I recently picked up Gregory of Nazianzus’ famous Five Theological Orations (which are actually Orations 28-32) in which the Nazianzen tackles the relationship of God and Christ. My purpose is to understand how Gregory uses metaphors, so I can then better understand his use of both masculine and feminine metaphors in describing his own priesthood. In these Orations, the orator of Nazianzus beautifully undermines our rather modern assumptions about the possibility of objective knowledge and the certainty of our concepts and the language with which we express them. I must admit, I am a bit struck to read a pre-modern thinker who sounds a bit like a post-modern theorist. So, the first part of what could be a short or long series on Gregory of Nazianzus.
Gregory of Nazianzus, quoting Jeremiah, calls us “prisoners of the earth” (Or. 28.12; Lam. 3:34).
Postmodernism is maligned by many religious as a pernicious philosophy which denies certainty and reduces truth to merely relative experience. While the latter is hardly an accurate portrayal of many postmodern theorists, the former is most certain, as certain as any postmodernist philosophy can be. Gregory however, has an interesting contribution. He says, “Conviction, you see, of a thing’s existence is quite different from knowledge of what it is” (Or. 28.5).