The Desire to See God in Gregory of Nyssa

The Desire to See God in Gregory of Nyssa

JPI 870
3 Credits

For Gregory of Nyssa man desires to see God, because he is made for God. The fact that this desire for God can be fulfilled constitutes a long tradition in the history of the Church and serves as a key with which to read and select writings of the Fathers. In this seminar, we will start by focusing on Gregory of Nyssa’s understanding of the beatific state as developed in his seminal text The Making of Man. Instead of a statement simply about possible future events, the beatific vision for Gregory implies a comprehensive theological anthropology that is well worth considering for our times, in light of John Paul II’s thought. In addition to Gregory of Nyssa, we will read his fellow bishop Gregory of Nazianzen and Gregory’s sources in Origen and elsewhere. We will also study the effect that Gregory’s view of eternal motion-in-rest had on later writers like Pseudo-Dionysius and Maximus the Confessor. We will tackle questions such as what relation the final state of the human being has with its beginnings, how grace relates to nature, and how ultimate fulfilment is understood in the Christian tradition.

Selected Texts


Jonathan Bieler portrait

Jonathan Bieler

Assistant Professor of Patrology and Systematic Theology

Dr. Bieler received his doctoral degree in theology at the University of Zürich (2017), with a dissertation in Patristics on the coherence of Maximus the Confessor’s thought, which is published by Brill (2019). He taught in the theological faculty at the University of Zürich and assisted the chair of Patristics with teaching and research. In his work, he strives to combine the usage of historical-critical methods with faithfulness to the Church’s living tradition.

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