Gregory of Nyssa

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Related to Saint Gregory of Nyssa: Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Saint Basil the Great

Gregory of Nyssa

 

Born around 335 in Caesarea; died 394, in Nyssa. Church writer, theologian, and philosopher. One of the most prominent Greek patristic figures.

Gregory of Nyssa was the brother of Basil the Great and a friend of Gregory of Nazianzus, and with them he formed the so-called Cappadocian circle of church figures and thinkers. As a youth he studied rhetoric and philosophy before entering a monastery. He became bishop of the town of Nyssa in Asia Minor in 371, and he was a participant in the Second Ecumenical Council of 381. Gregory of Nyssa’s philosophical outlook took shape under the decisive influence of Plato and Christian Platonism as represented by Origen. This influence and his penchant for philosophical speculation often led him to adopt an unorthodox position. (Thus, like Origen and in opposition to church doctrine, he taught the concepts of the temporary nature of the torments of hell and the eventual enlightenment of all sinners, including Satan.) Gregory of Nyssa put forth the thesis of the necessity of delimiting the spheres of philosophy and theology. Like Origen, he made extensive use of free allegorical interpretations of the Bible.

Gregory of Nyssa’s anthropology was distinguished by its great originality. Its basis is not the idea of the individual but the idea of humanity as an organic whole—a kind of collective personality, whose essence is its intellect. Gregory exerted a powerful influence on the author John Scotus Erigena. as well as on Maximus the Confessor.

WORKS

Opera, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1921.
Opera, vols. 1–8. Leiden, 1958–64.

REFERENCES

Nesmelov. V. I. Dogmaticheskaia sistema Grigoriia Nisskogo. Kazan, 1887.
Danielou, I. Platonisme et théologie mystique. Paris. 1954.
Völker, W. Gregor von Nyssa als Mvstiker. Wiesbaden. 1955.

S. S. AVERINTSEV