Like Gregory, Kant distinguishes four kinds of duty–perfect and imperfect duties to ourselves and to others (Metaphysical Principles of Virtue Introduction). Once again, absent the theological emphasis, on both counts there is a broad similarity with Kant (cf. As a Christian Platonist, Gregory followed the great Alexandrian theologian Origen, though not slavishly. Yet our hypothetical objector still has a point, as is particularly obvious to us who are examining the thought of a fourth century figure seventeen centuries later. Please consider adding 3% to offset PayPal's service fee. St. Gregory of Nyssa was born in the 4th century, about the year 335 in the region of Cappadocia (modern day Turkey). Thus, Gregory endorses Origen’s (First Principles I 6.3, II 10.4 – 10.8, III 6.5 – 6.6) much-maligned theories of remedial punishment and universal salvation (Great Catechism 8 [36 – 37], 26 [69], 35 [92]; Making of Man 21 – 22 [201 – 205]; Soul and Resurrection [97 – 105, 152, 157 – 160]). The turning point in Gregory’s life came about 379, when both his brother Basil and his sister Macrina died. in Cappadocia (in present-day Turkey). The answer lies in the Aristotelian distinction between the category of substance and the other categories–relation, quality, quantity, place, time, action, passion (Categories 1 – 9)–which Gregory designates with the Stoic term “qualities” (poiotetes). 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). Works about Gregory "St Gregory of Nyssa" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. By Gregory’s day, the leading spokesman for Arian theology was Eunomius of Cyzicus, who argued for Arianism on strictly philosophical grounds. St Gregory of Nyssa Resources Online and in Print. So Basil in all probability became the teacher of his younger brother. He became a great writer and defender of orthodoxy. 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]). 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. Thus when it comes to a more profound understanding of God, the relevant visual metaphor is darkness, not light. 3). All services live-streamed on Facebook 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. Now one could object at this point that these phenomena are by no means surprising; they are surprising to Gregory only because the scientific knowledge of the fourth century is not as advanced as that of the twenty-first. Besides controversial replies to heretics, particularly the Arians—in which he formulated the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that emerged as a clear and cogent answer to Arian questioning—he completed Basil’s Hexaëmeron (“Six Days”), sermons on the days of the Creation, with The Creation of Man, and he produced a classic outline of orthodox theology in his Great Catechesis (or Address on Religious Instruction). Centuries after his death, the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) rendered Nyssen as the “father of fathers,” named alongside Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom. Against Eunomius II [941])–but nevertheless “what Moses yearned for is satisfied by the very things which leave his desire unsatisfied” (Life of Moses II 235 [404]). of Nyssa," in Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century, (ed.) Nevertheless, it remains that God’s nature is infinitely removed from ours. Gregory’s Christology is the story of the entry of the second Person of the Trinity into the world. In this article, we will briefly summarize the argumentation in Il Illud and prove that the heretical reading is incorrect. Under the unlearned Nectarius, the successor of Gregory of Nazianzus at Constantinople, Gregory of Nyssa was the leading orthodox theologian of the church in Asia Minor in the struggle against the Arians. As will be seen below, there is a pronounced linear view of history in Gregory’s thought, which can only be of Hebrew provenance. 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. Gregory’s account of the creation of the world reflects the nature-energies logic developed in his polemic against Eunomius. MUNI bus lines 10, 19, 22 and 55 stop within one block. Gregory was raised in a very pious (and large) Christian family of ten children; his grandmother Macrina the Elder, his mother Emily, his father Basil the Elder, his sisters Macrina the Younger and Theosebia, and his brothers Basil the Great and Peter of Sebaste have all been recognized as saints. The emphasis here is not on order in general, but on unexpected order. Thus the resurrection and deification of Christ’s human nature are the prototypes of those to follow. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great and a good friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. This means that because in God a transcendent nature exists which projects energies out into the world, we would expect the same structural relation to exist among human beings vis-a-vis their bodies. Gregory of Nyssa was born about 335 C.E. Precisely how, in Christ, the divine thus entered into human nature we can never know–any more than we can understand the presence of our own souls to our bodies (Great Catechism 11 [44]).But after the resurrection of Christ, the second Person of the Trinity is no longer just “transfused in our nature,” but now “rules in us.” In other words, the second Person is now immanent in the world in the institution of the Church; for “he who sees the Church sees Christ” (Song of Songs XIII [1048]). However the edition has not yet been completed. 