Influsso della polemica con il messalianesimo nella dottrina sulla preghiera continua dei fedeli nel De oratione dominica

M. Mira (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma)

Mercredi 5 septembre, 11h45-12h15

In the commentary of the prayer of our Lord, Gregory of Nyssa teaches to ordinary christians that they should pray while they work. This kind of ininterrupted prayer was recomended also by the messalians, but these ascets affirmed that praying continuously was possible only for people who put aside their work. Is there some kind of polemic between Gregory and the messalians? Gregory seems to foster the messalian spirituality in his work De instituto christiano, where he reelaborates the macarian Epistula magna. The commentary of the prayer of the Lord and the De instituto christiano contain the idea of the prayer as the mean to obtain the «symmachia» of God in our works, and the exhortation to pray in order to avoid the danger of working for our own exaltation instead of working for the glory of God. Could these two coincidences show that Gregory uses messalian ideas in the commentary of the De oratione dominica, or, instead of that, that he uses some ideas of the commentary to give some advice to the messalian community?

Gregory of Nyssa, De oratione dominica II: “Our Father who art in heaven”

Lenka Karfíková (Charles University, Praha)

Mercredi 5 septembre, 9h45-10h30

In the second Homily Gregory interprets the introductory words of Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven” (Mt 6:9). His exposition consists of four thematic parts:

  1. The comparison of Jesus and Moses as legislators (20,3 – 21,14),
  2. Euché (vow) and proseuché (prayer) (21,15 – 22,15),
  3. The ascension to God as the Father (22,16 – 26,19),
  4. The homeland in heaven (26,20 – 30,24).

The comparison of Jesus and Moses as legislators comes close to Gregory’s Vita Moysis of Philonic inspiration but the message is quite different. Instead of focusing on the incomprehensibility of God, Gregory introduces Jesus as a new legislator whose teaching dissipates the darkness of Sinai and enables a close communion with God as the Father. The adoption as sons of God, a motive of St. Paul’s theology developed in Origen’s treatise On Prayer, seems to be replaced by ethical assimilation to God in his characteristic features, i.e. divine names as known from the Bible and the Platonic tradition. At the same time, Gregory understands the assimilation to God as a return to the homeland in heaven exemplified by an allegorical interpretation of the prodigal son’s story from Luke 15. The differentiation between euché (vow) and proseuché (prayer) comes close to Origen’s On Prayer, even if Gregory tries to make this distinction more clear and unequivocal than his predecessor.

Les figures bibliques dans les Homélies sur le Notre Père de Grégoire de Nysse : comparaison avec le Traité sur la Prière d’Origène

D. Vigne (Institut catholique, Toulouse)

Jeudi 6 septembre, 15h15-15h45

Peu nombreuses, en vérité, sont les références de Grégoire aux personnages de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament dans ces homélies. De fait, le propos de l’auteur n’est pas, comme dans le traité d’Origène, de justifier chaque affirmation dans un lien étroit et constant à l’Écriture. Il s’agit plutôt d’illustrations données comme au passage, mais dont le choix n’en demeure pas moins significatif et intéressant à examiner. La comparaison avec les références aux mêmes figures sous la plume d’Origène permettra d’en comprendre encore mieux les enjeux.

Programme du colloque mis en ligne

Le programme du 14e colloque international Grégoire de Nysse a été mis en ligne et est consultable sur le site. Les premiers résumés de communications ont également été mis en ligne et sont consultables à partir du programme du colloque. Les autres résumés seront mis en ligne au fur et à mesure qu’ils seront envoyés par les contributeurs.

The Bread Demanded by Nature: Gregory of Nyssa’s Interpretation of the ‘Daily Bread’ in the Context of Greco-Roman Moral Instruction

Siri Toiviainen, University of Helsinki

Vendredi 7 septembre, 15h15-15h45

“Ask for bread because life needs it, and you owe it to the body because of your nature.” Or. dom. 4 Unlike Origen who rejects a material interpretation of the ‘daily bread’, Gregory of Nyssa affirms that the petition in the Lord’s Prayer refers to our bodily sustenance in this life. He argues that physical needs are an inherent feature of the embodied human existence and may thus be legitimately satisfied without compromising the purity of the soul. In this paper, I will argue that Gregory’s interpretation of the ‘daily bread’ can be fruitfully read in the context of Greco-Roman moral instruction in which bread frequently stands as the symbol of legitimate bodily needs. I will first comment briefly on the central place of bread in the ancient Mediterranean diet. Then I will point out how the centrality of bread makes it a popular metaphor for all bodily sustenance, drawing parallels between Or. dom. 4 and the works of Seneca, Plutarch, and Clement of Alexandria. By bringing Gregory into dialogue with prominent texts of Greco-Roman moral instruction, I will show how Or. dom. 4 incorporates many common ideas and expressions that centre on bread as daily nourishment. I will draw attention, for example, to the widespread notion that nature demands only bread, and the contrast between ‘bread’ and ‘relish’ (ὄψον) as metaphors for appropriate and excessive nutrition.


