By Valentina Izmirlieva
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Extra resources for All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic
It is common to regard Christianity as a religion of the Word, though to call it “a religion of the Name” might sound like a stretch at first. Yet the status of the name—or the names—of God in the Christian idiom is not like that of any other word. About two thousand years ago, the very first Christian communities chose to define themselves as those “who invoke the name [of the Lord]” (Acts 9:14), a “name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). And since then, the struggle to articulate and sustain a Christian identity has always been entangled with the striving for profession, for confession and confirmation of God’s name.
Dionysius Areopagite in a Greek manuscript of the Areopagite Corpus from the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, fourteenth-fifteenth century, fol. 46v. 322 Greek, the St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai. G chapter two Back to the Sources T o get a more adequate view of the Dionysian synthesis in its immediate intellectual context, it helps to step back and observe the more inclusive landscape of concerns, preoccupations, and practices that constituted over time the Christian theology of divine names.
Thus, on the one hand, the Bible consistently refers to a single name of God that remains mysterious, while, on the other hand, it provides an array of God-terms that are never defined explicitly as his names. 10 What is the name that the Christians worship and confirm? Is it, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, an “ineffable effable,” a tabooed and unknowable singular name? 11 Is God, in other words, revealed to us as essentially anonymous, the One without a proper name? Or is he truly polynomous—a God of many names, and perhaps of every name?