Sunday, 3 May 2015

Hannah Hemphill: Greater Wealth than the Treasures of Egypt: Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses as Meditation on Christian Discipleship

Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses is standardly presented as a treatise on growth in virtue, the perfection of which lies in continual progress toward God. While the treatise touches on some points of Christological doctrine, or reveals moments of Christological typology, these are not main concerns. I suggest, however, that while the prologue to the Life of Moses reveals progress in virtue as Gregory’s subject, his Pauline imagery of the divine race at the outset of this work points to this passage from the Letter to the Philippians as a contextual key (Phil. 3:14), one that invokes the reader to view the entire treatise, and precisely Gregory’s teaching on virtue and perfection, in its light. As such, Moses is presented not merely as a type of Christ, but as a disciple who follows Christ. Moreover, Gregory’s very choice of Moses as one who runs the race of virtue alludes to a second Scriptural key: In the Letter to the Hebrews, Moses is among those who run the race that Christ ran, enduring the cross for the sake of greater joy (Heb 12:1-2). Moses in particular “considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26). Thus, attending to these Scriptural allusions in the prologue, I argue that the Life of Moses, in its language of ascent in virtue, most fundamentally presents a meditation on the Christological contours of discipleship.

No comments:

Post a Comment