The classic understanding on Gregory of Nyssa, and his view of slavery, is that in his Fourth Homily on Ecclesiastes he denounces the ownership of slaves but does not go far enough and call for the abolishment of the institution. Peter Garnsey offers an analysis of this homily; he states that "Gregory was drawing on a long tradition of 'liberal' thought in both pagan and Christian circles, stressing the shared humanity of slave and masters and their common potential for virtue and for salvation" but that he stops short of “urging the whole institution be done away with” or even suggesting to his parishioners to emancipate all of their slaves.
Many scholars attempt to deconstruct Gregory of Nyssa’s beliefs by trying to discern what, if anything may have influenced his beliefs on slavery. First, he was an extremely intellectual philosopher, combining the traditions of Greek rhetoric with Christian theology, in effect following “his theological logic far beyond the contemporary context.” Nyssa believes, through his understanding of God, that slavery is not a luxury and not necessary for the domestic economy, but that it was antithetical to “God’s actions in creation, salvation, and the church” and especially “incompatible with the Gospel.”
To further the scholarly view of Nyssa’s biblical ability, J. Kameron Carter stated that Gregory of Nyssa’s abolitionism was intertwined explicitly with his ability to read, interpret, and communicate scripture. Carter also offers a stark contrast between Gregory of Nyssa and the other Cappadocian Fathers, giving us a context within to place Nyssa’s interpretive ability. He stated that even though both Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus w...
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...nal of the Society of Comparative Legislation (1909): 13–16.
Schaff, Philip, and Henry Wace. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. 5 vols. The Christian literature company, 1890.
Stead, G. Christopher. The Easter Sermons of Gregory of Nyssa. Edited by Andreas Spira and Christoph Klock. Patristic Monograph Series No. 9. Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, Ltd., 1981.
Stramara, Daniel F. “Gregory of Nyssa : An Ardent Abolitionist?” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 41, no. 1 (January 1, 1997): 37-60.
Turner, G. “The Christian Life as Slavery: Paul’s Subversive Metaphor.” The Heythrop Journal (May 28, 2010): 1-12.
de Wet, C. L. “Sin as Slavery and/or Slavery as Sin? On the Relationship between Slavery and Christian Hamartiology in Late Ancient Christianity.” Religion and Theology, 17 1, no. 2 (2010): 26–39.
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