St. Gregory of Nazianzus, “The Theologian,” was recognized among the Cappadocian Fathers as a peculiarly vivid and quotable expositor of the doctrine of the Trinity. A brilliant orator and accomplished poet, he placed before the Church his interpretation of the sublime mystery of the God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These five sermons—probably delivered as a series at the small chapel of the Resurrection in Constantinople—contain Gregory’s penetrating teaching. Frederick Williams and Lionel Wickham’s English translation captures for the present-day reader the atmosphere of intellectual excitement and spiritual exhilaration experienced by St. Gregory’s first listeners. This volume also contains a new translation of St. Gregory’s letters to Cledonius, which contain more focused reflections on the person of Jesus Christ, laying the groundwork for later Christology.
“Monotheism, with its single governing principle, is what we value—not monotheism defined as the sovereignty of a single person (after all, self-discordant unity can become a plurality) but the single rule produced by equality of nature, harmony of will, identity of action, and the convergence towards their source of what springs from unity—none of which is possible in the case of created nature. The result is that though there is numerical distinction, there is no division in the substance.” (Page 70)
“No one has yet discovered or ever shall discover what God is in his nature and essence.” (Page 49)
“It is more important that we should remember God than that we should breathe: indeed, if one may say so, we should do nothing else besides.” (Pages 27–28)
“Discussion of theology is not for everyone, I tell you, not for everyone—it is no such inexpensive or effortless pursuit. Nor, I would add, is it for every occasion, or every audience; neither are all its aspects open to inquiry. It must be reserved for certain occasions, for certain audiences, and certain limits must be observed. It is not for all people, but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study, and, more importantly, have undergone, or at the very least are undergoing, purification of body and soul. For one who is not pure to lay hold of pure things is dangerous, just as it is for weak eyes to look at the sun’s brightness.” (Pages 26–27)
“We need actually ‘to be still’11 in order to know God” (Page 27)
Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329 – January 25 389 or 390) (also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen) was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.