In other words, for Gregory as for his intellectual ancestor Origen, everyone–even Satan himself (Great Catechism 26 [68 – 69])–will eventually be saved. He received a good education and taught rhetoric at one point. Gregory was the younger brother of Basil of Caesarea and Macrina the Younger. God cannot be perceived with the external senses, but some sort of mystical awareness of God is achievable internally. In this vein it is significant that, when discussing the spiritual senses, Gregory most often appeals, not to the “higher” senses of sight and hearing, but to the more intimate senses of smell, taste, and touch as metaphors by which to describe them (cf. But there would seem to be a problem here: if God’s very essence is incomprehensible, how can we know what God is really like? Song of Songs I [780 – 784], III [821 – 828], IV [844]). Our Holy Father Gregory of Nyssa Our Venerable Father Marcion, Priest and Treasurer of the Great Church 10:00 AM Matins Confession 11:15 AM Divine Liturgy followed by Panachida for the repose of the soul of +Marvin Hipsley. As Gregory of Nyssa teaches, all that we give is in gratitude for God’s gifts to us. However, Gregory makes it clear that this moderation is due only to the exigencies of life in the flesh. While Nyssa agrees with the knowability of such manifestations, he suggests that the true religious path must ultimately transce… Against the former Gregory marshals three arguments (Ecclesiastes IV [665]): (1) Only God has the right to enslave humans, and God does not choose to do so; indeed, it was God who gave human beings their free wills. Gregory of Nyssa Quotes and Sayings - Page 1 “If we truly think of Christ as our source of holiness, we shall refrain from anything wicked or impure in thought or act and thus show ourselves to be worthy bearers of his name. Yet it would be a mistake to say, as Cherniss famously does, that “Gregory . The traditional view of Gregory is that he was an orthodox Trinitarian theologian, who was influenced by the neoplatonism of Plotinus and believed in universal salvation following Origen. Within this atemporal framework, the key “event” was the creation of the firmament on the second day (Work of the Six Days [80 – 85]), for it is the firmament that divides the intelligible world, created on the first day (Work of the Six Days [68 – 85]), from the sensible world, created on days three through six (Work of the Six Days [85 – 124])–again, broadly similar to Philo (Creation of the World 7.29 – 10.36, 44.129 – 44.130). If … For most of this period, the brunt of the battle for orthodoxy had been led by Basil; but when he died, and shortly thereafter Gregory’s beloved sister, Gregory felt that the responsibility for defending orthodoxy against the Arian heresy had fallen on his shoulders. Gregory of Nyssa was born in Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia (central Turkey) in about 334, the younger brother of Basil the Great and of Macrina (19 July), and of several other distinguished persons. All services live-streamed on Facebook As the eldest boy, Basil was the only one of Gregory’s siblings to receive a formal education. Otherwise they are only slaves to their body or to “the world,” over which, originally and by God’s command, he was…, … of Caesarea, his younger brother Gregory of Nyssa, and his lifelong friend Gregory of Nazianzus. Gregory of Nyssa was a Christian bishop and saint. Yet the first is clearly more congenial to his distinctive nature-energies understanding of God than the second. Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) and St. Maximus the Confessor (7th century), humans are truly free only when they are in communion with God. This is perhaps the most far-reaching theme of Christian ethics. Gregory stands at a crossroads in the theological development of the Christian East: he sums up many of the ideas of his great predecessors, such as the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (c.20 B.C.E.—c.54 C.E.) (Great Catechism 25 [65 – 68]). Aristotle himself had addressed this problem by postulating the existence of a common sense (On the Soul III 1 – 2). God is incomprehensible; thus, it is presumptuous in the extreme to suppose that God can be defined by a set of human concepts. In this article, we will briefly summarize the argumentation in Il Illud and prove that the heretical reading is incorrect. St. Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394) was a Christian bishop and saint. Letter to Xenodorus). . This idea obviously imposes certain obligations on us in relation to both ourselves and others. Moral progress is defined by two phases. St. Gregory of Nyssa was born in the 4th century, about the year 335 in the region of Cappadocia (modern day Turkey). As will be seen below, there is a pronounced linear view of history in Gregory’s thought, which can only be of Hebrew provenance. Yet the nous is also extended throughout the body by its energies, which constitute our ordinary psychological experiences (Making of Man 15 [176 – 177]; Soul and Resurrection [41 – 44]). At this stage there is no longer any reliance on the physical senses; indeed, as has been seen, at this level sight and hearing shut down. Why not an infinite chain of causes, for instance? The final component of Gregory’s eschatology is his famous theory of perfection, which is derived from his conviction, which he inherits from Plato (Theaetetus 176b1 – 2) through Origen (First Principles III 6.1), that the purpose of human life is to achieve nothing less than likeness to God (homoiosis theoi). (2) How dare a person take that precious entity–the only part of the created order to have been made in God’s image–and enslave it! Indeed, one might question whether the second makes any sense at all in light of the typical Byzantine insistence on the incomprehensibility of God’s inner nature: if God’s nature is incomprehensible, how can we say it is both three and one–unless by doing so we wish to emphasize God’s very incomprehensibility? As baptism is to the soul, so the Eucharist is to the body (Great Catechism 37 [93]). by Henry Wace and William C. Piercy, London: John Murray (1911) St Gregory of Nyssa Resources Online and in Print. Metaphysical Principles of Virtue I 22). Scripture for him is merely the starting point of the intellectual quest; and, given his reliance on allegory as a tool of exegesis, even that is brought within the ambit of a rational worldview. 394), or Gregory Nyssen as he is also known, was born in Neocaesarea, Pontus, now known as the Black Sea region of Turkey. Only the human nous has a transcendent nature in addition to its energies. But they can also be projected out from God; and when that happens, they become visible. Gregory of Nyssa Indeed, the only figure in Greco-Roman antiquity who is usually thought of as condemning slavery as such and even endorsing … This intellectual dynamic is paralleled by a moral one, which will be sketched in what follows. Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs (Writings from the Greco-roman World) The most important consequence of this extension is its application to the capstone of the cosmic order–human nature. Prior to the era of the ecumenical councils, the first of which was Nicaea, discussed above, the Trinity tended to be viewed as three stages in the outflow of God into the world, with the Father as its source and the Holy Spirit as its termination. Furthermore, the nous may at different times be more or less present to the body. Second, the nous is free. This paper has tried to make clear what a rich resource of ideas we have in Gregory of Nyssa. Moreover, the reader will discover an originality in Gregory that anticipates not only his Byzantine successors, but also such moderns as John Locke (1632 – 1704) and Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804). But the provision of bodies brings in its wake the tragic reality of death and sin, the overcoming of which was the purpose of the incarnation of Christ (Great Catechism 8 [33]). Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395), also known as "Gregory Nyssen", was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his death. That period was launched by the publication of his Against Eunomius, Gregory’s four-book refutation of that last phase of the Arian heresy. Thus the resurrection and deification of Christ’s human nature are the prototypes of those to follow. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Latin Gregorius Nyssenus, (born c. 335, Caesarea, in Cappadocia, Asia Minor [now Kayseri, Turkey]—died c. 394; feast day March 9), philosophical theologian and mystic, leader of the orthodox party in the 4th-century Christian controversies over the doctrine of the Trinity. Answer: Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. For the quality of holiness is shown not by what we say but by what we do in life.” -- Gregory of Nyssa The fact that a phenomenon seems to violate what we think we know of the laws of nature does not imply that it really does violate those laws. In fact, in his famous discussion of the postulate of immortality Kant argues that the process of moral perfection is limitless and that if “ought” implies “can” it must be possible for humans to engage in an unending pursuit of perfection (Critique of Practical Reason Dialectic IV; cf. In imitation of Plato’s Phaedo, Gregory presented his teaching on resurrection in the form of a deathbed conversation with his sister, the abbess Macrina. Moses, as Gregory interprets him, is one of those who crave ever more intimate communion with God. Thus we encounter them in the experience of virtues such as purity, passionlessness, sanctity, and simplicity in our own moral character: “if . Does all of this have any sort of