In a seldom discussed episode from Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, the wonderworking bishop converts a pagan temple custodian using the written word and a miracle. Physical proofs seem essential for teaching this outsider about divine power. Yet in the very next episode the narrator praises Thaumaturgus for disregarding physical appearances and for keeping silent. A close reading of the Life 34-47 demonstrates that Gregory of Nyssa models, within the narrative, a progression from basic catechesis through signs to the more complex work of interpreting signs, making inferences from what is seen to that which remains unseen. Contextualizing this paradoxical sequence of Thaumaturgus vignettes in Cappadocian discussions of divine condescension and principles of fourth-century Christian paideia, I show that Gregory of Nyssa uses the juxtaposition between Thaumaturgus’ teaching and conduct to model the flexible approach required for bishops to communicate the nature of divine power to varied audiences.
This article argues that John 8:44 helped to inspire the early Christian view that the creator was an evil being. John 8:44 has at least four possible readings allowed by grammar. In two of these readings, taken by a variety of early Christian groups (including early catholics), there is indication that the devil has a father. Since the desires of this father are known from the parallel desires of his children, some early Christians inferred the hostility of the devil’s father toward Christ, and thus his evil nature.
Editio princeps of P.Duk. inv. 660, a possibly third- or fourth-century papyrus fragment containing a mixture or patchwork (i.e. a cento) of citations of and allusions to the Greek bible: Gen 27:28, Pss 26:2, 4, 41:2, 123:7, and 2 Cor 6:2 are present and a number of other scriptural references are likely. What remains of the papyrus indicates that it held some personal or devotional function.
In the fifth century, the author of the Life and Miracles of Saint Thekla transformed Thekla’s story from a simple Greek work into a grand epic. He collected stories and rewrote the Acts of Thekla using methods that were similar to other Christian and non-Christian works. The author employed classicizing language and allusions to Homer and other ancient writers in order to convey the high status he deemed appropriate to the story. Like other Christian works, the author rewrote scripture as a way of reinforcing and updating its importance. Through these stylistic features, the Life and Miracles conveys an appreciation for literary education and suggests a context in which reading, writing, and devotion were mutually reinforcing.