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'''Apophatic theology''' - also known as '''
Negative theology''' or '''''Via Negativa''''' (Latin for "Negative Way") - is a [[theology]] that attempts to describe [[God]] by negation, to speak of God only in terms of what may be said about God and to avoid what may not be said. In brief, the attempt is to gain and express knowledge of God by describing what God is ''not'' ([[ apophasis]] ), rather than by describing what God '' is'' . The apophatic tradition is often allied with or expressed in tandem with the approach of [[ mysticism]] . In negative theology, it is recognized that we can never truly define God in words. All that can be done is to say, it isn't this, but also, it isn't that either". In the end, the student must transcend words to understand the nature of the Divine. In this sense, negative theology is not a denial. Rather, it is an assertion that whatever the Divine may be, when we attempt to capture it in human words, we must inevitably fall short.
==Apophatic description of God==
Even though the ''via negativa'' essentially rejects theological understanding as a path to God, some have sought to make it into an intellectual exercise, by describing God only in terms of what he is not. One problem noted with this approach, is that there seems to be no fixed basis on deciding what God is not.
In the Christian tradition==
One of the first to articulate the theology in [[Christianity]] was the [[Apostle Paul]] whose reference to the Unknown God in the book of Acts (Acts 17:23) is the foundation of works such as that of [[Pseudo Dionysius]]. This is as Pseudo Dionysius so describes. Exemplars of the ''via negativa'', the [[Cappadocian Fathers]] of the [[4th century]] said that they believed in God, but they did not believe that God exists. In contrast, making positive statements about the nature of God, which occurs in most other forms of Christian theology, is sometimes called '[[kataphatic theology]]'. Adherents of the apophatic tradition hold that God is beyond the limits of what humans can understand, and that one should not seek God by means of intellectual understanding, but through a direct experience of the love (in Western Christianity) or the [[Energies of God|Energies]] (in Eastern Christianity) of God. Apophatic theology can be also seen as an oral tradition. "It must also be recognized that "forgery" is a modern notion. Like Plotinus and the Cappadocians before him, Dionysius does not claim to be an innovator, but rather a communicator of a tradition." [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pseudo-dionysius-areopagite/]