rational basis? For if any one has made a mental analysis of that which is seen into its component parts, and, having stripped the object of its qualities, has attempted to consider it by itself, I fail to see what will have been left for investigation. So Gregory’s attitude toward philosophy is somewhat ambiguous. Of aristocratic birth and consummate culture, all three were drawn to the monastic ideal, and Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus achieved literary distinction of the highest order. Combining this theme with the one discussed in the last paragraph, one must conclude that Gregory sees moral progress as moving from a state of finite, external virtue to one of infinite, internal progress. “De Professione Christiana and De Perfectione: A Study of the Ascetical Doctrine of Saint Gregory of Nyssa.”, Ladner, Gerhart D. “The Philosophical Anthropology of Saint Gregory of Nyssa.”, Otis, Brooks. For when you take from a body its color, its shape, its hardness, its weight, its quantity, its position, its forces active or passive, its relation to other objects, what remains that can still be called a body, we can neither see of ourselves nor are taught by Scripture. He could not say that if God’s energeiai were merely God’s operations. In all these situations opposites not only fail to annihilate each other, but they even contribute to an overall harmony. The fact that they behave in unanticipated ways can only be explained by the exercise of divine power. This sort of problem prompted Arius to postulate that Christ was neither divine nor human, but something in between–a demigod, the oldest and most perfect created being, to be sure, but created nonetheless. Together, the Cappadocians are credited with defining Christian orthodoxy in the Eastern Roman Empire, as Augustine (354—430 C.E.) In fact, so central is the nature-energies distinction to his conception of human personhood, that Gregory, again taking his inspiration from Philo (Creation of the World 46.134 – 46.135), uses it to explain the two accounts of the creation of human beings in Genesis 1 and 2 respectively. It is but a short step to the conclusion that a physical object is nothing more than the convergence of its qualities. The account unfolds via an allegorical reflection on the first chapter of Genesis, and closely follows the much earlier work of Philo of Alexandria. Consequently, it is sufficient if we use Christ’s life as a model for our own (On Perfection [264 – 265, 269]). Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, was born in 331. In the latter, Christ “disseminates himself in every believer through that flesh, whose substance comes from bread and wine, blending himself with the bodies of believers, to secure that, by this union with the immortal, man, too, may be a sharer in incorruption”–a process Gregory calls metastoicheiosis, “transelementation” (Great Catechism 37 [97]). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). MUNI bus lines 10, 19, 22 and 55 stop within one block. This should not be particularly surprising since Gregory regards the human body as a miniature, harmonious version of the cosmos as a whole (Inscriptions of the Psalms I 3 [441 – 444]). (Against Eunomius II [949]). The indirect route relies on the order apparent in the cosmos. His more intimate discourses on the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12) combine ethical and devotional interests, as does his commentary on the Song of Solomon. 12, a. Indeed the body resembles a machine; and because the latter is governed by nous, it is probable that the former is also. For his return from death becomes to our mortal race the commencement of our return to immortal life. Gregory of Nyssa, the Christian theologian and Father of the Eastern church, was born in Cappadocia. . As will be seen below, for Gregory everything that exists has an inner nature that cannot be known immediately and is knowable only through its energies. Duties of virtue, on the other hand, tend to deal with the will and, as “thou shalts,” can never be completely fulfilled. And the differences between duties of right and of virtue are similar to the distinctions Gregory draws between moderation and infinite perfection and between the Old and the New Law. A younger son of a distinguished family, Gregory was educated in his native province but was more deeply influenced by his philosophical training than by the other two Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, his brother St. . In noting this, Gregory is relying on an argument that had been around since the early Stoics–the argument from design (cf. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Gregory is thoroughly at home with the philosophers that were in vogue in his day: Plato (427—347 B.C.E. First, Gregory insists that God exists in God’s energeiai just as much as in God’s nature (Against Eunomius I 17 [313], cf. But the New Law deals, not with works, but with the psychological springs from which works originate. St. Gregory … The original creation, in which God makes the human race “in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26) is of the transcendent human nature. Gregory’s family is significant, for two of the most influential people on his thought are two of his elder siblings–his sister Macrina (c.327—379) and Basil (c.330—379), the oldest boy in the family. Given all that, and given Gregory’s relative absence from most standard treatments of Western thought, I think may be fair to say that Gregory of Nyssa is one of the most under-appreciated figures in Western intellectual history. This is difficult to understand unless one notes that Gregory describes Christ’s saving work in the language of the Platonic forms (Great Catechism 16 [52], 32 [80 – 81]), which were classically construed as the originals of which the things that participate in them are mere images. Of the same ilk is Gregory’s hermeneutical principle of distinguishing between the literal narrative (historia) of a Biblical passage and the spiritual contemplation (theoria) of it. In a traditional vein, Gregory takes light to be a symbol of knowledge. Gregory takes numerous ideas from the Judaeo-Christian, particularly Philonian-Origenist, tradition and from the pagan Middle Platonist and Neoplatonist schools, digests them into a very original synthesis and in expounding that synthesis develops ideas that anticipate later Byzantine thinkers such as the Pseudo-Dionysius and Gregory Palamas. As a youth, he was at best a lukewarm Christian. The third and final theophany revolves around Moses’ vision of God’s glory from the cleft in a rock (Life of Moses II 202 – 321 [392 – 429]). This means that there is no such thing as eternal damnation. Once again, the similarity to Kant is striking. In themselves, qualities are ideas in the mind of God. By distinguishing between God’s nature (sometimes he uses the word “substance”–ousia) and God’s energies, Gregory anticipates the more famous substance-energies distinction of the fourteenth century Byzantine theologian Gregory Palamas. Arianism arose out of the need to make sense of the apparently conflicting Biblical depictions of Christ. Thus Moses finally realizes that the longing for utter intimacy with God can never be satisfied–faith will never be transformed into understanding (cf. was to do in the West. This procedure is clearly rational; and Gregory will be found in what follows applying that quintessentially rational criterion–consistency–to the acquisition of religious truth. His Life of Macrina blends biography with instruction in the monastic life. So Basil in all probability became the teacher of his younger brother. But philosophy in his day was almost wholly associated with paganism. At one time he portrays philosophy, like Moses’ stepmother, as barren (Life of Moses II 10 – 12 [329]), and, like the Egyptian whom Moses killed, as something to be striven against (Life of Moses 13 – 18 [329 – 332]). Most notably, he shared Origen’s conviction that humanity’s material nature is a result of the fall and also Origen’s hope for ultimate universal salvation. By Gregory’s day, the leading spokesman for Arian theology was Eunomius of Cyzicus, who argued for Arianism on strictly philosophical grounds. The answer lies in the life of Christ, whose purpose was to demonstrate what God is like–an idea Gregory also borrows from Origen (First Principles I 2.8). Summa Theologiae I q. If this is all that Gregory means, his argument at best reduces to the cosmological, or “first cause,” argument that any chain of creating or sustaining causes requires a first member, which “everyone would call God,” as Thomas Aquinas puts it (Summa Theologiae I q. Updates? As part of Basil’s struggle with Bishop Anthimus of Tyana—whose city became the metropolis (civil and therefore ecclesiastical capital) of western Cappadocia in 372—Gregory was consecrated as bishop of Nyssa, a small city in the new province of Cappadocia Secunda, which Basil wished to retain in his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. . Taken together, Gregory of Nyssa’s XV Homilies In Canticum Canticorum are at the same time – as if in unison – a work of spiritual, exegetical, and theological doctrine. Thus substance is a “something . 