“The breadth of the philosophy… in this brief saying:” philosophia in Gregory of Nyssa’s exposition of “Give us this day our daily bread”

Aron Reppmann, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights

Vendredi 7 septembre, 15h45-16h15

Images and concepts reminiscent of philosophical authors are widespread throughout Gregory of Nyssa’s Homilies on the Lord’s Prayer, but it is noteworthy that he explicitly uses terms related to the wordphilosophia only four times in the collection (GNO VII/II 51.23-24, 53.3-5, 56.24-57.1, and 57.18-21) – all of them in the latter portion of the fourth homily, in his exposition of the petition “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Unfortunately, the significance of Gregory’s use of this terminology has been diminished or even hidden by some modern translators and interpreters, who have variously worked to explain away his references to philosophia or simply replaced them with other terminology (such as “divine teaching,” “divine wisdom,” or simply “teaching”).  In this paper, I argue that these four instances of “philosophia” are importantly connected to each other and to the whole homily’s emphasis on the proper practice of embodied human life.  In support of this argument, I offer a survey of modern translations of these passages, indicating the ways in which the translators’ decisions regarding “philosophia” affect their overall interpretation of the doctrinal and broader cultural significance of this homily.

Understanding ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in the context of the human perfection preached in the Sermon on the Mount

Adrian Aurel Podaru, Universitatea Babeș-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca

Vendredi 7 septembre, 13h30-14h

The main focus of this paper is to show how St. Gregory of Nyssa thinks of the Lord’s Prayer as the prayer properly uttered only by those who strive to become perfect, an ideal preached by Jesus Christ Himself in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt. 5, 48: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”). According to St. Gregory’s view, homoiosis tou Theou becomes an essential condition for praying with the prayer delivered to us from above. The entire Sermon on the Mount aims at human perfection, which is understood not only in terms of deeds, but also and especially in terms of thoughts and inner dispositions. Analyzed in this context, it is obvious that the Lord’s Prayer is not a common, ordinary prayer, but an extraordinary one, requiring an inner state close to perfection. Homilies on the Lord’s Prayer, but also other homilies and treatises of St. Gregory, are used in this paper to argue this idea.

L’unicité d’opération chez Grégoire de Nysse : une étude d’histoire des doctrines en marge de la troisième homélie sur l’oraison dominicale

Xavier Morales, Profesor asistente de patrología, Facultad de Teología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Jeudi 6 septembre, 10h30-11h00

À n’en pas douter, le passage le plus fameux des Homélies sur l’oraison dominicale de Grégoire de Nysse est l’excursus pneumatologique de la troisième homélie (§6). La définition de la propriété de l’Esprit Saint comme « issu du Père » et « Esprit du Christ » est un passage obligé de la controverse filioquiste. Or cette définition ne vient que comme un excursus dans l’excursus, chargé d’équilibrer l’argument par lequel Grégoire a démontré la nature divine de l’Esprit Saint : l’unicité de l’opération divine. C’est cet argument que j’aimerais examiner, en le replaçant dans le contexte de la réfutation par Basile de Césarée puis par Grégoire lui-même de la thèse d’Eunome qui déduit une pluralité de substances d’une pluralité d’opérations dans la Trinité. Dans un contexte plus large, j’essaierai de déterminer l’influence possible des Lettres à Sérapion d’Athanase d’Alexandrie sur l’adoption d’une thèse qui s’oppose explicitement à la définition par Origène d’opérations propres à chacune des hypostases de la Trinité.

“Dal Figlio” (De oratione dominica, Oratio III, GNO VII/II 43,1-2)

Giovanni Manabu Akiyama (Università di Tsukuba, Giappone)

