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THEOLOGIA AND OIKONOMIA: THE SOTERIOLOGICAL GROUND OF GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS’S TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY.

By ZURAB JASHI

Abstract

This dissertation explores the soteriological ground of the trinitarian theology of\ud Gregory of Nazianzus and establishes a consistent link in his thought between the\ud spheres of oikonomia and theologia. His writings are studied against the background of\ud contemporary theological and philosophical trends thus demonstrating the context\ud within which he elaborated his main theological concepts as well as their novelty.\ud Although Gregory drew heavily on the heritage of his intellectual master Origen, he\ud significantly changed his perspective from cosmological speculations to reflections on\ud the historical embodiment of Christ’s salvific activity. This shift was to lead Gregory\ud towards a positive view of the body and of bodily desire which he considered a vital\ud force in human existence capable of union with God in the process of deification.\ud Gregory thus fully identified Christ with humanity in its total manifestation, including\ud the human mind with its fallen and rebellious desire, now assumed and redeemed in the\ud incarnation. Hence Gregory placed the suffering image of Christ at the heart of his\ud trinitarian theological construction. As this thesis argues, around this image evolves the\ud whole dogmatic edifice of Gregory’s theology. Christ’s divine sovereignty is\ud understood not in separation and independence from the passion on Cross. Rather, its\ud full manifestation is only possible because of the cross, because of Christ’s free and\ud willing acceptance of it. The whole set of interrelationships between the suffering\ud Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit are depicted according to the logic of\ud coincidence of sovereignty and humiliation. It is precisely in this combination of\ud theological themes – expressed with our new concept of “kenotic sovereignty” – that\ud the focus of the present thesis is located. This innovative spiritual disposition shapes\ud both Gregory’s theological epistemology and his hermeneutical strategy. Arguing for\ud the possibility of knowing the divine in and through human bodily existence and\ud corroborating this view with suitably interpreted Scriptural evidence, he opens the\ud horizons for the human ascension to the realm of the divine trinitarian life. In this way\ud Gregory envisages access to the transcendent theology of the Trinity which is\ud understood by him in purely personal terms, insofar as it implies the intimate\ud conversation of God with us “as friends” (Or. 38.7). This unique reworking of classical\ud and Christian themes is possible because of Gregory’s insistence that divine\ud sovereignty and transcendence become intelligible exclusively in the context of Easter.\ud Thus the habitually neglected narrative of the cross and resurrection of Christ in the\ud thought of the Theologian is the only key to unlock his understanding of the luminous\ud mystery of the Trinity.\u

Topics: trinity, christology, soteriology, deification, divine economy, theologia, contemplation, purification, sovereignty, Gregory of Nazianzus, arianism
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:619
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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