Thursday, September 22, 2005

Primordial Roots of Divine Innominability in Lactantius

The Christian predecessors of Lactantius chiefly taught him that God is anonymous. Although these believers more than likely participated in refining the Lactantian tendency to envision God as nameless, however, it appears prudent to essay the suggestion that Lactantius discovered evidential backing for his innominability doctrine in the quasi-theopneustic writings of Hermes: "And that no one might inquire His name, he said that He was without name, and that on account of His very unity He does not require the peculiarity of a name. These are Trismegistus' words: 'God is one, and what is one needs no name. He that is is nameless' " (Divine Institutes 1.6.4).

The corpus attributed to the divine messenger of Zeus asserts that since God is unique and self-existent, he does not need a proper designation. The Hermetica contends that one does not have to distinguish a sui generis existent from other lesser existents. The Most High deity is not a genus or class, early pagan and Christian writers contend, because he is singular (exclusively a se esse), whereas other conditioned beings are ab alio. Early Christians routinely affirmed that the Most High being is limitless or unconditioned, in some sense: he qualitatively transcends the finite created order of sensory phenomena. Moreover, ancient theologians write that no finite existent or socially constructed lexis is able to define God. Lactantius maintains in like manner that God the Father has no peculiar name, nor is he obliged to possess one. He professes belief in God the anonymous, a supernatural being who is the innominable Father and Maker of all.

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