STUDIES IN APOPHATIC THEOLOGY AND CHRISTOCENTRIC ANTHROPOLOGY IN GREGORY OF NYSSA A SUMMARY WITH AN INTRODUCTION
(Posted May 2007)
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ABSTRACT:The thesis consists of five international congress papers and a summary with an introduction. The overarching aim of the studies and the summary is to examine the inner coherency of the theological and anthropological thinking of Gregory of Nyssa (331-395). To the issue is applied an 'apophatic approach' with a 'Christological focus'. It is suggested that the coherency is to be found from the Christological concept of unity between 'true God' and 'true man' in the one person of Jesus Christ. Gregory is among the first to make a full recognition of two natures of Christ, and to use this recognition systematically in his writings. The aim of the studies is pursued by the method of ‘identification’, which is a combination the modern ‘problematic method’ and Gregory's own method of ‘following’ (akolouthia).
The preoccupation with issues relating to the socalled Hellenization of Christianity in the patristic era was strong in the twentiethcentury Gregory scholarship. The most discussed questions have been the Greek influence in his thought and his philosophical sources. In the five articles of the thesis it is examined how Gregory's thinking stands in its own right. The manifestly apophatic character of his theological thinking is made a part of the method of examining his thought according to the principles of his own method of following. The basic issue concerning the relation of theology and anthropology is discussed in the
contexts of his central Trinitarian, anthropological, Christological and eschatological sources. In the summary the Christocentric integration of Gregory's thinking is discussed also in relation to the issue of the alleged Hellenization.
The main conclusion of the thesis concerns the concept of theology in Gregory. It is not indebted to the classical concept of theology as metaphysics or human speculation of God. Instead, it is founded to the traditional JudeoChristian idea of God who speaks with his people face to face. In Gregory, theologia connotes the oikonomia of God's selfrevelation. It may be regarded as the state of constant expression of love between the Creator and his created image. In theology, the human person becomes an image of the Word by which the Father expresses his love to "man" whom he loves as his own Son. Eventually the whole humankind, as one, gives the divine Word a physical audible and sensible Body. Humankind then becomes what theology is. The whole humanity expresses divine love by manifesting Christ in words and deeds, singing in one voice to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.