The Depth of Unknowing

Or, How to (Un)Know God according to Pseudo-Dionysius and Raimon Panikkar




Pseudo-Dionysius, agnōsia, Raimon Panikkar, apophatic, cataphatic, mystical theology, experience of God


What is the relevance of the sixth-century writings attributed to Dionysius of Areopagite or Pseudo-Dionysius for twenty-first-century Christianity? This article is an inquiry into the notion of divine unknowability within the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus. As a thinker who lived in an era in which great disputations over cardinal doctrines of the church had become passé, Pseudo-Dionysius seemed to have creatively used different concepts and phrases than those great thinkers before him. For Dionysius, the way to know God is to unknow (agnōsia) God, for God cannot be the object of human knowledge—God is beyond being. To posit God as being or to be existent means, therefore, idolatry, since God is that which cannot be grasped by words or human concepts. To assess this apophatic theology of Pseudo-Dionysius, I shall make use of the thinking of Raimon Panikkar who struggles against Western “strict monotheism.” Finally, I shall demonstrate the implications of the doctrine of the unknowability of God vis-à-vis modern debates on the existence of God and on atheism.


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Author Biography

Nindyo Sasongko, Seattle University, School of Theology and Ministry

Nindyo Sasongko is a Mennonite minister on special assignment from Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia Kudus (GKMI Kudus), now pursuing a graduate degree in transforming spirituality at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle, Washington, USA.


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2014-12-30 — Updated on 2014-12-30

How to Cite

Sasongko, N. (2014). The Depth of Unknowing: Or, How to (Un)Know God according to Pseudo-Dionysius and Raimon Panikkar. Indonesian Journal of Theology, 2(2), 100-118.