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Philosophy at the Festival

In Brill, Byron MacDougall, Festivals, Gregory of Nazianzus, Patristics, Robert G. T. Edwards on February 9, 2023 at 11:31 am

2023.02.03 | Byron MacDougall, Philosophy at the Festival: The Festal Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus and the Classical Tradition. Mnemosyne Supplements 461; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2022.

Review by Robert G. T. Edwards; University of Göttingen.

Gregory of Nazianzus’ seven Festal Orations, preached at Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost during his short-lived episcopacy in Constantinople from 379 to 381, have received minimal scholarly attention, especially compared to Gregory’s more famous Theological Orations. However, as Byron MacDougall shows, the disparity between the fame of the Theological and the Festal Orations is a decidedly modern and western phenomenon: Gregory’s festal sermons were hugely influential in the Byzantine world already in the fifth century. This book is not a general study of these orations, but focuses on a single aspect of them, namely how Gregory “performed philosophy at the festival.” This phrase, repeated in various iterations throughout the book, refers to Gregory’s participation in a longstanding Greek tradition in which philosophical—especially Platonic—speculation (theōria) was closely associated with festival-going. From classical antiquity until late antiquity, there was every expectation among the learned (pepaideumenoi) that the festival should include spectacles both corporeal (games, shows, races) and intellectual (philosophical discussions and orations). And Gregory’s orations, delivered at newly instituted Christian festivals, unquestionably played to these expectations. Through six chapters, MacDougall highlights in lucid prose Gregory’s participation in this long tradition of philosophizing at festivals.

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Clement’s Biblical Exegesis

In Brill, Clement of Alexandria, Jana PLATOVA, Judith L. KOVACS, Patristic exegesis, review, Robert G. T. Edwards, Veronika CERNUSKOVA on July 3, 2017 at 9:57 am

2017.07.14 | Veronika Černušková, Judith L. Kovacs, and Jana Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, May 29-31, 2014). Vigiliae Christianae Supplements 139. Leiden: Brill, 2017. ISBN: 9789004331235

Reviewed by Robert G. T. Edwards, University of Notre Dame.

Except for one essay, this book is based on papers presented three years ago at the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Whereas the first Colloquium in 2010 focused on Book VII of the Stromateis, this one focused on Clement’s biblical exegesis. The collection of essays is introduced by Judith Kovacs’ comprehensive overview of scholarship and issues related to Clement’s exegesis (pp. 1-37); this essay combined with Jana Plátová’s exhaustive bibliography (pp. 38-52) ably represents the state of the field. After these introductory chapters, the book is divided into three major sections: Part 1, “Clement’s Exegetical Methods”; Part 2, “Clement between Philosophy and Biblical Theology”; and Part 3, “Clement’s Exegesis of Particular Biblical Texts.”

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