Stăniloae: “The latter [apophatic knowledge] is superior to the former [cataphatic knowledge] because it completes it.”

Dumitru Stăniloae (1903 – 1993) was an Orthodox priest and renowned as an Orthodox theologian, academic, and professor. In addition to commentary on the works of the Church Fathers Maximus the Confessor, Gregory Palamas, and Athanasias, his 1978 masterpiece “The Dogmatic Orthodox Theology” established him as one of the foremost Christian theologians of the later half of the twentieth century.

staniloae“According to patristic tradition, there is a rational or cataphatic knowledge of God, and an apophatic or ineffable knowledge. The latter is superior to the former because it completes it. God is not known in his essence, however, through either of these. We know God through cataphatic knowledge only as creating and sustaining cause of the world, while through apophatic knowledge we gain a kind of direct experience of his mystical presence which surpasses the simple knowledge of him as cause who is invested with certain attributes similar to those of the world. This latter knowledge is termed apophatic because the mystical presence of God experienced through it transcends the possibility of being defined in words. This knowledge is more adequate to God than is cataphatic knowledge.”  Dogmatic Orthodox Theology, I-95

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