Item description for Presence and Thought: Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa (A Communio Book) by Hans Urs Von Balthasar...
Overview Von Balthasar presents one of the few serious studies available on the thought of one of the most important, and yet most neglected Fathers of the Church, Gregory of Nyssa. He was the most profound Greek philosopher of the Christian era, a mystic and an incomparable poet whom St. Maximus designated as the "Universal Doctor" and the Second Council of Nicaea declared him "Father of Fathers."
Less prolific than Origen, less cultivated than Gregory Nazianzen, less practical than Basil, Gregory of Nyssa nonetheless outstrips them all in the profundity of his thought, for he knew better than anyone how to transpose ideas inwardly from the spiritual heritage of ancient Greece into a Christian mode. Paperback.
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Hans Urs von Balthasar was the author of innumerable theological works including The Glory of the Lord (T&T Clark). He was also the spiritual leader of a religious community in Basel, Switzerland. Robert J. Daly, S.J., Emeritus Professor of Theology at Boston College, is the author of Christian Sacrifice" and The Origins of the Christian Doctrine of Sacrifice. "His recent articles, mostly in Theological Studies," have focused on Eucharist, sacrifice, and atonement.
Hans Urs Von Balthasar was born in 1905 and died in 1988.
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Excellent monograph on Gregory of Nyssa Mar 6, 2007
St Gregory was a very subtle thinker, one unfortunately fairly poorly studied until fairly recently by scholars.
Hans urs Von Balthasar's studies, as with several of his works which explore Patristic thought, illumines for the first time many aspects of this great Eastern Father's philosophical and theological thought.
Gregory of Nyssa is revealed by Balthasar as both an outstanding theologian and philosopher, who applies Greek metaphysical ideas of Being and Infinity to the God of Christian belief. For Gregory what is central is God's infinitely transcendant Being, which by virtue of its metaphysical infinity is entirely incomprehensible in every way to the human mind. Nevertheless, the human mind is drawn to participate in the mystery of infinite Being, both by its beauty and by its infinite fullness and richness, but is always defied as the finite can never rest in the infinite. Somewhat contrary to Thomas Aquinas or Augustine, Gregory has a very dynamic view of God and the soul's relation to it, having the view the soul is always ever drawn further into the mystery of Being, or else ever further descending into nothingness if it falls away from Being.
Gregory also offers a deeply subtle philosophical and theological idea of time and temporality and change, and weaves a rich metaphysical tapestry into which the life and existence of each being is a mysterious paradox standing on the bridge between the fullness of God's unfathomable being and the emptiness of non-being. Man is by nature a temporal creature, also ever gravitating towards death and nothingness, but at the same time called to immortality by participating in God's being.
This monograph brings out many of the more subtle and interesting ideas in Gregory of Nyssa's thought, which has a depth which matches that of a Descartes, Hegel, Kant or Husserl in our own modern era. For any philosopher of religion or theologian, this book is well worth reading carefully.
A theological beauty of a book Aug 23, 2000
The outstanding quality of Hans Urs von Balthasar's thought stems, I believe, from his early, pioneering work in Patristics. He wrote three seminal studies of three of the greatest and most influential of the patristic writers, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor, and he drew the core principles of his own systematic thinking from the writing of these giants of Christian metaphysics and spirituality. This book is the second of these studies, and it simply is one of the best and most perceptive analyses of St. Gregory in print. Everything Balthasar says about beauty as a key to theology and spirituality, for example, can be found in the writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa, the patristic apostle of beauty as a Divine attribute and gift. This book is a must for both those interested in St. Gregory and for those looking for an insight into von Balthasar.