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The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite, tr. by John Parker, [1897], at


Concerning Holy of Holies, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, God of Gods.


BUT since whatever we have to say on these matters has reached, in my opinion, a fitting conclusion, we must sing Him of endless names, both p. 120 as Holy of Holies and King of Kings; and as ruling eternity and for ever and beyond, and as Lord of Lords, and God of Gods. And first we must say, what we think Holiness Itself is; and what Kingdom, and what Lordship, and what Divinity, and what the Oracles wish to denote by the duplication of the names.


Holiness then is (so far as we can say) the purity free from every pollution, and all perfect, and altogether unstained; Kingdom is the assignment of every limit and order, and ordinance and rank; and Lordship is not only the superiority over the worse, but also the perfect possession, in. every respect, of the Beautiful and Good; and a true and unswerving stability. Wherefore Lordship is parallel to τὸ Κῦρος καί κύριον, καὶ τὸ κυριστῶν 56 ; and Deity is the Providence watching over all, and with perfect goodness both circumscribing and grasping all, and filling with Itself, and surpassing all things which enjoy Its forethought.


These things, then, must be sung absolutely, respecting the Cause surpassing all, and we must add that It surpasses Holiness, and Lordship, and Kingdom, and most simplex 57 Deity. For, from It, p. 121 individually and collectively, were born and distributed every untarnished distinctness of every spotless purity, the whole arrangement and regulation of things existing, whilst It excludes want of harmony and want of equality, and want of symmetry, and rejoices over the well-ordered identity and rectitude, and leads round things, deemed worthy to participate in Itself. From It is all the perfect and complete possession of all. good things, every good forethought, watching and sustaining the objects of Its forethought, imparting Itself, as befits Its goodness, for deification of those who are turned to It.


But since the Cause of all is super-full of all, as beseems the One superfluity which surpasses all, He is sung as Holy of Holies and the rest, as beseems an overflowing Cause, and a towering Pre-eminence. As one might say, so far as the things which are,--holy or divine, or lordly, or kingly,--surpass the things which are not, and the self-existent participations, their participants; to such an extent is seated above all things that be, He Who is above all things that be, and the unparticipating Cause of all the participants and the participations. But Holy and Kings and Lords and Gods, the Oracles call the higher orders in each, through whom the inferior in participating the gifts from God, multiply the simplicity of their distribution around their own diversities, the variety of which, the superior p. 122 orders carefully and divinely collect to their own Oneness.


120:56 The rendering of which may be, the lordly, and the lordlier, and the lordliest.

120:57 Letter 2.

Next: Caput XIII.