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Paul M. Nguyen Patristics, A.

Orlando October 30, 2012 On the use of Nature Analogies in Gregory Nazianzus' Fifth Theological Oration In his Fifth Theological Oration, Gregory Nazianzus answers objections to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. His arguments rest on solid Greek physics and metaphysics (and on prior conclusions), and he attempts to use analogies with what is observable in nature, ultimately discarding them in favor of what we may term inspiration. Gregory makes it clear, as he approaches his first such analogy, that it is far from the ideal way of speaking about the Holy Spirit: It is very shameful and very foolish, to take from things below a guess at things above. But I will try (10). His first analogy begins with a discussion of animal generation, and quickly passes to the creation of Adam, the subsequent formation of Eve as a fraction of him, and finally, Seth as their offspring (begotten). Gregory claims that, presuming the necessity that the three persons of the Trinity be consubstantial, it is necessary to say that the Spirit is altogether begotten (11). Considering the unity of persons in the Trinity, Gregory offers the celestial analogy of one mingling of lights, as it were of three suns joined together (15). He follows this with the explanation that, when we think of God, we think of one, but when we consider the persons in whom the Godhead dwells, there are three whom we worship (15). Gregory then turns to the issue of speaking of three persons whilst holding one God. He refers to the underlying reality that supports our speaking of three things, whether they should be of the same kind, or, if they be different, whether three is used in the same way in this case. Gregory concludes with his opponent that when we may name the individuals that constitute the three spoken of, they should ideally be of the same essence, but then presents the contrary case and defeats the entire

Nguyen 2 problem; speaking of numbers neither requires nor precludes consubstantiality.(1819). Gregory presents a series of images that are corporeal attributes that seek to describe some divine attributes, and acknowledges that they all fall short of characterizing the divinity exhaustively, but only give some notion of each attribute (22). Taking the historical approach, Gregory identifies the progress of revelation in the practices of the people of the Old Testament into the new as a way of subtraction, removing by turns practices which are imperfect (e.g. sacrifice, circumcision) (25). In the order of theology, however, he identifies a way of addition, by which the Father is first revealed, and then the Son, and finally, the Spirit. And the Spirit himself supplies us with a clearer demonstration of himself. Gregory offers the twin analogies of men loaded with food beyond their strength and eyes as yet too weak to see the sun to illustrate man's need for this gradual revelation (26). Gregory appeals to the authority of Scripture and the life of Christ in this claim: Jesus himself anticipated the coming of the Spirit to edify man's faith (2627). Gregory reaches the climax of his Trinitarian exposition as he searches for an analogy in nature to finally express the Trinity. He proposes an eye, a fountain, a river according to prior such images, and affirms it based on the contemporaneity of these notions and their indivisibility in actuality, though we may speak of them under these various names and each name denotes a distinct personality. But Gregory rejects this image on account of its flow and also because these three are merely forms of the same unified thing (31). He likewise rejects an image of the sun and a ray and light on the grounds of the composite nature of the image contrasted with the absolutely simple nature of God, and the seeming deficiency of personhood in the ray and light compared with the sun (32). And so Gregory ends his pursuit in the revelation of the Spirit, inviting Him to enlighten him and persuade all others (33).