Book 1. CH. 4


Martin Luther once remarked that the church should “shun like the plague that ‘Mystical Theology’ of Dionysius.”[1] Hooker seems to have a different take on the matter, favorably quoting Pseudo-Dionysius throughout the Laws. Building upon the previous chapter, Hooker outlines the correspondence between angelic and ecclesial orders, which in turn anticipates liturgical mediation (more to come in book 5). Although subtle, the celestial hierarchy outlined here ends up defending ecclesial and political hierarchy.

According to Hooker, angelic speculation is a warranted endeavor – this on the basis of prayer whereby heaven and earth are united (iv.1). Likewise, angles are characterized by “a kind of corporation amongst themselves” which extends to a “society of fellowship with men” (iv.2).

Hooker’s recalling of the hierarchical orders seems almost perfunctory at times. His retelling of the celestial hierarchy is brief, though pointed. After noting the fall of the “dii inferi,” the “gods infernal,” Hooker closes by stating, “thus much therefore may suffice for angels” (iv.3). As if to say, “with that out of the way, we can now move along.”

Does Hooker really need an account of angelology? How does this fit into the overall theme of the Laws? And why was Hooker not as put off with Pseudo-Dionysius as Luther  was?

With that said, I’m looking forward to chapter XVL where Hooker lays out again the “correspondence” between heaven and earth.

[1] See Karlfried Frochlich, “Pseudo-Dionysius and the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century,” 44.



2 thoughts on “Book 1. CH. 4

  1. Tony Hunt says:

    Aquinas was a fan of Pseudo-Dionysus, right? If I’m remembering that correctly then it makes perfect sense to me insofar as Hooker is more a Thomist than a Lutheran.

    Fwiw I didn’t take the ending of his section on angels to imply he wanted to move on, only that it was sufficient for the time being. Since his primary concern is ultimately to move to human law it makes sense that he doesn’t dwell too much at this point on angelic law.

    I’m confident that when we come to prayer and the liturgy, angels will come back for more attention. One can always supplement with Bulgakov anyway 🙂

  2. Robbie says:


    Yeah, in hindsight I think you’re right about the brevity of the Angel section. Looking back, that was probably just my knee jerk reaction.

    Aquinas was definitely a fan of PD, and so it follows that Hooker would have no problem with the Mystical Theology. This is one of my lingering Reformation questions – why was Hooker okay with Aquinas while Luther and Calvin not so much. No doubt it has to do with their respective scholastic environments. So what were the English doing differently with Aquinas?

    Maybe there is a distintive “Anglican Aquinas” out there; Milbank and Pickstock seem to think so. On the basis of Hooker, they might be right.

    That would be great to tie some Bulgakov into all this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: