Blog Archives

Kathryn Tanner and Gregory of Nyssa on the mystery of the human person

Whatever the knowable dimensions of human nature, its apophatic ones are what count here for imaging of God. An apophatically-focused anthropology forms the natural consequences of an apophatic theology. If humans are the image of God they must be, as Gregory of Nyssa affirms, an incomprehensible image of the incomprehensible: ‘If, while the archetype transcends comprehension, the nature of the image were comprehended, the contrary character of the attributes…would prove the defect of th eimage….Since the nature of our mind…evades our knowledge, it has an accurate resemblance to the superior nature, figuring by its unkowableness the incomprehensible nature.”

Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 53-54


Greek fathers roundup

Here’s a roundup of all the papers and abstracts that we have posted over the last several weeks in our series on the Greek Fathers.

And, here is the Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. Thanks everyone for submitting your papers and making them available here.

Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography

We’ve started posting a number of papers and abstracts that some of the Th.M. students wrote during last semester’s class on the Greek Fathers. The class started with Irenaeus and Origen as two fathers who exercised a profound influence on the later Greek Fathers. We then worked our way from Athanasius to John of Damascus. So far we’ve posted the papers that were written on Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and John of Damascus. We’ll be posting a few others over the next couple of weeks.

We also compiled a working Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. This is far from an exhaustive bibliography, but it does provide good resources on each of the individuals studied as well as a number of resources on theosis.

Gregory of Nyssa’s Infinite Progress: A challenge for an integrated theology

Here is an abstract of my [Adam Bottiglia] paper Gregory of Nyssa’s Infinite Progress: A challenge for an integrated theology.

One of the greatest challenges to a theologian is to take all of the education in philosophy and exegesis and the finer details of theology and convert them into a digestible and useful form for the church. In Gregory of Nyssa we find a great example to emulate. He is the paradigm of an integrated theology, a theology that has as much to say to the heretic as it does to the devoted believer. In this paper I will be looking at his doctrine of God’s infinite nature in order to show that Gregory had a knack for taking even the most weighty theological and philosophical concepts and applying them significantly to the spiritual life of the believer.

Gregory of Nyssa on the Trinity

The current issue of the Review of Biblical Literature contains a very nice review of a new book from Brill on Gregory of Nyssa’s Ad Ablabium. Those of you from the Greek Fathers class will remember (maybe) that this is a key text for understanding Gregory’s trinitarian theology, and consequently it is a key text for understanding Nicene theology as a whole. The book itself, Trinity and Man: Gregory of Nyssa’s Ad Ablabium, might be a little out of your price range ($138 on Amazon), but the review is fairly thorough, dealing briefly with such issues as social trinitarianism and apophaticism, with a more extended discussion of whether Gregory was a universalist. If you’re interested in Gregory of Nyssa in general or this work in particular, the review is worth your time.

Am I Misunderstanding Gregory of Nyssa?

As I read the first part of To Ablabius, On Not Three Gods by Gregory of Nyssa I cannot help but pause because it sounds so Tritheistic! I may be misunderstanding what he is trying to say but it seems that his introductory argument follows as such:

(1) Peter, James, and John are three individuals.

(2) Peter, James, and John are all men.

(3) We can speak of Peter, James, and John as being three persons sharing one substance, namely “humanity”

(4) The error of language is speaking of men as “many men” rather than “humanity”.

(4) The error of language is speaking of the Trinity as “Gods” rather than “God”.

(3) We can speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are being three person sharing one substance, namely God/Divinity.

(2) The Father, Son, and Spirit are all God.

(1) The Father, Son, and Spirit are all individuals.

If you are unfamiliar with his argument you can read it here and here. If you are familiar with it, please explain!

Reposted from here.