2 a. This does not mean, however, that God does not have a transcendent nature. Diogenes Laertius, Lives VII 117), but in moderation (Beatitudes II [1216]). Gregory was present at the final defeat of Arianism in the Council of Constantinople of 381. in a union never to be broken” (Great Catechism 16 [52], cf. Initially we must pursue the Stoic ideal of apatheia (passionlessness; cf. In an early work Gregory argues strenuously against astral determinism (On Fate [145 – 173]). Gregory was deposed in 376 by a synod of bishops and banished, but on Valens’s death in 378 Gregory’s congregation welcomed him back enthusiastically. Donald L. Ross Though Basil had considered him unsuited for ecclesiastical diplomacy, after Gregory’s return to his diocese, he was active in the settlement of church affairs in the years that followed. And just as Gregory bases his indirect argument for the existence of God’s energies on the unexpected order of natural phenomena, so here he argues that because the components of a living body are observed to behave in a manner “contrary to [their] nature”–air being harnessed to produce sound, water impelled to move upward, and so forth–we may infer the existence of a nous imposing its will upon recalcitrant matter through its energies (Soul and Resurrection [33 – 40]). In this light consider the following passage from Against Eunomius: Even the inquiry as to that thing in the flesh itself which assumes all the corporeal qualities has not been pursued to any definite result. Similarly, the relevant auditory metaphor is silence, not speech (Ecclesiastes VII [732]). To ourselves we owe the effort to overcome the deficiencies in our likeness to God; for we are unable to contemplate God directly, and morally our free will has been compromised by the passions (pathe). Groundwork II – III); and that similarity will only become more obvious when the ways in which Gregory applies these ideas are explored within the context of his philosophy of history. Given what we know about motion and rest, heaviness and lightness, and the rest, Gregory argues, we would expect to find them excluding, rather than complementing, each other. Before entering the monastery of his brother, Basil the Great, Gregory was a rhetorician. Gregory never doubts that this matrix should be internally consistent; and he unselfconsciously employs the rule that of two claims that are mutually inconsistent, the more trumps the less edifying. But such an interpretation will not do for two reasons. And to the disciples worthy of it, who eagerly asked to learn to pray in such a way as to win the favor of the Divine hearing, this science is proposed in the words that prayer should take. Once again, absent the theological emphasis, on both counts there is a broad similarity with Kant (cf. In this, he broke with his predecessor Origen, who described the spiritual journey as a progression of increasing illumination, as with the mystic study Scripture which yields ever increasing knowledge of God. in Cappadocia (in present-day Turkey). Cicero, Nature of the Gods II 2.4 – 21.56). More importantly, he distinguishes between duties of right and duties of virtue (Metaphysical Principles of Right Introduction III, Metaphysical Principles of Virtue Introduction VII). Gregory of Nazianzus was a brilliant orator, best known for his five “theological orations,” which succinctly summarized the Cappadocian consensus. St. In the former case, the presence of Christ “transforms what is born with a corruptible nature into a state of incorruption” (Great Catechism 33 [84], cf. Date of birth unknown; died after 385 or 386. The direct method whereby God’s energies are known is by examining our own moral purification. 8:22-31) of God, incarnated as Jesus Christ; and a Holy Spirit, who is sent into the world by the Father. Works about Gregory "St Gregory of Nyssa" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. Thus began the most productive period of one of the most brilliant of Christian thinkers–far too little known and appreciated in the West. This critical edition of Gregory’s works is rapidly replacing the much older Migne edition. He began his adult life as a teacher of rhetoric and may have been married, although several references that suggest this are capable of a different interpretation, and the strictures on marriage in his treatise On Virginity seem to imply the contrary. His significance has long been recognized in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity. At this stage Moses learns a much deeper fact about God–that all the language we use of God is only superficial and that a truer understanding of God will only reveal God’s utter incomprehensibility. More generally, if God is simply some remote, unknowable entity, what possible relation to the world could God ever have? Second, it was shown above that Gregory uses the concept of God’s energeiai to explain how the “pure in heart” can “see God.” Once again, one cannot “see God” in God’s operations, except in a metaphorical sense; but one can literally “see God” with the spiritual sense of sight (on the spiritual senses, see below) if God is, as Gregory claims, actually “present within oneself” (Beatitudes VI [1269]). However, it is not all that difficult to abstract the general point from Gregory’s particular examples and to bring his argument up-to-date by replacing motion and