Jeudi 6 septembre, 11h00-11h30

Alla fine della terza omelia del De oratione dominica, Gregorio di Nissa sottolinea la divinità dello Spirito Santo. Secondo il manoscritto più antico (“V”, sec. IX), Gregorio dice: “τὸ δὲ ἅγιον πνεῦμα καὶ ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς λέγεται καὶ ἐκ τοῦ υἱοῦ εἶναι προσμαρτυρεῖται” (GNO VII/II, 43,1-2: “α”). Benché la nuova edizione di SCh accolga la seconda preposizione ἐκ nel testo, W. Jaeger, nel libro intitolato Gregor von Nyssa’s Lehre vom Heiligen Geist (S. 142), aveva concluso che questo ἐκ era stato inserito nel testo in età posteriore. J. Callahan dunque ha messo questo ἐκ entro parentesi quadre, concludendo che “(questo) ἐκ non appartiene al testo originale di Gregorio nonostante la testimonianza paleografica” (GNO VII/II, xii). Ma poiché non soltanto nei codici greci, ma anche nelle versioni siriache (“Z” e “S”, sec. VI) è incluso questo ἐκ (Callahan, ibid.), non sarebbe impossibile concludere che questo ἐκ sia esistito fin dall’inizio nel testo originale. Vorremmo riesaminare l’argomento di Jaeger, il quale ha pensato che un passo dell’Adversus Macedonianos (GNO III/I, 89.25-90.1, “τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστι καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐστι”: “β”) si possa considerare parallelo di quello già citato (“α”). Dopo il passo “α”, Gregorio cita un brano dalla Lettera ai Romani di San Paolo (Rm 8,9). Benché il brano “β” infatti derivi da questo passo di Paolo, vagliati i due passi “α” e “β”, ci possiamo accorgere della loro divergenza. È chiaro che la prima parte del passo “α” ricorda i passi giovannei (Gv 14,26; 15,26 ecc.). Potremmo osservare infatti che nel Vangelo secondo Giovanni Gesù parla in termini chiari dei rapporti tra il Figlio ed il Padre. L’apostolo Paolo invece si riferisce alla nozione di “figlio” con riferimento all’“adozione filiale” (Gal 4,5-6; Rm 8,14-16). Se riceviamo il testo proposto da Jaeger quindi, risulterà che alla metà del passo Gregorio abbia sostituito la fonte biblica di Giovanni con Paolo. Secondo il quarto Vangelo invece, Gesù dopo la risurrezione, “soffiò e disse loro: «Ricevete lo Spirito Santo»” (Gv 20,22). Questo brano è tenuto a mente da Gregorio nella parte finale di In Canticum Canticorum (GNO VI, 467). Gregorio vi equipara lo Spirito Santo alla gloria, dicendo che “la trasmissione della gloria dello Spirito Santo si attua verso tutto quello che è a Gesù connaturato, cominciando dai suoi discepoli”. In questo modo potremmo spiegare la ragione dell’esistenza dell’ἐκ nel codice più antico sulla base della teologia di Gregorio.

The Shadow of Good Things to Come: Intertexts from Exodus in Gregory of Nyssa’s Homilies on the Lord’s Prayer

 Judith L. Kovacs, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Emerita, University of Virginia, USA

Mercredi 5 septembre, 14h-14h30

In each of his five Homilies on the Lord’s Prayer, Gregory makes use of intertexts from the Old Testament: in Homily 1 a collection of verses from the Psalms and prophets, Exodus 19-20 in Homily 2, Exodus 28 in Homily 3, and Genesis 3 in Homilies 4 and 5. This paper focuses on Gregory’s use of Exodus 19-20 in Homily 2, where he employs the story of Moses’ purification of the people of Israel before the theophany on Mount Sinai to impress on his audience how their uttering the words of the Lord’s Prayer involves both an astounding privilege and a real danger, if the prayer is spoken without diligent preparation and reverence. Addressing God as ‘our Father’, Gregory argues, is nothing less than an ascent to the awesome presence of the living God — an ascent no longer restricted to a leader like Moses but graciously offered to all of God’s people. Introducing the regulations for the high priest’s vestments (Exodus 28) in Homily 3, he describes the Old Testament as a whole in words borrowed from Saint Paul: ‘the Law is the shadow of good things to come’ (Heb 10:1) which ‘foretold the truth in types (cf. Hebrews 8:5; 1 Cor 10:6, 11) by various hidden teachings’, and his use of Exodus 19-20 in Homily 2 is informed by the earlier adaptation of this text in Hebrews 12:18-28. Other interpretations of Exodus 19-20 are found in Gregory’s Life of Moses (I 42-56, II 152-169) and his Homilies on the Song of Songs (In Cant. 1, GNO 6:25-26; In Cant. 3, GNO 6:71-72). This narrative was also chosen by Gregory of Nazianzus to begin his second Theological Oration (Or. 28.2-3). Each of these interpretations emphasizes different features of the striking imagery in Exodus  — the terrifying thunder, lightning, earthquake, smoke, and fire, the trumpet blasts that grow louder and louder, the need for washing of clothes, sexual abstinence, and fencing off of the mountain to prepare for the awesome appearance of God, the threat of destruction of any creature that violates the boundary, and the report that Moses alone is allowed to ascend to meet God in the ‘thick darkness’. Together, these adaptations of Exodus 19-20 illustrate the power of images from this ancient foundational text to make vivid the new realities of the Christian life.