With skilled help, then, Gregory completed the dossier of Orations he had been working on for several months. These would represent his full doctrinal exposition, and were intended to be given in close succession to each other, and as the context sometimes indicates, probably allowed for subsequent debate. There were certainly Eunomian (Anhomoian) theologians, as well as Homoian clergy of Demophilos in attendance at these orations, and Gregory knew that he was expected to give the performance of his life. In the subsequent history of the ancient Church, these five Orations were never surpassed for their trinitarian doctrine and were, in fact, adopted as the ultimate statement of Trinitarian orthodoxy despite what the conciliar creed of 381 had to say. It is a providential irony that the creed, which was itself a clear and explicit rebuke of Gregory’s boldness in teaching the consubstantiality of the Spirit, has come in the subsequent history of theology to be so strictly interpreted in terms of Gregory’s Orations. He may have felt he lost the day when he made his way back to Cappadocia in the latter part of the following year. He could hardly have envisaged the  manner in which his work would become established as the foundations of Christian orthodoxy. He could hardly win an attentive audience on the occasion, so restless were his critics when he preached. For centuries after him, this sheaf of Orations became the chief trinitarian curriculum of all the Eastern schools, and of almost as great importance to the West after Rufinus translated them into Latin.

John McGuckin, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (Crestwood: SVS, 2001), 277.


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