Sunday, 3 May 2015

Karen Carducci: Implicit Stipulations in the Testamentum of Gregory of Nazianzos vis-à-vis the Testamenta of Remigius of Rheims and Caesarius of Arles

The rare late antique testamenta have long fascinated scholars, but some have isolated the late Roman-style will (written in 381) by Gregory of Nazianzos from comparison with other extant wills from a similar period (e.g., R. Van Dam, JThS 46.1). Yet although the testamentum of Gregory significantly antedates the two nearest extant and complete Christian testamenta (for "complete," v. U. Nonn, Archiv für Diplomatik 18), namely the "petit" will of Remigius of Rheims (written ante 533, following A.H.M. Jones et al. in Rev.belg. 35.2, but preserved in Hincmar's Vita S. Remigii) and the epistolary testamentum of Caesarius of Arles (written ante 542), studying these wills from the perspective of the testators' shared identity qua orthodox bishops will reveal the Christian subtext of Gregory's testamentum. Comparing the bequests in the testamentum of Gregory with those in the testamenta of Remigius and Caesarius demonstrates that even though Gregory makes no explicit stipulations in his will, like his fellow bishops, he does bequeath his possessions with and as implicit stipulations to his beneficiaries to re-present them to others in a Christian way. The implicit Christian stipulations within Gregory's testamentum include: (1) the testator's praise of beneficiaries for past virtuous behaviour as an implicit encouragement to use his bequests likewise; (2) the bishop's bestowal of his clothing as concrete reminders to beneficiaries to imitate his own ascetic and ecclesiastical example; (3) the testator's implicit subordination of all bequests to his primary goal of establishing a patrimony to the poor of the church at Nazianzos.

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