Gregory of Nyssa's "Contra eunomium": Context, method, and theology

Matthew R Lootens, Fordham University


This dissertation examines Gregory of Nyssa's Contra Eunomium, a fourth-century Christian theological and polemical text. This is one of the longest and most densely argued texts of the Greek patristic tradition. Gregory engages the second defense of Eunomius of Cyzicus by adopting a commentary-like format in which he first quotes a section of Eunomius's text and then refutes it. The first half of the dissertation places the Contra Eunomium within the context of its author's life, the fourth-century theological debates, its genre, and late-ancient textual practices. The second half of the dissertation examines the major theological topics of the three books of the Contra Eunomium and how these theological ideas intersect with the form of the refutation. In sum, Gregory attempts to cast his opponent outside of proper Christian intellectual practices all the while drawing on his own theological positions to support his view of the Christian intellectual life and its emphasis on texts and writing. Moreover, the dissertation shows that the Contra Eunomium drew on classical rhetoric, earlier Christian heresiological traditions, and ancient methods of engaging and interpreting authoritative texts. In this way, it claims that the Contra Eunomium reveals the growing importance of textual communities and of Christian reflection on written texts in the fourth century.

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Recommended Citation

Lootens, Matthew R, "Gregory of Nyssa's "Contra eunomium": Context, method, and theology" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3715382.