"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

St. Gregory the Theologian on the Life of Christ

For decades now, Western scholarship has been fascinated with one of the most important and influential of the Cappadocians. A new book by a Dominican theologian continues that trend: Andrew Hofer, Christ in the Life and Teaching of Gregory of Nazianzus (Oxford UP, 2013), 304pp. 

About this book we are told:
Christ in the Life and Teaching of Gregory of Nazianzus is the first full-length book devoted to an overview of the Christology of this fourth-century Father of the Church. Andrew Hofer examines the breadth of Gregory's corpus--orations, letters, and poems (often neglected in doctrinal studies)--to argue that Gregory's writing on Christ can be best understood in tandem with his autobiography.
This study begins with an articulation of Gregory's theology of the Word in which words come from the Word who became incarnate. Hofer then offers a close reading of how Gregory writes to or about Christ in the poetry known as "on himself." Within a three-part study of "autobiographical Christology," Hofer explores the philosophical background of Gregory's rhetoric for what he calls the "mixtures" of Christ and himself. He then elucidates this autobiographical concern in Gregory's famous Ep. 101, a landmark text in the Christological controversies. Thirdly, Hofer considers how Gregory celebrates the mysteries of Christ in the festal orations. Before the book's epilogue, a chapter describes how Gregory wrote of Christ for his pastoral ministry. Throughout the work, Hofer demonstrates the importance in Gregory's writings of the language of blending (such as in the Greek word krasis, rejected by the Council of Chalcedon to describe the Incarnation). This book thus offers a unique perspective on the one known as "the Theologian" in Chalcedon's acts and in subsequent Christian tradition.

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