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In the Greek theological tradition, the three theologians who are most commonly associated with the apophatic tradition are Gregory of Nyssa (fourth century), Maximus the Confessor (seventh century), and Gregory Palamas (fourteenth century). The doctrine in Greek theology is extremely complex and the source of much controversy. Basically, however, it is the assertion that human beings, because of their finitude and sinfulness, cannot comprehend God's essence or being. God "lies beyond" or transcends all human apprehension of God, except as God is revealed in the positive symbols of revelation and the knowledge of God which is possible through the positive categories of dogma (cataphatic theology). Ultimately, God is "unknowable," not as an absence of knowledge but as a knowledge of silence or negativity-the kind of knowledge which is possible in the silence of contemplation. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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