Thursday, 7 February 2019
Liang ZHANG: Follow the Guide According to De Vita Moysis of Gregory of Nyssa
Gregory of Nyssa often speaks of the importance and necessity of following the guide, especially in one’s spiritual path to perfection which is endless. This paper aims to deepen some aspects of this notion according to his work De Vita Moysis. By examining the figure Moses presented by Gregory as guide, I will show briefly what are the characteristics of the guide, what is his role and what are the conditions for becoming a guide. I will then focus on exploring Gregory’s discussion of the true guide, God Himself whom Moses and all human beings must follow as Gregory presents in Vit Moys II, 249-255, the main text for this paper. Accordingly, I will reflect on the following questions: Why do we have to follow the guide and how to follow him? How to understand the Gregory’s idea that to follow God is to see God (Vit MoysII, 252: ἀκολουθεῖν τῷ θεῷ…βλέπειν ἐστὶ τὸν θεόν)? Moreover, since for Gregory, to see God is to have God in oneself (Beat 6: τὸἰδεῖν ταὐτὸν σημαίνει τῷ σχεῖν), to follow God is also to have God in oneself. How is it possible to have in ourselves the one who precedes us since to follow is an exterior and active gesture and to have God in oneself is an interior and contemplative act? In other words, what is the relationship between following God and having God? This paper tries particularly to better understand this paradoxical thought of Gregory.