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Knowledge, Language and Intellection from Origen to Gregory Nazianzen

A Selective Survey


Anna Usacheva

Epistemological theories of the patristic authors seldom attract attention of the researchers. This unfortunate status quo contrasts with a crucial place of the theory of knowledge in the thought of such prominent authors as Origen and the Cappadocian fathers. This book surveys the patristic epistemological discourse in its various settings. In the context of the Church history it revolves around the Eunomian controversy, Eunomius’ language theory and Gregory Nazianzen’s cognitive theory, where the ideas of Apostle Paul were creatively combined with the Peripatetic teaching. In the framework of Biblical exegesis, it touches upon the issues of the textual criticism of the Homeric and Jewish scholarship, which had significantly shaped Origen’s paradigm of the Biblical studies.

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Part Two: Epistemology and Human Intellection in the Theological Orations of Gregory Nazianzen


Introduction to Part two

As I have already mentioned in the introduction to this monograph, the scope of my analysis lies in investigating Gregory’s method and the methodology of theological discourse and epistemology which supports it. That is to say, I explore firstly the argumentative strategies, genres, and topoi Gregory applied in his theological circle; secondly the philosophical background of his reasoning and thirdly, how contemporary historical and philosophical circumstances and discussions shaped Gregory’s epistemological theory and theology.

With regard to these research questions the material in the second part is structured in the following way. The first chapter is devoted to the justification of the methodological scope of my inquiry. I delineate the historical reasons and textual evidence which proves that the methodology of theological argumentation was considered important by Gregory. Then I describe the research methodology which I myself have used to examine Gregory’s orations in order to track his epistemological theory and to unearth its philosophical background. Afterwards I present a philological analysis of the genres, stylistic features, and coherent structure of the five-speech circle, which also correlates with my interpretative approach to the theological circle. In the second chapter, I focus on philosophical and methodological matters. Here I begin by investigating the concept of essential predication in the context of Eunomian teaching. The general scope of this part consists in highlighting the basic concepts of Peripatetic epistemology which, in my view, established the parameters for Gregory’s epistemological and methodological reflections....

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