Lettieri’s lesson. Theophanic marvel in Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory of Nyssa (335-395 AD) is the theologian of infinity. With his brother Basilio and his friend Gregorio di Nazianzo, he forms the triad of the Cappadocian Fathers to whom we owe the deepening and further clarification of the Trinitarian dogma, God one nature and three persons, formulated by the Council of Nicaea-Constantinople (325 AD). It was a long controversy that eventually divided the Eastern Church from the Western. His reflection bases the mystery of being and of God that is revealed in the relationship.

His reflection resisted in the Western tradition to contemporary thought. In the Commentary on the Song it speaks of a knowledge of God that is like catching the sunbeam entering through a window. The surprise is the mystery that attracts and repels, a relationship that is revealed and hidden. It is the positive infinity of God, not as imperfect as in the Pythagoreans, nor as formless as in Plato or the indeterminate of Aristotle.

Invent the doctrine of God’s uninterrupted desire. The man is holding out his hand (epecasy) to the heavenly call. This is the only mode of relation between finite and infinite; from movement to movement, made of conjectures rather than clarifications. You see God if you do not stop wanting to see Him. It is an investigation that does not stop with death. The theologian or one who speaks of God only traces them The shadow, his knowledge is not definitive. God is delivered by theophanies, apparitions, conjectures (stochastic).

In this sense will be expressed his disciple, the Pseudo Dionysus, and later Scotus Eriugena. Heidegger, who had a theological background, spoke of the being who manifests and withdraws.

Gregorio di Nissa takes the language of Song to express man’s relationship with God through the erotic language of touching without possessing, of the lover who pursues his beloved and does not find, and becomes an insurmountable lack. He remembers the figure of Abraham called by God to leave, to leave the house and the land, of the people of Israel fleeing from Egypt and crossing the sea and the desert that was approaching him.

Thoughts that suggest the Symposium of Plato where eros it is lack and fullness together, wealth and poverty. The human word is incapable of defining this relationship between man and God, if it expresses it obliquely, as Moses sees God in Sinai but behind, when it has already passed. Thus, Abraham walks by faith, not by what he sees. “God is not a word and his existence is in a voice or a sound.” The man up (epekteinomenos) to God without catching him, waiting and despairing. This rationality is not a petrification of intelligence but an eschatological way of knowing the Absolute.

The tradition of Greek patristic, of which Gregory is the first exponent, developed in opposition to the other great western Augustinian tradition. It comes to us but it happens to us Middle age through so-called negative theology, the language of mystics who speak of God by denial and not by affirmations and certainties. To be continued Leibniz in the vision of the creature’s freedom and intelligence in the inexhaustible pursuit of the Absolute, outside and beyond.

It is collected by Lessing as in this example: “if God presented on the one hand his infinite wisdom and on the other the desire to seek it, I would kneel to say that only the tension towards truth characterizes the creature.” Kant proposes a conception of metaphysics that is not science but only hypothesis of reason. Man comes to the mystery of God by conjecture, not by rational understanding. Instead, it is based on the secret mystery in practical action, on the exercise of freedom always in the struggle between hope and despair, between sensible inclination and rational duty, and it is not fulfilled here in this earth but projects beyond, infinitely, into the truth of a transcendent God, the ultimate guarantee of reconciliation.

The Gregorian language echoes the “sweet shipwreck” of Leopardscaught between the experience of the vanity of things and the desire for beauty and poetry.

For the Cappadocian Father this tauma eludes possession, pushes towards inexhaustible additionality. It is hunting, not in the infernal torment of Captain Ahab Moby Dickbut in the form of a donation and eschatological relationship.

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