Sunday, October 25, 2009

Notes on McLynn, "Gregory's Basil"

Oration 43 is the Theologian's masterpiece - Amplified version because it strains credulity to think that he would have delivered such a long and detailed speech to a live audience – longer than St. Gregory of Nyssa's tribute to his brother St. Basil
In Caesarea, Gregory was known more as a golden-mouthed preacher than as Basil’s friend
Stark contrast between Oration 43 opening paragraphs and Oration 43 closing paragraphs
Version designed to appeal to the cultural elite of Caesarea – 13 chapters devoted to the education of Basil, in which Gregory played a major part
St. Gregory was the St. Barnabas to the St. Paul of St. Basil (32) – St. Gregory the Elder played the central part in the election of St. Basil to the see of Caesarea, but St. Basil never mentions this in his works
Valens was trembling when he saw the Samuel-like Basil – most people didn’t see Valens tremble because he had his back to the congregation
Basil spoke to Gregory in his dreams (80), and now they will be partners in Heaven (82), like they were on earth
Basil often imitated, but St. Gregory is his true spiritual and intellectual heir
Gregory's compilation of correspondence not just routine, since he is the first Greek author to do so
Ep. 53 Gregory calls him “Basil the Great”
Gregory originally arranged his letters after (beneath) those of Basil
Paul Gallay’s arrangement destroys the close connection between the letters of the two saints (for example B71 answers G58)

Homoousios – St. Athanasios the Great coins this term in 325 to describe the Son’s relationship to the Father
Basil the first person to write book on the Spirit, without expressly calling Him God,
Picture of St. Gregory the Elder: non-Christian rich country bumpkin converted by his wife, becomes bishop
St. Gregory the Elder signed an Arian creed, fixed Church after the mistake of his unsophisticated father – orations 4, 5, & 6
Schism: Sizzm
St. Jerome mean-spirited & cruel, but we pay attention to him because he taught us how to interpret the Bible
All the saints he knew hated him because he always picked fights
Elder tricks younger Gregory into becoming a deacon
Basil and Gregory had different views of asceticism – Gregory’s is intellectual, whereas Basil's is eat grass and sleep on the ground
De facto/practically the bishop in his father’s place – Basil bishop of most important see of Asia Minor at the time (major metropolitan area) – bishops' jurisdictions are exactly the same as the secular provincial jurisdictions of the Roman Empire – emperor cuts Basil’s jurisdiction in half because Basil is, unlike him, not an Arian – Basil appointed many new bishops to gain numbers for the orthodox – Gregory too proud to accept bishopric of the dustbowl of Sasyma – lots of nasty letters back and forth – Gregory serves as a priest in convent for eight years, sipping wine and contemplating God – Constantinople now the center of the world – orthodox population in Constantinople almost extinct due to Arianism – evil Valens died – convinced Gregory to go to Constantinople – delivers five public orations, winning over everyone to orthodoxy – 381 Second Ecumenical Council – not going far enough for Gregory, who wants to extend homoousios to the Holy Spirit in the Creed, so he threatens to resign (rhetorical bluff) – goes home to Nazianzus after retiring in the middle of the most important Council in Christianity -
Gregory thought himself to be the rightful bishop of Constantinople, since he never celebrated Mass in Sasyma – very bitter because no one appreciates his life of service, and Basil died just before Constantinople I – question: Is Gregory just feeling sorry for himself? Is he blaming Basil unjustly?
Basil appointed him because they were best friends and he assumed Gregory would go with it –
Never trust a politician’s theology, because it is always politically motivated.
(1) thinks Sasyma is beneath him
(2) thinks Basil used him as a pawn
(3) thinks it undermines his efforts in Constantinople – political enemies in Constantinople got the better of him in 381

all formal education is in pagan texts – no other option except being homeschooled
defense of Basil’s and his education because that was the source of their authority
43:11 paraphrases Basil to defend education in pagan school – like a poisonous snake from which medicine can come

"din of wagons, laments, groans"
"the pretext was souls"

otium = Latin for leisure, allowing for unfettered contemplation, freedom from clerical responsibilities –

360s Athanasios changed hagiography by writing a biography of someone who was not a martyr
Gregory of Nyssa, as one who always thinks outside the box, writes of the Old Testament St. Moses, unbelievably allegorical and spiritual manner of writing –
Moses was well-educated (son of Pharaoh) and he was an ascetic (40 years in the desert) – Moses only becomes a good leader after those two criteria
Gregory spiritualizes the life of Moses for Christian living

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