Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mysticism: Nicholas of Cusa, De Deo Abscondito

Pagan: Can He be named?
Christian: What can be named is small. That whose greatness cannot be conceived remains ineffable.
Pagan: But is He ineffable?
Christian: He is not ineffable, though He is beyond all things effable; for He is the Cause of all nameable things.
How is it, then, that He Himself, who gives to others a name, is without a name?
Pagan: So He is both effable and ineffable.
Christian: Not that either. For God is not the foundation of contradiction but is Simplicity, which is prior to every foundation. Hence, we are also not to say that He is both effable and ineffable.
Pagan: What, then, will you say of Him?
Christian: That it is neither the case that He is named or is not named nor the case that He both is named and is not named. Rather, whatever can be said disjunctively or conjunctively, whether consistently or contradictorily, does not befit Him (because of the excellence of His infinity), so that He is the one Beginning, which is prior to every thought formable of it.


Pagan: Is God Truth?
Christian: No. Yet He precedes all truth.
Pagan: Is He other than truth?
Christian: No. For otherness cannot befit Him. But in an infinitely excellent way He is prior to whatever is conceived and named by us as truth.
Pagan: Don't you [Christians] name God God?
Christian: We do.
Pagan: [In so doing,] are you saying what is true or saying what is false?
Christian: Neither the one nor the other nor both. For we do not call true the statement that “God” is His name; nor do we call that statement false, for it is not false that “God” is His name. Nor do we say that the statement is both true and false, since His simplicity precedes both all nameable things and all unnameable things.
Pagan: Why do you [Christians] use the name “God” of Him whose name you do not know?
Christian: Because of a similarity of perfection.


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