Four Hundred Texts on Love (Fourth Century) 5

7.  Divinity and divine realities are in some respects knowable  and in some respects unknowable. They are knowable in the contemplation of what appertains to God’s essence and unknowable as regards that essence itself.

This text touches on the distinction between what is also called the essence and energies of Gods. The actual essence of God is unknowable to us. We know God through his activities or energies. Those energies are no less God, but they are active as opposed to being. Every description we have of God at some level describes an activity of God, not the essence of God. In many ways, that’s also true of the way we know each other. We do not know the essence of another human being; we know them by their activities, by their words, and by association with them. It’s a concept that sounds esoteric, but is really so fundamental to our nature that it can be hard to accurately describe it in language.

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