The Holy Spirit as the “Glory” of Christ

Gregory of Nyssa on John 17:22
  • Miguel Brugarolas
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


The words of Jesus at the end of what is usually called his “priestly prayer,” collected in John 17:22, “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,” were discussed by St. Gregory of Nyssa in two homilies: In illud: Tunc et ipse filius1 and In canticum canticorum 15.2 Both should probably be considered mature works, written after the First Council of Constantinople (381) in a serene atmosphere with respect to the pneumatological issues that had shaken the previous decades.3


Human Nature Eternal Life Divine Nature Church Father Divine Life 
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  1. 1.
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, In illud: Tunc et ipse filius, ed. Joseph Kenneth Downing, Gregorii Nysseni Opera (hereafter GNO) III/2 (Leiden: Brill, 1982), 21, 19–22, 16.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, In canticum canticorum, ed. Hermann Langerbeck, GNO VI (1960), 467, 2–17.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Probably In illud: Tunc et ipse filius, a little earlier, was written around 383 (cf. Downing, GNO Ш/2, 44–50), while In canticum canticorum seems to have been written after 390; cf. Pierre Maraval, “Chronology of Works,” in The Brill Dictionary of Gregory of Nyssa, ed. Lucas F. Mateo-Seco and Giulio Maspero (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 158.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cf. Mariette Canévet, Grégoire de Nysse et l’herméneutique biblique: Etude des rapports entre le langage et la connaissance de Dieu (Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1983), 191.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See the considerable extent of the term δόξα in the Lexicon Gregorianum: cf. Friedhelm Mann, Lexicon Gregorianum, vol. 2 (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 467–77.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Cf. St. Gregory of Nyssa, De virginitate, ed. Johannes P. Cavarnos, GNO VIII/1 (1952), 252, 6.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Cf. St. Gregory of Nyssa, Refutatio confessionis Eunomii 182, ed. Jaeger, GNO II, 389, 18; Adversus Macedonianos, ed. Mueller, GNO III/1, 94, 25; 100, 24; Ad Eustathium, De sancta Trinitate, ed. Mueller, GNO III/1, 16, 6. I have commented this last text in Miguel Brugarolas, “Anointing and Kingdom: Some Aspects of Gregory of Nyssa’s Pneumatology,” Studia Patristica 67 (2013): 113–19.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    About the biblical use of the Hebrew term k bôd and the Greek δόξα, see Gerhard Kittel, Grande Lessico del Nuovo Testamento, vol. 2 (Brescia: Paideia, 1966), 236–55.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Cf. Miguel Brugarolas, “The Philanthropic Economy of the Holy Spirit: Notes on Contra Eunomium III 6,32,” in Gregory of Nyssa: Contra Eunomium III, An English Translation with Commentary and Supporting Studies, ed. Johan Leemans and Matthieu Cassin (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 500–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 19.
    This has recently been established: Marie-Odile Boulnois, “Le cercle des glorifications mutuelles dans la Trinité selon Grégoire de Nysse: de l’innovation exégétique à la fécondité théologique,” in Grégoire de Nysse: la bible dans la construction de son discours, Actes du Colloque de Paris, 9–10 février 2007, ed. Matthieu Cassin and Hélène Grelier (Paris: Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 2008), 21–40. In his conclusion, after commenting on Gregory’s texts about glorification in the Trinity, she states, “l’utilisation originale qu’il fait de certains textes, en particulier autour de la notion de gloire, qu’il s’agisse de 1Rg 2,30 ou des versets johanniques de la prière du Christ au Père, montre aussi que chez Grègoire, la théologie est un puissant creuset de renouvellement de l’exégèse.”Google Scholar
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    Cf. Guido Müller, Lexicon Athanasianum (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1952), col. 348–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 26.
