Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

William Douglas Burgess Jr.

Committee Members

Henry J. Antikiewicz, Leila S. Al-Imad


It is apparent that what is characterized as Christian Apophatic Theology has been poorly related to its antecedents existing in Greco-Roman philosophy. This study proposed the following research hypothesis: Greco-Roman philosophy exerted a structural and terminological influence upon Christian apophatic theology.

To prove or disprove this hypothesis, apophatic terminology and textual structures in Greco-Roman philosophical texts were compared to classic Christian apophatic texts, primarily from the Apostolic and Cappadocian Fathers. Throughout this process, Michael Sells' clasic definition of apophatic language, consisting of the apearance of the metaphor of emanation, dis-ontological language, and dialectical language of immanence and transcendence, was used as a benchmark for the occurrence of apophatic language in the texts examined.

It was found that Greco-Roman pagan apophatic philosophy exerted significantly less structural than terminological influence. Thus, this research will strengthen claims that Platonic and Neo-Platonic terminology was simply overlaid atop a pre-existing Semitic-Christian apophatic framework.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.