Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation by Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

By Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

Divine simplicity is the concept that, because the final precept of the universe, God has to be a non-composite team spirit now not made of components or assorted attributes. the assumption was once appropriated via early Christian theologians from non-Christian philosophy and performed a pivotal function within the improvement of Christian notion. Andrew Radde-Gallwitz charts the growth of the belief of divine simplicity from the second one throughout the fourth centuries, with specific realization to Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa, of the main sophisticated writers in this subject, either instrumental within the building of the Trinitarian doctrine proclaimed as orthodox on the Council of Constantinople in 381. He demonstrates that divine simplicity was once no longer a philosophical appendage awkwardly hooked up to the early Christian doctrine of God, yet a proposal that enabled Christians to articulate the consistency of God as portrayed of their scriptures. Basil and Gregory provided a different construal of simplicity in responding to their imperative doctrinal opponent, Eunomius of Cyzicus. hard authorised interpretations of the Cappadocian brothers and the normal account of divine simplicity in contemporary philosophical literature, Radde-Gallwitz argues that Basil and Gregory's fulfillment in remodeling principles inherited from the non-Christian philosophy in their time has an ongoing relevance for Christian theological epistemology this present day.

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28 Hom. 7 in Eccl. 2; trans. Stuart George Hall, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on Ecclesiastes (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1993), 118). 1 Simplicity and the Problem of Contradiction: Ptolemy and the Legacy of Marcion It is a commonplace of modern Christian thought that calling God simple is impossible for Christians, given the scriptural portrayal of God as active. How could an entirely simple being act in the ways described, or indeed at all? Christopher Stead raised this objection, as discussed in the Introduction; one could multiply examples.

Ptole´me´e: Lettre a` Flora. 2nd edn. SC 24 (Paris: Cerf, 1966). One should consult the critical remarks on Quispel’s edition, translation, and commentary by Lo¨hr, ‘La Doctrine’, 180–4. 19 There has been some debate over Flora’s identity. R. M. Grant argued that this was a code name for the Christian church in Rome. ‘Notes on Gnosis’, VC 11 (1957): 145–51. This thesis has not met with scholarly approval. G. Lu¨demann, ‘Zur Geschicte des a¨ltesten Christentums in Rom. I. Valentin und Marcion II.

22 Simplicity and the Problem of Contradiction So too with God: to say God is simple is to say that, where one reads in scripture of activities discordant with what one ‘knows’ of God, one must either reinterpret them in such a way that they are not contradictory with what one ‘knows’ or ascribe them to a different agent from God. This ‘agent’ could be called a second God or God’s Word, Wisdom, or Son: such an entity was not necessarily held to violate monotheism in the late ancient world. 6 Simplicity in the sense we are concerned with now is closely associated with uniformity and purity.

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