    In a brief article on the “anointing with celestial glory” in Hilary of Poitiers, L. Ladaria shows how the notions of δόξα and πνευμα in Justin, Ireneus, and Hilary are fairly interchangeable insofar as they refer to the divine nature of the Word, the divinity of the Son who is equal to the Father. He also shows how in some texts, Hilary seems to use both notions to refer to the Holy Spirit as the “third” of the Trinity, above and beyond being an expression of the divine nature: Luis F. Ladaria, “La ‘unción de la gloria celeste,’ Gloria y Espíritu Santo en Hilario de Poitiers,” Revista Catalana de Teología 25 (2000): 131–40. Hilary certainly calls the Holy Spirit who is given to men in baptism the “anointing with celestial glory” and the “sevenfold gift,” and his words bear a certain resemblance to those of Gregory of Nyssa. However, they remain in the sphere of the economy of the Trinity, and so they can only be regarded as a forerunner to the pneumatology of glory developed in the fourth century, which finds its clearest expression in Gregory of Nyssa in the identification of glory as a name of the Holy Spirit in the immanence of the Trinity to a limited extent.Google Scholar
  13. 29.
    Cf. Ysabel De Andía, “La koinônia du Saint-Esprit dans le traité Sur le Saint-Esprit de saint Basile,” Irénikon 77 (2004): 256.Google Scholar
  14. 31.
    André De Halleux, “Personnalisme ou essentialisme trinitaire chez les Pères cappadociens?” in Patrologie et Oecuménisme: Recueil d’Études, ed. André de Halleux (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990), 265f.Google Scholar
  15. 34.
    St. Athanasius, Oratio contra Arianos I 48, ed. Metzler et al., Athanasius Werke I.1.2, 158. I follow the English translation by John Henry Newman, revised by Archibald Robertson, Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd series, vol. 4, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1975), 334.Google Scholar
  16. 39.
    See Miguel Brugarolas, El Espíritu Santo: de la divinidad a la procesión: El desarrollo pneumatológico en los escritos dogmáticos de los tres grandes Capadocios (Pamplona: Eunsa, 2012), 227–32.Google Scholar
  17. 41.
    Cf. Lucas F. Mateo-Seco, “El Espíritu Santo en el Adv. Macedonianos de Gregorio de Nisa,” Scripta Theologica 37 (2005): 487.Google Scholar
  18. 42.
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, In canticum canticorum, ed. Langerbeck, GNO VI, 467, 2–17; Giulio Maspero, “The Fire, the Kingdom and the Glory: The Creator Spirit and the Intratrinitarian Processions in the Adversus Macedonianos of Gregory of Nyssa,” in Gregory of Nyssa: The Minor Treatises on Trinitarian Theology and Apollinarism, ed. Volker Henning Drecoll and Margitta Berghaus (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 268.Google Scholar
  19. 44.
    In this sense, H. U. von Balthasar’s statement that for Gregory, the supreme unity of the Trinity was conceived not under the Person of the Father but under the Spirit, as the mutual love between Father and Son (cf. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Présence et pensée: essai sur la philosophie religieuse de Grégoire de Nysse [Paris: Beauchesne, 1947], 137), seems to be not in accordance with the entirely Nyssen Trinitarian theology. Rather, as G. Maspero notes, commenting Contra Eunomium I, 279–80 (ed. Jaeger, GNO I, 108, 6–109, 5), the notion of monarchia remains intact in Gregory’s Trinitarian theology—that is, the statement of the active role of the Spirit by leading the Trinity to the plenitude of his unity does not deny the Father still being the source and origin of the unity (cf.Google Scholar
  20. Giulio Maspero, Trinity and Man: Gregory of Nyssa’s Ad Ablabium [Leiden: Brill, 2007], 179f).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 48.
    As C. Scouteris notes, “In his prayer for unity Christ stresses his relationship with the Spirit, and the fact that his relationship with the Father can be reproduced by the Spirit, in an analogous way, in the lives of those who follow him … Christ, by the Holy Spirit, bestows his own life on the lives of all who are willing and able to receive him.” Constantine Scouteris, “The People of God, Its Unity and Its Glory: A Discussion of John 17.17–24 in the Light of Patristic Thought,” GOTR 30 (1985): 419.Google Scholar
  22. 69.
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, De tridui inter mortem et resurrectionem domini nostri Iesu Christi spatio, ed. Ernst Gebhardt, GNO IX (1967), 290; Stuart G. Hall (trans.), “On the Three-Day Period,” in The Easter Sermons of Gregory of Nyssa: Translation and Commentary, Proceedings of the Fourth International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa, ed. Andreas Spira and Christoph Kloch (Cambridge, MA: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1981), 41. Cf.Google Scholar
  23. Lucas F. Mateo-Seco, “La exégesis de Gregorio de Nisa a Jn X,18,” Studia Patristica 18, no. 3 (1989): 495–506.Google Scholar

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© Miguel Brugarolas 2016

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  • Miguel Brugarolas

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