The Regula Pastoralis of Gregory the Great constructs a model of pastoral authority that stresses the importance of the pastor’s virtuous life to the success of his preaching: not only will his example be the strongest testimony to his belief, but his own understanding of the truth will be clearer if it is not obscured by his refusal to recognize his own vices. In adopting such an epistemology, in which virtue is the ground of knowledge, Gregory is participating in a centuries-long debate about the ultimate locus of authority in Christian discourse: what gives credibility to a claim? Such an epistemology by itself, however, does not provide any mechanism for resolving disagreements. Living in a period when the fragmentation of the Church into a number of national churches was a very real threat, Gregory created a model of argumentation that could contain controversy. He vested the ultimate authority in the hierarchy of church office, insisting that pride is corrupting and thereby circumscribing the knowledge claims that could be made on the basis of virtue.


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pp. 136-167
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