(I lim 6; 16). "['Iiis unapproachable light not oiiK indicates Cni¿\ i i-i 11 11 i te glory hut also protects God's absolute tnelïability.

I 1111 : i ill is lí i : i J n I 111 l'i. 111,l . 1.1 i-t_ L j i i" 11.. llit; im i -, i 11 i I i 1 y of God finds ¡en place in the myxiigal 11.1 : L i i ii n: The invisible, immortal, and i ncorn-prehcnsiblc God is above oil form and even imagining. Those who wtuild wish ki meditate on the nature of i îod must empty their minds of all image.1; m even propositions through a prints of ne^alion ki- m1 ■ ,-ih apophatii theology, In the late fourth century, for instance, Evagrius : I Purl tun (345-399 i .J-..) deve I [] ped ihese leaçhinjjs in lu .i I arm rif spirituality, and, along with othei j-.^L-. t-- of an Origenist theology he emphasized the nonsubslantiality and utter unknowability oi (he . >mne nature In his Chapters on Prayer he gives directions! "When you .lu1 praying du I.in11 the Divinty I".k^.- snttc nnflge fnrmed within yourself. Avoid also allem n'.g your spirit to be Impressed with the seal ut Mime patticular shape, but rather, fret from ¿II mailer, draw near ihe immatej ial Being and you vt ill attain to understanding.1'" By keeping the mind free oí aoy image leven metaphorical) foi God, Evagrlus believed that the :ium.n: spirit ¿|ho was kept free of misleading concepts or finite figures, which would trap the hujinaji soul in ,-. materialistic deadend.

This gradual freeing of ^hç mim! limn ihe image i-i order lo und ei ■ stand mystically the invisibility or incomprehensibility of i îod con tin u-L'd ut oLcupv ¿i central place in Christian theoliv, and spiritual practice through the fifth century. Scriptural exegesis oí the visions and appearances of i lud also shored up an ''orthodox' position on the knowability of ( Îod ill slkIi writers as thelklorçl ci I Cyrus in ihe mid fifth ccntury, rhe idea would reach .i kind of high point at the beginning o I ihc sisth tentury in the writings of Dionysius the ^reopagite ( Pseudo-I J i ■ ■ 11v -.i lis- i. w I has beeil dencrihed a.n a npi ritual heir t>l both t !re^ciry >>l Nyssa and Evagrius as well .is Philo).*

h: hit treatise Myi ff caí í'heúlúg} the authoi .iKm presents Miacs asa protoiy^ >>l the one who attains a vision ol í rod by lirsl seeing t rod in tarlhly rnanifuslalitinh bul lin.iily ascending intn the Vh-.iJ ■ ■ r unknowing' on Sinai.' I he one who wishes to know <)od i-. ad\ ised to emulate \loses' protest gradually negating; all possible deügripi ions, affirmations, names, oí attributes assigned to the Divine One (cata i vi .i i i L iheuk^y), sincc -ili these are ultimately only human and limited constructions that fall r.'i ^ l of the truth. Al the beginning, however, tbeaulhoi assign.1; an inilial valut to images nr visible sym-IV-Is. which H'fit as the first step nn the 11Lfiier o-' -iseent i■ ward higher awareness (b) negating all these images or attributes}, until one finally iranscends pertept i ble qualities and arrives ,ii a mystical vision of and Uilioil Willi i- ¡ ud. In another treatise fDivine Nttmcs}, lie summarises i hi- w; i y i haï a neckc r p rt]( ccí I s from then cgat ion of the | v reep i i ble .i n d ihen the conceptual, fir all) to arrive at I he invisible:

On no therefore is it irui losay ttet wekno^ Cotl. iI-.--I incked in Hi-

nature (for that is unknowable, and is beyond jny reason ant' understand-in g), but by the order ail ihingj Lhat Hi hi* (iubliihed, Hid whith heart . er tain images and lifceni&ses of I lis divim- paradigms. we l-ikI siepby itep,

.vi l.i: j$ we l.1". fallow iht way, im the TVansccndcnt, nesting I tran l nding everything .i:\lI seeking the cause- of .ilLjr f i■■ r I Jionysius, this process is an anagogical one, in which the symbols or images that humans apply to God that are u>c:ul at the start of the ascent must be finally abandoned. At last, the mystic comes lo meet (. lod at the pn In 11hat all words or i magesh l'ven i l, are gone, and the se !_■ k.l1 i , like Moses, enters the silence ■■it unknowing.

The Art thro pomorphite Controversy

However, minds Jo not eradicate images easily, especially when the thinking process itself calls forth images constandy. Resistance to conceiving oc God in an anthropomorphic tor in belongs to 'he spiritually adept aod aware, ml]I 110I easily 1o IJil1 general population. Furthermore^ Scriptu re itsel f seems to e ncou r j gi" li ch v i s li a I i/a t ion In tli e la te ft >u r t h and early hi 111n centuries, certain anti-Origenist (and also anti-Evagrian) groups among Egyptian monks and Syrian followers of a certain Audius posited a corporeal and anthropomorphic understanding of God's appearance, following the test of Gen 1:26-27 {"I et m make humankind in our image, according to our likeness ...":. According ti> iJil1 (.Ihristian historian Soerales 3flQ-4pQ), iJic imri caused much strife and contention; one group (the "more simple ascetics1*) favored the opinion that God is corporeal and has a human form, while another Contended rh.Li tjisd i\ incorporeal and free rr^m .lU form whatsoever Socrates reported that Bishop rheophilus of Alexandria (384-412) inveighed against those who held rhc anthropomorphite position, expressly teaching that the Divine is incorporeal, a position that, when it reached the ears of the ''simple Egyptian monksj," emptied out rhi-monasteries as they rushed to Alexandria to protest, accusing the bishop lit impiety and threatening to put him death,0

This dispute got entangled in the larger Origenist controversy partly beca lise 1 hese monks demanded a condemnation of < >r i gi-o s i r i t li.lI -iiing" theology, and I'heophilus could not afford toaJienate them, In tin." meantime, he may actually have saved his own ^kiji and pacified the angry crowd by :L"]]i[iu the monks L'!ri seeing \-l>h I behold the 1'jc-l-of (iod."Ji hin wink, enemies of ()rigenist theology may have sought "anthropomorphite" support for their condemnation Origens generally negative position on ihe human body. The monks, however, were iE E I KG TH E DIVISE

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