In his writings and his career Gregory of Nyssa assumes many roles. He is a Christian Platonist, a spiritual guide for ascetics and for those seeking the vision of God, as well as being one of those who shaped the Trinitarian doctrine of God espoused at Constantinople in 381. His preaching is ever popular and, paradoxically, his sermons reveal someone unafraid of deeper speculations regarding the meaning of the Christian ideal. The translations in Part One illustrate these various concerns, but are not a sufficient basis for the thesis of Part Two, one that finds an answer the question of how to describe the coherence of a far from systematic thinker. One solution is to appeal to Gregory’s conviction that after this world all Christians, indeed all humans, will be united in diversity, and that this means that all are now on the one path to their destiny, however much their progress may differ. This answer does not pretend to solve all problems, nor does it rule out other approaches to Gregory’s thought. But it locates Gregory’s work in the liturgical and sacramental life of the church that includes ordinary as well as elite Christians.
List of Abbreviations
Part One: Translations
Concerning the Meaning of the Christian’s Profession
In Praise of Theodore, Holy and Great Martyr
In Praise of Stephen, Saint and Protomartyr I
Another in Praise of Saint Stephen, the Protomartyr
In Praise of the Holy Forty Martyrs 1a
In Praise of the Holy Forty Martyrs 1b
A Speech in Praise of the Forty Martyrs Delivered in the Martyrion
In Regard to Those Fallen Asleep
On “Then Also the Son Himself Will Be Subjected to the One Who Subjected All Things to Him”
Part Two: Essays
1. The Promises and Baptism
2. The Contest
3. Helpers and Allies
4. The Last Things
A Brief Postscript
Endorsements and Reviews
Gregory of Nyssa regards knowledge of the name of Christ as the ‘one path’ that all must follow to reach the divine life. This marvellous collection of translations and essays unfolds for us the various stages that Gregory locates along this path. With the assistance of two expert guides, Rowan Greer and Warren Smith, the reader moves along from baptism, via the contest of faith – modelled by ascetics, martyrs, and saints – to the completion and perfection of all humanity in Christ.
Hans Boersma, Regent College, Vancouver
On the whole, the book’s aims seem achieved and the arguments well supported. A suitable read for anyone looking for a focused account of Gregory of Nyssa and spiritual disciplines, or even a varied collection of some of Gregory’s shorter writings.
Kris Hiuser, in Theological Book Review, Vol 27, No 2