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GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN
Frederick W. Norris
A group of contemporary western theologians has found Gregory Nazianzen (c. 325-390) quite appealing. Among them interest is sometimes confined to a single set of sentences. There he ridicules his opponents, the later Arians, because they tend to transfer all the aspects of the human names used in talk about God to the very nature of God. For the Theologian, such a principle is so silly that his antagonists might soon claim that God is a male because in Greek he is called God and Father, two "masculine" nouns. Consistently applied, that would make the one Godhead "female" and the Holy Spirit a sterile "neuter." 1
A group of contemporary western theologians has found Gregory Nazianzen quite appealing.
Within feminist critiques of traditional theology, Gregory provides a traditional critique of some modern conservative positions. His contribution, however, is much wider than that. The Theological Orations. Orations 27-31 in Nazianzen's corpus, are a masterpiece of theology; the first speech sets out what a theologian should be, the second warns about The the limits of reason in relation to faith, the third and fourth present a Theological classical Christology in light of what he sees as glaring deficiencies in Orations are a masterpiece Neo-Arian views, and the fifth develops the doctrine of the Holy Spirit of theology. as God over against some from his own circle, the later Arians and others. Because these five were probably given at Constantinople in the Frederick W. Norris, Emmanuel School of Religion, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601.
1. Or. 31.7, PG 36,140C-141A, Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 27-31 (Discours théologiques), ed. by Paul Gallay in collaboration with Maurice Jourjon, Sources chrétiennes 250 (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1978), 286-288. Frederick W. Norris, Faith Gives Fullness to Reasoning: TheFive Theological Orations of Gregory Nazianzen, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae XIII, Introduction and commentary by Norris, translation by Lionel Wickham and Frederick Williams (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991), 282. 2. See Norris, op. cit.
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summer of 380 and Gregory was the first president of the council in 381, they offer insight into the setting of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the most frequently confessed creed among Christians. Or. 27 is a rare piece. It bristles with the rancor of Neo-Arian and Orthodox debate, but it soon settles into a main topic for Gregory: Christian paideia. His opponents have advanced their leaders too soon; they have given them conciliar responsibilities for which they were not prepared. Their leaders do not understand how important it is to live by the sense that intellectual study and devotional meditation are inseparable. The word theoria includes both. 4 In Or. 28 the Theologian notes that Moses could only see the back parts of God. Within the deepest mystical visions Nazianzen had experienced, he barely made that much progress. From his perspective the Neo-Arians have forsaken contemplation of Christ's full divinity within the incarnation. Even their view of God the Father has been distorted because they think they can both inspect and describe the deepest aspects of God's nature. The Theologian's own spiritual formation came through repeated celebration of the liturgy and monastic retreat. Just before his move to become the pastor of the small orthodox community in Constantinople, he had spent about four years in a monastery at Seleucia where he might have been happy to remain. Through such discipline he was more fully prepared for the challenges that met him in the capital city. Or. 27 highlights both worship and monastic rigor. Furthermore, the bulk of his forty-four orations depend upon liturgy, particularly the great festivals of the church. He breathes in worship and breathes out theology. Thus trinitarian concern and soteriological interest are the atmosphere in which, for him, a theologian must live. Submission to God's humbling greatness in the midst of community is its major element. You can also sense a rather remarkable education at work. Gregory had begun his elementary studies in Cappadocia, yet as a young man he pursued further rhetorical training at Caesarea in Palestine, at Alexandria and finally at Athens. His education included not only the technical rhetoric of Hermogenes and others, but also the philosophical rhetoric of Plato and Aristotle. He knew how much of human understanding was amenable to syllogisms and how much must be left to more probablistic questioning. The Theologian was so skilled that he may have been asked to teach rhetoric in one of the Athenian schools;
3. Edmund Schlink, "Die biblische Grundlage des Glaubensbekentnisses des 2. ökumenischen Konzils 381, La signification et l'actualité du He conçue oecuménique pour le monde chrétien d'aujord'hui, Les études théologiques de Chambesy 2 (Chambesy: Editions du centre orthodoxe du patriarcat oecuménique, 1982), 139. 4. Or. 27.3, PG 36, 13C-16B, SC 250, 76-78, Williams' translation in Norris, 218-219 and commentary in Norris, 89. 5. Or. 28.2-3, PG 36,28A-29B, SC 250,102-106, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 224-226. 6. Or. 27.1-9, PG 36,12A-24A, SC 250,70-94, Williams' translation in Norris, 217-223.
