The Apophatic Way In Gregory of Nyssa

Thought this was an interesting article which I discovered as I was studying a bit on the nature of God in Gregory’s writings.

‘Apophaticism consists in negating that which God is not; one eliminates firstly all creation, even the cosmic glory of the starry heavens and the intelligible light of the angels in the sky. Then one excludes the most lofty attributes, goodness, love, wisdom. One finally excludes being itself. God is none of all this; in His own nature He is the unknowable. He „is not.” But here is the Christian paradox; He is the God to whom I say „Thou,” Who calls me , Who reveals Himself as personal, as living.’[3]

Anyway, read the rest if you want.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

4 thoughts on “The Apophatic Way In Gregory of Nyssa

  1. The true baptism of the Holy Ghost comes with penance one must first name their sins to God for we know which commandments of which we have broken then be washed by the baptism test and prove this to be true by doing then shall you know if it is the truth
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  2. I find this aspect of Eastern theology very interesting. I had heard of it referred to as “negative theology.” I think that one line of thought that came out of this was that it's not to say that God is not good, loving, etc., it's more that our conceptions of goodness, love, etc. do not measure up to these attributes when spoken of in relation to God. So, when we say that God is good, we are not speaking rightly because our conception of what it means to be good is often faulty.

  3. Yes, when you do start to speak of 'negative theology' you run into the problem where the hearer assumes that you are speaking negatively about God, but it is an interesting take on theology which might be explored better to help us over various issues.

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