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Contexts of Colet and Dionysius

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Chapter Summary

The present edition focuses on Colet's commentary on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy because it includes, along with much else, expansive digressions from and adaptations of the source, and these reveal many of the writer's perspectives on religion and sixteenth-century culture, in connection to the foundations of the Tudors and their intellectual, political, and religious efforts at outreach to and alienation from the continent. It provides evidence of Colet's fascination with the strangeness of Dionysius's apophatic and cataphatic methods, as well as the Dionysian hermeneutic, hierarchies, and rituals. It also demonstrates Colet's acceptance of essential principles relating to divine order and action and significant alterations and adaptations of Dionysius's hierarchic structures and dynamic principles. Colet's reading of Dionysius, which requires fixing one's mind at once on Christian ideals and on the realities of an earthly church, stands apart from the medieval scholastic, contemplative, and Neoplatonic traditions that preceded it.

Keywords: Colet; Dionysius; Ecclesiastical Hierarchy; Neoplatonic traditions



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