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Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great$
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Matthew Dal Santo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646791

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646791.001.0001

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The fourth dialogue of Pope Gregory the Great

The fourth dialogue of Pope Gregory the Great

The early Byzantine context of a Latin disquisition on the soul

(p.85) 2 The fourth dialogue of Pope Gregory the Great
Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great

Matthew Dal Santo

Oxford University Press

This chapter continues the comparison between Gregory and Eustratius’s texts, with a focus on Gregory’s defence of the ongoing activity of the souls of the saints post mortem. This theme stood at the heart of Eustratius’s apology and its lengthy defence in Gregory’s work plays a significant role in confirming the substantial overlap between the two texts. Like Eustratius at Constantinople, Gregory found himself forced to defend the soul’s posthumous activity against a combination of rationalistic and empirical arguments to the contrary. The chapter argues that many other themes in Gregory’s fourth dialogue, such as his interest in ‘Purgatory’ and the role of the Eucharist in relieving the sufferings of those undergoing purgation, ramify from this defence of the soul’s ongoing activity after death. The chapter also argues that a suggestive link can be drawn between the arguments Gregory rebutted and those which Stephen Gobar, a mysterious contemporary rationalist apparently working at Constantinople, put forward.

Keywords:   Soul, Activity, post mortem, death, heaven, hell, ‘Purgatory’, Stephen Gobar

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