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Body and DesireGregory of Nyssa's Ascetical Theology$
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Raphael A. Cadenhead

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297968

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297968.001.0001

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Doctrinal Controversies

Doctrinal Controversies

Christological and Trinitarian

(p.107) 6 Doctrinal Controversies
Body and Desire

Raphael A. Cadenhead

University of California Press

Chapter 6 examines Gregory’s doctrine of God as it developed in the context of the Eunomian controversy, focusing particularly on the way in which he resists the language of “activity” and “passivity” (and thus, by cultural association, male and female, respectively) from being applied to the Godhead. The full relevance of Gregory’s doctrine of God for the ascetic life is then discussed in depth. The author argues that for Gregory, the imitatio Dei summons the ascetic to a life beyond the fallen associations of male and female, because the persons of the Trinity cannot be described as either passive or active depending on their relationship to each other. Another area of originality in this study is chapter 6’s discussion of the male/female hierarchy in marriage, which Gregory appears to support on the basis of biblical authority. This insight stands in contradistinction to recent feminist readings of his work, which overlook these passages and privilege particular themes in Gregory’s mature thought, especially in relation to the soul’s labile identifications with male and female characteristics.

Keywords:   Eunomius, activity, passivity, doctrine of god, imitatio dei, male/female hierarchy, marriage

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