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Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Moses (Classics of Western Spirituality) Paperback – January 1, 1978

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Text: English, Greek (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Classics of Western Spirituality
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press (January 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809121123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809121120
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Greg on October 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gregory of Nyssa, one of the three great 'Cappadocians', is well represented in this mystical biography of the prophet Moses.

Gregory of Nyssa is a towering intellectual figure in the Christian tradition. He is revered as one of the main Church Fathers, especially in Eastern Christianity, however he is somewhat below Augustine in the West, although much recent Catholic scholarship is recovering the theological and philosophical brilliance of this great man.

Gregory of Nyssa wrote several key works, including a long treatise against the heretic Eunomius (who using Aristotle's logic claimed the essence of God is finite and knowable to the human mind), a commentary on the Song of Songs, and a mystical biography on Moses.

In this work Gregory meditates on the famous life of Moses as recounted in the Old Testament, from his birth in Egypt to his calling in the field by the burning bush to his meeting with God on Mt Sinai. In his meditations Gregory introduces several themes which will dominate later Christian theology and mysticism, including the theme of the darkness of God, the notion of 'epikstasis' or endless progress into the Godhead for the saint, the infinity of God's Being (a critical concept for Gregory) as well as encountering God in light and unknowing. Gregory readily adapts several ideas from Platonic and Aristotlian philosophy but articulates a genuinely Christian understanding of God, as an ineffable and infinite mystery, One in three and three in One.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on March 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Paul the apostle and Augustine of Hippo both penned rather famous statements toward the fact that spiritual people discern spiritual things and not merely that which is familiar in any 'fleshly' or 'literal' or empirical sense. Although stating this in their own inimitable ways, neither of them were the first to see this. Jesus Christ taught in parable (allegory), explaining to his disciples that he did so for this very reason. The philosophy of scriptural exegesis that looks to deeper, allegorical / figurative, and spiritual meanings was certainly known, practiced and esteemed in the Judaic world which Christ entered. It is singularly prominent in Philo and, we might argue, is instructed a thousand years earlier by Solomon. Strongly influenced by the life and work of Origen (who is often credited, rightly or wrongly, with systematizing this ancient approach to exegesis) Gregory of Nyssa is one of the church "Fathers" and early theologians to teach this approach to scripture. Much of his work is perhaps known only to scholars, and his "Life of Moses" is one of his few works to be now available in an English text. For this we thank the Paulist Press.
Moses is seen by Gregory (c. 332-395) as a spiritual model. While he was very literally the historical personage who led the Hebrews out of Egypt, the history centered around him is not merely or purely a history. It is seen as a series of lessons and spiritual insights on a more or less historical armature. These kinds of statements from Gregory demonstrate the influence of Philo and Origen in particular: "How would a concept worthy of God be preserved in the description of what happened if one looked only to the history? . . . Where is the holiness? . . .How can the history so contradict reason?
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Huffman on March 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fine book on so many levels, as other reviewers have pointed out. So I will focus on one relatively narrow aspect of the book, and that's the nature of hermeneutics used by St. Gregory.

In our time, almost all biblical interpreters use a sometimes painfully literal approach to the texts. This was often not the approach used by the New Testament writers in their Old Testament citations, and that alone leads to a lot of confusion in our readings of the New Testament.

So it shouldn't be surprising that early church Fathers such as St. Gregory will sometimes use a less than literal approach to the text, as here in his treatment of Moses' life. And that's one of the treasures of this book, reading and hearing the story of Moses' life in a way that I had never heard before, in a manner that illuminated stories that had sometimes not made sense, and shed light on some obscurities of Moses' life.

You don't have to agree with everything the dear saint says to treasure this book, and appreciate his humble insights. This book also (like a number in the "Classics of Western Spirituality" series) provides a helpful segue into the early Fathers for those like myself who grew up Protestant, and had little by way of introduction to the Fathers. This is a good way of learning about them, fun and easy to read, and even a bit of a page-turner. How could you go wrong with something like that?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brent A. Venglish on November 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
St. Gregory of Nyssa is regarded as one of the most prominent of the Greek Cappodocian fathers, the brother of St. Basil the Great, and friend of Gregory of Nazianzen.

St. Gregory lets us know all about Moses. He mentions some things that really happened which were previously obscure now become brilliantly recognizable, and also tells us what every step along the Way meant for both Moses, Israel, and for us as Orthodox Christians.

No matter who you are this book is going to open the eyes of your understanding. Moses was an amazing man and prophet, miracle worker, and "He who was drawn out of the water and called upon the name of the Lord."

Moses' life is a perfect representation of what it means to live in the presence of God.
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