The Theologian's own spiritual formation came through repeated celebration of the liturgy and monastic retreat.
He breathes in worship and breathes out theology. Thus trinitarian concern and soteriological interest are the atmosphere in which a theologian must live.
Frederick W. Norris
he, however, forsook that honor in the hope of forming a small monastic community with his friend, Basil. The potential of life with Basil at Annesi in Pontus was interrupted by their quirky friendship, the needs of Nazianzen's aging parents and the church's call to public ministry. The last was a milieu he did not fit easily. Yet particularly with his invitation in early 379 to serve at Constantinople, he gathered all his talents and education to confront situations there. He was hoodwinked for a time by the golden boy, Maximus the Cynic, who had been sent by Christians in Alexandria to undermine his bishopric. It hurt Gregory to see how his trust was misplaced. But he worked through the difficulty and was ableboth to protect and to nourish those who came to the small chapel called Anastasia. In Or. 27 Nazianzen turns to his educational background and musters his strength for polemic. He warns that all theologians must understand a common rhetorical truism found in Aristotle: no oration can be given to every audience on every occasion by every speaker. Aristotle knew that;8 each theologian should. Some aspects of theology are not amenable to the public square, certainly not, in this monk's eyes, to the protected salons of women. The trouble with Constantinople was that theology was common fare on the street corner, at the horse races, in places where liturgical awe did not penetrate and open silence did not exist. The deep resources of theology are not available for all public or private gatherings, particularly those where gamesmanship and chitchat dominate. Aristotle's rhetorical commonplace cuts another way. Those who claim that they are educated theologians and do not know what should have been learned in initial classes on rhetoric are not only stunted theologians; they are also immature intellectuals. Thus when they employ such apparently intricate care in forming their syllogisms, they are not to be followed because it is obvious that they are merely beginners. The elemental logic they have mastered could be put to some use. There are various puzzles of the philosophical schools to which they could turn their attention. After all, young students who think they know so much may be asked to write introductory themes. Their proud little efforts might show the deficiencies of Plato's view of ideas or his ugly love of beautiful bodies, Aristotle's stilted sense of providence, the vulgar ways of the Cynics, or the oddity of the importance given to Orphic beans. Because their logical investigations are so obviously those of beginners, they might even be asked to discuss resurrection, judgment or the sufferings of Christ. Evidently for Gregory these matters were so often brought forward by reputable
7. Or. 27.3, PG 36,13C-16B, SC 250,76-78, Williams' translation in Norris, 218-219. 8. Aristotle, Rhetoric 1356A. 9. Or. 27.9-10, PG 36,21D-25A, SC 250,92-98, Williams' translation in Norris, 222-223.
Theologians must understand a common rhetorical truism found in Aristotle: no oration can be given to every audience on every occasion by every speaker.
The deep resources of theology are not available for all public or private gatherings, particularly those where gamesmanship and chit-chat dominate.
