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Thomas Gallus on the Angelic or Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite

Declan Lawell returns to Thomas Gallus' Explanatio in libros Dionysii and his Glossae super Dionysii Angelica Hierarchia. On the basis of his acclaimed editions of these texts (CCCM, 223 & CCCM, 223A), he now presents their English translation, thus making them more accessible for a wider audience. This translation is volume 40 of the series Corpus Christianorum in Translation.

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Thomas Gallus (d. 1246) was the Abbot of Vercelli in the north of Italy. Initially a canon regular in the abbey of St Victor in Paris, he helped found a new monastery and church in the home town of his patron, Cardinal Guala Bicchieri. As well as commenting on the Canticle of Canticles three times, Thomas was renowned for his expositions of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, commentaries which earned him the title magister in hierarchia (master of the hierarchies). This volume contains the first translation in any language of his Glosses on the Angelic (or Celestial) Hierarchy (completed in 1224), as well as his more detailed Explanation of the Angelic Hierarchy (finished in 1243). The commentaries are fascinating for their insights into Thomas’s teaching that love has a higher access to an experience of God than the intellect, the role of the angelic hierarchies in the mystical return of the soul, the psychological interpretation of the angels as representing faculties of the soul, and the use of symbols representing analogical features of the divine.


The source text of this volume appeared in Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaeualis as Thomas Gallus, Super angelica ierarchia (CCCM, 223) and Glose super angelica ierarchia (CCCM, 223A). References to the corresponding pages of the Corpus Christianorum edition are provided in the margins of this translation.


Declan Anthony Lawell is an independent researcher. He teaches in The Blue Coat School, Liverpool.

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