Divine Eloquence and Human Transformation
Rethinking Scripture and History through Gregory of Nazianazus and Hans Frei
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Series: Emerging Scholars
Title Page, Copyright Page
The writing of this book has been a lengthy affair, and I have incurred many
debts during its long gestation.
The research and writing of the thesis from which this book has been developed was made possible by awards of a Crosse Studentship from the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, by a Domestic Research...
The contemporary movement in theology that seeks to recover ways of understanding and reading the Bible as Christian Scripture has, in large part, been constituted over against a captivity of the Bible to the hegemonic claims of historical criticism.1 These claims are often taken to delimit the ways in which meaning can be found in biblical texts and to be destructive of Christian...
1. The Theological Interpretation of Scripture and the Question of History
The questions raised for theology by modern historical consciousness go to the very heart of Christian faith and its core tenets. For that reason they are of profound import for the doctrine of Scripture and the practice of reading Scripture theologically. Yet although the issue of history is often recognized in connection with the claims of historical criticism, these deeper questions rarely...
2. God, Christ, and History in Gregory of Nazianzus
For Troeltsch, the closely interwoven web of immanent historical causes—natural, psychological, and personal—precludes recognition of divine intervention in history or the attribution of any particular historical event with absolute significance. Gregory of Nazianzus lived many centuries before the development of the modern historical consciousness that Troeltsch was...
3. The Reshaping of History: Jesus Christ and the Baptized Life in Gregory of Nazianzus
In the previous chapter, we saw how Gregory’s account of God, creation, humanity, and the divine economy begins to sketch a premodern model that helps us think about how to respond to Troeltsch. However, central to that account are two events that seem to run directly counter to the intuitions of historical consciousness and their implications for theology, as Troeltsch...
4. Distributing the Word: Holy Scripture and the Preacher in Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory’s account of divine action in history allows him to understand Scripture theologically as the product of God’s saving activity and its instrument, serving as the medium of Christ’s pedagogical presence, without abstracting it from the historical continuum. Because the presence of Jesus Christ as teacher and divine wisdom is by the Spirit’s inspiration at the heart...
5. From Letter to Spirit
All the features of Gregory’s theology of Scripture have hermeneutical implications, which Gregory tends to explain in the Pauline terms of letter and spirit, used by so many early Christian exegetes. To do so means recognizing the pedagogical force of the text by following the movement enacted in Christ and the Spirit from the letter of the text to its spirit. Here the hermeneutical...
6. The Rhetorical Deployment of Scripture in Gregory
Gregory never wrote a separate work on biblical interpretation, as Origen and Augustine did. Instead he left us his finely wrought oratory suffused with Scripture, surely intending his use of Scripture there to serve as instruction for future generations. For Gregory, the mediation of scriptural pedagogy was primarily an oratorical affair, a matter of persuasion and formation of...
7. History, Biblical Narrative, and the Shaping of Identity in Hans Frei
Hans Frei belonged to a vaster, more complex world than Gregory’s, one removed from late antiquity not only by time but by enormous technological, scientific, economic, social, and cultural change. These changes contributed to the formation of a sense of history of whose significance for theology Frei was acutely aware, having committed himself to working in a modern secular...
8. History and Holy Scripture in Hans Frei
Frei’s theological account of history requires a theology of Scripture, and he supplies one, or at least the outline of one. Despite being criticized for not being theological enough about Scripture, for prioritizing theories of narrative or the church as a social entity over a dogmatic account of the Bible, his central concerns with the identity and presence of Jesus Christ led him to say...
9. Conclusion: Divine Eloquence
In all our attempts to repair Christian theology in the relatively hospitable climate afforded by some educational contexts in recent years in the latemodern West, and in all our efforts to reappropriate the wisdom of the premodern past in service of that reparative labor, it is important that we do not lose sight of the scale of the challenges raised to theology by modern thought. Ernst...
Index of Subjects and Names