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The well-educated theologian knew that the contemplative life was the root of theology, while rhetorical analysis and presentation was its branch.
preachers that preparing a good speech about them would be helpful while preparing a bad speech would not greatly affect the discussions. His opponents might hit the target in their sophomoric treatment of these topics, but they are not yet prepared by disciplined moral life and careful contemplation to speak of themselves as theologians. The welleducated theologian, one who perhaps had studied in various world centers as Gregory had, knew that the contemplative life was the root of theology, while rhetorical analysis and presentation was its branch. Dithering dialectic was not part of the tree. Having described a lex orandi, lex credendi ground of theology, the Theologian addresses in Or. 28 what in many ways is the heart of these Theological Orations. The Neo-Arians insist that they know the essence of God so well they can name it. When they have established that God's very nature is "unbegottenness," then they employ their "logic" with the result that the Son, as "only begotten," must be subordinate, a secondary God. Nazianzen leaves that claim for Ors. 29-30 and meets their views in another way. Surely talk of God is the most difficult subject of any philosophy. Thus one set of questions we must ask those who assert that they know so well the inner-workings of God is: what do they know about nature and themselves? In a series of biting, satirical queries, each of which shows the type of reading and study he had done in his education, Gregory establishes that the leading minds of his day pose almost endless unanswerable and significant questions about nature and human nature. Although we today offer many answers to most of the questions he raises, even for a modern (and particularly post-modern) readership, the point holds. When it is so . obvious that both then and now we ponder many things about nature and ourselves without reaching irrefutable conclusions, it would be strange indeed to say that on the basis of our mastery of the universe we are prepared to proclaim our mastery of God. People who can neither add nor subtract cannot explain calculus. Or. 28 suggests the possibility that the Theologian is opening the door for a natural theology, a way of using the disciplines of human understanding as a road toward God. He does show the oddity of later Arian claims about knowing God when humans know so little about their world. And he contends that by looking around, humans can know that God the designer exists; what they cannot gain from that look is who God is, what God's nature is. Those negative results are part of an
10. There is a debate about Socrates, the church historian's, claim in H.E. 4.7 that Neo-Arian leaders said they knew God's nature as well as God did. Lionel Wickham, "The Syntagmation of Aerius the Anomean," Journal of Theological Studies, NS 19 (1968), 565-566, n. 1 senses that it is a canard developed by their opponents. But Richard Paul Vaggione, Eunomius: The Extant Works, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), Frag, ii, p. 179 considers the quotation to be genuine. 11. Or. 28.1-31, PG 36,25C-72C, SC 250,100-174, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 224-244.
Surely talk of God is the most difficult subject of any philosophy. Thus one set of questions we must ask those who assert that they know so well the inner-workings of God is: what do they know about nature and themselves?
Frederick W. Norris
interesting ploy, not a claim that there is a neutral public square where all logic is self-evident and all arguments may be judged by anyone who arrives. In Ors. 27,28 and 31 he rails against Christians who allow pagans to be their judges. He also warns that words gain their meaning by the way they are used in communities. The debates between the Neo-Arians and the Orthodox about the Father being unbegotten and the Son begotten will be heard by pagans as justifying their horrifying myths about the gods. That is another reason why theology at its deepest is not street-corner conversation, supported by some kind of neutral foundationalism. As he notes in Oration 30, the best theologian will not be the one who twists and turns the faith through syllogistic treatment but the one whose poetic skill is great, the one who can provide the church with better images of the reality which can never be captured in demonstrative proofs. Efforts like these have led the way toward the church's recognition in our time of an Annie Dillard, a Madeleine L'Engle or a Kathleen Norris: all poet theologians. Gregory himself wrote 17,000 verses according to the canons of his age. Well received then, they often do not strike us now as stunning. His prose, however, was so good that Byzantine style manuals drew many of their examples from his work. His words sometimes took the place of those uttered by Demosthenes. It is still true that the way in which something is said often determines whether it is heard. Perhaps his most penetrating insight is his sense of how faith and reason relate. Faith is what leads us; faith gives fullness to our reasoning. What the Neo-Arian opponents need is conversion from being logicians to believers. 14 Human minds are too small to ferret out the inner recesses of God. Education at its best shows us our limitations as well as our attainments. Intellectualism is not faithful, but neither is anti-intellectualism. Only the chastened mind, or better the mind filled by faith, is fully alive and nimble. That mind can study the relationship between Aristotle's logic and his rhetoric. It can work with Stoic logic, grammatical exegesis of Scripture and philosophical conundrums. When it has considered such things, it will see that theology is a probability discipline, not one in which propositions are organized into syllogisms. Theological argument is enthymematic. It stakes claims and knows that they can be organized to make compelling appeals. Scripture and tradition can be used as topoi, commonplaces or accepted authorities. Inferences can be drawn. But because God in his nature is incomprehensible and yet is revealed sufficiently, theology will never
12. Or. 27.6, PG 35,17A-20B, SC 250, 84-86, Williams' translation in Norris, 220; Or. 28.13-17, PG 36, 41C-49A, SC 250,126-136, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 231-234; Or. 31.16, PG 36, 149C-152B, SC 250,306-308, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 287. 13. Or. 30.17, PG 36,125BC, SC 250,260-262, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 273-274. 14. Or. 28.28, PG 36, 65B-68B, SC 250,162-164, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 241-242; Or. 29.21, PG 36,101C-104B, SC 250,222-224, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 260-261.
