Ran across an example of Gregory re-using old material in a new context. This case is particularly interesting because the first example comes from one of his earliest works written in 362 during his (first) flight, while the second is usually dated during his time in Constantinople, around 380. A large section is identical (red text), but I’ve also identified a few minor stylistic changes (orange text), and where the texts differ completely (blue text). It is interesting that the second half of each excerpt addresses the issue of philosophy. The first, however, does so mostly to criticize those who are neglect the philosophical life, while the second actually outlines the nature of the philosophical enterprise, which is said to be the contemplation of higher realities. Not, it is worth noting, just as a “way of life”, but as a way of life and an intellectual activity.
|Oration 2.7 (Pontus, 362)||Oration 20.1 (Constantinople, 380)|
|Οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐδόκει μοι τοιοῦτον οἷον μύσαντα τὰς αἰσθήσεις, ἔξω σαρκὸς καὶ κόσμου γενόμενον, εἰς ἑαυτὸν συστραφέντα, μηδενὸς τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων προσαπτόμενον, ὅτι μὴ πᾶσα ἀνάγκη, ἑαυτῷ προσλαλοῦντα καὶ τῷ Θεῷ, ζῇν ὑπὲρ τὰ ὁρώμενα, καὶ τὰς θείας ἐμφάσεις ἀεὶ καθαρὰς ἐν ἑαυτῷ φέρειν ἀμιγεῖς τῶν κάτω χαρακτήρων καὶ πλανωμένων, ὄντως ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλίδωτον Θεοῦ καὶ τῶν θείων καὶ ὂν καὶ ἀεὶ γινόμενον, φωτὶ προσλαμβάνοντα φῶς, καὶ ἀμαυροτέρῳ τρανότερον, ἤδη τὸ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος ἀγαθὸν ταῖς ἐλπίσι καρπούμενον, καὶ συμπεριπολεῖν ἀγγέλοις, ἔτι ὑπὲρ γῆς ὄντα καταλιπόντα τὴν γῆν, καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος ἄνω τιθέμενον. Εἴ τις ὑμῶν τούτῳ τῷ ἔρωτι κάτοχος, οἶδεν ὃ λέγω, καὶ τῷ τότε πάθει συγγνώσεται· τοὺς γὰρ πολλοὺς οὐδ’ ἂν πείσαιμι λέγων ἴσως, ὅσοις καὶ ἐν γέλωτι τὸ πρᾶγμα δοκεῖ, κακῶς διατεθεῖσιν εἴτε ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας αὐτῶν ἀνοίας, εἴτε ὑπὸ τῶν ἀναξίων τοῦ ἐπαγγέλματος· οἳ πράγματι καλῷ κακὸν περιτεθείκασιν ὄνομα, τῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ τὴν κενοδοξίαν, συνεργὸν λαβόντες τὸν φθόνον καὶ τὴν τῶν πολλῶν κακίαν πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον οὖσαν ἑτοιμοτέραν· ἵν’ ἕν γέ τι πάντως αὐτοῖς ἁμαρτάνηται, ἢ τὸ κακὸν ἐνεργούμενον, ἢ τὸ καλὸν ἀπιστούμενον.||Οὐδὲν γάρ μοι δοκεῖ τοιοῦτον, οἷον μύσαντα τὰς αἰσθήσεις, ἔξω σαρκὸς καὶ κόσμου γενόμενον, μηδενὸς τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων προσαπτόμενον, ὅτι μὴ πᾶσα ἀνάγκη, ἑαυτῷ προσλαλοῦντα καὶ τῷ Θεῷ, ζῇν ὑπὲρ τὰ ὁρώμενα, καὶ ἀεὶ τὰς θείας ἐμφάσεις καθαρὰς ἐν ἑαυτῷ φέρειν ἀμιγεῖς τῶν κάτω χαρακτήρων καὶ πλανωμένων, οἷον ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλίδωτον Θεοῦ καὶ τῶν θείων, καὶ ὂν, καὶ ἀεὶ γινόμενον, φωτὶ προσλαμβάνοντα φῶς, καὶ ἀμαυροτέρῳ τρανότερον, μέχρις ἂν πρὸς τὴν πηγὴν ἔλθωμεν τῶν τῇδε ἀπαυγασμάτων, καὶ τύχωμεν τοῦ μακαρίου τέλους, λυθέντων τῶν ἐσόπτρων τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· ὡς μόλις ἄν τις ἑαυτὸν, ἢ μακρᾷ φιλοσοφίᾳ παιδαγωγήσας, καὶ ἀποῤῥηγνὺς κατὰ μικρὸν τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς εὐγενὲς, καὶ φωτοειδὲς, τοῦ ταπεινοῦ καὶ σκότῳ συνεζευγμένου, ἢ Θεοῦ τυχὼν ἵλεω, ἢ καὶ ἄμφω ταῦτα, καὶ μελέτην ὅτι μάλιστα ποιούμενος ἄνω βλέπειν, τῆς κατασπώσης ὕλης ἐπικρατήσειε. Πρὶν δὲ ταύτην ὑπερσχεῖν, ὅση δύναμις, καὶ ἀνακαθᾶραι ἱκανῶς τά τε ὦτα καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν, ἢ ψυχῆς ἐπιστασίαν δέξασθαι, ἢ θεολογίᾳ προσβαλεῖν, οὐκ ἀσφαλὲς εἶναι γινώσκω.|
|“For nothing seemed to me so desirable as to close the doors of my senses, and, escaping from the flesh and the world, collected within myself, having no further connection than was absolutely necessary with human affairs, and speaking to myself and to God to live superior to visible things, ever preserving in myself the divine impressions pure and unmixed with the erring tokens of this lower world, and both being, and constantly growing more and more to be, a real unspotted mirror of God and divine things, as light is added to light, and what was still dark grew clearer, enjoying already by hope the blessings of the world to come, roaming about with the angels, even now being above the earth by having forsaken it, and stationed on high by the Spirit. If any of you has been possessed by this longing, he knows what I mean and will sympathise with my feelings at that time. For, perhaps, I ought not to expect to persuade most people by what I say, since they are unhappily disposed to laugh at such things, either from their own thoughtlessness, or from the influence of men unworthy of the promise, who have bestowed upon that which is good an evil name, calling philosophy nonsense, aided by envy and the evil tendencies of the mob, who are ever inclined to grow worse: so that they are constantly occupied with one of two sins, either the commission of evil, or the discrediting of good.” (NPNF 7, p. 206)||“Nothing appeals to me more than, by blocking out my senses, severing all ties with the flesh and the world, placing myself beyond the reach of human concerns except for the unavoidable, and communing with myself and with God, to live the life that transcends visible nature, ever containing within myself the reflections of the divine, their purity unclouded by the false images here below, and be and ever come to be a spotless mirror, as it were, of God and the divine, capturing light with light and the brighter through the more dim until we reach the fount of those rays that penetrate human existence and we finally attain the blessed goal, our mirror shattered by the reality of truth. For whether one were to pursue the study of philosophy in depth and gradually dissociate the noble and luminous element of the soul from the slough of darkness to which it is tied, or were to meet with a propitious God, or were successful in both respects and were to devote himself wholeheartedly to the contemplation of reality on high, it would only be with difficulty that he could gain mastery over the world of matter that drags him down. But before we rise above it as far as possible and sufficiently purify our ears and minds, I think it is dangerous either to accept the responsibility for other souls or to take up theology.” (Martha Vinson, St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Select Orations, 107–8).|