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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: May 2011

25 - Gregory of Nyssa

from V - The second encounter of Christianity with ancient Greek philosophy


Very different interpretations of the thought of Gregory of Nyssa and the extent to which his writing reveals the influence of Greek philosophy have appeared. They have varied from the celebrated judgement of Harold Cherniss that any apparent Christianity in Gregory is only a surface cover which imperfectly conceals a dominant Hellenism. The extent of Gregory's philosophical commitment has been addressed from another angle, that of the nature of his coherence. Gregory uses what suits him and can modify what he has used in ways perhaps unacceptable to the Platonic past he inherited. This moderate and moderating attitude is discernible, as has been noted, in both Gregory's On the Soul and Resurrection and his Catechetical Oration. In the former he uses Plato's Phaedo which he tries to wed to the ideas of resurrection of the body. In the latter he uses the idea of theoprepeia primarily in order to defend and expound the doctrine of the Incarnation.