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. At some point we must go beyond being satisfied with moderation and strive for a life which, in its breadth, is one of complete, not partial, virtue (Beatitudes IV [1241]), and, in its depth, is a matter of continual, unceasing perfection (Beatitudes IV [1244 – 1245]). 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. This idea forms the core of Gregory’s epistemology and ethics, which will be summarized below. But God’s energies are always a force for good. Author of. In the 360s he turned to religious studies and Christian devotion, perhaps even to the monastic life, under Basil’s inspiration and guidance. . [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. "Gregorius Nyssenus, bp. He received a good education and taught rhetoric at one point. 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. This does not mean, however, that God does not have a transcendent nature. More importantly, he distinguishes between duties of right and duties of virtue (Metaphysical Principles of Right Introduction III, Metaphysical Principles of Virtue Introduction VII). Because evil is a privation of the good and is therefore limited, Gregory believes that there is a limit to human degradation. Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) and St. Maximus the Confessor (7th century), humans are truly free only when they are in communion with God. 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. Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen (Greek: Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his death. He is venerated as a saint in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism. by Henry Wace and William C. Piercy, London: John Murray (1911) Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335/40–395) is often regarded as the most speculative and mystical thinker of the Greek Fathers. Now, I make bold to add a But for Gregory the next two theophanies go far beyond the veneer of wisdom that mere logical consistency provides. This paper has tried to make clear what a rich resource of ideas we have in Gregory of Nyssa. 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]). The most important consequence of this extension is its application to the capstone of the cosmic order–human nature. Thus we encounter them in the experience of virtues such as purity, passionlessness, sanctity, and simplicity in our own moral character: “if . 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. . He belongs to the group known as the "Cappadocian Fathers", a title which reveals at once his birthplace in Asia Minor and his intellectual characteristics. 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? 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. St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church 500 De Haro Street San Francisco, CA 94107. Gregory of Nyssa has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria.If you can improve it further, please do so. general audience august 29, 2007. 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. Cicero, Nature of the Gods II 2.4 – 21.56). For Gregory what is central is God's infinitely transcendant Being, which by virtue of its metaphysical infinity is entirely incomprehensible in every way to the human mind. Anthony Meredith presents a diverse range of Gregory's writings: his contribution to the debates of the period about the nature of God in argument with a form of extreme Arianism his discussion of the nature and But they can also be projected out from God; and when that happens, they become visible. Why not an infinite chain of causes, for instance? The idea of God’s energies in Gregory’s theology approximates to the Western concept of grace, except that it emphasizes God’s actual presence in those parts of creation which are perfected just because of that presence. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, the brother of Saint Basil and the son of Saints Basil and Emmilia, was a married man when he began studying for the priesthood. Gregory goes so far as to assert that apart from its energies a nature not only cannot be known, but does not even exist. Basil, who became the powerful bishop of Caesarea, was the most politically skilled churchman of the group. 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. In other words, for Gregory as for his intellectual ancestor Origen, everyone–even Satan himself (Great Catechism 26 [68 – 69])–will eventually be saved. For it means that because there is a part of the human person that is literally not of this world, human beings are possessed of an intrinsic worth which is unique in creation. At some point, everyone must turn around and strive for the good. He could not say that if God’s energeiai were merely God’s operations. . 