Gregory of Nazianzus (Early Church Fathers S.)
by Brian Daley
Gregory of Nazianzus, a complex and colorful figure living during a crucial age in which it was permissible for the first time to be a public Christian intellectual (4th Century AD), was well placed to become one of the outstanding defenders and formulators of Trinitarian orthodoxy. A gifted and skilled rhetorician, poet, and orator, as well as a profound theologian, Gregory was ordained a bishop and served as head of the orthodox Christian community in Constantinople, where he played an important role in formulating the classical doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ. Under fire from opponents in the Church, the enigmatic Gregory soon retreated into a quiet life of study and simple asceticism, concentrating on quiet meditation and strengthening his canon of literature. Gregory's body of works, comprising poetry, letters, sermons and lectures on religious themes and written with the terseness and elegance of classical Greek literature, was canonized in the Byzantine age as equal to the greatest Greek writers before him. A collection of new translations of a selection of these achievements in literature and theology, with an extensive introduction to Gregory's life, thought, and writings, Gregory Nazianzus portrays a vivid picture of a fascinating character of vital importance; who deserves to be regarded as the first true Christian humanist.