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Lecture 16: The Great Patriarchs of Constantinople: Gregory and John

Lecture 16: The Great Patriarchs of Constantinople: Gregory and John

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Lecture 16: The Great Patriarchs of Constantinople: Gregory and John

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  1. Lecture 16: The Great Patriarchs of Constantinople: Gregory and John 24 October 2013

  2. Gregory Nazianzus, 329-389 • Knew Athanasius as a young man; wrote a funeral oration for Athanasius • Very close friend of Basil; studied in Athens with him • Great rhetorician • Sermons on Christology and Trinity very influential • St. Jerome was his disciple in Constantinople • Took up residence in a monastery in Constantinople so he could pray and study • Known as ‘The Theologian’

  3. De Fuga • His father tried to ordain him a priest, and Basil encouraged him to be ordained, but fled because Gregory felt himself unworthy • Wrote De Fuga; trying to defend his flight to Basil • Wanted to lead a Christian philosophical life of study • Described responsibilities of priesthood and bishops • Very influential on John Chrysostom and Pope St. Gregory the Great

  4. Gregory of Nazianzus and Theodosius • Recall that several of Constantine’s successors had been Arians • Constantinople had an Arian Patriarch • Theodosius made Gregory Nazianzus Patriarch after orthodox populace proclaimed Gregory • In 381 Theodosius called Council of Constantinople, over which Gregory presided • Reaffirmed Orthodox creed; expanded statements on Holy Spirit • Basically what we have now

  5. Heretical Reaction to Arius • Recall that Arius believed the Word was created • In reaction to this Apollinarius, bishop of Laodicea, proposed notion that Jesus had a physically human body, but mind and will were not human but divine. • Gregory rejects this completely; • Supports “what is not assumed is not saved”

  6. Works of Gregory Nazianzus • De Fuga • Poems • Homilies and Orations • Oration in praise of Athanasius and Basil • Funeral Oration for his sister Georgina • Theological Orations

  7. Theological Orations • Delivered in Constantinople in 390 in support of theology of Trinity • Series of 5 Orations • First is an Introduction • Second on God the Father • Third and Fourth on Son • Third is philosophical arguments about Son • Fourth analyzes difficult Scriptural passages on Son • Fifth on Holy Spirit

  8. First Theological Oration • Note that Gregory is preaching in a hostile environment • Setting stage for future discussions and argument with Arians on one hand and Appolinarians on the other • Must be purified in soul and spirit to philosophize about God (3) • Importance of reason and rules of conduct in philosophy discussions (5) • Seems to support notion of multiple ways to philosophize about God (8) • But some ways are clearly wrong (9)

  9. Second Theological Oration • Focus on God the Father, the nature of God • Adopt an attitude of Moses going into the cloud to meet God (3) • God cannot be described in human words • But man must try to do so • Study of creation gives eom insight into existence of God (6) • But cannot describe God’s essence, only God’s actions (17) • Scripture needed to approach understanding of God’s essence (17) • But even Scripture cannot answer all questions about God • Only what we need to know (20)

  10. Third Theological Oration • Focus on the Son • Gregory addresses 10 Arian philosophical arguments for creation of Son • Whether or not the Son is eternal • Relationship between God and the Word

  11. Fourth Theological Oration • An analysis of 10 Arian Scriptural texts and arguments • Note many of these texts, especially NT texts are focus of many current debates; • Historical Jesus • Christology from below • Note he starts with Prov. 8:22 (2) • Distinction between begotten and created (2) • God became man that man might become deified (3) • Son, representing us, is subject to the Father; note interpretation of Ps 22 on Cross (5) • Eschaton as time of restitution (6)

  12. Fourth Theological Oration (cont.) • Son has his being with the Father; acts on his own authority (11) • Son does not have a will separate from Father (12) • Son has infinite knowledge as God; but human knowledge is limited (15, 16) • Limitation of words in describing Deity (17) • Relation between Father and Son; Nicene Creed (20) • Names for Second Person of Trinity, divine and human (20, 21)

  13. Fifth Theological Oration • Proper understanding of Holy Spirit (1) • Against those who interpret Scripture by the letter (3) • Attribute names to Holy Spirit • God the Trinity: out of light, light, in light • Holy Spirit is of the essence of God, not an activity of God (6) • Spirit proceeds from Father; but beyond human understanding; this a mystery (8) • There is no deficiency in any of persons of Trinity; Trinity represents their relationship (9) • Use of analogy, and limits of analogy in trying to understand Trinity (11) • But we are not Tritheists (13, 14) • God undivided in three Persons • Comparison with humans; common human nature (15) • We are compounded • We are separate individuals; unequal in status • How to count things that are of one substance, but multiple instances of them (19) • Allegorical interpretation of Scripture (21)

  14. Fifth Theological Oration (cont.) • Two Testaments (25) • From idols to law • From law to Gospel • OT declares Father openly, Son obscurely. NT declares Son openly, Spirit obscurely (26) • Spirit guides in interpretation (27) • Nothing on earth can be compared to Trinity (31, 32)

  15. A MORNING PRAYER. Tis dawn: to God I lift my hand, To regulate my way; My passions rule, and unmoved stand, And give to Thee the day: Not one dark word or deed of sin, Nor one base thought allow; But watch all avenues within, And wholly keep my vow. Shamed were my age, should I decline; Shamed were Thy table too, At which I stand:--the will is mine: Give grace, my Christ, to do. A HYMN AT NIGHT, AFTER FAILURE TO KEEP VOW, O Thou, the Word of truth divine! All light I have not been, Nor kept the day as wholly Thine; For Thou dark spots hast seen. The day is down: night hath prevailed: My Lord I have belied; I vowed, and thought to do, but failed; My steps did somewhere slide. There came a darkness from below Obscuring safety's way. Thy light, O Christ, again bestow; Turn darkness into day. Two Poems by Gregory Nazianzuswww.mklangl.com/gregpoem1.html

  16. Another rising ‘philosophy’ of the period: Manicheaism • Founded by Mani, Persian contemporary of Plotinus • Many gnostic elements • Secret knowledge • ‘solves’ theodicy problem with two gods • Synchristic: mixture of Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism • Becomes very popular in fourth century; most famous hearer (catechumen) : Augustine • Still viable in 11th Century: St. Dominic founds Order of Preachers to preach against their heirs (Cathars)

  17. Assignments • Gregory Nazianzus, Theological Orations 1, 4, 5 p 128-135; 177-214. • Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs Prolog and First Homilyp. 35-56 • CCC 2670-2685, Holy Spirit and Prayer • Benedict XVI, General Audiences, Gregory Nazianzus, 8 August 2007, 22 August 2007 • Benedict XVI, General Audiences, Gregory of Nyssa, 29 August 2007, 5 September 2007 • Write short paper on one of the Cappadocians