Tuesday, March 25, 2008

St. Gregory of Nyssa's 'Life of Moses': an Amazon review

"This is a fine book on so many levels, as other reviewers have pointed out. So I will focus on one relatively narrow aspect of the book, and that's the nature of hermeneutics used by St. Gregory.

In our time, almost all biblical interpreters use a sometimes painfully literal approach to the texts. This was often not the approach used by the New Testament writers in their Old Testament citations, and that alone leads to a lot of confusion in our readings of the New Testament.

So it shouldn't be surprising that early church Fathers such as St. Gregory will sometimes use a less than literal approach to the text, as here in his treatment of Moses' life. And that's one of the treasures of this book, reading and hearing the story of Moses' life in a way that I had never heard before, in a manner that illuminated stories that had sometimes not made sense, and shed light on some obscurities of Moses' life.

You don't have to agree with everything the dear saint says to treasure this book, and appreciate his humble insights. This book also (like a number in the "Classics of Western Spirituality" series) provides a helpful segue into the early Fathers for those like myself who grew up Protestant, and had little by way of introduction to the Fathers. This is a good way of learning about them, fun and easy to read, and even a bit of a page-turner. How could you go wrong with something like that?"

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