Saturday, 7 February 2015

Ilaria L.E. Ramelli: Gregory Nyssen’s and Evagrius’s Biographical and Theological Relations: Origen's Heritage and Neoplatonism

I shall preliminarily revisit biographical links between Nyssen and Evagrius (suggesting a closer relationship than usually assumed) and then focus on some major theological and philosophical points that suggest a significant influence of Gregory’s thought on Evagrius.
For instance, Evagrius’s characteristic doctrine of the subsumption of body into soul and soul into intellect is traced by Eriugena (who, like Maximus the Confessor, followed it) back to Nyssen. I shall argue that Eriugena was right with respect to this and other cases of theological influence of Nyssen on Evagrius, including the apokatastasis doctrine that Nyssen and Evagrius supported in a radical form, although it was becoming more and more controversial in their time. Allusions to Gregory also lurk behind several of Evagrius’s references to his teachers. Evagrius’s Christology, misunderstood as subordinationistic, reveals itself as Nyssian and Origenian. Also Evagrius’s dynamic notion of the protological and eschatological unity are in line with Origen’s and Nyssen’s, and have nothing to do with pantheism and the views condemned under Justinian. Even Evagrius’s anthropology is consistent with Origen’s and Gregory’s: none of them maintained the preexistence of bare souls, often attached to Origen as well as to Evagrius (under the unwarranted assumption that Nyssen rejected Origen’s theory).
A painstaking reassessment of the relation of Evagrius’s true thought to Nyssen’s is showing that Evagrius was, like Nyssen, authentically Origenian, and not radically Origenistic, as he has often been depicted on the basis of the identification of the Origenistic tenets condemned under Justinian with Evagrius’s ideas.))

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