Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It Happens

Yes, it does. It happens. I see that have not written a blog post on Gregory of Nazianzus’s Theological Orations. But my personal notes are sketchy, and in the weeks since I read these five addresses, I’ve forgotten a lot (i.e. most) of what he said. People sometimes comment about my special gift of memory for books, but I don’t have such a gift. I have a special gift for (usually) obsessive note-taking. And I guess I like to talk about the one thing that stands out to me in a book, so that one thing sticks with me really well. Homines dum docent discunt. “People learn while teaching,” says the old Roman proverb – a proverb that I remember (in both English and Latin) because I once taught it.

What I remember of Gregory is that he says we only know God from his tokens in the creation, and that while we can only define Him in terms of what He is not (He is incomprehensible, immaterial, immortal, etc.), we must try to advance and determine some positive attributes of God. And then he devotes one oration to the Father, one to the Son, and one to the Holy Spirit. And that’s about all I remember. Curiously, I can add one thing about Gregory of Nazianzus based on the next book I read. Pelikan’s History of the Development of Doctrine cites Gregory as one of the first writers to treat explicitly of the deity of the Holy Spirit.

So I don’t have a lot to say about Gregory of Nazianzus. But I don’t have a lot of time to go back and reread, either. Besides work and family matters, I have Lucretius and Ariosto to enjoy now. I have to remind myself that a plan like mine will not leave every great work a blazing first-magnitude star in my mind. Some will twinkle like epsilon Cygni: not a star to navigate by, but important for filling out a clear picture.

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