Thursday, 30 June 2011

Matthew Briel - Gregory the Theologian, Logos and Literature.

In the last ten years Gregory Nazianzen’s two orations against Julian have begun to receive attention in the English speaking world.  Earlier European scholarship had largely taken the form of identifying Biblical and classical allusions. One of the main concerns of these orations is Julian’s edictum de professoribus. Susanna Elm’s work persuasively demonstrates that Gregory’s argument against Julian is secular. Julian claims that, because these authors (Homer, Demosthenes, Herodotus et alii) were religious men, in order to appropriately appreciate them one must worship the same gods. If Christians think that these ancients were fools, which they must be if they get the central question of God wrong, why would they study them? Kaldellis cogently argues that Gregory does not answer Julian’s claim and that this is a source of continuing anxiety for later Christian Byzantine literati.

However, in the same orations Gregory has some remarkable play with the word “logos.”  This fact is mentioned in scholarship but not much engaged. But it is in a theology of the Logos, if anywhere, that one might find the resources for a more adequete response to Julian’s argument for the integrity of religion and culture. As a result a consideration of the Logos in Gregory’s thought has the possibility of answering Julian’s criticism. The Logos, the One who gives form and rationality to all the kosmos, is known better by the Christians who know him intimately in his Incarnation than by the pagans who see the Logos, as it were, ex umbris et imaginibus. In this paper I will argue that the resources for a response to Julian’s argument in letter 36 can be found both in Gregory’s play with the word logos in Orations 4-5 and in his more fully developed theology of the Logos.

No comments:

Post a Comment