Stephen bar Sudaili, the Syrian mystic, and the book of Hierotheos

Frothingham F. Stephen bar Sudaili, the Syrian mystic, and the book of Hierotheos. -1886

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73 peril he runs, is evident from the oft-repeated injunction, under
the severest penalties, not to disclose the mysteries of the book
before //impure minds” (i. e. orthodox). Both the pretended
Syrian translator in his introduction, and Theodosios in his
commentary, reiterate this caution most emphatically. This
secrecy is the keynote to the method of teaching of the
Book of Hierotheos, and the assurance that the doctrines
would not pass beyond the circle of the initiated explains
the boldness of the language. We now see not only the
reason for the scarcity of copies and for the difficulty in
obtaining one, but also why the book occupied so excep¬
tional a position. We could hardly expect to find any general acquaintance
with a work the knowledge and use of which was kept
confined as much as possible to the narrow circle of esote¬
ric mystics: even if inimical hands, attracted by vague re¬
ports, sought to obtain possession of it, they must have
been generally baffled by the discretion and secrecy of the
initiated, who were familiar with the anathemas launched
against all disclosers of Us mystical doctrines. Theodosios
himself, however, leads us to conclude that before his time
a number of theologians had commentated the work, but
he omits to mention any of them by name. It is possible
that he refers, among others, to Kyriakos and John ofOara,
whom we have already quoted. This is all the more prob¬
able, because he speaks of these theologians as objecting to
Hierotheos’ doctrine of the redemption of the hell-sphere,
which is precisely what Kyriakos and John of Dara do.