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. However, when he … . And although he concedes that God’s inner nature will always remain a mystery to us, Gregory holds that we can attain some knowledge of God’s energies. in a union never to be broken” (Great Catechism 16 [52], cf. If it can be shown that God exists, it follows necessarily in Gregory’s mind that God has a nature. His last public appearance was at a council at Constantinople. However, as a highly original and sophisticated thinker, Gregory is difficult to classify, and many aspects of his theology are contentious among both conservative Orthodox theologians and Western academic scholarship. If … The fundamental fact about human nature according to Gregory of Nyssa is that humans were created in the image of God. So the first stage of Moses’ progress is the acquisition of purely intellectual knowledge of God. On Virginity and other treatises on the ascetic life are crowned by the mystical Life of Moses, which treats the 13th-century-bce journey of the Hebrews from Egypt to Mount Sinai as a pattern of the progress of the soul through the temptations of the world to a vision of God. Answer: Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. So we directly experience the divine energies in the only thing in the universe that we can view from within–ourselves. This is perhaps the most far-reaching theme of Christian ethics. Date of birth unknown; died after 385 or 386. But the New Law deals, not with works, but with the psychological springs from which works originate. Gregory’s ethical thought explores the implications of the theme of the “dignity of royalty” of the human person, which, as has been seen, derives from the idea that humans, and humans alone, were created in the image of God. 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). Along with Basil and fellow-Cappadocian and friend Gregory of Nazianzus (c.329—c.391), Gregory of Nyssa forms the third of a trio of Christian thinkers, collectively known as the Cappadocians, who established the main lines of orthodoxy in the Christian East. Gregory was primarily a scholar, whose chief contribution lay in his writings. The indirect route relies on the order apparent in the cosmos. However, what Gregory has in mind seems to be something more specific. In an early work Gregory argues strenuously against astral determinism (On Fate [145 – 173]). His Life of Macrina blends biography with instruction in the monastic life. One is reminded of Kant’s theory of the transcendental unity of apperception (Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Deduction). This procedure is obviously predicated on the imperative of integrating Scripture into the entire matrix of worldly knowledge. However, for Gregory the quest does not end with reason; rather, because God is utterly mysterious and infinitely remote, the quest is capped by a mystical ascent that always approaches but never reaches its destination. The first theophany is the burning bush (Life of Moses II 1 – 116 [297 – 360]). 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. Some scholars (for example, Balas, Metousia Theou, p. 128) argue that for Gregory energeiai should be translated “operations” rather than “energies,” thus bringing Gregory’s concept of God’s energeiai more into line with Aquinas’ concept of God’s power (Summa Theologiae I qq. Email: Thus the former had to wait until the disease of human sinfulness had fully manifested itself (Great Catechism 29 [73 – 76]). these things be in you,” Gregory concludes, “God is indeed in you” (Beatitudes VI [1272]). Against the latter, he appeals, once again, to the “dignity of royalty” theme–that poverty is inconsistent with the rulership bestowed on humankind at its creation (On Compassion for the Poor [477]). For his return from death becomes to our mortal race the commencement of our return to immortal life. To do this, Gregory recognizes, one must resort to philosophy as a source of conceptual tools. “Cappadocian Thought as a Coherent System.”, Stramara, Daniel F. “Gregory of Nyssa: An Ardent Abolitionist?”. Of no other organism can that be said. Gregory indeed addresses this problem and argues, strangely, that each particle of the body is stamped with one’s personal identity, and so it will be possible for the nous to eventually recognize and reassemble them all (Making of Man 26 – 27 [224 – 229], Soul and Resurrection [73 – 80]). 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. . Moses, as Gregory interprets him, is one of those who crave ever more intimate communion with God. For one thing, as was noted earlier, Gregory holds that the nous is never completely separated from the body anyway, so in a sense there is no paradox in its revivification, But aren’t the bodily components scattered to the four winds after the decay of the corpse in the grave? This critical edition of Gregory’s works is rapidly replacing the much older Migne edition. In Gregory’s account of creation, the nature-energies distinction, developed to counter Eunomius’ defense of the Arian heresy, becomes extended into a general cosmological principle. 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? 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. And by submitting to the latter, Christ offered himself in bondage to Satan in exchange for the whole of humanity, whom Satan then had under his tyranny (Great Catechism 22 – 24 [60 – 65]).