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The Celestial Hierarchy by Dionysius the Areopagite

I'm curious, why doesn't this page follow St Dionysius the Areopagite or else discuss the varriations between the Fathers? Here is what St Dionysius says:

- Above these (the angels) they place the choirs of Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, and those other beings who are acknowledged by the traditional scriptural teachings to be of higher rank. (Chapter 5)

- Theology has given to the Celestial Beings nine interpretative names, and among these our divine initiator distinguishes three threefold Orders. In the first rank of all he places those who, as we are told, dwell eternally in the constant presence of God, and cleave to Him, and above all others are immediately united to Him. And he says that the teachings of the holy Word testify that the most holy Thrones and many-eyed and many-winged ones, named in the Hebrew tongue Cherubim and Seraphim, are established immediately about God and nearest to Him above all others. Our venerable hierarch describes this threefold Order as a co-equal unity, and truly the most exalted of the Hierarchies, the most fully Godlike, and the most closely and immediately united to the First Light of the Godhead.

The second, he says, contains the Powers, Virtues and Dominions, and the last and lowest choirs of the Celestial Intelligences are called Angels, Archangels and Principalities. (Chapter 6)

--Ryan Close 16:48, October 8, 2014 (PDT)

There is an apparent disagreement concerning the order and the names of the ranks of the Second Angelic Hierarchy. In the Celestial Hierarchy, Chapter 5, St Dionysius the Areopagite writes:
Above these [i.e. the angels] they place the choirs of (8) Archangels, (7) Principalities, (6) Powers, (5) Virtues, and those other beings who are acknowledged by the traditional scriptural teachings to be of higher rank.
and in Chapter 6 he writes:
The second, he says, contains the (6) Powers, (5) Virtues, and (4) Dominions. . .
However in the Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Chapter 3, St John of Damascus writes:
Dionysius the Areopagite, says, All theology, that is to say, the holy Scripture, has nine different names for the heavenly essences. . . The second group is that of the (4) Dominions, and the (5) Powers, and the (6) Authorities. . .
But in reality St John is quoting St Dionysius. So why do they seem to disagree? The difference has to do with how the original Greek words were translated into Latin and then English.
In fact a single text can represent this discrepancy between various volumes. Take the passage we have already seen as translated from the Greek:
The second, he says, contains the (6) Authorities, (5) Powers, and (4) Dominions. . .
and now from the Latin:
The second, he says, contains the (6) Powers, (5) Virtues, and (4) Dominions. . .
Reconciling the two sets of lists can be done in this manner.
The fifth order is the "Dynameos / Dynameon / Dynameis" which is translated directly into English as "Powers." When translating the Greek into Latin, in the Vulgate for instance, the word becomes "Virtutem / Virtutibus" which is in turn translated into English as "Virtue."
For example, in Eph 1:21 where the Greek text reads "Dynameos" the Vulgate reads "Virtutem" and in 1Pe 3:22 where the Greek text reads "Dynameon" the Vulgate reads "Virtutibus." The Latin influenced way of naming the orders, such that the fifth order is named "Virtues," is what we find in the English translations of the Bible such as the Duoi Remis and other Latin theological works such as St Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.
Likewise, the sixth order is the "Exousias / Exousiai / Exousion" which can also be translated into English as "Powers" but is typically translated as "Authorities." When translating the Greek into Latin the word becomes "Potestatem / Potestates / Potestatibus" which is in turn translated into English as "Powers." The two words are complementary in phrases such as "the powers that be" which means "authorities."
For example, in Eph 1:21 where the Greek text reads "Exousias" the Vulgate reads "Potestatem" and in Col 1:16 where the Greek text reads "Exousiai" the Vulgate reads "Potestates." Since the word "Powers" has not already been used to translate the name of the fifth order, as it would be in translations directly from Greek, it is still available to name the sixth order in translations from Latin or in Latin influenced theological vocabularies.
Therefore, there is no difference or discrepancy between the two lists.
While it may be fitting for Orthodox Christians to use the first list, deriving as it does from the Greek, and agreeing with St John of Damascus, we should be aware that confusions like this one may arise.
As it stands, this article proposes a list that is inconsistent with all ancient authorities and contemporary catechesis. Just look at the sixth order; why isn't Principalities? This article must be updated. And this is what I propose: we should edit this article to reflect the names of the orders as found in the standard English language translation of St Dionysus as from the Greek, which already agrees with the works of St John Damascene, who is only quoting St Dionysus anyway. In fact, this is the order as given in the much better article already found at the oca website, check it out: [1]
--Ryan Close 13:28, October 9, 2014 (PDT)

What category would Angels go under??

