Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Gregory of Nazianzus

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Gregory of Nazianzus

Article excerpt

Gregory of Nazianzus. The Early Church Fathers Series. By Brian E. Daley, S.J. New York: Roudedge, 2006. 284 pp, $110.00 (cloth); 256 pp, $35.95 (paper).

This book is part of a helpful series of introductions to the church fathers and follows the pattern set in the rest of the series: an introduction to the life and thought of the given figure followed by a translation from the most important works. Brian Daley's introduction is concentrated and concise; nevertheless it manages to capture the complex personality of Gregory of Nazianzus through a series of chapters reflecting on the different facets of his life and work.

"Gregory the Man" offers an account of the different trajectories of Gregory's life, from rural Cappadocia to Caesarea, and Alexandria to Athens. Gregory's ecclesial career culminates with his presence in Constantinople as defender of the pro-Nicene party against the Arians. In this context, as bishop of Constantinople, he delivers the five theological orations in defense of the Holy Trinity.

In "Gregory the Humanist" Daley highlights Gregory's rhetorical style. He notes that his writings reflect the technical achievements of the Second Sophistic, the second century revival of Greek art and rhetoric. Gregory's literary acumen is never separated from his theological vision. For Michael Psellos, one of the great Byzantine humanists, Gregory represents the Christian Humanism, the worthy counterpart of Demosthenes, even greater than the Heavenly Trumpet (John Chrysostom) himself.

In "Gregory the Philosopher" Daley turns to Gregory's philosophical eclecticism. Although Gregory does not directly cite his sources (an unusual practice for that time) his writings are imbued with philosophical themes and polemics. For Gregory, as for the classical philosopher, "true philosophy" is a "way of life," rather than a body of speculative knowledge; it is the "cultivated practice of self-mastery and virtue," ultimately leading to union with God.

"Gregory the Theologian" is the core of Daley's essay because it deals with Gregory's Trinitarian theology. The Cappadocians, and especially Gregory, forged the paradigm of Trinitarian faith. In his orations, Gregory strides the middle way between extremes: "either lumping the three together into one person in order to avoid polytheism or dividing them into three substances. …

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