Words gain their meaning by the way they are used in communities.
Theology at its deepest is not street-corner conversation, supported by some kind of neutral foundationalism.
What the Neo-Arian opponents need is conversion from being logicians to believers. Human minds are too small tofeiret out the innerrecesses of God.
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be amenable to tight syllogistic systems. Its subject is not open to that kind of investigation. The Theologian had so deeply penetrated those arts of human understanding that in many ways his efforts appear to be similar to the work of Anselm or Ludwig Wittgenstein. The Theologian had so deeply penetrated those arts of human under standing that in many ways his efforts appear to be similar to the work of Anselm or Ludwig Wittgenstein. He has a short statement of the position that Anselm takes in the Proslogion probably because his own stance is a precursor of Anselm's/ides quaerens intellectum. His efforts resemble those of Wittgenstein because he knows that language has no natural, only conventional, meanings. All depends upon how it is used. He reads Scripture well, both developing what is later in the west referred to as lectio divina and at the same time paying close attention to context. R.P.C. Hanson noted that Gregory's exegesis often makes quite good sense. Continually, in my view, he shows how full his reasoning is because he has submitted in faith to God's revelation made known in Christ within and for the church in which he grew to recognize that Christ. The Theologian's Christology follows the strengths noted above. You can search for the new terminology that is often ascribed to the Cappadocians. But the most technical development is found in the famous Ep. 38, now usually ascribed to Gregory of Nyssa rather than Basil. Nazianzen's offerings are more poetic and open-ended. He can distin guish between the oneness and threeness within the Trinity by employ ing the technical terms of his circle: homoousios, hypostasis, ousia, etc. But one of the more unusual distinctions he presents in a letter against the Apollinarians is alios kai alios for the difference between the Father and the Son in the Trinity and allo kai alio for the natures in the person of Christ. Quite often, particularly within the Theological Orations, he avoids technical terms altogether by not using any nouns to represent the realities. Most of his cases for Christology are made without the use of those kinds of terms; they are commonly based on Scripture. For example, when he is combatting the Neo-Arians, he finds the most telling arguments to be soteriological and liturgical. He follows what we know from the Toura finds to be a sentiment of Origen: How shall we humans become divine if the Son who became human is not divine?
15. Or. 30.11, PG 36,116C-117B, SC 250, 244-248, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 268-69; Or. 29.21, PG 36,101C-104B, SC 250, 222-224, Wickhams' translation in Norris, ν & 260. In terms of Hans Frei's Types of Christian Theology, ed. by George Hunsinger and William Placher (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992) Gregory fits in the fifth type along with Karl Barth. 16. See my "Theology as Grammar: Gregory Nazianzen and Ludwig Wittgenstein," Arianism after Arius, ed. by Michel Barnes and Daniel H. Williams (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, in press). 17. R. P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988), 846. 18. Saint Basil, the Letters, ed. and trans, by Roy Deferrari, "The Loeb Classical Library," (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972), Vol. I, Ep. 38. See Geerard, CPG. 19. Ep. 102, PG 37, 180A7B, Paul Gallay, Grégoire de Nazianze: Lettres théologiques, Sources chrétiennes 208 (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1974), 44-46.
