nonno di Panapoli, Parafrasi del Vangelo di S. Giovanni. Canto I. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e commento (Bologna, 2002) (Eikasmós – Studi, 6).

[6] A. Grillmeier with Th. Hainthaler, Christ in Christian Tradition. Vol. 2/4. The Church of Alexandria with Nubia and Ethiopia after 451. Tr. O. C. Dean Jr (London/Luisville, KY, 1996) 98.

[7] Cf., on these topics, Lourié 2001. On perversions in the Διονυσιακά, see especially R. Newbold, Fear of Sex in Nonnus’ Dionysiaka, Electronic Antiquity 4.2 (1998) 1–15 [online]. For a more general context, cf. D. Lyons, Gender and Immortality: Heroines in Ancient Greek Myth and Cult (Princeton, 1996), esp. 69–133 (ch. 3–4); H. Jeanmaire, Dionysos: Histoire du culte de Bacchus (Paris, 1951) 417–482; A. Henrichs, Changing Dionysiac Identities, in: B. F. Meyer, E. P. Sanders (eds.), Jewish and Christian Self-definition. Vol. 3: Self-Definition in the Graeco-Roman World (London, 1982) 137–160, 213–236. Cf. also F. R. Trombley, Hellenic Religion and Christianisation, c. 370—529 (Leiden/New York/Koln, 1993) (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 115/1, 2).

[8] R. Dussaud, Les Arabes en Syrie avant l’Islam (Paris, 1907) 153–156.

[9] J. Retsö, The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads (London, 2003) 610–614, 620–621. I owe this reference to Carlos A. Segovia, to whom I express my deep gratitude.

[10] Grillmeier with Hainthaler, Christ in Christian Tradition…, 95–99.


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