Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light

Synopsis

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 C.E.) has had an immeasurable influence on the Eastern and Western Christian traditions. Along with his homiletical, ecclesiastical, and literary achievements, Gregory's doctrine of the Trinity became the definitive expression of the orthodox faith in Greek Christian tradition, which caused him to be the only person other than John the Evangelist to be granted the title of "Theologian" by an ecumenical church council. As a testimony to Gregory's importance,he is the most cited author after the Bible in Byzantine Christian literature. Christopher Beeley's groundbreaking study-the first comprehensive treatment in modern scholarship-examines Gregory's doctrine of the Trinity in the full range of his theological and practical vision. Following an overview of Gregory's life and major theological works, Beeley examines Gregory's teaching on a vast range of subjects: the purification and illumination of the theologian; the human limitations and thedivine possibilities of the knowledge of God; the unique identity of Christ; Gregory's dynamic understanding of "divinization"; and the distinctive place of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology. Beeley's expansive discussion culminates in Gregory's understanding of the Trinity as a whole, which proves to be the fundamental principle of all Christian doctrine and practice. Finally, Beeley identifies the Trinitarian shape and purpose of pastoral ministry, of which Gregory is also the seminaltheorist in Christian tradition. Beeley offers new insights in several key areas, including the reinterpretation of the famous Theological Orations and Christological epistles within the larger framework of Gregory's corpus. Long eclipsed in twentieth-century scholarship, Gregory's doctrine is now brought into full view as the major Greek witness to the Trinity as the governing principle and the main interpretive framework of the Christian life.

Excerpt

This book is a study of the greatest theologian of the Christian fourth century and the subject he held most dear: St. Gregory of Nazianzus on the Holy Trinity. A man of exceptional learning and intellectual talent, Gregory Nazianzen (329–390) pioneered several new forms of Greek literature; he preserved numerous lines of classical poetry and composed thousands of his own; and he later became the chief model of Byzantine homiletical and prose style. Yet his greatest devotion in all of life was the doctrine and the worship of the Trinity. It was Gregory, more than anyone before him, who made the Trinity the centerpiece and the cardinal doctrine of orthodox Christianity. In recognition of his magisterial achievement, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 deemed him “the Theologian,” a title that he shares only with St. John the Divine and the Byzantine monk St. Simeon the New Theologian, who was being compared to Gregory. In due time, Gregory the Theologian came to be regarded as one of the three “universal teachers” of Eastern Orthodoxy, together with St. Basil the Great, who was renowned for his monastic legislation, and the golden-mouthed preacher St. John Chrysostom. Gregory’s immense impact on Christian tradition can be seen from the fact that his work is the most widely published in the Greek manuscript tradition, second only to the Bible.

1. Noret, “Grégoire de Nazianze, l’auteur le plus acité après la Bible.”

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