Deplatonising the Celestial Hierarchy. Peter John Olivi’s interpretation of the Pseudo-Dionysius
By Sylvain Piron
Angels in Medieval Philosophy Inquiry. Their Function and Significance, edited by Isabel Iribarren and Martin Lenz (2008)
Abstract: A major question underlies any discussion of angels in medieval theology : should the intellectual substances of Greek philosophy be identified with Biblical angels ? While Thomas Aquinas gives a clear positive answer, Albertus Magnus and Peter John Olivi opt for the negative. For Albertus, the distinction is necessary for the sake of the philosophical enquiry on the natural world ; for Olivi, this is a theological requirement, meant to suppress all natural mediations between God and the human world. This perspective leads him to a radical decision in his interpretation of the pseudo-Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy ; all that is said there on the circulation of divine illumination only refers to the diffusion of heavenly glory, and has nothing to do with the natural state of angels.