Thursday, 5 February 2015

Jennifer Nimmo Smith: Gregory of Nazianzus in Town and Country

Gregory of Nazianzus' rich and complex imagery has received much study and description.  While his revision of some sermons in the later stages of his life may impede a definitive evaluation of the different stages of his thoughts, other of their aspects are clear to see. Gregory often uses the image of a stele (a pillar, or a memorial) in his works, most notably in Sermons 4 and 5 against the Emperor Julian, but elsewhere, as well, and in praise as well as blame. Another favoured reference is that to the stulos, or pillar, of cloud and fire, which led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 33).  Inspired by a comment in Susan Holman's thoughtful book, The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia, OUP 2001, p. 172, consulted online in 21/3/2010 and 18/04/2013, which relates a warning by Gregory to his hearers, not 'to be frozen into a pillar of salt' (the fate of Lot's wife, Genesis 19.26) before the destruction of their harvest, as a reference to the local landscape of 'whitened, pillar-shaped rock outcroppings' (previously described on p. 70 of the same work), this paper will examine the occurrence of these double images, and their significance, in Gregory's œuvre.

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