Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 58)

Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 58)

Translated by VIRGINIA WOODS CALLAHAN
Copyright Date: 1967
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt31nktd
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  • Book Info
    Ascetical Works (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 58)
    Book Description:

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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1158-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xix)

    Of the three cappadocian fathers of the Church, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Gregory of Nyssa, the last is the least well-known and until recently the most neglected. His brother, St. Basil, called the Great, is famous as the founder of monasticism in the East and as a forceful opponent of the Arian heresy. Their close friend, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, is renowned for the glory of his eloquence and the sweetness of his poetry. And yet at the Ecumenical Council of 787, St. Gregory of Nyssa was given the title ‘Father of the Fathers.’ Modern writers...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xx-xxiv)
  5. ON VIRGINITY
    (pp. 3-76)

    This encomium of virginity, addressed to the monks living under St. Basil’s Rules, is the earliest of ascetical works of St. Gregory and is referred to J. Daniélou as ‘the first in date as in importance.’¹ St. Gregory’s reference to St. Basil as his ‘bishop and father’ in the introduction indicates that his brother is still alive, and dates treatise before 371,² the year in which St. Gregory himself was consecrated bishop. Although St. Basil’s name occurs nowhere in the treatise, the portrait of him in the final chapter as a model and guide for the young aspirants to the...

  6. ON WHAT IT MEANS TO CALL ONESELF A CHRISTIAN
    (pp. 79-90)

    Written many years later than the treatise on virginity, this work, in the form of a letter, is addressed to a young admirer of St. Gregory named Harmonius. Its warm personal tone goes beyond the conventional epistolary style and, despite its length, the impression is given that it is a real letter written to a friend for whom the saint had an affectionate regard. We learn that, in the past, the two men had had the pleasure of long and enjoyable discussions about virtue and man’s service of God, that during a long separation St. Gregory had neglected to reply...

  7. ON PERFECTION
    (pp. 93-122)

    This treatise has an alternate title: ‘On What It is Necessary for a Christian to be,’ and, in the margin of one of the manuscripts, it is described as ‘a letter characterizing the true Christian.’ It is clearly related in subject matter to the foregoing letter to Harmonius on what it means to call oneself a Christian. In fact, it is an amplification of the conviction that St. Gregory expressed therein, that the essential activity of the Christian is to imitate the nature of God in whose image he has been created, and that this can only be achieved if...

  8. ON THE CHRISTIAN MODE OF LIFE
    (pp. 125-158)

    The complete text of this treatise, On the Christian Mode of Life, was printed for the first time in 1952 in the Jaeger edition of the ascetical works. It was literally rediscovered by Jaeger who recognized it as the common source of two works included in Migne’s Patrology, one a treatise of this name attributed to St. Gregory of Nyssa, the other a long letter attributed to a certain Macarius. The work which had come down to us under St. Gregory’s name was actually a Byzantine excerpt of the original and a large portion of the ‘Macarius Letter’ was a...

  9. THE LIFE OF SAINT MACRINA
    (pp. 161-192)

    This personal portrait of his sister as an impressive exponent of the ascetic ideal is an illuminating supplement to St. Gregory’s more objective treatises on the ascetic life. Together with his Panegyric on St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, it provides an early example of Christian hagiography. Despite its biographical character, the author refers to it as a letter and it is addressed to his friend, Olympius, to whom the treatise On Perfection was also directed. It is an important source of our knowledge of the regimen of an early community of Christian women in the East. To it, we are indebted for...

  10. ON THE SOUL AND THE RESURRECTION
    (pp. 195-272)

    This dialogue between st. gregory and his sister, St. Macrina, during her last hours is reminiscent of Plato’s Phaedo in which Socrates and his friends spend the last day of his life discussing the pertinent subject of the possibility of the soul’s immortality. The fact that the role of protagonist is given to a saintly woman recalls the Platonic device in The Symposium where Socrates attributes his splendid insights into the nature of love to the instruction of the wise Diotima. St. Macrina’s solicitude for her brother’s state of mind creates a situation not unlike that in the first Book...

  11. INDICES
    (pp. 275-288)