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Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity$
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Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574117.001.0001

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“Therefore Be Perfect, as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”: Gregory of Nyssa on Simplicity and Goodness

“Therefore Be Perfect, as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”: Gregory of Nyssa on Simplicity and Goodness

Chapter:
(p.175) 7 “Therefore Be Perfect, as your Heavenly Father is Perfect”: Gregory of Nyssa on Simplicity and Goodness
Source:
Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity
Author(s):

Andrew Radde‐Gallwitz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574117.003.0008

Chapter 7 focuses on Gregory of Nyssa, a defender of Basil who developed his brother's ideas in new ways. It counters a number of misinterpretations: Gregory as in fundamental discontinuity with Basil, Gregory as separating the divine activities or ‘energies’ from the divine essence, Gregory as advocate of the identity thesis, and Gregory as the totally negative theologian. Gregory's principal contribution to Basil's legacy is his subtle account of attributes he calls the divine ‘goods’ or ‘virtues’. Gregory argues that since God is simple and unmixed with evil, these attributes are reciprocally entailing, such that they necessarily go along with one another. This allows for a compelling rebuttal to Eunomius' reduction of all divine attributes to one, even while it also enables a response to the objection that motivates our Chapter 1, namely that simplicity is incompatible with God acting in the world. Gregory uses his idea of the reciprocity of the divine goods to defend belief in the Incarnation. Gregory also carries forward Basil's understanding of these attributes as propria and distinguishes the divine substance from the divine essence.

Keywords:   Gregory of Nyssa, goods, virtues, incarnation, Trinity, divine, simplicity, propria, conceptualization, substance, essence

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