Friday, 8 May 2015

Marcello La Matina: The homiletic turn in Gregory of Nyssa’s work. A brief study on De Vita Moysis and In Canticum canticorum

According to the common opinion today, the works written and/or preserved under the name of Gregory of Nyssa might be divided in two main classes: treatises and homilies. The first ones are commonly censed as having a doctrinal clue: despite their occasional character has been the author (or may be by his editors) gave them a theoretical structure, so that they were subtracted to the circumstantial boundaries of their own composition, thus, becoming a well-definite corpus of theological works. The second group of works has perhaps the same origin of the first ones, but create a different story. Homilies were born in the activity of preaching, whereas the theoretical works have become treatises. Homilies are many-facetted texts ranging over multifarious topics.
Informed by Plutarch of Chaeronea, I read Gregory especially as a performer, a speaker, not only in his homiletic texts. His works were somehow two-step texts. For, first, they were held as lectures or conferences, and then fixed and revised in order to explicate — or to polish — the logical and rhetorical architecture. If it is so, then Gregory is to be considered a homilist, an oral philosopher, whose prevalent activity is talking before his audience rather than writing in the lonely frame of a monastic cell.

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