When he is combatting the Neo-Arians, he finds the most telling arguments to be soteriological and liturgical.
Frederick W. Norris
We shall participate in the divine nature only as far as the Son participated in our nature. That understanding led Nazianzen not only to oppose later Arian Christology but also that of Apollinaris and his followers. Furthermore he asked the Neo-Arians what is our baptism if we are baptized into a creature named the begotten Son? Our baptism into Christ is baptism into the divine. The teaching and practice of Gregory's church form his sense of the person of Christ. The Bible as the book of the church also plays the leading role in his Christology. Within Orations 29 and 30 he cites Scripture over three hundred times. The traditional exegetical model, the communicatio idiomatum, is invoked because Gregory does not teach two sons and divide the person of Christ. Anything said of Christ in Scripture can be predicated of the one person in which the divinity predominates. That, however, must be done in a worshipful manner. Tensions must remain intact. On the one hand, it is preposterous for Christians to think of the impassible God tied down in the muck of our lives as if God is not above it all. On the other hand, Christians must insist that God the Father does not shy away from suffering. That is a basic confession of the church. To speak of the passion of the impassible is to express liturgically and poetically the central mystery of the incarnation. It explodes tight logic, not with the destructive force of a bomb, but with the profusion of spring's color and scent. In subtle and convincing ways, the Theologian does what Athanasius was never able to do: he makes the humanity the subject of certain biblical thoughts and actions. It is the man Jesus who prays in Gethsemane that the cup will be removed. The will of the divine Son is the same as that of the Father; it is the human will that so often stands over against God's will. That human will is free and must make its own moves to obey. The cry from the Cross is again the man. The Son is not forsaken by the Father. In truth the man Jesus is not forsaken; neither are we. But both we and the man Jesus at times have thought that we were desperately alone. Nazianzen speaks of three subjects for various scriptural statements: the pre-existent Son, the Son incarnate, and the manhood. Again, each biblical phrase can be ascribed to the one person, Jesus Christ, with no ill effect. But to counter the claims of later Arians that any verse which describes lack of omnipotence or omniscience, that any phrase which states human weaknesses like hunger, thirst, or growth must mean that the Son is a secondary god, the Theologian employs his threefold predication. The pre-existent Son was always with the Father. He
20. Origen, Dialogue with Heracleides 7. 21. Or. 29.19, PG 36,100A-B, SC 250,216-218, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 257-258. 22. Or. 30.12, PG 36,117C-120B, SC 250,248-252, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 269-270. Or. 30.5, PG 36,108C-109B, SC 250,232-236, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 264-265.
To speck of the passion of the impassible is to express liturgically and poetically the central mysteiy of the incarnation.
The Theologian does what Athanasius was never able to do: he makes the humanity the subject of certain biblical thoughts and actions.
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The Son incarnate accepted limitations by emptying himself and taking on our humanity. The full manhood must be there, functioning, or our very salvation is endangered.
shared in the Father's nature and thus was God without qualification other than Son. The Son incarnate accepted limitations by emptying himself and taking on our humanity. The full manhood must be there, functioning, or our very salvation is endangered. Thus Gregory's christological model can employ all scriptural clauses about Jesus Christ without insisting that the Son is less in nature than or of a different nature from that of the Father. Gregory claims that he and his community can incorporate all that Scripture says of Jesus Christ because they do not choose "begotten" and "unbegotten" as the names of the Son's and the Father's natures. They know the need for Greek alpha-privative adjectives in describing God. But "invisible," "immortal," and many other similar terms are used to indicate that God is beyond our comprehension. Neo-Arians, in Nazianzen's view, never show why from among so many adjectives only "unbegotten" has been chosen in its contrast with "begotten" to name the nature of God. Why are these the names of the natures of Father and Son as opposed to the others? Does it not go back to a wrong sense of what names offer theology and also what narrow logic-chopping invokes?
