#78 – The Life of Moses by Gregory of Nyssa (My 100 Favorite Books)

Yes, this is early church week on my list!  Today we meet Gregory of Nyssa’, Basil’s brother, who also wrote extensively on the Trinity.  But I love his book The Life of Moses because it is so different than what most think Christian biblical interpretation and life is.  First, this is a fantastic example of allegorical interpretation in the early church.  In seminary we learned the historical-critical interpretation and any hint of allegory was scoffed at (though sometimes uncomfortably, since even the Apostle Paul used allegory when it suited him).  Second, Gregory presents Christian growth as a continue progression into infinity that never ends.  So the future, after death, is not simply about being in heaven but is one of finite people moving forever closer to an infinite God.  Yet, since we can never become God we never cease progressing.

Most controversially, Gregory is also known for implying that eventually all people will be with God.  This position today is termed Christian universalism and those who hold it are quick to point out it is no new-fangled belief but rooted in the likes of Gregory.  Whatever you think of that, this is another must read for people interested in early Christian theology and spirituality.

Just a taste:

“The Divine One is himself the Good…whose very nature is goodness….Since, then, it has not been demonstrated that there is any limit to virtue except evil, and since the Divine does not admit of an opposite, we hold the divine nature to be unlimited and infinite. Certainly whoever pursues true virtue participates in nothing other than God, because he is himself absolute virtue. Since, then, those who know what is good by nature desire participation in it, and since this good has no limit, the participant’s desire itself necessarily has no stopping place but stretches out with the limitless. It is therefore undoubtedly impossible to attain perfection, since as I have said, perfection is not marked off by limits: The one limit of virtue is the absence of a limit”

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