Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Background Info on the Cappadocian Fathers

Notes from my first meeting in the class Cappadocian Theology at Fordham, with Dr. Demacopoulos:

St. Gregory the Theologian offered Chair of Rhetoric of Athens at age 26 (like graduate philosophy student of Harvard being named university President) – President of Constantinople I – Archbishop of Constantinople – EXTREMELY bright but not a politician – quits in the middle of the most important Christian council in history – St. Basil the Great dead at that point – starts writing poetry back in Cappadocia as therapy – writes in Homeric verse (Homer 8th century BC – basically a different language not used for 600 years) – 1200 poems in Homeric verse to express his concerns, fears, troubles, & humiliations – basically wrote the first treatise on pastoral care (what it's like to be a priest)

We know the least about the younger brother of St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, named after St. Gregory the Wonderworker, who was a student of Origen – we don't know where Nyssa went to school – was married, unlike the other two, no longer "actively married" at a certain point – no longer married bishops at this point – inferiority complex, writes a treatise On Virginity (prob. the most affirmative document that any of the three produced in favor of monasticism) – most significant contribution: first Christian author to consider that God is infinite – against Platonism – Plato said if God was infinite, God changed – can never fully know God because He is infinite –

St. Basil most politically programmatic – first one to become bishop – Caesarea: Sizz-ah-ree-ah – like being bishop of New York
Emperor cuts jurisdiction in half – St. Basil creates new Episcopal sees out of small village – conflict with St. Basil mentioned in poem, but not eulogy

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