The Theologian makes his most profound appeals by comparing the human and divine natures of the incarnate Son. He knows that there The Theologian are scriptural verses that speak of less than divine qualities in Jesus Christ. But they can be talked about under the category of his humanity makes his most or the limitations taken on by the Son. Here in only a small abstract of profound appeals his almost musical confession he shows his prowess in ways one of my by comparing the students described with both affection and honor as "great black human and divine preaching." These balanced phrases follow hard logical analysis of natures of the Neo-Arian propositions that shows Gregory's own command of such incarnate Son. conundrums. These words, however, unlike any analysis, sing the song of incarnation, fully man and fully God. As man he was baptized, but he absolved sins as God; he needed no purifying rites himself — his purpose was to hallow water. As man he was put to the test, but as God he came through victorious —-yet, bids us be of good cheer, because he has conquered the world. He hungered — yet he fed thousands. He is indeed "living, heavenly bread." He thirsted — yet he exclaimed: "Whosoever thirsts, let him
23. Or. 28.9, PG 36,36C-37B, SC 250,116-120, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 228-229. 24. Mt. 3:16, Luke 3:21. 25. John 1:29, Mt. 9:2. 26. Mt. 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13. 27. John 16:33. 28. Mt. 4:2, Luke 4:2. 29. Mt. 14:20-21,15:37-38, Mark 6:42-44,8:9. 30. John 6:51. 31. John 19:28.
Frederick W. Norris
come to me and drink."32 Indeed he promised that believers would become fountains.33 He was tired34 — yet he is the "rest" of the weary and the burdened.35 He was overcome by heavy sleep36 — yet he goes lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter. He pays tax — yet he uses a fish to do it; indeed he is emperor over those who demand the tax. He is called a "Samaritan, demonically possessed" — but he rescues the man who came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves.4 Yes, he is recognized by demons, drives out demons, drowns deep a legion of spirits and sees the prince of demons falling like lightning. He is stoned, yet not hit; he prays yet he hears prayer. He weeps, 7 yet he puts an end to weeping. He asks where Lazarus is — he was man; yet he raises Lazarus — he was God. He is sold, and cheap was the price — thirty pieces of silver;51 yet he buys back the world at the mighty cost of his own blood.52 A sheep, he is led to the slaughter — yet he shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well.55 A lamb, he is dumb — yet he is "word," proclaimed by "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." He is weakened, wounded 5 — yet he cures every disease and every weakness.60 He is brought up to the tree61 and nailed to it 62 —yet by the tree
32. John 7:37. 33. Cf. John 7:38. 34. John 4:6. 35. Mt. 11:28. 36. Cf. Mt. 8:24, Mark 4:38. 37. Mt. 14:25-32, Mark 6:48-51, John 6:19-21, Mt. 8:26, Mark 4:39, Luke 8:24. 38. Mt. 17:24-27. 39. John 8:48. 40. Cf. Luke 10:30. 41. Luke 4:33-34, Mark 1:23-24. 42. Cf. Mt. 8:16. 43. Mark 5:9,13, Luke 8:30, 33. 44. Cf. Luke 10:18. 45. Cf. John 8:59,10:31, 39. 46. E.g. Mark 1:35, Mt. 8:13. 47. John 11:35. 48. Cf. Luke 7:13,8:52, 23:28. 49. John 11:34. 50. John 11:43-44. 51. Mt. 26:15. 52. Cf. 1 Cor. 6:20,1 Pet. 1:19. 53. Acts 8:32, Isa. 53:7. 54. Ps. 80(79):1(2). 55. Cf. John 10:11,16. 56. Isa. 53:7. 57. John 1:1. 58. John 1:23. 59. Isa. 53:5. 60. Mt. 9:35. 61.1 Pet. 2:24. 62. Cf. John 19:17.
