SGregory of Nazianzus’s Oration 31 on the Holy Spirit

  • Pablo Argárate
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


With the exception of some brilliant Johannine and Pauline passages, the rest of the New Testament provides only an incipient pneumatological reflection. While the Apostolic Fathers did not further this discussion much, it is only by the end of the second century that two authors seriously discuss the role of the Spirit in salvation. In his anti-Gnostic polemics, Bishop Irenaeus reflects on the Spirit in the oikonomia. Not much later in North Africa, Tertullian produces some significant insights as well. Nevertheless, as in many other areas of the theological discipline, it will be Origen who will begin a systematic reflection on the Holy Spirit,1 based on scriptural data and with several open questions. However, this pneumatological discussion is clearly secondary in relation to the Christological issue. In the highly conflicted following century, neither Arius nor Nicaea place great emphasis on the person of the Holy Spirit, being exclusively focused on the status of Christ. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the Spirit was totally ignored. He plays indeed a role in the system of Marcellus of Ancyra, which will provoke sharp opposition by Eusebius of Caesarea, who claims that the Spirit is a creature of the Son.


Biblical Text Greek Text Divine Person Scriptural Data Ninth International Confer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cf. P. Argárate, “The Holy Spirit in the Origen’s De Principiis 3.1,” in Origeniana Nona, ed. Robert Somos and Gyorgy Heidl (Leuven: Peeters, 2009), 25–47.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. P. Argárate, “The Holy Spirit in Athanasius’ Epistles to Serapion,” Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 2 (2011): 23–43.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Cf. P. Argárate, “Zwischen Origenes, Athanasius und Kyrill: einweiteres Kapitel der alexandrinischen Pneumatologie. Das Traktat ‘Über den Heiligen Geist’ des Didymos,” in Christliches Ägypten in der spätantiken Zeit Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ed. Dmitrij F. Bumazhnov (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 81–91.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    C.R.B. Shapland, The Letters of Saint Athanasius Concerning the Holy Spirit (London: Epworth Press, 1951), 21.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Cf. P. Argárate, “Basil’s De Spiritu Sancto: Its Structure and Relevance,” in The Actuality of Saint Basil the Great, ed. Gunnar af Hällström (Turku: Painosalama Oy, 2011), 10–42.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    J. A. McGuckin, St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 270.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Christopher Beeley, Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 162: Gregory “vaguely knows that Athanasius has begun to defend the divinity of the Spirit, and he is happy to claim his legacy for his own, fuller doctrinal program.”CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 13.
    Critical edition in P. Gallay and M. Jourjon (eds.), Grégoire de Nazianze: Discours Théologiques 27–31, Sources chrétiennes 250 (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1978; hereafter SC). There our oration has 33 paragraphs and takes 33 pages in the Greek text. English translations are available inGoogle Scholar
  9. C. G. Browne and J. E. Swallow (eds.), The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd series, vol. 7 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark/Eerdmans, 1989);Google Scholar
  10. A. J. Mason, The Five Theological Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus, with Commentary (Cambridge, 1899);Google Scholar
  11. F. W. Norris, “Gregory Nazianzen’s Opponents in Oration 31,” in Arianism: Historical and Theological research: Papers from the Ninth International Conference on Patristic Studies, September 5–10, 1983, Oxford, England, ed. Robert C. Gregg (Cambridge, MA: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1985), 321–26;Google Scholar
  12. F. W. Norris, Faith Gives Fullness to Reasoning: The Five Theological Orations of S. Gregory Nazianzen, trans. F. Williams and L. Wickham (Leiden: Brill, 1991); St. Gregory of Nazianzus: On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius, trans. Frederick Williams and Lionel Wickham (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002). A French translation is available in P. Gallay and M. Jourjon (eds.), Grégoire de Nazianze: Discours Théologiques 27–31, SC 250 (1978); and Les 5 discours sur Dieu: Grégoire de Nazianze, trans. Paul Gallay (Paris: Brépols, 1995). German translations are available inGoogle Scholar