rest, heaviness and lightness, and so forth with modern examples of phenomena that cannot be explained by any known law of physics (the “lumpiness” of the universe, for example). . Instead, the vision of God is mediated by the so-called “spiritual senses,” an idea Gregory’s inherits from his theological mentor Origen (Song of Songs I 4, II 9 – 11, III 5). At some point, everyone must turn around and strive for the good. Platonic and Christian inspiration combine in Gregory’s ascetic and mystical writings, which have been influential in the devotional traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church and (indirectly) of the Western church. these things be in you,” Gregory concludes, “God is indeed in you” (Beatitudes VI [1272]). Now Gregory observes that although we ordinarily speak of these immanent qualities as inhering in substances, all we really perceive are the qualities of things, not their substances. Using the metaphor of a city in which family members come in by various gates but all meet somewhere inside, Gregory’s answer is that this can occur only if we presuppose a transcendent self to which all of one’s experiences are referred (Making of Man 10 [152 – 153]). Gregory, in what is considered “the most scathing critique of slaveholding in all of antiquity,” attacked the institution as incompatible with humanity’s creation in the image of God [the previous post explains why I see image here synonymous with universal family]. The second theophany occurs atop Mount Sinai (Life of Moses II 117 – 201 [360 – 392]), and here we find not light but darkness. However, when he … Author of. On reading his works, one cannot but be struck by the abundance of allusions to the Platonic dialogues. Basil of Caesarea and their friend St. Gregory of Nazianzus. But that more than anything else is what makes us like God. In 375, however, Gregory was accused of maladministration by the provincial governor as part of the Arianizing campaign of the Roman emperor Valens (an attempt to force the church to accept the views of the heretic Arius, who denied the divinity of Christ). God is only the most striking instance of this. THE LORD'S PRAYER - Gregory of Nyssa SERMON I The Divine Word teaches us the science of prayer. [1581] Since, my friend, you ask me a question in your letter, I think that it is incumbent upon me to answer you in their proper order upon all the points connected with it. Basil's training was an antidote to the lessons of the pagan schools, wherein, as we know from a letter of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa spent some time, very probably in his early youth, for it is certain that while still a youth Gregory exercised the ecclesiastical office of rector. . Like Philo (Creation of the World 3.13), Gregory does not take literally the temporal sequence depicted therein; rather, he envisions creation as having taken place all at once (Work of the Six Days [69 – 72, 76]). However the edition has not yet been completed. It was observed above that Gregory’s concept of the divine energies is very similar to the Western concept of grace, except that for Gregory, as for Eastern thinkers in general, grace is due to the actual presence of God and not some action at a distance. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. To others we owe mercy (Beatitudes V [1252 – 1253]) and the Christian virtue of agape (Beatitudes VII [1284]). But for Gregory the next two theophanies go far beyond the veneer of wisdom that mere logical consistency provides. On Pilgrimages. If it can be shown that God exists, it follows necessarily in Gregory’s mind that God has a nature. Both slavery and poverty sully the dignity of human beings by degrading them to a station below the purple to which they were rightfully born; and although we may congratulate ourselves on having outlawed slavery, it is important to remember that for Gregory poverty is no different. He is venerated as a saint in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism. 34 [85]). Gregory answers these questions by distinguishing between God’s nature (phusis) and God’s “energies” (energeiai)–the projection of the divine nature into the world, initially creating it and ultimately guiding it to its appointed destination (Beatitudes VI [1269]). Wherefore also, of the elements of this world we know only so much by our senses as to enable us to receive what they severally supply for our living. Because he was committed to the idea that humans have a unique value that demands respect, Gregory was an early and vocal opponent of slavery and also of poverty. The most important characteristic of the nature of the nous is that it provides for the unity of consciousness. ), and initiates the development of themes that will appear in the most prominent of the later Byzantine thinkers, notably the Pseudo-Dionysius (c.500) and Gregory Palamas (1296 – 1359).