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of life he restores us. Yes, he saves even a thief crucified with him; he wraps all the visible world in darkness. 5 He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat — and who is he? Why, one who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire. He surrenders his life, yet he has power to take it again. Yes, the veil is rent, for things of heaven are being revealed, rocks split, and dead men have an earlier awakening.7 He dies,7 but he vivifies, and by death destroys death.75 He is buried,76 yet he rises again.77 He goes down to Hades, yet he leads souls up,7 ascends to heaven,7 and will come again to judge quick and dead, and to probe discussions like these. If the first set of expressions starts you going astray, the second set takes your error away. 1 Nazianzen's Christology strengthens the Athanasian solution, not only by repeating the phrases ofNicaea, but also by predicating thoughts and actions of Christ's manhood. It leads to Chalcedon. Nazianzen's Christology strengthens the Athanasian solution, not only by repeating the phrases of Nicaea, but also by predicating thoughts and actions of Christ's manhood. It leads to Chalcedon. In a similar way his doctrine of the Holy Spirit goes farther than his friend Basil was ever able to advance. Apparently Basil never dared, either in corporate worship or in written work, to speak of the Spirit as God. He may have accepted that it was proper to think or pray to the Spirit, but such a phrase seemingly never came from his Ups in public. The Theologian begins Oration 31 with the insistence that the Holy Spirit is God. Only the three-fold "light" shines fully. Nazianzen's sense of the worship milieu for the Spirit is much the same as that for his Christology: the Holy Spirit is active in our salvation; we were
63. Cf. Gen. 2:9, 3:2, Rev. 2:7. 64. Luke 23:43. 65. Cf. Mt. 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44. 66. Mt. 27:48. 67. Mt. 27:34. 68. John 2:7-9. 69. Cf. Ex. 15:25. 70. Cant. 5:16 [LXX]. 71. John 10:17-18. 72. Mt. 27:51-52. 73. Mt. 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30. 74. John 5:21. 75. 2 Tim. 1:10, Heb. 2:14. 76. Mt. 27:60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:41-42,1 Cor. 15:4. 77. John 20:8-9, Mt. 28:6, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6,1 Cor. 15.4. 78. Cf. Eph. 4:8-9, Ps. 68(67):18(19). 79. Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:10-11. 80. 2 Tim. 4:1,1 Pet. 4:5. 81. Or. 29.20, PG 36,100C-101C, SC 250,220-222, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 258-260. The biblical warp and woof of Gregory's appeal is clear. There are, however, arguments to be raised against some of these parallels. When trie man was put to the test, did only God come through victorious? Does a list like this create a divisive Christology that leads to two sons and thus to what came to be known as a Nestorian error? Legitimate queries each. Other passages offer statements that soften the edge of the questions. Ine real point may be that the poetic cadence moves one in ways all too seldom experienced.
