Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.8
January 15, 2011
From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 756 A – 757 A.
Chapter Eight. That these visions and theophanies have been sacredly effected in no other way than by means of the angelic powers.
The great Dionysius says in chapter four of his Celestial Hierarchy:
These, then, are those who, primarily and multifariously, participate in the divine, and, primarily and multifariously, manifest the divinely primordial hiddenness. Wherefore, beyond all others, they are deemed preeminently worthy of the appellation ‘angelic,’ since the divinely primordial illumination comes to them at first hand, and, through them, there pass to us the manifestations which are above us. Thus, then, the law, as theology affirms, was given to us through the ministration of angels (Acts 7:53); and angels led our illustrious fathers, both before the law and after the law, towards the divine, either by introducing them to what was to be done, and converting them from error and an unholy life to the straight way of truth, or else by making known to them sacred ordinances, or hidden visions of supermundane mysteries, or so as to interpret certain divine predictions. But if any one should say that divine manifestations were made directly and immediately to some holy men, let him learn, and learn clearly from the most holy oracles, that no one has seen or shall ever see that which is hidden of Almighty God as it is in itself. But divine showings were made to sainted men as befits manifestations of God, that is, through certain sacred visions, proportionately adapted to those who would see them. Now all-wise theology fittingly calls ‘theophany’ that particular vision which, by elevating the beholders to the divine, manifests the divine similitude, a similitude depicted as though sketched in itself in a shaping of things shapeless, since through it a divine illumination comes to the beholders, and something of things divine themselves undergoes sacred initiation. But our illustrious fathers were initiated into these divine visions through the mediation of the heavenly powers.
[1.8.1] Ps.-Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia 4.2-3; PG 3, 180 A-C.
Furthermore, the great Athanasius says:
The angels take on various forms, for whatever purpose the Lord God wills; and they appear in that fashion to those who are worthy, and reveal to them divine mysteries.
[1.8.2] Ps.-Athanasius in quæstionibus ad Antiochum (passage not yet found).
From these things it can be clearly seen that a vision, a similitude, and an apparition of God represent the same thing; it also follows from this that such similitudes are formed by the mediation of angels who are clothed in forms in order to do God’s bidding.