Gregory of Nyssa on Scripture & Tradition

I’m reading Gregory of Nyssa for my dissertation, and I found his view of Scripture and Tradition quite intriguing.  Admittedly, I’ve only read a couple of his short, dogmatic treatises so far, but I’ve been struck by how often he appeals to Scripture, rather than to Tradition.  But, he also appeals to Apostolic Tradition, and not to Scripture alone

From On the Holy Spirit: “We shall answer nothing new, nothing of our own invention, though they challenge us to it; we shall fall back upon the testimony in Holy Scripture about the Spirit, whence we learn that the Holy Spirit is Divine, and is to be called so … We say nothing different from that which Scripture says” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 316). Continue reading


Polycarp & Ignatius

In Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians, he commends the letters of Ignatius of Antioch: “The Epistles of Ignatius written by him to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord,” (chap. 13).

Now, Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. Further, Ignatius is the first voice for explicit episcopacy in Church History. I can’t address questions of interpolations in the letters of Ignatius, but I do know that some Protestant historians argue that Ignatius was expounding a relatively new arrangement for church government. The theory goes that since Ignatius is at such pains to stress the importance of the bishop, then he is arguing for a novel structure. If episcopacy was already the norm, then why would Ignatius need to jump up and down on it? I need to examine this argument further, but here’s a thought regarding the relationship between Polycarp and Ignatius.

As the quote above shows, Polycarp approves the epistles of Ignatius. If, as one theory alleges, Ignatius was propounding a novel conception of church governement, why does Polycarp not qualify or censure Ignatius? Perhaps Polycarp approved Ignatius’s strong statements on the role of bishops, and thus did not need to say anything about it?

Eucharist, Bishop, Church (Preface, 1)

In his “Preface to the 2nd Edition,” Zizioulas states part of his objective in republishing his dissertation–he wants to help restore the ancient authority of the bishop in the Eucharistic assembly.  He writes:

“Unfortunately, many Orthodox have it firmly entrenched in their mind that the bishop is in essence an administrator, and that in his liturgical function, including indeed the Divine Eucharist, he is not a person constitutive of the Mystery but more or less decorative someone who is invited to ’embellish’ the whole service by his presence and his vestments.  Precisely because of the weakening of the ancient conception which this work demonstrates in such detail, namely, that the bishop is in essence the only president of the Divine Eucharist and that no Divine Liturgy is thinkable without reference to the bishop in whose name it is celebrated, ordination as priest has come to be regarded by many as sufficient for someone to celebrate the Divine Eucharist and transmit grace to the people without any clear dependence on his bishop.  Continue reading