  13. J. von Barbel and Gregor von Nazianz, Die fünf theologische Reden (Text, German translation and commentary) (Düsseldorf, 1963); andGoogle Scholar
  14. Hermann Josef Sieben (ed.), Gregor von Nazianz: Orationes theologicae (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1996). An Italian translation is available inGoogle Scholar
  15. C. Moreschini, I cinque discorsi teologici (Rome: 1986). A Spanish translation is available inGoogle Scholar
  16. Gregorio Nacianceno, Los cinco discursos teológicos, trans. José Ramón Sánchez-Cid (Madrid: Ciudad Nueva, 1995).Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Among the studies on Gregory’s pneumatology, beside the very useful introductions to the aforementioned translations, see Hilarion Alfeyev, Le Chantre de la Lumière: Introduction à la spiritualité de saint Grégoire de Nazianze (Paris: Cerf, 2006), 224–31;Google Scholar
  18. Christopher Beeley, Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 153–86;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Beeley, “Gregory of Nazianzus on the Unity of Christ,” in In the Shadow of the Incarnation: Essays on Jesus Christ in the Early Church in Honor of Brian E. Daley, SJ., ed. Peter Martens (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), 97–120;Google Scholar
  20. Beeley, “Cyril of Alexandria and Gregory of Nazianzus: Tradition and Complexity in Patristic Christology,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 17, no. 3 (2009): 381–419;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Beeley, “The Holy Spirit in Gregory Nazianzen: The Pneumatology of Oration 31,” in God in Early Christian Thought: Essays in Memory of Lloyd G. Patterson, ed. Andrew B. McGowan, Brian E. Daley, and Timothy J. Gaden (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 151–62;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Beeley, “The Holy Spirit in the Cappadocians: Past and Present,” Modern Theology 26, no.1 (Jan 2010): 90–119;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Alexander Golitzin, “Adam, Eve, and Seth: Pneumatological Reflections on an Unusual Image in Gregory of Nazianzus’s ‘Fifth Theological Oration,’” Anglican Theological Review 83, no. 3 (2001): 537–46;Google Scholar
  24. Nicanor Gómez-Villegas, Gregorio de Nazianzo en Constantinopla: ortodoxia, heterodoxia y régimen teodosiano en una capital cristiana (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2000);Google Scholar
  25. Richard P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318–381 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2005), 780–83;Google Scholar
  26. M. Edmund Hussey, “The Theology of the Holy Spirit in the Writings of St. Gregory of Nazianzus,” Diakonia 14, no.3 (1979): 224–33;Google Scholar
  27. J. A. McGuckin, St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001); McGuckin, “Perceiving Light from Light in Light: The Trinitarian Theology of St. Gregory the Theologian,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 39, no. 1 (1994; Acts of the International Colloquium commemorating the 16th Centenary of St. Gregory Nazianzen, Brookline, MA, 1991);Google Scholar
  28. Thomas A. Noble, “Gregory Nazianzen’s Use of Scripture in Defence of the Deity of the Spirit,” Tyndale Bulletin 39 (1988): 101–23;Google Scholar
  29. F. W. Norris, Faith Gives Fullness to Reasoning: The Five Theological Orations of Gregory Nazianzen (Leiden: Brill, 1990);Google Scholar
  30. Donald F. Winslow, The Dynamics of Salvation: A Study in Gregory of Nazianzus (Cambridge, MA: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1979).Google Scholar
  31. 15.
    H. B. Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church: A Study of Christian Teaching inthe Age of the Fathers (London: Macmillan, 1912), 240.Google Scholar
  32. 16.
    Cf. P. Argárate, “Pneumatologische Konzentration: Einbyzantinisches Erbe in der orthodoxen Theologie,” in Byzanz in Europa: Europas östliches Erbe, ed. M. Altripp (Leuven: Peeters, 2012), 446–67.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pablo Argárate 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Argárate

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations