"Perceiving Light from Light in Light" (Oration 31.2): The Trinitarian Theology of St. Gregory the Theologian

McGuckin, John A.

At the end of the fourth century, the work of saint Athanasios had moved the great debate in Christianity concerning the nature of God towards a new context. A greater degree of agreement about the nature and divine status of the Son could now be presumed after the reconciliation between the homoousians and the homoiousians. Events such as the Synod of Alexandria of 362 show that there was a movement to clarify the terminology of the argument in the cause of this reconciliation. The residual body of Arians were consequently becoming more sharply distinguished, and their theological systems stood out in harder relief, as might be witnessed in the rationalist method of Eunomios or Aetios. Athanasios' theology, after the Council of Nicaea, had initiated a growing body of opinion among the hierarchs that the generic meaning of the Logos as homoousios with the Father, in the sense of having the same generic quality (or even being of "the same stuff"), was a crudely materialist concept inapplicable to a wholly spiritual and simple nature, and that by contrast the true meaning of the homoousion was not merely generic identity, or even "likeness of being" as the Origenistic homoiousians liked to say (following their teacher's much earlier objections to the application of qualitative epithets to God), but rather very identity of being.


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Greek Orthodox Theological Review

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Union Theological Seminary
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April 11, 2012