Just finished Dr. Christopher A. Beeley’s book Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light (an excellent introduction to Gregory’s theology), hence the many recent posts on/related to Gregory. Two thoughts have remained in my mind throughout my reading of the book.
- If Gregory edited his orations into the order that we now have them, then should they not be studied in that order? I wonder what insights might be gained by doing that. For instance, is it a coincidence that the first and last oration are Easter orations? Or that the first three orations deal with issues related to the difficulty of ministry? If I were to hazard a guess without actually having in my possession all 45 orations (or of even having read more than seven or eight), I would say that Gregory’s arrangement might be as a handbook for ministers which reinforces true doctrine (i.e., belief in the Trinity) with insights into the difficulties and joys of being a minister. Definitely something worth looking into.
- In Gregory, and in many other Patristic writers, there is a sense in which salvation is the beginning of a long healing process in which the mind and the body are slowly trained to be reoriented towards God. This got me thinking about Paul’s epistle to the Romans (now that I think about it, I’m not sure where the connection was), specifically the part in Romans 7 about the two different laws; one of my mind and one of the “members” of my body. When I revisited this passage, I all of a sudden saw the human flesh as a hindrance to spiritual progress (of course, the good Kupyrians/neo-Calvinists/N.T. Wright may shudder at the thought of “demonizing” physical existence as “Platonic”). Paul’s rhetorical quesiton about deliverance from a body of death refers to his real body (but not necessarily a complete removal from the physical body). If this is the case, could the law of the Spirit be a literal transformation of my physical humanity? I don’t know, and would have to look into this more. At the same time, I wondered if there are any precedents in earlier writers (Greek or Hellenistic Jew) which referred to human nature in terms of “law”. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but I am interested in biblical precedents for the Patristic understanding of the transformation of human nature by the spirit pre-resurrection.