One chapter is entitled "THE ' BOOK OF THE HIDDEN MYSTERIES BY HIEROTHEOS."
The drama of a secret book, jealously guarded by the Dionysians, which has a fuller version of the commonly released doctrine that went under the name Dionysius the Aeropagite, seems quite a bit - not exactly but yet rather similarly - what 'Clement of Alexandria' is made to say about Secret Mark in the Letter of Theodore....
Who the writer of the famous treatises on Mystic Theology, on the Divine and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies and on Divine Names, and of the nine Letters, [who took the name Dionysius the Areopagite,] actually was, we shall perhaps never know. For scholars of the history of the evolution of dogma, however, he had a long line of predecessors ; while for himself he emphatically acknowledges his special debt to one of them in his own peculiar way. Thus he proclaims as his master and teacher, next after Paul, a certain Hierotheos, of whom he speaks in the very highest terms as an illuminate. This Hierotheos, he tells us, had written books of the greatest value; indeed he refers to these writings as inspired Logia second only to the scriptures. Of these works he explicitly mentions two by title — namely a collection of ecstatic hymns and a book on the elements of theology, and from the latter he quotes textually. These quoted passages are evidently the product of an independent mind of high attainment and marked individuality. They cannot possibly be dismissed as inventions of the Dionysian writer himself ; he is only too eager to praise them and to draw a marked distinction between them and his own work. The writings of Hierotheos, he says, are ' solid food ' intended for mature minds, that is for the perfect, whereas his own compositions are in a subordinate category; they are milk for babes, instruction for " newly-initiated souls.'' " Therefore," he continues, " do I assign this teacher of perfect and mature intelligences unto those who are above the crowd, as second scriptures (lit. oracles) analogous to those divinely inspired."
This clearly suggests that the writings of Hierotheos were never in general circulation but were kept withdrawn among the ' perfect.' It further suggests that in all probability these writings contained what the general Church would have condemned as heretical. If, as has been supposed, the Dionysiana are the product of a school and not of an individual, that school possessed a body of ' withdrawn ' writings ascribed to Hierotheos from which it drew its chief inspiration.
Who then is this mysterious Hierotheos, the supposed hearer of Paul and the first bishop of Athens, of whom history knows nothing prior to the appearance of the Dionysian documents? Speculation has been rife, but of the few bearers of the name known to us none is in any way suitable. Hierotheos is, like Dionysius, in high probability a pseudonym.
Now of the two Books of Hierotheos referred to by Dionysius no further mention or trace is known in history. There is, however, both mention and trace of another work ascribed to Hierotheos. We know of a Book of Hierotheos which was said by some to have been forged by a certain Stephen Bar Sudaili. This Stephen was a Syrian mystic of Edessa, who flourished at the beginning of the sixth century, when he was bitterly attacked by an orthodox Bishop of Mabug for his heretical opinions, the most obnoxious of which was that of the noneternity of hell; in brief that all, including the very demons themselves, would ultimately be saved. This doctrine of universal salvation was by no means new, we are glad to say, but was in the line of tradition of Origenistic optimism and prior even to Origen himself ; and as a matter of fact Stephen while he lived at Jerusalem was in an Origenistic monastery. Two centuries later on, this same Stephen is said by Kyriakos, Patriarch of Antioch (793-817), to have been ' probably ' the writer of a certain Book of Hierotheos ; while John Bishop of Dara, who was well acquainted with the Dionysian writings, makes the same accusation about the same date, on the ground that the book teaches that there is to be an end to condemnation.
I had, however, no idea that any work claiming to be by Hierotheos [mentioned in the works of Pseudo-Dionysius] was actually in existence, until chance brought into my hands a copy of a monograph of 111 pages, by A. L. Frothingham, Jr., and printed by Brill, of Leyden, in 1886 ;* it is entitled Stephen Bar Budaili and the Book of Hierotheos. Beyond a bibliographical reference in Herzog, I have not been able to discover that any notice has been taken of this instructive study.
The special interest of Mr. Frothingham's essay is that among the Syriac treasures of the British Museum he found the unique MS. of a work ascribed to Hierotheos, together with an extensive commentary upon it by Theodosios, Jacobite (and presumably Monophysite) Patriarch of Antioch (877-896). This Book of Hierotheos seems to have been jealously withheld from circulation, for Theodosios tell us that he and his friend Lazaros, Bishop of Kyros, had experienced the greatest difficulty in procuring a copy. They had searched for it high and low, desiring to take it as their guide, from what they had heard of it. Here, then, we have a high dignitary of the Syrian Church — who though of incomplete orthodoxy, as judged by the general Church, was yet by no means a scandalous heretic — holding the Book of Hierotheos in the highest veneration. Not only so, but three centuries later, Gregory Bar Hebraeus, the Monophysite Patriarch of the thirteenth century, who in his earlier writings had repeated from Kyriakos the accusation that the Book of Hierotheos was a forgery by Stephen Bar Sudaili, is loud in its praise, when later on, and again after great difficulty, he obtained a copy of the Book itself. Curiously enough this very same thirteenth century MS. in the British Museum is the actual copy of the commentary of Theodosios that Gregory used for the purpose of making a compendium or rather a rehash of the Hierothean document, to which he now refers as ' the Book of the illustrious, wise and learned Hierotheos a ' great and wonderful' work, Gregory has evidently entirely abandoned the idea of its being a forgery by Stephen.
