Definition of apophatic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌapəˈfadik/


(Of knowledge of God) obtained through negation. The opposite of cataphatic.
Example sentences
  • Denys Turner, for one, claims these apophatic experiences are not inner experiences at all but rather category mistakes generated by construing critiques of positive theology as religious experiences.
  • Like Dionysios, John Damascene understood that our ideas and concepts of God fall short of him and that, in the end, we honor God most appropriately by the silent denial of our concepts in apophatic theology.
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity emphasizes apophatic theology - the Western equivalent is sometimes called ‘negative’ theology.



Pronunciation: /-ik(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • The divine judgment is unexpected, kenotic, eschatological, and apophatically affirmed and denied.
  • What do old stories really have to say to a generation which defines itself only, as it were, apophatically: postmodern?
  • I agree with the Greek Orthodox theologians who said that God cannot be described directly, but must be spoken apophatically (we can't say what God is, we can only say what God is not).


Pronunciation: /-ˌsizəm/
Example sentences
  • Christological particularism and theological apophaticism are therefore linked, because Christ grounds Christian understanding of God's unknowability.
  • At the same time, however, analysis of Maximus's position is rendered somewhat more complex by the fact that his apophaticism is deeply intertwined with Christology.
  • What are we to do with these striking passages, which suggest an agnosticism, even an apophaticism, about the self?


Mid 19th century: from Greek apophatikos 'negative', from apophasis 'denial', from apo- 'other than' + phanai 'speak'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ap·o·pha·tic

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