M. Ludlow, Homily 4, ‘Your will be done, as in heaven also upon the earth. Give us the bread for the day to come today.’

Morwenna Ludlow (University of Exeter)

Vendredi 7 septembre, 9h-9h45

 ‘Your will be done, as in heaven also upon the earth. Give us the bread for the day to come today.’

His discussion seems to fall into five sections:

  1. Introduction: ‘a scientific account of the state of health’;
  2. ‘Your will be done’: sin as the ill-health of the soul and the words of the prayer as a remedy;
  3. ‘As in heaven, also upon the earth’: ‘a more profound doctrine’ – angelic and human beings;
  4. ‘Give us… our daily bread’:
  5. a petition for necessities, not vain luxuries;
  6. temptation: a reflection on the serpent of Genesis and the behaviour of real snakes;

iii. prayer for food which comes from just labours;

  1. ‘Today’: reflection on the present and the future, on bodily and spiritual needs.

This homily is a series of linked reflections on the question of the true good for human nature and how one should pray for it. Thematically it falls into two halves: broadly speaking, ‘your will be done’ indicates the good of the soul, and ‘give us our daily bread’ indicates what is necessary for the good of the body. But in each case Gregory shows a concern for human nature as a whole.

The first half is marked by Gregory’s use of medical language to draw an analogy between bodily and spiritual health. God’s will is done, when the good physician effects the good working or harmony of the soul, not least through the words of the prayer. ‘On earth as in heaven’ reminds the reader that humans are part of a cosmic order, in which they will participate fully at the restoration of all things.

In the second half Gregory reflects on true and false goods for the body. His variation on the theme of worldly vanities is enlivened by comparing the entry of evil into the soul with the behaviour of snakes. He concludes with some warnings about acquiring ‘bread’ by just labour and hopes and fears for the future.

Besides my comments on the two halves, I will also pay attention to some over-arching themes. In both halves, but especially in the first, there is a slight tension, conceptually speaking, between good- functioning understood as harmony or a more dynamic understanding of good-functioning as the unimpeded action of a good will. Secondly, Gregory has some interesting reflections on work and labour which link with other homilies in this series.

“As if Adam lived in us”. 5th Homily On the Lord’s Prayer by Gregory of Nyssa about the participation of all people in the first sin of Adam

M. Przyszychowska (Uniwersytet Warszawski, Biblioteka Narodowa, Warszawa)

Vendredi 7 septembre, 14h-14h30

5th Homily On the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most significant Gregorian texts concerning the way Adam’s sin affected entire human nature. We live our lives after the first sin in Eden as if Adam lived in us (Ὡς γὰρ ζῶντος ἐν ἡμῖν τοῦ Ἀδὰμ). Even more, Gregory speaks about real participation of every human being in the first sin as he states straightforwardly that everyone who participates in the nature of Adam, participates in his fall (ὁ κοινωνῶν τῆς φύσεως τοῦ Ἀδὰμ, κοινωνῶν δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐκπτώσεως). In my paper I will show the content of that homily in the context of the entire Gregory’s teaching about the original sin; I will also try to answer the question whether Gregory speaks about the sin of nature or not.

Ouverture des inscriptions au 14e colloque international Grégoire de Nysse

Le 14e colloque international Grégoire de Nysse aura lieu à Paris du 4 au 7 septembre 2018, sur le thème « Les Homélies sur le Notre Père et leur réception byzantine. Le programme du colloque est maintenant disponible. Les inscriptions sont également ouvertes : l’inscription est obligatoire ; merci de vous inscrire en ligne à partir du formulaire proposé. L’inscription est gratuite, mais elle est indispensable pour pouvoir accéder au colloque ; merci de vous inscrire avant le 25 août. Pour rappel, le colloque se tiendra au Collège des Bernardins.

Pour ceux qui ne résident pas à Paris, nous vous proposons une liste indicative de logements ; attention, le logement à Paris est coûteux, ne tardez pas à réserver votre logement, quel qu’il soit.

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.