Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cur Deus homo

"This is the sort of teaching we derive from the mighty revelation of God's becoming man.  By his intimate union with humanity, . . . He freed man from evil, and healed the very author of evil himself."

Gregory of Nyssa, Address on religious instruction 26, ed. and trans. Cyril C. Richardson.  Christology of the later fathers, ed. Edward Rochie Hardy in collaboration with Cyril C. Richardson, Library of Christian classics 3 (Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1954), 304.  Cf. "And by so doing he benefited, not only the one who had perished, but also the very one who had brought us to ruin" (303), and "In the same way, when death, corruption, darkness, and the other offshoots of vice have attached themselves to the author of evil, contact with the divine power acts like fire and effects the disappearance of what is contrary to nature.  In this way the nature is purified and benefited, even though the process of separation is a painful one.  Hence not even the adversary himself can question that what occurred was just and salutaryif, that is, he comes to recognize its benefit" (303-304).  Lucas Francisco Mateo-Seco "recommend[s] prudence while reading this text . . . , seeing in this affirmation more of a hypothesis than a firm conviction", and says that Gregory "returned to this notion in An et res (PG 46, 104) and Tunc et ipse (GNO III/2, 15)" ("Devil," The Brill dictionary of Greogry of Nyssa, ed. Lucas Francisco Mateo-Seco & Giulio Maspero, and trans. Seth Cherney, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 99 (Leiden:  Brill, 2010), 225-226).