Gregory Nazianzen's Christology of Mixture release_rev_cf3e1ebb-3f3f-4cd3-b859-cd1c59a94f84

by Brendan A Harris

Published in Journal of Theological Studies by Oxford University Press (OUP).



<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> This article provides a reconsideration of Gregory Nazianzen's account of the Christological union by analysing Gregory's conception of the Christological union as a 'mixture' (μίξις) or 'blending' (κρᾶσις). While scholars have long recognized that Gregory conceives of the union of Christ's humanity and divinity as a kind of 'mixture', there is disagreement as to which philosophical understanding of mixture—if any—underlies this conception. Three rival interpretations have dominated modern scholarship on this issue. The first, forwarded by Franz Portmann in 1954, regards Gregory as holding a Stoic understanding of mixture. A second line of interpretation, first proposed by Harry Wolfson in 1956, argues that Gregory conceives of the Christological union in terms of what Wolfson refers to as 'unions of predominance'—a subset of Aristotelian mixture in which the 'lesser ingredient' is converted towards the greater without being completely destroyed. More recently, in what is the most extensive consideration of Gregory's mixture Christology to date, Andrew Hofer has argued that Gregory's understanding of mixture 'fits no ancient philosophical model'. Against these three lines of interpretation, this article will demonstrate that Gregory conceives of the Christological union in terms of Neoplatonic accounts of mixture, which adapted Stoic mixture theory in order to explain the union of immaterial natures in terms of mutual interpenetration. Neoplatonic mixture theory allows Gregory to explain how Christ's humanity and divinity are both truly united and distinct, since according to the Neoplatonic model immaterial natures unite themselves to both material natures and other immaterial natures without either nature undergoing change or destruction. Recognition of Gregory's use of Neoplatonic mixture theory, then, allows us to grasp the fundamental logic underpinning Gregory's conception of the Christological union.
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Type  article-journal
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Date   2022-11-15
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ISSN-L:  0022-5185
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