--Arlie 14:39, 9 Aug 2005 (EDT)

It seems to me that Category:Saints would be fine, but we might also make a Category:Angels for the articles for the types of angels.
I'm wondering, though, if the various sorts of angels shouldn't all just be included in this one article, with redirects from the various names of angels pointing here. Is there a substantial amount of material for each sort such that it couldn't be included in Angels? —Dcn. Andrew talk random contribs 19:31, 9 Aug 2005 (EDT)

I knew also about the fourth dimension, the fourth element (ancients called it "fire", so it's not the latest in scientific discovery), and the many-many dimensions that string-theory attributes to our Universe, the Dirac matrixes and all that (that's what Discovery Channel's for, after all) ... I just wanted to make a paralel : i.e., just like the image of the family (father, mother, son), or that of the sun (disc, light, heat) are used by the very same apophatical Fathers for the Trinity (without harming the Mistery of the Holy Trinity -- "Eu nu ucid corola de minuni a lumii", to quote my namesake). [P.S. : if anyone doesn't like my comparisson he's got my "blessing" to simply delete it at will]. And there's a fifth element also, namely the state of agregation into which atoms enter when they are at a temperature around 0K (-273.15 centigrade).

No offence taken

Oh, I don't have a problem with the metaphor at all. I think it's quite a nice comparison. I just was afraid that it would be taken too literally. Do you think I went overboard on the science stuff? I think I'll tone it down a bit.

P.S. Plasma is a new discovery, entirely different from fire (though the two could be compared, I suppose). Plasma only exists on the sun or other superheated bodies. Also, I believe that the ancients proposed these elements as components that make up matter, not as different phases of the same substance. Although, really, you're right, the parallels between the four elements and four phases of matter are really pretty amazing. Sorry, I like to be picky and had to object. Don't mind me.Gabriela 21:47, July 27, 2006 (CDT)

Gabriela, "be cool, stay in school" -- You didn't offend or hurt anyone. ("Just relax: that's what Jesus would do" -- well, not quite, but still...) And Your comments were pretty pertinent, very good, and well-written. I had nothing to object to them. (If You want to re-arrange, re-edit, re-phrase, re-write anything, it's perfectly OK {as in Okay, not as in -270cg  :-) }).
P.S.: I knew that we, Orthodox, believe in "one single source", but I think that was meant with regard to the Holy Trinity, not to the Author of The Celestial Hierarchy  :-) -- he wasn't "the only source", as You've put it, that gives us this information. (What about St. Gregory, the Bishop of Rome?) Luci83ro 09:32, July 28, 2006 (CDT)

Sup people Plasma is a new discovery David Bohm and he said that Plasma is every place and to top it off he said the plasma on this side of the world knows what the plasma on the other side is doing. Quantum theory and Bohm-diffusion well look here the limit is called Sub-Quantum-Physics they see it but can't touch it. Look at it this way Act 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

How big is the house that holds Heaven the THRONE with Earth as a footstool

Hmm... Not sure what to say about all of this, especially because there seems to be some piece of discussion missing. Maybe these thoughts need to be more clearly expressed, but personal theories about the meaning of angels don't really have a place here. We're talking about angels in Orthodox theology. — FrJohn (talk)
It seems to me like this user is just saying nonsense for the hell of it, as a strange prank of sorts. On one hand, it seems harmless enough because he's not really defacing the wiki, but it's also rather pointless and annoying. Maybe he should be warned. Gabriela 22:35, October 1, 2006 (CDT)

Am I the user who's saying nonsense for the hell of it? If so, then please forgive me; but I REALLY meant it when I said that ANYONE who doesn't like my additions and/or alterations can feel free to change them, or simply delete them, as he/she pleases. I have really nothing against it.  :( Luci83ro 20:58, October 6, 2006 (CDT)

No, Luci83ro, I didn't mean you at all. I think you've very much contributed to the article. I was talking about the user MIG who posted the above comment on this page: "...he said the plasma on this side of the world knows what the plasma on the other side is doing. Quantum theory and Bohm-diffusion well look here the limit is called Sub-Quantum-Physics they see it but can't touch it...". Anyway, I was just saying that I thought that comment was completely incoherent nonsense. Not you at all. Gabriela 22:48, October 6, 2006 (CDT)
Ok. Now, that's relieving. (Phew!) Luci83ro 06:35, October 7, 2006 (CDT)


Is it possible to get pictures on the different pages of angels? They are short articles, and I think pictures would enhance them. --Iliada 19:07, March 16, 2009 (UTC)

Yes, you might help!Wsk 21:45, March 16, 2009 (UTC)

Ok, I am trying to get some. I just need permission from certain people. --Iliada 00:33, March 17, 2009 (UTC)


It would probably be useful to note the variation in the hierarchies among Orthodox sources as noted here. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 17:16, January 7, 2011 (UTC)

Come to think of it, why don't we just copy that section in the wikipedia article into this orthodoxwiki artcle? xD But personally, I prefer to follow St John of Damascus' order/scheme/hierarchy since he's also the patron saint of orthodoxwiki... furthermore, in the original version of this article back in 2005, the order of the 9 choirs of angels in the Sources and External Links is the same as the order in St John of Damascus' An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, i.e. First Hierarchy (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones), Second Hierarchy (Dominions/Dominations/Lordships, Virtues/Authorities, Powers), Third Hierarchy (Principalities, Archangels, Angels), which is what my edit reflected...---Preciouspearlfan
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