Frederick W. Norris
baptized not into a creature but into the divine Spirit. And again he and his friends pour over the Scriptures to see from within the church what Holy Writ says about that Spirit. Gregory forcefully confessed that the Spirit is God and then noted that his opponents, both later Arians and Pneumatomachians, have asked where he gets this unscriptural god. Where does the Bible speak of the Spirit as God? Finally, after teasing his audience almost unmercifully as if he is going to avoid the point, he offers almost a hundred passages of Scripture in which he shows that nearly everything divine is attributed to the Spirit except being the Father or the Son. Relying on lists of "holy" and "holy Spirit" which those in his circle have provided — and perhaps adding some from his own study — he shows repeatedly how the Spirit must be accepted as God, and thus that the full form of Christian faith must be described as trinitarian. It is also in his discussion of the Spirit that he offers his famous sense of doctrinal development. The Old Testament made God the Father clear; The New Testament delineated Christ the Son. It is in the present age, says Nazianzen, that the divinity of the Spirit has become plain. Scripture does not precisely speak the words that the Holy Spirit is God. But Scripture, liturgy and salvation demand that the church now declare the fullness of that Spirit's divinity, and thus the doctrine of the Trinity. 82 The Theologian wanted the Council of Constantinople in 381 to be even more bold than it was. His view of the Spirit and doctrinal development indicate yet again that in many ways Arianism, even Neo-Arianism with its subtle philosophical use of up-to-date positions, was still a conservativism built on shaky foundations. Holding fast to what has been traditioned may require moving forward toward different, faithful expressions. The influence he had as the second president of the Council of Constantinople at the least helped affirm what has become the most often prayed confession of the church: The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. But attacks upon him, particularly by Alexandrians who insisted he had broken the canon law of Nicaea in being bishop of more than one see, moved him to resign in anger. He has thus also provided us with another clear sign that we need for the present day. Councils are not regarded as the voice of the church because their members are always virtuous or insightful. As the Theologian says, they can be gaggles of geese; they have formed gatherings which not only did not clarify the church's vision but also threatened her life. He wrote to Procopius that he should avoid such councils because they could destroy the soul. In the present era when we know enough about the machinations of
82. Or. 31.26, PG 36,161C-164B, SC 250,326-328, Wickhams' translation in Norris, 293-294. 83. Ep. 130, PG 37, 225AB, Paul Gallay, ed., Gregor von Nazianz: Briefe, GCS 53 (Berlin: Academic-Verlag, 1969), 95-96.
The Old Testament made God the Father clear; The New Testament delineated Christ the Son. It is in the present age, says Nazianzen, that the divinity of the Spirit has become plain.
Councils are not regarded as the voice of the church because their members are always virtuous or insightful. As the Theologian says, they can be gaggles of geese.
PRO ECCLESIA Vol. II, No. 4
councils and are concerned enough about state power or culture telling the church what she must believe, we can see a council president reviling the proceedings and the participants. The Theologian, without spelling it out or even to my knowledge commenting on it, provides a hole only filled by the sense of recepThe councils and tion.84 The councils and their creeds are acceptable because the church their creeds are over time and geography has received them as expressive of its faith. acceptable because The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is the most confessed neither the church because an emperor called the council that framed it, nor because over time and culture demanded it nor because various factions warred to see who geography has would be the proper president. It is confessed because within it the received them church finds her faith. Neither early Protestants, reforming Catholics as expressive or contemporary Orthodox are the first to worry about power struggles of its faith. that rot the faith; Gregory the Theologian, the president of the Council of Constantinople in 381, rebuked such disease. The Eastern Orthodox have found Gregory repeatedly helpful and thus refer to him as The Theologian, a title which for them he shares only with the apostle John. Gregory also forms with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom the triumvirate of the three hierarchs, a group of authorities that mark much discussion within Eastern Orthodoxy. Even in the West Nazianzen is considered a doctor of the church; the number of manuscripts of his work is only exceeded by an eastern author in the case of John Chrysostom. David Cunningham, an Episcopalian teaching in a Roman Catholic university, has written a brilliant description of rhetorical theology. His work shows how helpful Gregory can be to a theologian who wishes to recapture the importance of rhetoric and literary studies for our efforts. The remarkable ecumenical theologian, Thomas Oden, has found the Theologian to be central in his three-volume classical theology for leaders of today's church. There is little doubt that Gregory the Theologian deserves his title. Theology done in his key is always pro ecclesia. D
84. André Halleaux, "La réception du symbole oecuménique de Nicée à Chaldédoine," Éphémérides théologicaeLovanienses 61 (1985), 5-47. 85. David Cunningham, Faithful Persuasion: InAidofa Rhetoric of Christian Theology (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991). 86. Thomas C. Oden, Systematic Theology: Vol. 1, The Living God, Vol. 2, The Word of Life, Vol. 3, Life in the Spirit (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989-1992).
Frederick W. Norris
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