Nevertheless, Mr. Frothingham still maintains that it was. He bases his contention mainly on the similarity of some of the ideas in a book of Stephen's (which was bitterly attacked by his contemporary Mar Xenaias, Bishop of Mabūg, in a still extant letter) to some of the ideas in the Book of Hierotheos. It is, however, quite evident from the quotations of the Bishop, who had the book of Bar Sudaili before him, that Stephen's book was not the Book of Hierotheos which is known to us. Moreover, the Bishop characterises Stephen's style as contemptible, while Mr. Frothingham himself admits that the style of the Book of Hierotheos is admirable. Further, if the Book of Hierotheos was a forgery by Stephen we should expect to find him attempting to authenticate it by incorporating the Dionysian quotations, or at least to find his forgery in some way dependent on the writings of Dionysius ; but this is by no means the case. The Book of Hierotheos is the work of an original and independent mind. This even Mr. Frothingham himself has to admit when he writes :
" The intellectual position of the two minds is entirely different : Pseudo-Hierotheos is a simple monk whose thought is entirely distinct from any philosophical system, claiming direct vision, drawing his theories from his own consciousness [he professes to have more than once attained to the highest point of mystic union with the Good] , and expressing them with great naiveté and freshness; it is the divine seer, and not the philosophic genius who speaks. On reading his book we feel it to be the genuine outpouring of a strongly-excited religious imagination, and the work of an original mind, but of no eclectic or imitator."
This, we may note, is precisely the characteristic of the writings of Hierotheos on which Dionysius insists. The above estimate, however, has to be somewhat modified, for no seer can be really independent of his environment or of tradition. As we might expect, we find in the Book of Hierotheos reminiscences of ideas from the schools of Alexandria both Christian and Pagan, echoes of Gnosticism and of Babylonian and Persian conceptions of cosmology and soteriology ; all, however, is " marshalled into a perfectly symmetrical and harmonious whole, in subordination to the ideal peculiar to Hierotheos himself."
Taking everything into consideration, then, we see no reason why this Book may not just as well be one of the Hierothean writings of the ' solid food ' order, referred to by Dionysius, as a later forgery by Stephen Bar Sudaili. This of course leads us to expect in any case that its contents would be heretical; but they need not on that account be any less interesting, at any rate for those who prefer the flight of the mystic to the pedestrian gait of the systematisers, who would reduce all illumination to the dead level of common terms and stereotyped notions.
Though Mr. Frothingham promised us twenty seven years ago a full translation of this interesting document, he has so far, unfortunately, not fulfilled his promise. We have, therefore, to be content with his version of a few only of the more salient passages, and for the rest with a summary which is by no means easy to follow. The work consists of five books, and the whole is entitled ' The Book of the Holy Hierotheos on the Hidden Mysteries of Divinity (lit. of the House of God),' The major part of it-is a veritable epic of, the soul setting, forth the mystical stages of the ascent of the mind or spirit to the Supreme, in a series of ' vivid pictures ' of spiritual combat, of which we will now attempt to indicate the salient features ; though, unfortunately, their vividness has already largely disappeared in Mr. Frothingham's summary.
I thought this might be of interest to both Andrew Criddle as well as Stephen Huller. Naturally, if M. Smith was creating a hoax, he would find a nice obscure model like this to use as a source of inspiration. To bad Hierotheos doesn't mention naked initiations ...
Stop the presses! Here it is, at chapter end (no pun intended):
The writer of the Book of Hierotheos draws a distinction between union with Christ and commingling with the Arch-Good. The latter consummation Mr. Frothingham translates as ' absorption,' though he admits that he has no support for this rendering from the lexicons. Christ is then the name of ' our union ' ; but there is a state that transcends even this ; to it no name can be given. It is, therefore, not very helpful to translate it by ' absorption,' for there is, as we have seen, a new creation; and mystically this renovation is an eternal process.
Such are the ' speculations ' of the seer who wrote the Book of Hierotheos. Judged by the standard of Patristic theology they are of course heretical ; they go far beyond any doctrine taught by the orthodox. It is, however, by no means improbable that documents of this nature were known to the writer of the Dionysian tractates, who explicitly admits that he adapted the teachings of Hierotheos to the capacity of newly-initiated souls. This means in plain words that in his own expositions he endeavoured to keep more within the limits of the ordinary and orthodox. In this he succeeded so well that, as we have seen, he has been accepted as orthodox by Latin theology. But the true charm of ' Dionysius ' does not flow from his orthodoxy. That element to which he chiefly owed his charm was to be found more nakedly in the writings of Hierotheos. We might even go further than this and say that, at present, we can see no insurmountable objection to considering ' The Book of the Hidden Mysteries of the House of God ' precisely such a document as allows us a far more extended view into the mind of the more intimate circle of ' Hierotheos,' than does the unsatisfactory glimpse afforded by the few quotations from ' Hierotheos ' in the Dionysian writings for the ' newly-initiated.
*https://ia802702.us.archive.org/33/item ... argoog.pdf
PS: Stephen, have you been secretly reading Mead?